August 6, 2009
Hokies open preseason camp
By Jimmy Robertson

The Virginia Tech football team opened practice Thursday afternoon and began preparations in earnest for the 2009 season. The team consisted of 105 players, as allowed by the NCAA. The coaching staff can expand the roster once school starts in a few weeks.

Following practice, Tech head coach Frank Beamer met with the media about his squad, which was picked to win the ACC once again.

“I thought the effort was good and the attention to detail was good,” Beamer said following the practice. “We know we’ve got a lot of work to do, but I really liked how we approached things.”

A few observations from practice:

• Tailback Kenny Lewis, Jr., was not at practice and will be out indefinitely while trying to recover from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the Western Kentucky game last season. Lewis has undergone four surgeries for the injury – two to repair the tendon (which he re-tore while slipping in the shower) and two to clean out an infected wound. According to Mike Goforth, Lewis still plans on trying to play this season.

“I think realistically you’re not going to see him out there the first three or four games,” Goforth said.

Lewis, a senior from Danville, Va., still could redshirt the season. He played as a true freshman in 2006.

• A lot of attention from the media was paid to David Wilson, one of Tech’s highly touted recruits. Wilson, a tailback from Danville, Va., currently sits at No. 4 on the depth chart at tailback, and while he finds himself in a similar situation to Ryan Williams a year ago, he told the media that he desperately wants to play this year, even if it means as only a kick and punt returner (of course, he may have to beat Williams out for those roles).

“Even if things don’t work out for me at running back, I still want to do that,” Wilson said of the return roles. “I’ve been playing football ever since I was 8 years old. I can’t imagine missing a season, so I’m doing everything I can to get on the field.”

• Logan Thomas, arguably the top recruit in the 2009 class, will begin his career at quarterback and received a lot of reps as the third-team guy in Thursday’s practice. Thomas threw for 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior season at Brookville High in Lynchburg, Va., but many projected him as a tight end. Tech’s staff wants to see how he fares the next couple of weeks at quarterback first before determining a different position.

“I think he’s got the ability to play quarterback,” Beamer said. “That’s what we’ve got to figure out – where he is on this team. Is he a second quarterback? He’s got height, he’s got a good throwing motion, and he’s smart. He’s got some things going for him. Right now, every period and every practice is important for evaluation. If he’s going to be the second quarterback, then maybe we could use him in some H-back stuff and get him involved that way. You could think about him on a lot of special teams, too.

“If you’re going to play him, we want to play him a lot.”

• A lot of eyes will be on back-up quarterback Ju-Ju Clayton in the early going to see if he can progress into a solid No. 2 guy behind starter Tyrod Taylor. As most know, Taylor has been injured each of his first two seasons at Tech, which makes it imperative that the Hokies find a quality back-up now that Sean Glennon has departed. Clayton reshaped his body during the offseason, getting his weight down to 208 pounds, and threw the ball well in the first practice.

“I’m more comfortable with the playbook,” Clayton said. “I have a better understanding of what we’re trying to do. I understand the situation. It’s always critical. You’ve always got to have someone be able to step in there if someone goes down just so the team doesn’t lose a beat.”

• There weren’t many surprises on the opening-day depth chart, but there were a couple. Chris Drager and Nekos Brown were listed as co-No. 1’s at defense end. Drager was moved from tight end to defensive end following spring practice.

Also, David Wang, a true freshman, and Richard Graham, a redshirt senior, were listed as co-No. 2’s at right guard. Wang, the brother of current offensive tackle Ed Wang, impressed in recent strength testing, bench pressing 400 pounds.

Finally, Prince Parker and Randall Dunn have both been moved from receiver to tight end.

And a few non-practice notes:

• Several players are garnering preseason attention from some major awards early on, with more surely to be recognized later. Sophomore Darren Evans was named to the “Watch List” for the Doak Walker Award, while tight end Greg Boone is a candidate for the John Mackey Award. Additionally, quarterback Tyrod Taylor is one of several players throughout the country nominated to the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team and he is also on the Davey O’Brien Watch List.

• The 105 players reporting for Thursday’s opening practice checked in Wednesday and went through the gauntlet of paperwork, heights and weights, physicals, blood work, insurance, parking, etc. The team had an organizational meeting that night in preparation for the first day of practice. The day began bright and early with a wake-up at 7 a.m., breakfast, meetings at 8 a.m., followed by a lift for the varsity squad, lunch, academics for the freshmen, more meetings, practice, dinner, a team meeting and, you guessed it, more meetings. They’ll do it all again Friday.

• Once again this year, Beamer will open the three preseason scrimmages to the public in Lane Stadium. The dates are: Saturday, Aug. 15 (3:15-5:30 pm); Saturday, Aug. 22 (2-4:15 pm); and Wednesday, Aug 26 (4:45-7 pm). As always, no video taping devices of any kind are allowed inside Lane Stadium during these scrimmages. All other Virginia Tech practices are closed to the public.

• Media day is this Saturday, as the Hokies will face a barrage of reporters from the state and region. The press conference portion for Beamer, as well as for Tyrod Taylor will be streamed live on Beamer will begin at 11 a.m., while Taylor will go at 11:30 a.m. This is a media-only event and is closed to the public.

• Saturday’s practice will be a little earlier than normal as Beamer will hustle off the field and catch a flight to Canton, Ohio for Saturday night’s NFL Hall of Fame Ceremony, as former Hokie Bruce Smith will be inducted as part of the Class of 2009.

• The team will once again help with on-campus move-in this preseason as the players will work in groups to help haul luggage, fans, beds, TVs and whatever else the students bring up to their dorms on Friday, Aug. 21 in the morning. They'll have a team picnic for lunch and then practice that afternoon.

• The team will be in helmets and shorts again tomorrow (Friday), will go to helmets and shoulder pads on Saturday and will go live in full pads on Monday.

For updates on Virginia Tech football, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Football).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

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