June 3, 2008
BLACKSBURG By the time Virginia Tech's football staff has a chance to sit down as a group sometime in August to decide which quarterback will start, any lingering rumors of redshirting Tyrod Taylor may have vanished.
It's clear that the possibility of redshirting Taylor in the 2008 season is something Tech's coaches have at least thought about, but the chances of it actually happening are becoming slimmer by the day. In essence, Tech may have unknowingly painted itself into a corner with hasty decisions involving quarterbacks and the iffy-at-best possibility of signing a quality quarterback recruit next February.
Getting Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain or head coach Frank Beamer to say anything directly about what they plan to do with Taylor and senior quarterback Sean Glennon in the fall is like asking them to hand over the playbook. It's not going to happen.
"I think we keep on going right now," Beamer said. "We're going to discuss (the redshirt option) after we watch this video (of the spring game), but I think this (duel for the starting quarterback job) needs to go into the fall, and we'll make a decision at some point based on what's best for our football team."
Not much insight there. Expect more of the same throughout the summer.
So, Taylor continues to do everything possible to get ready for the 2008 season. Early in the spring practice sessions, he said he had gained about 13 or 14 pounds and was going to spend the spring and summer bulking up so he'd be ready to absorb punishment better than he did as a freshman.
When confronted at the end of spring practice with the possibility of redshirting, he said he didn't know what he thought about it, and he'd have to discuss it with his father.
O'Cain said in the spring that he hadn't talked to Taylor about redshirting yet. O'Cain added that Tech's coaches hadn't even seriously talked about whether they would do it or not. If Tech's quarterback recruiting and potential for depth doesn't look any better by late August, Taylor probably is going to find himself on the field in 2008.
Some of Tech's quarterback depth issues can be attributed to the football equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
When Tech moved former backup quarterbacks Ike Whitaker and Cory Holt to wide receiver, the staff acknowledged it had a potential depth problem brewing at the receiver positions. Whitaker was moved prior to last season, while Holt experimented at receiver a little last season, and was moved to the position for good prior to spring practice.
What Tech succeeded in doing by shuffling around Whitaker and Holt is shoring up the receiver spots, while creating a backup void at quarterback.
Moving Whitaker and Holt could have been a sign that Tech's coaches felt confident about the chances of getting a commitment from at least one of the three top in-state quarterback recruits: Kevin Newsome from Chesapeake, Tajh Boyd from Hampton, and Bryn Renner from West Springfield.
Tech offered scholarships to all three quarterbacks and struck out on all three. In the span of six weeks in the spring, Newsome committed to Michigan, Boyd chose West Virginia, and Renner gave his pledge to North Carolina.
Missing out on those three kids was a huge blow for Tech, which has taken its quarterback search out-of-state.
Clayton Moore, a 6-2, 205-pound recruit from Louisville, Miss., now could be Tech's top QB target. He has offers from Tech, Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Southern Mississippi and Nebraska. Last season, he passed for more than 3,000 yards and ran for more than 800.
Tech also has shown interest in Michael Box, a 6-4, 195-pound lightly recruited quarterback from Suwanee, Ga. He doesn't have an offer from Tech, but he was in attendance at Tech's spring game. His father went to Tech.
It's no secret that scholarships are going to be at a premium for the 2009 signing class. (Tech may not be able to sign more than 15 or 16 players.) Tech would have loved to have taken care of its quarterback depth situation early, while it still had at least a few scholarships to burn.
Now it appears as if the quarterback search will be protracted. If Tech goes into the 2008 season with Taylor and Glennon as its only scholarship QBs on the roster, it will make sense that Taylor will have to play some in 2008, in order to prepare better for 2009.
YOUNGSTER NEEDS REPS FOR 2009
Look at it in terms of this very realistic scenario: Glennon is named the starter in August. Tech doesn't get a quarterback commitment by the end of the summer. Whitaker and Holt stay at receiver.
Could Tech seriously consider redshirting Taylor and risk going into the 2009 season without a single quarterback on its roster who had playing experience in 2008? Not likely.
If Taylor doesn't go ahead and win the starting job in August on his own merits (which he might very well do), but he stays close to Glennon in the race, Tech's coaches could look at the aforementioned scenario and see that their choices are limited. They'll either have to start Taylor, or continue rotating Taylor and Glennon, as they did in the second half of last season.
Some clues as to what Tech may do with Taylor could emerge in June, July and early August. If Holt and/or Whitaker gets moved back to quarterback, don't be surprised if the Taylor-to-redshirt talk heats up again. There's a decent possibility that either Holt or Whitaker could get moved back, because the Hokies have up to seven possible receivers in their incoming class. If a few of those young receivers develop in a hurry, the presence of Holt and Whitaker won't be absolutely necessary at receiver.
Also, it would be surprising if Tech doesn't try to get a commitment from a quarterback coming out of one of its one-day camps in June or July. Tech has done well getting July commitments in the last two years. If adding a QB isn't Tech's main recruiting priority right now, it has to be pretty high on the list.