April 19, 2006
BLACKSBURG -- Spring football has ended at Virginia Tech, and the big question about quarterback remains.
Tech coach Frank Beamer said after the spring game that he'd like to get the position settled as soon as possible, but it won't be an easy call, based on the fact that none of the main contenders did enough to separate himself from the pack. An announcement may come soon, but even then don't believe that this QB derby truly is settled.
A regular on Tech's two-deep said after the spring game that "the buzz around the locker room" is that the Hokies really want a definitive No. 1 quarterback by the second game of the 2006 season, Sept. 9 at North Carolina.
Tech will open at home on Sept. 2 against Division I-AA non-power Northeastern. That game figures to be a final audition for sophomores Sean Glennon and Cory Holt and redshirt freshman Ike Whitaker, unless one gets so hot in August that the deal is sealed.
"They'll play all of them, just like they did in the spring game, against Northeastern," the player said.
Rumors have flown all spring about players getting caught up in the quarterback debate, but this particular player said the team will be fine with whoever wins the job.
"I just hope that the person chosen embraces the challenge and is ready to lead this team," the player said.
Tech let its quarterbacks go live during the spring game. That really helped Holt and Whitaker. Each was able to escape trouble and throw a long touchdown pass.
Ask 100 Tech fans which of the three should be the quarterback, and you'll likely find that it's split about evenly. Glennon appears more steady, Holt a tad more explosive and Whitaker may possess the best potential of the bunch.
But enough about quarterbacks. Here's a list of players who haven't made their mark yet but showed during the spring that they may do so in 2006:
* Greg Boone: The redshirt freshman finished fourth in the four-player quarterback scramble. A knee injury and a bout with tonsillitis were among the things that put him behind the other three. But the odd thing is, he'll probably end up playing much more this fall than the quarterbacks who finish second and third.
Boone is big (6-3, 287), athletic and versatile. Tech had him lined up on the kickoff teams in the spring game and as a kick returner. (He didn't get a chance to return one.) He played some defensive back and linebacker in high school. He also kicked and punted.
He seems to fit size-wise and athletically right where Tech needs help, at tight end. John Kinzer, the only experienced tight end, may give up football because of recurring "stingers" in his neck. Tech likes to use two tight ends, and Boone could turn into quite an H-back type. He's big and strong enough to block, fast enough to get downfield, and he also can be used as a runner and a thrower from that position.
* William Wall: Another redshirt freshman, Wall is a defensive end from Washington, D.C., who looks like the second coming of Chris Ellis.
Wall had some academic issues last fall, but he said they are behind him. He may not become a starter in 2006, with Ellis and senior Noland Burchette still around, but he'll inherit the role Ellis filled for two years. That's a backup who plays plenty and spends a lot of time in the opponents' backfield.
* Cordarrow Thompson: A redshirt freshman defensive tackle, Thompson was ticketed for Syracuse coming out of high school but decided not to sign there after a coaching change. Tech was thrilled to get him on the rebound, but he showed up way out of shape, carrying a gut that helped earn him the nickname "Taco."
The gut is gone now, and the skill that made him a prized recruit started showing more and more as the spring progressed. Thompson will be part of the rotation at defensive tackle, along with juniors Kory Robertson, Barry Booker and Carlton Powell.
* Brenden Hill: His development may be the most amazing story on the roster. A rising fifth-year senior, his only notice in his early years at Tech came when he was arrested with Marcus Vick in the now-infamous contributing to the delinquency of a minor debacle in 2004.
After coming in as a receiver and then moving to the secondary, Hill didn't appear to have much chance of ever cracking the two-deep. But last year he started earning some positive notice for his work on special teams. This year, he'll be the Hokies' No. 1 outside linebacker, where he will replace unheralded star James Anderson.
Hill's story is not unlike Anderson's, though Anderson never had any legal issues. Hill was a man without a position for a couple of years, made his first mark on special teams, then settled into a role as a standout at one of the most important positions on Tech's defense.
Hill appears to have matured greatly, perhaps realizing that he had just one shot left to make himself known for something positive. His development allowed Tech to keep former outside linebacker Aaron Rouse at rover, where he played with distinction last fall.
* Victor "Macho" Harris: We're fudging here, since he was the only true freshman who played in 2005. But he didn't play a lot on the regular defense, and he probably should have taken a redshirt season instead.
Harris spent the first two weeks of spring practice at tailback, before moving back to the secondary. He'll challenge junior Roland Minor for a starting job opposite Brandon Flowers. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster and several defensive regulars noted after the spring game that Harris made considerable progress as a defender since last season.
Running backs coach Billy Hite liked Harris enough to want to keep him for all of the spring, but it was important for Harris to get some time on the other side, where he worked with new defensive backs coach Torrian Gray.
No matter who starts, the Hokies will use Harris, Flowers and Minor together quite a bit in their nickel package, where an extra defensive back replaces an outside linebacker.