The Virginia Tech Hokies are looking to get back to the top of the ACC in 2013 behind an improved and more physical running game. To do that, they will need to figure out the pecking order of their running backs, which is proving a more difficult task than originally imagined. With just a week to go in spring drills, the Virginia Tech running back situations remains decidedly unsettled. Will anyone be able to distinguish themselves?
The running back picture has gotten a little bit clearer, at least, from when spring practice started. The coaches have been able to narrow down their starting running back search to a top three at least, giving J.C. Coleman, Michael Holmes and Trey Edmunds the edge as players most likely to become the starter next fall. But if the team doesn’t nail down their pecking order during the spring session, that won’t be that big of a deal according to running backs coach Shane Beamer.
“Competition throughout the summer is good. I can assure you going into the Alabama game that we will have a pecking order. No doubt about it. Bug if we came out of the spring and said, ‘Hey, I fell like we’ve got three starting running back,’ I’ve got no problems with that right now.”
Having options at running back certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, but getting some clarity on the position will be a priority when fall camp opens, without a doubt.
Coleman returns as the leading rusher out of the backfield during his freshman season in 2012. He carried the ball 109 times for 492 yards, scoring two touchdowns. At just 5-foot-8, 192-pounds, size will be working against Coleman as it will be difficult for him to handle the rigors of a more physical running game between the tackles. Already this spring, he’s missed some reps with dings, making it hard to imagine he’ll withstand an entire season as the main back in 2013.
Holmes was expected to do big things during his redshirt freshman season last year, but turned in a disappointing debut. He rushed for just 280 yards on 70 carries with four touchdowns, which didn’t quite meet what many fans were hoping to see. That disappointment made him an afterthought for many, but a strong spring has him right in the mix for playing time next fall. Beamer has noticed a new-found confidence in Holmes and his running which comes from experience and will make him better in 2013.
Then there is Edmunds, a redshirt freshman this year who has many in the fanbase clamoring to see what he can do. He showed off a nice ability to run in the ball in Tech’s first scrimmage, averaging 4.1 yards per carry on seven carries to lead all running backs. He fell off a bit in the second scrimmage, gaining just six yards on six carries. That kind of inconsistency is to be expected from a young runner, but Edmunds has shown good power and burst throughout the spring that has put him right in the mix for playing time next fall.
While the team likely won’t get any answers on their pecking order until next fall, Virginia Tech will lean heavily on whoever comes out on top to be an offensive leader in 2013. Who gives the Hokies their best shot next season?