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Three weeks later, a progress report from Hokies

BLACKSBURG

As training camp progressed, Virginia Tech's coaches couldn't help but notice running back Trey Edmunds still had a little hitch to his step after last fall's surgery for a broken leg.

Apparently it's enough of a concern to drop Edmunds down the pecking order.

The Hokies updated their depth chart Sunday, temporarily answering one of several questions they had heading into camp Aug. 4: How is the running back rotation going to shake out?

Junior J.C. Coleman, the former Oscar Smith High standout, and true freshman Marshawn Williams are listed as No. 1 backs, with true freshman Shai McKenzie on the second line and Edmunds on the third.

Moving Edmunds down didn't come as too much of a surprise, considering recent comments from the coaches.

"He's working hard to get there, but I don't see that burst right now," coach Frank Beamer said after Friday's scrimmage. "But you keep working and you get it back."

"Sometimes I think he looks great," said offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler. "You've got to remember what kind of injury that guy had.... I think in his mind he's getting closer every time that he's out there and he's feeling better every day. And I think that will take care of itself with time."

It's also no surprise that the veteran Coleman is at the top of the chart. It is, however, that Williams, who had hernia surgery in July and missed a good chunk of camp, worked his way there. Despite starring in the spring, the 225-pound power back wasn't cleared for contact until Friday's scrimmage, when he ran for a team-high 54 yards.

"It was really nice to see him out there for the first time in a long time," Loeffler said. "So getting him out there, knocking the cobwebs off of him, was a really, really good thing. You saw some fresh legs."

As the Hokies prepare for Saturday's season opener against William & Mary, here's a look at how they addressed the other biggest questions from the start of camp:

1. Who's going to win the quarterback job?

Answered Saturday: It's Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, who brings the most experience - limited as it is - to the position.

But he has an injury history, having fractured a vertebra in his back last summer. And, at 6-foot, 200 pounds, there are some questions as to how he'll hold up.

It's why Loeffler said the Hokies will need backup Mark Leal at some point, and possibly third-stringer Brenden Motley, who just returned from a back injury but held the No. 1 spot in the spring.

2. How will the offensive line shake out?

Close to what was expected, although with some shuffling. The tackles flipped, with Laurence Gibson going to left tackle and Jonathan McLaughlin to the right.

Senior Caleb Farris emerged at center, as expected, with sophomore Augie Conte proving to be among the most consistent players at right guard.

The left guard spot was the most up for grabs. Senior David Wang will get the start to open the season, although given his injury history and the upside of Wyatt Teller, an athletic redshirt freshman, more than one player could see time there.

3. How will the defense deal with losing so much experience?

Bud Foster likes his first unit, which has some returners - tackle Luther Maddy and the entire secondary - and four seniors (Maddy, linebacker Chase Williams and safeties Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett).

On top of that, end Dadi Nicolas and tackle Corey Marshall have some experience, as does whip linebacker Ronny Vandyke, who is coming off a shoulder injury.

But what the group might lose in experience, it gains in athleticism. Foster has been impressed with the way the entire unit runs, which allows more players to get to the ball.

4. Is there a viable kicker on the roster?

Michael Santamaria, a freshman from Athens, Ga., won the starting job, beating out classmates Joey Slye and Carson Wise.

Santamaria was good enough to earn a scholarship straight out of high school. Only Shayne Graham and Cody Journell have done that in recent memory at Tech.

A decorated high school kicker, Santamaria said he feels comfortable from 50 and in. If he's reliable from 40 and in, it will be a major improvement for a kicking game that missed 11 field goals last season.

Posted to: College Football Sports Va. Tech Football Virginia Tech football

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