2014 Spring Football: Virginia Tech’s Chaos in the Backfield


Nov 30, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies running back Trey Edmunds (14) scores a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers in the second quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies haven’t had a great running back in years since the days of Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, and David Wilson but the Hokies have a lot of youth in the backfield. Virginia Tech fans know the weaker backfield that the Hokies have had over the last couple of seasons but 2013 proved that there is some hope that the Virginia Tech running game can become a strength for the Hokies again as soon as this season.

Fullback Sam Rogers might not be known very well by too many but the Hokies’ fullback does his job and is the type of player that you enjoy seeing on the field. Rogers is a great blocker at his position and can definitely open up some holes for Trey Edmunds and others to run through. Rogers also has shown his ability to come out of the backfield and make some catches as shown by his 12 receptions in 2013. Rogers does his job well and deserves a lot of praise from coaches and analysts.

Trey Edmunds broke his tibia at the end of the regular season against Virginia but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Edmunds had a quite solid freshman season. Edmunds is the best running back for the Hokies since at least David Wilson and Edmunds has a lot of potential.

Edmunds had 166 carries for 675 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns which is solid to go with his 4.1 yards per carry. Edmunds also was a threat in the passing game with 17 catches and an average of 9.1 yards per reception. Edmunds only averaged 4.1 yards per carry but Virginia Tech had a young offensive line that should get better and  his performance against Virginia at the end of the season in which he had 11 carries for 93 rushing yards proves that Edmunds still has a huge ceiling.

Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies running back J.C. Coleman (4) during the game against the UCLA Bruins in the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. UCLA defeated Virginia Tech 42-12. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

J.C. Coleman has not been used properly by the Virginia Tech coaching staff over the last few years and hopefully that will change for this upcoming season. Coleman is not an every-down back like Edmunds but Coleman has breakaway speed that can make him dangerous in space outside of the tackles. Coleman should be getting around 10 carries a game as Coleman is the type of speed back that can change the game if he doesn’t have to carry the load. However, Coleman will not reach his potential if he has to keep carrying the load that Edmunds has proven he can carry.

Joel Caleb and Chris Mangus are stuck behind Edmunds and Coleman which makes you wonder what the Hokies should do to utliize these talents more. Caleb has a lot of potential but he seems best to stay at running back as he has above-average size and can possibly be a load-carrying back if Edmunds gets injured. However, Chris Mangus has very good speed and fits the profile more as a guy that could be a slot receiver. With Willie Byrn being a senior for this upcoming season, now is the time to move Mangus to wide receiver and develop him into a dangerous weapon out of the slot that could also be used on jet sweeps.

After all this, it is now up to Scot Loeffler to make some big decisions on the direction of the Hokies’ backfield. Of course, Shai McKenzie could also have something to say about all of this.