Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale will be catching passes from a new quarterback this fall, and he could even fall out of the starting lineup considering redshirt junior Marcus Davis had the Hokies’ coaching staff gushing after an impressive spring.
That Coale wasn’t initially asked about either of those developments during Day One of the ACC’s football kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C., speaks volumes about what is fast becoming one of the more unique subplots when the Hokies start fall training camp in less than two weeks.
Instead, Coale spent a good chunk of time Sunday talking about punting — and specifically how he’s improved in that department since Coach Frank Beamer declared him the leading contender to be the Hokies’ starting punter this spring.
“I try to go at it every single week for a little bit,” Coale said. “I’m certainly not polished by any means. . . . During spring ball, I had done it but it was still new to me. I still had to shake off the rust a little bit and now it’s a little bit smoother out there and I feel a little bit better about it overall.”
Coale, who punted during his days at Episcopal High in Alexandria, said he kicked about 40 balls per week, often with his father, who is a strength and conditioning coach at VMI.
Coale’s main goal during those sessions was to fulfill Beamer’s wish at the end of spring practice — that he take two steps before punting, rather than three.
“I experimented with it a lot in the beginning,” he said. “It’s tough if you’ve been doing something for so long and you’re kind of asked to change it. But I experimented with a few things and once I get into camp, I’m going to have to test it out.”
Length and hang time don’t appear to be an issue — Coale launched a 53-yarder during the Hokies’ spring game. But in order to prepare himself for the rigors of playing wide receiver — and presumably after a third-down incompletion, run back to the line of scrimmage to punt — Coale would sprint more than 50 yards between kicks to simulate a game situation.
Whether he actually wins the job out of camp is still anybody’s guess, although the Hokies media guide echoes Beamer’s spring practice statement that Coale is the leading candidate. The other leading contenders are Ethan Keyserling and Scott Demler.
We’ll have much more on this once camp starts up, because even Coale has begun to realize, situations like this just don’t happen everyday in modern college football.
“In spring ball I was serious about it, but it was still new, it was still an experiment,” Coale said. “Then over the summer I realized that I’m actually out here working on it. If you had asked me four years ago, would I be out there working on punting, I would have probably said no. It’s just kind of crazy how things go, but I’m having fun with it and still enjoying it.”