Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 25, 2012

‘Proper thing to do’

Beamer places Paterno Award in storage

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A rather poignant moment occurred during a media interview session with Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer at the 2012 ACC Football Kickoff.

When asked about his winning the inaugural Joe Paterno award in 2010 and whether or not he still had the trophy displayed in his office, he answered, “No, I have it in storage.”

When asked if he had removed it before or after the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, he replied, “I moved it last week after the report came out.”

When asked why he had removed it, he said, “I thought it was the proper thing to do.”

A long and reflective pause followed before another Virginia Tech football question was asked, breaking his somber trance and once again putting his focus back on track.

The exchange perhaps revealed a glimpse of Beamer’s regard for the innocent victims of the scandal; it is only speculation. But he took Paterno at his word when, in his retirement announcement, he said the scandal was “one of the great sorrows of my life” and “I wish I had done more.”

As for the punishment inflicted on the university, Beamer said: “The NCAA made a strong, gigantic statement today.”

Beamer does not yet know if any of the football players at Penn State, either current or incoming, will ultimately end up at Virginia Tech, but he knows that whatever happens will happen sooner rather than later.

“We recruited some of those guys, but I need to get back and talk with my staff a little bit,” he said. “I know things are going to happen quickly, so we’ll have to do things quickly. We’ll see.”

Something else that is approaching rather quickly is Virginia Tech’s season opener with Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech on Sept. 3. Serious preparations for that game will begin when fall camp opens on Aug. 6.

Beamer understands the good and bad of beginning your football season with a conference opponent, especially one from within your division.

“The good is you’re playing on national television. If you do well, it’s great for your program. Also, because you have something like that to look forward to, your pre-season practices go better,” Beamer said. “The bad is that ideally you like to play your non-conference games and get your team kind of set. For us this year we don’t yet know who our tailback will be, but we do know that we’ll probably be using a freshman punter. So this is one of those years where we could use some time to get our team set.”

Although it is likely that Virginia Tech will utilize more than one tailback this season, the front-runner for the starting spot is Michael Holmes, a redshirt freshman from Harrisonburg, Va.

During his redshirt season, Holmes earned Iron Hokie honors during spring strength and conditioning testing. In one spring scrimmage, he contributed eight carries for 89 yards that included a 60-yard touchdown run. He added two short touchdown runs in another scrimmage and won the Paul Torgersen Award as the top offensive newcomer of spring practice.

In high school, Holmes was named the state Group AA Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and senior by the Associated Press. He rushed for 2,877 yards on 372 carries (7.7 yards-per-carry) and, as a senior, scored 41 touchdowns. Beamer believes Holmes high school success will translate into college success.

“I think he has a chance to be very good. When guys have done it in high school, they’re used to carrying the ball, used to not fumbling, so that usually carries over. I feel like he will be okay, he just hasn’t done it yet. That’s how I felt about Logan Thomas last year,” said Beamer. “I’m also excited about Trey Edmunds, J.C. Coleman, Tony Gregory, if he comes back from his knee injury, and Chris Mangus. We need to narrow it down to how many we’re going to work with and how many plays each of them will get.”

There are other positions where youth and inexperience may rear its sometimes ugly head, like at punter, the offensive line where Tech lost four players who started every game over the past two seasons, and back-ups in the defensive secondary where freshmen will likely fill those spots.

In light of these issues, when the Yellow Jackets swarm Lane Stadium, will Virginia Tech be ready? Beamer is optimistic that they will be.

“I think Georgia Tech is going to be good. We have a team that can be good, but we’re not there yet. We have some work to do.”

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