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April 24, 2010
Young players shine at Tech's Maroon-White game
By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Redshirt freshman quarterback Logan Thomas threw a touchdown pass, and defensive end Steven Friday, free safety Antone Exum and linebacker Bruce Taylor enjoyed big games, as Virginia Tech wrapped up spring practice with its annual Maroon-White game on Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium. The Maroon team, with touchdown drives led by Thomas and Ju-Ju Clayton and a safety by Friday, accounted for all the scoring to win 16-0.

“I thought it was a good spring game,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “I thought the effort was good and the hitting was good.

“You’ve got choices with spring games, and I like playing a game. I like letting things happen as they happen, as opposed to offense versus defense and having point systems and all that. I like playing games because I think some people will step up. It always seems to happen when you do that. I think a good example of that was Antone Exum. He came out in a game-like situation and really stepped up, and another guy was Tony Gregory. I’ve been impressed with him. You see things like that in a spring game.”

The list of players could have included Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 238-pounder from Lynchburg, Va., as well. Despite feeling sick – he threw up on the field in the fourth quarter – he managed to complete 6-of-12 for 34 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. He played for the Maroon team in the first half and the White team in the second, as Tech’s staff sat Tyrod Taylor for the second half – Taylor did not go “live” in the game.

Thomas guided the Maroon team to a score on the first drive of the game. A 12-play, 57-yard drive ended when Thomas hit Danny Coale in the corner of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown play. Chris Hazley added the extra point to give the Maroon team a 7-0 lead.

Thomas, who went 5-for-5 on the drive, and Clayton spent the spring battling for the job, and that battle will continue into next fall.

“I’m just trying to put as much pressure on Ju-Ju as I can,” Thomas said. “We’re both fighting for this job as hard as we can. It’s a friendly battle, though, and I think we’ll be proud of each other no matter who comes out on top.”

“Both of them do some good things,” Beamer said. “I think we’ve got to sit down and decide who gives us the best opportunity to win. We’re going to study this video hard and go over what happened during all spring practice. I’m not sure we’re going to make a decision, but we’re going to be further along in our evaluation.”

The Maroon’s defense got into the mix in the second half. Late in the third quarter, defensive end Steven Friday got past Andrew Lanier and sacked Thomas in the end zone for a safety. Friday, a redshirt senior, finished with four tackles, including one for a loss, and two sacks.

“I feel like it is my time,” Friday said. “I’m banking on it now. Congrats to Jason Worilds for going to the league [Worilds left early to enter the NFL Draft] and giving me an opportunity to play. I’ve got to make the most of it.”

Clayton led the Maroon team on its final scoring drive. A seven-play, 46-yard drive ended when Gregory scored on a 6-yard run. Clayton, a redshirt sophomore, completed 3-of-7 for 25 yards, with an interception.

Gregory was one of many young standouts for Tech. He rushed for 37 yards on a game-high 10 carries. On defense, Exum was around the ball a lot, recording four solo tackles and three pass break-ups. Bruce Taylor recorded five tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, to wrap up a tremendous spring in which he took advantage of Barquell Rivers’ injury that cost Rivers the entire spring.

“The game has slowed down for me,” Taylor said. “When you’re young, your mind is tying up your feet when you’re thinking about the coverages and gap assignments and what you’ve got to do. But when you get older, you figure out tendencies and what the offense is going to do and read the offensive linemen’s stances. Things have become easier for me, slowed down, and I’ve started to make some plays.”

Tyrod Taylor led all passers, completing 4-of-8 for 76 yards. Darren Evans ran for eight yards on five carries, while Jarrett Boykin caught three passes for 50 yards and Xavier Boyce caught three for 43 yards. Coale and Marcus Davis also caught three passes each.

Defensively, Jack Tyler, a walk-on linebacker, paced everyone with six tackles. Joe Jones had five tackles, including two for a loss, and Eddie Whitley added five tackles and the game’s lone interception.

Ryan Williams, who set a single-season rushing record last fall, was nursing a bruised knee and did not play in the game.

The Hokies open the 2010 season on Monday, Sept. 6, against Boise State. The game will be played at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., and kickoff is slated for 8 p.m.

The following is a list of award winners from the 2010 spring practice:
Paul Torgersen Award (top newcomers during spring practice) – Offense: Logan Thomas; Defense: James Gayle
President’s Award (players who demonstrate the most outstanding leadership during the offseason program and spring workouts) – Offense: Tyrod Taylor; Defense: John Graves
Dr. Richard Bullock Award (players who show the most improvement during spring workouts) – Offense: Marcus Davis; Defense: Steven Friday
Frank O. Moseley Award (players who exhibit the most hustle during the offseason and spring workouts) – Offense: Bo Gentry and Danny Coale; Defense: Eddie Whitley.
Coaches Award (players who had an exceptional spring) – Offense: Andre Smith and Blake DeChristopher; Defense: Lyndell Gibson
George Preas Award (MVP’s of spring practice) – Offense: Tyrod Taylor; Defense: John Graves
Don Williams TEAM UNITED Award (the offensive and defensive player who put the team first) – Offense: Greg Nosal; Defense: Rashad Carmichael

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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