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Va. Tech freshman receiver makes his mark

BLACKSBURG

Virginia Tech's coaches weren't prepared to announce a starting quarterback after Friday's closed scrimmage, but one thing was clear.

Receiver Isaiah Ford is going to have a big role in this offense.

The 6-foot-1, 174-pound true freshman caught four passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns, from 26, 27 and 35 yards out.

"We haven't had a scrimmage like that in a while," receivers coach Aaron Moorehead said. "... The kid's super-talented."

And at this point, he's a likely starter. Head coach Frank Beamer and Moorehead said he's played his way into starting consideration after only three weeks of training camp.

"There's no doubt about it," Moorehead said. "You're going to play the best two or three guys, whoever you count as your starters, and he's definitely in that group. And you deserve it. Period."

Ford was a late get in the recruiting process out of Trinity Christian in Jacksonville, Fla., where he played both football and basketball and honed his craft in practice going up against teammate Kevin Toliver II, a five-star cornerback and 2015 LSU commit whom Ford is trying to convince to come to Blacksburg.

Ford had committed to Louisville, but opted for Tech after former Cardinals coach Charlie Strong left for Texas.

And he might play basketball as well. He's spoken to Buzz Williams about it and said he has Beamer's blessing after football season.

Hokies coaches spoke highly on signing day of both Ford and fellow freshman receiver Cam Phillips - who had a 4-yard touchdown catch Friday - saying they thought the duo could push for immediate playing time in a receiving corps that returned Josh Stanford, Demitri Knowles and Willie Byrn, particularly as the deep threat Tech lacked.

"I think I bring someone that can make plays down the field or with the ball in his hands," Ford said. "When we need a big play, I feel like I can make one."

Nothing in training camp has contradicted that thought. An ankle injury to Knowles in the summer set him back, opening an opportunity for Ford.

"He's a guy that as soon as he stepped on campus, you heard from the DBs that he had a chance to be really good," offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. "As soon as you walked out the first couple days of training camp, you noticed him."

None of his three scores Friday came against star sophomore cornerback Kendall Fuller, but the two have sparred throughout August. Fuller has won his share of the battles, but one highlight clip circulating Instagram shows Ford catching a deep ball up the sideline over Fuller's shoulder, sending his teammates into a tizzy.

"It's amazing to go against him," Ford said. "You don't see too many corners with his talent and his IQ at the position.... As far as in the game, it won't be that tough."

Moorehead, who put Stanford and Ford among his top candidates to start, marveled at how Ford and Phillips got off coverage immediately upon arriving in camp, doing so as well or better than some of the returning players.

For a Hokies offense seeking playmakers - and from the sounds of it, they'll have more options this year than last - Ford fits the bill.

"He's definitely a threat in a lot of different ways," Moorehead said. "And we've got to get him the ball and allow him to make plays."

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

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