There has been plenty of talk since Virginia Tech lost to Clemson in the ACC championship game earlier this month about whether running back David Wilson and cornerback Jayron Hosley will forgo their senior seasons and declare for the 2012 NFL draft after the Hokies face Michigan in the 2012 Sugar Bowl.
But at the team’s bowl media day Saturday, Coach Frank Beamer tried to take the attention away from his two stars’ impending decisions, saying he didn’t want to talk much about it because it “takes away from our preparation for the bowl game. It’s between them and their family and getting good information.”
This, though, isn’t the first time Beamer has had to deal with the potential of a star player leaving early for the draft. When asked if he ever gets used to seeing players jump to the professional ranks before their eligibility is up, Beamer said his views on dealing with NFL-caliber talent have changed since he famously redshirted Michael Vick during the 1998-99 season.
“I think the adjustment is on the front end. You’re always sitting there trying to say, ‘Okay, should we play this guy or not, and can we get him enough plays to make it worth while playing them?” Beamer said. “I think the real lesson is if they’re talented, you better play them early. We sat here and two guys, Ryan Williams and Michael Vick, had two years of eligibility left when they did leave. You hope you can get guys like that who have the ability to do that and you better go ahead and get them playing.”
Wilson and Hosley are prime examples of this philosophy. Hosley came to Blacksburg undersized, but his talent convinced coaches to use him right away. Wilson was stuck behind Williams and current Indianpolis Colts running back Darren Evans, but he also didn’t take a redshirt year.
In regards to Vick, Beamer reminded reporters Saturday of the promise he made to Vick’s high school coach, Tommy Reamon, about redshirting the future NFL star when he arrived in Blacksburg.
“When I was up there at Boston College and we’d just brought a free safety over, Nick Sorensen, to play quarterback on national TV on a Thursday night and I look beside me and there’s Michael Vick, I was questioning how good a decision that was,” Beamer said. “I was going to keep my word to Tommy Reamon.”
The Hokies won that game, 17-0, but Beamer added he hasn’t made such a promise again. With this generation of players he probably wouldn’t need to anyways.
“Everybody wants to play early, everybody wants to come in there and play right away,” he said.
Whether Wilson and Hosley want to move on to the NFL right away remains to be seen, although both seem to be leaning that way. Wilson said last week he’s undecided, but his father, Dwight, told the Lynchburg News-Advance he thinks his son should declare for the NFL draft.
Hosley seems more certain that he will be leaving Virginia Tech after the Sugar Bowl, and his position coach did nothing to dissuade that line of thinking over the weekend.
Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray, a former safety for the Minnesota Vikings, said that while it would have been hard for Hosley to replicate the nine interceptions he snagged in 2010, “he gave up a lot of plays that he didn’t give up … last year.” He also told him perhaps this isn’t the best season to leave on.
But Gray added Hosley still “has an it factor as far as playing the ball,” and became a better tackler this year. He finished with a career-high 59 tackles, even though he hasn’t had an interception since Oct. 1.
From Gray’s perspective, though, Hosley already had his mind made up about turning pro look ago.
“Some kids will weigh the information and really weigh it,” Gray said. “With Jayron, I don’t know if he was ever going to weigh the information. I think he was probably going to come out regardless from knowing him and having our conversations before the season.”