With the Virginia Tech Hokies coming off of back to back disappointing years for the first time since 2002-2003, the team will need a great deal of impact from it's incoming freshman and redshirt freshman classes. The Hokies have been disappointing to it's fan base in recent yearsnwith an inability to bring in the top Virginia recruits including three top 10 players in the country DE Da'Shawn Hand (Alabama), DT Andrew Brown (Virginia) and S Quin Blanding (Virginia) in the 2013 Class. Virginia Tech has been able to prove under Frank Beamer and Bud Foster that they do not need a top ten recruiting class, instead they find players that come unheralded, but fit their system perfectly.
2013 true freshman CB Kendall Fuller from Good Counsel High School in MD was the biggest recruit the Hokies have gotten since Tyrod Taylor and he did not disappoint. Fuller had six interceptions while starting in 12 of 13 games and being arguably the most consistent player on an inconsistent defense. The 2013 Second Team All-ACC CB was not alone as an impact newcomer with fellow CB Brandon Facyson from Northgate High School in GA, coming in with five interceptions in nine starts and earning Third Team All-ACC honors himself.
On the offensive side of the ball, true freshman OT Jonathan McLaughlin from Mauldin High School in SC was the most pleasant surprise of the season. McLaughlin started in all 13 games including the season opener against Alabama and played on every offensive snap for the entire season. McLaughlin earned Second Team Freshman All-American Honors and should be a considered a top LT in the country going into his Sophomore year.
The Hokies will need instant impact from newcomers like they did last year if they don't want to struggle out of the gates again on September 6 when they visit the Horsehoe in Columbus to play the Ohio State Buckeyes. Here are just a few players that may need to impact the Hokies this year if they want to be back in BCS bowl game.
QB Michael Brewer
Sophomore Transfer QB Michael Brewer from Texas Tech looks to compete going into the Fall to start right away in Blacksburg. Offensive Coordinator Scot Loefler needs a more pro-style Quarterback than the Hokie faithful is used to. Brewer was a heralded recruit heading into Lubbock, but lost playing time to QB Baker Mayfield. Brewer played in four games in his Freshman year as a Red Raider and went 7-10 for 65 yards. Brewer will compete with 5th year senior Mark Leal and several highly ranked True Freshman this fall to be the Hokies follow-up to the rocky career of Logan Thomas.
RB Marshawn Williams
True Freshman Marshawn Williams will be in the mix to get carries right away joining fellow freshman Shai McKenzie. Highly touted RB Drew Harris will be coming in after a year of Post-Graduate play with the hopes of staying healthy enough to impact the Hokies offense right away. Williams was impressive in the Spring, but the Hokies backfield will likely use multiple ball-carriers
DB Holland Fisher
True Freshman S Holland Fisher is the most notable incoming Freshman in the 2014 class, but was originally supposed to make his way to Blacksburg last season. Fisher will be joining CB Brandon Facyson, CB Kendall Fuller and S Donovan Riley in a young secondary that will be tested early by Heisman candidate QB Braxton Miller. Fisher will compete to start right away alongside S Kyshoen Jarrett and if he can meet up to his potential, the secondary could be the strongest part of the team.
DT Ricky Walker
The 2013 Virginia Tech defense was led by an aggressive Defensive Line, but with several losses to the NFL Draft (DE James Gayle, DT Derrick Hopkins) the front will be different. DT Ricky Walker from Bethel High School in VA could immediately see playing time next to star DT Luther Maddy. If Walker can prove himself this summer, he should be playing this fall.
WR Carlis Parker
Redshirt Freshman WR Carlis Parker was recruited to Virgina Tech as an athlete and tried out last year as a Quarterback while being redshirted. After not lasting long as a signal caller, the long and athletic Freshman nicknamed "The Baby Giraffe" has proven to be a viable option in the passing game as a receiver. Parker was able to use his long frame to get jump balls and run vertical routes well throughout all of spring ball. Parker is the type of guy that the Hokies turn into stars, and I think he could be the surprise of the Virgina Tech season.