Logan Thomas

Texas Tech QB transfer stakes claim to Hokie starting job

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After the conclusion of spring practice earlier this offseason, it appeared Mark Leal and Brenden Motley would be the two options to replace Logan Thomas at quarterback for Virginia Tech.  As it turns out, it’s the player with the least amount of experience as a Hokie who’ll get that honor.

This afternoon, Tech confirmed that Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer has won the competition for the starting job.  Because Motley, who exited spring as the starter, was hampered by a back issue, the competition had been whittled down to Brewer and Leal.

Brewer didn’t participate in spring practice — he arrived on campus in May — but made up significant ground on Leal since the start of summer camp.

“Both of the guys gave great effort and played very well in preseason, making it a very difficult choice,” head coach Frank Beamer said in a statement. “It was a very close race and we’re proud of both of them.”

Based solely on the timing of his arrival, the move is somewhat of a surprise.

In-mid January, Brewer announced that he would be transferring from Texas Tech after graduating this coming May.  Brewer wanted to transfer to either Texas or TCU but was denied a release to those Big 12 schools, leading to a very messy and public brouhaha between the two sides.

In March, Brewer announced his intention to transfer to the Hokies.

Brewer is a graduate transfer who will, counting this year, have two years of eligibility remaining.  In 2012 and 2013 with the Red Raiders, Brewer played in 13 games (no starts), threw for 440 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in 58 pass attempts.  He completed just over 70 percent of those attempts.

“Both guys are going to be needed in the season,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “You always need a good, solid starter and a good backup. Both of them need to be ready to go. Brenden Motley will be third on the depth chart and will continue to develop.”

Brewer and the Hokies open the season Aug. 30 at Lane Stadium against William & Mary.  Tech’s first real test of the season comes the following week against Ohio State in Columbus.

(Photo credit: Virginia Tech athletics)

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Key transfers

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The lifeblood of a college football program comes through recruiting, but there are times when recruiting requires making sales pitches to experienced college football players as well. Seniors looking for a chance to compete for a starting job in the final year or years of eligibility can turn into great stories at any school, and this season is no exception.

We already took a look at some of the impact freshmen and the top Heisman Trophy candidates this season, but here is a look at some of the names you may already be familiar with looking to take advantage of a clean slate with a new program.

MICHAEL BREWER, VIRGINIA TECH, QB
With Virginia Tech looking for a new starting quarterback to replace Logan Thomas, the Hokies could be hoping Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer emerges as the best available option. The spring game failed to answer the question under center so the addition of Brewer figured to spice things up a bit. By all accounts it appears Brewer is making his case for playing time this fall as well, taking over the top spot in the depth chart during fall camp. Brewer appeared in just four games last season for Texas Tech, completing seven of his 10 pass attempts for 65 yards and a touchdown. He graduated this spring, making him eligible to play this fall for the Hokies.

JACOBY BRISSETT, NC STATE, QB
A change of scenery could be just what Jacoby Brissett needed after a disastrous 2012 season at Florida. With Jeff Driskel taking on the starter role for the Gators, Brissett made the decision to transfer to NC State, where head coach Dave Doeren will finally get a chance to coach him after attempting to recruit the quarterback to Wisconsin out of high school. Fortunately for NC State, Brissett’s desire to transfer to Miami was blocked due to a lack of room on the roster at the position in January 2013. Little did Miami know at the time the potential need for a transfer option  in 2014 (more on that later). Brissett played in five games in 2012 for Florida, completing 65.7 percent of his pass attempts for 249 yards and a touchdown. Brissett will be the starting quarterback for NC State, and he will have a stable of healthy receivers and good running back depth surrounding him on the field.

JACOB COKER, ALABAMA, QB
Looking to find his third starting quarterback in six seasons, Alabama head coach Nick Saban may not have been able to find a more suitable option through a transfer than Jacob Coker. Coker came to Alabama from Florida State, looking to get out from under the tremendous shadow cast by Jameis Winston. He does so with the personal endorsement of Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher. Coker could likely be a starter on just about any team in the country, but it is not a guarantee just yet Coker will be the Tide’s starter just yet. Coker will have to beat Blake Sims for the job and Saban is known to let these competitions play out as long as he needs before coming to a final decision, even if it means a week or two into the season.

BRANDON CONNETTE, FRESNO STATE QB
An opportunity to play his final year of eligibility closer to home and his ailing mother landed Brandon Connette at Fresno State. Leaving a promising and developing Duke program was surely a tough decision, but as far as football is concerned Connette appears to be landing in another good position as well. Connette is competing for the starting job at Fresno State, offering a bit of a different style than the Bulldogs had grown accustomed to under Derek Carr the last few years, but it is what Connette offers with his feet that could be beneficial for the Bulldogs in their quest to repeat as Mountain West Conference champions. Connette rushed for 14 touchdowns for Duke last season, a big reason why Duke was able to clinch the ACC Coastal Division and play for the conference championship. He may not wing it like Carr, but he did throw for 1,212 yards on 145 pass attempts last season, including 13 touchdowns.

DEE HART, COLORADO STATE RB
Colorado State has some big shoes to fill at running back after Kapri Bibbs rushed for 1,741 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. It is clear the Rams like to run the football, so bringing in a running back from Alabama is certainly a good way to go for head coach Jim McElwain, the former Alabama assistant who secured a new contract recently. Dee Hart, who is looking for a more prominent role in an offense rather than part-time work in the crowded and deep Alabama backfield, arrives at Colorado State and should slide right into the starting role right away. Hart, who has battled through various knee injuries already, had just 22 carries in 2013 and with T.J. Yeldon leading the way for the Crimson Tide it looked as though getting many snaps was out of the question for Hart in Tuscaloosa this season. That should not be the case at Colorado State.

JAKE HEAPS, MIAMI QB
Perhaps the third time will be the charm for Jake Heaps. The former BYU and Kansas quarterback has arrived at Miami and may have done so at just the right time. With an injury to projected starting quarterback Ryan Williams in the spring, Al Golden left the door open for all possibilities to plug the hole, including transfer options. That left an option on the table for Heaps to find a better situation for the remainder of his eligibility. He was once a highly rated recruit but has struggled to match that expected potential. With the right pieces around him, like running back Duke Johnson, Heaps could finally be ready to enjoy some stable success on the football field this fall. Heaps is currently one of the top two candidates for the starting job at Miami.

MATT JOECKEL, TCU, QB
The former back-up to Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M decided it was best to try and compete for a starting job at another program rather than go through another round at Texas A&M. That led senior Matt Joeckel to TCU, where he is eligible to play right away this fall and making his case for the starting job. Joeckel is in the thick of the competition at TCU with Trevone Boykin, who has started 15 games for the Horned Frogs. TCU head coach Gary Patterson could have some options though, with the possibility of moving Boykin to receiver and allowing more time under center for Joeckel addressing two areas of need with one decision.

GUNNER KIEL, CINCINNATI QB
Despite Cincinnati working incumbent starter Munchie Legaux back from injury, it looks like the new guy may be the number one option to lead the American Athletic Conference favorites. Gunner Kiel, who transferred to Cincinnati from Notre Dame, put on quite the show in Cincinnati’s spring game and brings plenty of potential to the passing game for the Bearcats. Kiel sat out the 2013 season due to transfer rules and is now poised to take on the role of starting quarterback for a contender in the AAC as well as for a spot in a big revenue bowl.

WES LUNT, ILLINOIS QB
Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit thinks the Illini can have the best offense in the Big Ten this season. That may not be totally unrealistic with the addition of quarterback Wes Lunt, from Oklahoma State. Lunt arrived at Oklahoma State with loads of hype and potential as an early enrollee looking to succeed Brandon Weeden in 2012, but injuries quickly erased those plans in Stillwater. As he struggled to regain a footing on the depth chart, it became necessary to look for other options to compete for a starting job. Illinois had the need to improve at the position, and Lunt has become the top candidate for the starting job this summer.

JAKE MCGEE, FLORIDA TE
This one came as a bit of a surprise, and is a pretty significant blow to Virginia. Jake McGee was Virginia’s leading receiver last season, and after transferring to Florida he fills a position in need of a major upgrade at Florida. Tight ends at Florida combined for four receptions for 42 yards last season. McGee had a little over 10 times as many catches for the Cavaliers in 2013 and should immediately give Jeff Driskel a competent target in the field. The two have already been developing some chemistry in fall camp, with highlight plays apparently giving the offense a lift. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper intends to make McGee a significant part of the rejuvenated Florida offense.

RUSHEL SHELL, WEST VIRGINIA RB
Going from one end of the Backyard Brawl to the other, Rushel Shell transferred from Pittsburgh to West Virginia last summer. After sitting out the 2013 season, Shell is ready to go and make his case for playing time in a West Virginia offense in need of some physicality. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has said Shell has some of the best skills at the position this camp. In 2012, at Pittsburgh, Shell backed up Ray Graham but still accounted for 641 rushing yards and four touchdowns. West Virginia was seventh in the Big 12 in rushing offense in 2013. Shell could help the Mountaineers improve on the ground as a key contributor.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

NFL Draft: ACC has most draft picks after four rounds

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The ACC now poses a serious threat to the SEC once again. Months after snapping the SEC’s streak of BCS championships, the ACC is now in the lead with the most NFL Draft picks after the completion fo four rounds in New York City.

Through four rounds, the ACC has now sent 28 players to the NFL with 13 players being selected in the fourth round alone. The ACC snuck by the SEC, which has sent 26 players through the draft through four rounds. Florida State is among the individual school leaders with six players drafted. The Seminoles are tied with Notre Dame. The best way to supplement this trend going on in the draft right now is the fact that Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas each were drafted in the fourth round while Alabama’s AJ McCarron, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Georgia’s Aaron Murray are still on the board.

While the ACC and SEC are battling for the top spot right now, the Big Ten (20) and Pac-12 (22) are in the conversation as well. The Big 12 has been lagging behind the power conferences with just seven players drafted through the first four rounds.

Here is a breakdown by conference through the first four rounds:

ACC: 28

SEC: 26

Pac-12: 22

Big Ten: 20

Mountain West: 9

Big 12: 7

Independents: 7 (6 from Notre Dame)

American: 5

Conference USA: 3

MAC: 3

Southern: 3

MIAA: 2

Big South: 1

CAA: 1

Missouri Valley: 1

Ohio Valley:1

PSAC: 1

Sun Belt: 0

Virginia Tech QB question will linger

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Saturday’s spring scrimmage at Virginia Tech did nothing to solve any questions about the starting quarterback vacancy left by Logan Thomas. On a day that saw the defense dominate, quarterbacks Mark Leal and Brenden Motley each scored a touchdown but failed to take a lead in the competition under center.

Leal completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 90 yards and was intercepted once. Motley had similar results, completing six of 11 attempts for 72 yards and an interception. Motley also ran for a touchdown inside the red zone, but it was called back due to an offensive holding. This leaves head coach Frank Beamer and his staff with something to ponder over the summer and leading up to the start of the 2014 season. For now, no decisions are being made.

“We’ll talk [as a staff],” Beamer said. “Both of our new quarterbacks will be here the first session of summer school, and they’ll have a chance to throw to our receivers quite a bit.”

There will also be some other options to consider as well. Virginia Tech will welcome Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer and freshman Chris Durkin, a three-star pro-style recruit out of Ohio according to Rivals. It appears Motley and Leal are the top two candidates though.

“I think we’ve got to take a direction pretty quickly in the fall,” Beamer said. “Whoever it is going to be needs to get a lot of reps in preseason practice and whoever is second needs to get a lot of reps. So we’ll decide on those two, and those are the guys who will get the reps.”

Hokies defense leaves Tech OC Loeffler disappointed

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It is no secret Virginia Tech is a team that will focus on defense first and hope the offense can put together enough points to win some games. That was the case Saturday as the Hokies brought a close to spring practices with the annual spring game. The defense recorded six sacks and 17 tackles for a loss while holding the offense to 106 yards over 96 plays.

“I felt like our defense took a step forward today,” head coach Frank Beamer said following the scrimmage. “They were having fun, flying around and being aggressive.”

Defensive end Dadi Nicolas had 10 tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Defensive tackle Luther Maddy had six tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss. Linebacker Chris Williams also had a fine afternoon with 1.5 sacks. In the battle to replace Logan Thomas as the starting quarterback, Brenden Motley and Mark Leal each tossed a touchdown but neither excelled against the Hokies defense.

“The art of playing quarterback is whenever there are people around you and in your face, and you’re making plays or not making plays, that’s a huge indicator,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. “That’s why you want to see it.”

“Offensively, we’ve been taking steps, but I thought we took a step backward today for whatever reason,” Beamer said.

The Hokies offense is in need of an upgrade. Virgnia Tech ranked 12th in scoring offense, 13th in rushing offense and ninth in passing offense within the ACC in 2013. Going up against the Virginia Tech defense is certainly no confidence booster for an anemic offense, but the opportunity to work against one of the best defenses in the ACC should, in theory, benefit Virginia Tech in preparing for the season.

For now, there is a bit of a negative vibe following the Saturday scrimmage. Loeffler was not pleased.

“Our intensity was terrible,” Loeffler said. “I’m really disappointed in how we walked out on to the field and competed. That hasn’t been our M.O. this spring, but it obviously was today, and I was very, very disappointed.”