The battle to be the next starting running back at Virginia Tech will include one less person than expected. Running back Drew Harris, one of the Hokies’ top 2012 recruits, did not qualify academically and instead will attend Fork Union Military Academy next year, running backs coach Shane Beamer confirmed Tuesday.

Harris, who is listed at 6 feet 1 and 220 pounds, was considered a four-star recruit by the major recruiting services. Beamer expected him to compete with several others to replace former tailback David Wilson during training camp. Beamer indicated Harris’s test scores were fine, but that he needed to improve his grades before trying to enroll at Virginia Tech again next year.

Because Harris will spend a year at prep school, he must sign a new national letter-of-intent next February and other schools will technically be able to recruit him again.

Harris was one of Shane Beamer’s first recruiting targets upon returning to Virginia Tech in February 2010, and his commitment to the Hokies was considered a major victory because he also had scholarship offers from schools like Miami, Michigan, Penn State, West Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina.

The Exton, Pa., native suffered a knee injury during his senior season of high school, but when he visited campus during spring practice this year, he told reporters that he had no intentions of taking a redshirt next season.

At Fork Union, which is located in Fork Union, Va., Harris will be coached by John Shuman, the father of Hokies offensive lineman Mark Shuman

Even without Harris, the Hokies still have a plethora of options at running back heading into the fall. Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes emerged as the favorite to be named starter this spring after impressing during spring practice. Freshman J.C. Coleman, the No. 3 all-purpose back in the country this year according to, also enrolled early to participate in spring practice.

In addition, junior Tony Gregory should be back after sitting out spring practice with a torn ACL and converted fullback Martin Scales emerged as a power option during spring scrimmages. Incoming freshman Chris Mangus will also be given a chance to compete for playing time.

Two-way player Trey Edmunds, a four-star recruit whom coaches raved about on National Signing Day, could also end up at running back now that Harris won’t be on campus this fall. Edmunds, who is the son of former Maryland star Ferrell Edmunds, also plays linebacker and may wind up playing on both sides of the ball by the time his career is over at Virginia Tech.