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May 18, 2012

Youngsters get much-needed work with all the injuries at the WR spots

By: Jimmy Robertson

Dyrell Roberts

Tech receivers coach Kevin Sherman planned on giving his younger receivers plenty of reps during spring practice.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have much of a choice.

The offense went the entire spring without the services of projected starting receiver D.J. Coles, who missed the spring while recovering from knee surgery. Also, projected starting receiver Marcus Davis injured a hamstring midway through spring practice and missed the final two weeks. So that left Dyrell Roberts – who played in just three games last fall before breaking his arm and missing the rest of the season – as the only receiver with any experience. And even he nursed a minor hamstring strain during spring practice.

Thus, inexperienced receivers like Corey Fuller, Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante got plenty of work.

“It [the injuries] gave our young guys the opportunity to step up and to see what type of players they could be and the development they’ve had thus far,” Sherman said. “The two guys who stood out to me the most were the younger guys – Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante. Demitri is an explosive guy and brings a lot of big-play capabilities to our offense, and Kevin had a good spring as well.

“Both of those guys have a lot on their plate as far as all the things we’re throwing at them. But I think they’ve given great effort and made some plays, and for the most part, been consistent. We’ve got to clean some things up as far as route running and perimeter blocking, but I like the progress those two guys have made.”

Fuller actually led the Hokies in receiving in two scrimmages, including a three-touchdown performance in the April 14 scrimmage. But he dropped a few passes this spring – as did several of Tech’s receivers.

“There have been times when Corey stepped up and made plays, and there have been times when he hasn’t been consistent enough to make plays all the time,” Sherman said. “But he’ll learn from those, as well as all our younger guys. We’ve got to step up and make those plays because we’re going to be in those one-on-one matchups sometimes.

“A lack of focus – that’s what drops are. It’s a lack of concentration and focus. When you get tired, that’s what happens. When you get those reps, you need to take advantage of every opportunity. That’s what I’ve been preaching all spring. You never know when that opportunity will come. So you need to be ready to step up. We had guys do that at times, and at times, we didn’t. That’s where we need to step up and be more consistent all the time because there aren’t a lot of big plays out there.”

Sherman expects to get Coles, Davis and Roberts at 100 percent by the time August rolls around. With the development of Fuller, Knowles and Asante, the Hokies should have plenty of experience, youth and talent next fall.



7 Marcus Davis (6-4, 228, r-Sr.)
80 Demitri Knowles (6-0, 174, r-Fr.)
82 Willie Byrn (5-10, 179, r-Soph.)
17 David Mellstrom (6-0, 175, r-Fr.)

Split ends

11 Dyrell Roberts (6-2, 188, r-Sr.)
83 Corey Fuller (6-2, 191, r-Sr.)
19 Kevin Asante (5-11, 181, r-Fr.)
44 Christian Reeves (6-3, 210, r-Fr.)
85 E.L. Smiling (6-3, 204, r-Soph.)

(Injured: D.J. Coles missed spring practice while recovering from knee surgery.)