Apr 20, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterbackMark Leal
(6) hands the ball off during the Virginia Tech Hokies spring game at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
As the Virginia Tech Hokies start spring practice, Frank Beamer has a major decision to make. The Hokies enter spring ball without an established signal caller. The days of Logan Thomas guiding the Hokie offense are no more, as Thomas embarks on a journey to a NFL career. His graduation leaves a void in leadership for the offense. The expected front runner for the signal caller job is fifth year senior Mark Leal.
Leal isn’t completely without experience however brief it might be. Leal came on in relief in multiple games last season most notably the Hokies Sun Bowl loss to UCLA. Leal was not as impressive as many fans had hoped only completing 12 passes for 130 yards with 2 costly interceptions. Even with mistakes Leal kept the Hokies close until the UCLA pass rush took over the game. Leal will not just be able to walk into spring practice and become the starter over night he is just one of many fighting to become the Hokies starting quarterback.
Leal can expect strong competition from a most unlikely source. As reported by ESPN, Michael Brewer, a transfer from Texas Tech, is this source. Brewer leaves the Red Raiders in a similar manner Russell Wilson left NC State. Brewer, however, does not come to the Hokies with a similar pedigree that Wisconsin got when Wilson transferred. Brewer was the front-runner for the Texas Tech starting job last year but a back injury derailed those plans. Brewer also comes to the Hokies with two years of eligibility left which could add some stability to the position.
Beamer also has the option of going with youth at quarterback. Scot Loeffler has brought in two top tier recruits for the position. Andrew Ford and Chris Durkin are four star recruits and come to the program with hopes of winning the starting job. Ford is already on campus and is participating in spring practice. Ford and sophomore Brendan Motley are expected to push Leal for the starting nod coming out of spring practice. One skill set Hokie fans might be used to seeing in a quarterback is the ability to extend plays with his feet. However, none of the upcoming quarterback possibilities are what would be considered duel threat quarterbacks. The two new recruits are listed as pro style pocket passers. All are equally athletic but none are the same threat as Logan Thomas to run for a huge gain on any given play. This departure from a duel threat to a more pro style quarterback started last year as the Hokies moved freshman quarterback, Bucky Hodges, to tight end and Carlis Parker to wide receiver. Both were decidedly better moving the pocket than staying put and picking a defense apart.
Beamer definitely has a multitude of options at the quarterback position which is not a bad problem to have. These options could allow the coaching staff to red-shirt the two incoming true freshman if they prove to be not up to the task of leading the Hokies offense. Brewer and Leal both have college experience which makes them attractive as possible starters. Leal has had a year in the Loeffler offense but with a possible change of the offense philosophy his year could end up not being much of an advantage. As this spring practice turns into summer practice all eyes will be on the quarterback competition in hopes of catching a glimpse of the future Hokie signal caller.