Don’t Count Out Drew Harris In Virginia Tech’s Running Back Battle

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I won’t make you wait very long – the answer is yes.  Drew Harris does have the right skill set and physical build to overtake Coleman and Scales as the second running back this season.

Coleman’s biggest weakness is something that’s really out of his control so far – his size.  At only 170 pounds, there were questions about whether or not Coleman would be able to withstand the beating of DI college football.  In the spring the fans, media, and Coleman himself all were left with the impression that there was going to be a big learning curve.  It’s no surprise that Coleman struggled to gain yards like he did in the spring because Bud Foster’s defense might be as good this year as it’s ever been before.

Coleman should prove to be a good running back in time, but immediately he could definitely get jumped by Harris because of Harris’ size and ability to take contact better than Coleman can at this point.  Moreover, Harris appears to have a better grasp on hitting holes up the middle than Coleman does at this point in their respective careers.  When needed, Harris should be able to pound the rock up the gut of the line, something not even “Superman” David Wilson did consistently last season.

The biggest challenger for Harris should end up being Martin Scales, the converted fullback.  As a redshirt senior, Scales has a ton of experience and knows these players inherently better than Harris will coming into the season.  Scales’ best asset to the team will come in terms of pass blocking for behemoth quarterback Logan Thomas.

As Virginia Tech’s traditional offense transitions to more of a spread offense, pass blocking will become more and more important to any back who is trying to play in this system.  Scales’ ability to pass block will help him see the field more than Coleman because of Scales’ size advantage.

Scales is one of those running backs who is used to pounding the ball up the middle between the guards and center and so if Harris wants to gain any ground on Scales, he will have to show the ability to do so as well. Moreover, if Harris can use his apparent 4.4 40-yard dash speed to make moves on the outside, he might be able to get some leverage on Scales in the running back battle.

Whoever comes out of this three-way running back battle will be expected to make plays with their feet, as well as protect the biggest (literally) play maker that Virginia Tech has had in a long time, Logan Thomas.  The back that can do the best combination of these two things will be the back that earns that job moving forward.  Who that back may be is a mystery…for now.