There were kinks to be worked out yesterday in Virginia Tech's first fall camp practice of the 2013 season. But while coach Frank Beamer saw the expected mistakes, he also saw plenty of promise.
Beamer strolled around as usual on the Hokies practice field last night, observing all areas of his team. A few areas he was particularly impressed with, while with others, he was thinking ahead to how he can compensate for or overcome an area of concern.
Before practice even began Virginia Tech received the news that senior cornerback Antone Exum has been ruled out for the season-opener against Alabama. Exum, who tore his ACL in January, has made steady progress since, but was told by Dr. James Andrews in a visit yesterday that playing that soon isn't an option. Andrews performed surgery on Exum after the injury.
"It's just one of those things that takes time," Beamer said. "In a couple of months, they're gonna re-evaluate. It just needs to be right for him in every sense and for us. It is what it is."
Though he nor anyone else with the program has confirmed, the Hokies will also be without redshirt freshman Joel Caleb, as HokieHaven.com reported last week. But when he does return, Caleb will be at a new position, yesterday being his first day taking reps at running back.
"When you study it, it kinda goes back to high school," Beamer said. "When Joel had the ball in his hands, he was really a good player in high school, there as a quarterback. That's what needs to happen to him here. I think he looks more natural. Tonight, he made a couple of cuts and I'm kinda convinced we're on the right path, here. He's another big back. You get past Trey Edmunds, we're out of the bigger back business. Having that other guy coming along, I was pleased with what I saw. I thought it was almost night and day from spring practice to tonight with him. We're on the right path. I think it's a good decision for our team and for him, too. I think he needs the ball in his hands and when he does, he's a threat."
On the defensive side, Virginia Tech will be looking for results from two true freshmen, cornerbacks Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller. Facyson got a head start by graduating high school early and participating in spring practice. But both should have big roles this season.
"Anymore, when you've got good players, you probably need to go ahead and play them," Beamer said. "We've saved a couple of guys, redshirted and after the third year, they're gone, still had two years of eligibility left. The guys that have ability, they're probably gonna play at the next level and if you can play them enough plays, you should probably go ahead and play them. I think both fit into that category."
The 2013 season is officially underway. And with the season-opener in just three and a half weeks, the Hokies can't afford much downtime. And for Beamer, last night was a good start.
"I thought there were a lot of moving parts that I like," he said. "There was some confusion, but not a lot. For an opening practice like that, I thought it was really good."