After a 7-6 campaign that marked Virginia Tech's least successful season in over 20 years, the pressure is on the Hokies to pick the program back up and restore it to where it was before last season.
Virginia Tech hired three new assistant coaches in January as a step towards getting back, but it will be on the players to control what happens on the field.
In preparation for what will be an important 2013 campaign, we cast our votes for the 13 most important players to a successful season. This includes all aspects of the game, both offensively and defensively, but also special teams, like kicking and return.
Players received 13 points for each first place vote, 12 points for each second place vote, etc. In a case of a tie, the players voted on by more staff members won the tie-breaker. If both players had been voted on by the same number of staff members, the next tie-breaker is which player had the highest vote by a staff member.
We continue our countdown at No. 6 with running back Trey Edmunds.
Jason Stamm, publisher
The carousel of running backs kept moving last season. Michael Holmes got his chance. So did Tony Gregory and J.C. Coleman. And overall, they struggled, as none could solidify the starting spot.
As a result, the running game never got going and the offense sputtered. There became a point where quarterback Logan Thomas was the only running threat, including back-to-back games at Clemson and Miami where he rushed the ball a total of 43 times. If the Hokies' offense is to make a bounce back this season, Thomas can't take that pounding, even if he is a big body that's hard for opponents to bring down.
Enter Edmunds, who redshirted last season, but could be the best hope of a solid No. 1 tailback. Last season, it was an uncertainty whether or not he would play running back or linebacker. But with the need at running back and big question mark with the other backs, it appears Edmunds has found his spot.
This spring, Edmunds gave Virginia Tech a good glimpse of what he's capable of. He had only 11 yards on eight carries in the spring game, but he had 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns on nine carries in the final scrimmage before the game. The stage is set this fall for Edmunds and he has the capability, as the best north-south runner for the Hokies, who can also turn on his speed.
And he'll need to take advantage of the opportunity to give Virginia Tech's offense its best chance.
Doug Bowman, senior writer
Despite all of Thomas' physical abilities, he still needs someone else to help him carry the load. Last year, the Virginia Tech running game was ineffective and unreliable. Other than improving his fundamentals and technique, the best way for Thomas to improve is to get more help.
Edmunds has the chance to be that help. If he lives up to his potential, I could see him being up next to Thomas as far as the most important player on the team.
Edmunds has to beat out Coleman, among others, in August, but I fully expect him to be one of the main players in the running back rotation on Aug. 31. Then, as the year progresses, I expect him to get more and more of the action.
Mike Stancik, staff writer
I'm in the camp of Coleman in the early going, but Edmunds has almost unlimited potential because of his impressive combination of size and speed. The running game is the X-factor for the Hokies' offense this season, and Edmunds is certainly a candidate to help aid the process.
If Edmunds exceeds expectations, that means the passing game should open up for Thomas. And that equals many, many points- more than enough for a usually expected strong Virginia Tech defense.
Edmunds' upside is incredibly tempting, but will he be able to fill the enormous void at running back?