Let’s get the bad news out of the way first – D.J. Coles likely will be out of commission for the beginning of the season due to knee surgery back in January. Mike Goforth, one of the athletic trainers for Virginia Tech, has stated that Coles isn’t recovering as quickly as the staff had expected; and head coach Frank Beamer is on record as being “concerned” about Coles’ recovery.
All of this opens up room for discussion about who fills the hole that Coles will be leaving at wide receiver, a position that many have questioned this off-season. We’re going to take a look at who is at Virginia Tech’s disposal and what might happen moving forward.
- Dyrell Roberts: After dealing with compartment syndrome in 2010 and breaking his arm early last season in 2011, Dyrell Roberts is finally looking like he will be in a position to contribute once again. All reports indicate the he’s running smoothly and quickly in practice again. When Dyrell Roberts is playing like Dyrell Roberts, he’s a legitimate threat on the football field. He should be fine moving forward.
- Marcus Davis: After an up and down 2011 campaign, Davis seems to realize that this season is his audition tape for the NFL. David looks like he’s spent plenty of time in the weight room this off-season and has been measured at a ridiculous 6’4, 232 pounds. That is crazy size for a college wide receiver and Davis has all of the physical tools to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs. The key for Davis is to show a consistent work ethic this season and not take plays off like he seemed to at times last year.
- Demetri Knowles: Knowles has gone semi-under the radar so far at Virginia Tech, but now that an opportunity has presented itself, he might be in position to jump on it. We all know that Dyrell and Marcus are fast on the outside, but Knowles is another straight burner that has the ability to kick it into another gear completely. If he keeps running like he has been in practice while showing that he can consistently snag the ball, he has as good a chance as anybody in this group to see the field.
- Joel Caleb: Caleb is one of those players that seems as good as advertised. At 6’3, 211 pounds, Caleb appears to be physically ready to step in and play already. He also has huge hands, and shouldn’t be much of a liability to drop passes if thrown his way. The only question with Caleb is whether or not he can fully grasp the offense as a true freshman. If he can, there’s a very real chance that he could see the field this season early and often.
- Corey Fuller: Fuller is an interesting case because he’s one of the players at split end that has experience in Virginia Tech’s system already, which should give him an edge over the young bucks trying to steal playing time. The problem with Fuller is that he flat out struggles to catch the ball consistently. Along with that, he didn’t see much action last year – only playing in six games. In those six games he caught two passes for a total of 19 yards. Naturally you’re going to wonder how much you could get out of Fuller this year not that there’s room to fill on the roster. His biggest asset easily is his knowledge with the system already.
- Joshua Stanford: I really like Stanford as a player and I expect him to be very good one day, but he is probably looking at a redshirt this season. As far as freshmen are concerned, Caleb is probably more likely to get the nod over Stanford. Caleb’s physicality and hands make him the more desirable player right now. I expect good things from Stanford in the future though.
- E.L. Smiling: Smiling is another curious case, simply because we haven’t seen much from him. He was in position last season to get a little playing time but broke his wrist halfway through the season. He’s got nice size at 6’3, 212 pounds, but it’s a matter of actualizing his skills. He has a lot of potential but we have to see how he does recovering from injury.
- Mark Irick: Mark is another kid that has a great physical frame at 6’4, 204 pounds. He should be a player to watch for in the future, but like Stanford will have to wait his turn while Caleb gets the most likely nod of the freshman receivers. He, also like Stanford, should be a player to watch down the line. He should also probably expect to redshirt this season.