When he arrived at Virginia Tech in January, new offensive line coach Stacy Searels did his homework on the guys he'd be coaching this season. He reviewed film, watched them workout and talked to them individually and as a group.
That was only the beginning, as Searels is looking for the best five linemen he has, opening up the competition. This spring, he's gotten back to basics a bit. But if there's anything he's done more than anything else, it's drill his players hard until they get it right.
And in the end, that's what Searels hopes will separate the Hokies' five starters this fall from the rest of the offensive linemen.
"It's just like everything we do, every day you've gotta go out and prove yourself," he said. "No one's entitled to anything. And just because you're a fifth-year senior or a true freshman, I don't really care. I want guys who are gonna produce and you've gotta earn your keep every day."
Searels' approach has been welcomed heartily by Virginia Tech's offensive line, among them, redshirt freshman Wyatt Teller. After sitting out his redshirt season, Teller has been among a few linemen especially catching Searels' attention this spring, along with sophomores Augie Conte and Alston Smith.
"It's kinda like, he yells at you, he gets on you, but he can also make you laugh," Teller said. "And there's a moment, if I'm not making the right subs or something, he'll make a joke. It kinda lightens the mood, so it makes it a little bit better. He's doing great and I'm excited. I hope he stays four more years."
And though the Hokies return five linemen who will be seniors this fall, Teller and the underclassmen have just as good a shot as they do to start. With Searels' outlook, the best will play and the competition is well underway.
"Consistency's what we're looking for and competition makes us all better," Searels said. "If you don't have any competition and you get lazy and you think you've got it made, you're not as good of a player as we need to be to win a championship. That's what I'm looking for, guys competing. If they don't come to compete, somebody's gonna take their place."