User ID: Password:

October 7, 2013

Facyson and Fuller creating excitement now and for the future

By: Jimmy Robertson

Coming into the season, Virginia Tech’s coaching staff expected many freshmen to contribute this fall, but they probably didn’t expect any of them to contribute in the secondary, where four starters were returning.

Yet here we are, entering the stretch run, and Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller keep making all the big plays.

It’s enough to make a former defensive back smile.

“Did you see my stats as a freshman?” Tech coach Frank Beamer said recently.

When informed that he didn’t play as a freshman, Beamer chuckled.

“Only because they weren’t eligible then,” he said.

“Nah, both those guys have got some real ability. They’re pretty amazing.”


It took Facyson all of five games to tie the single-season record for interceptions by a freshman at Tech. His fourth interception of the year came in the Hokies’ clutch win at Georgia Tech and tied him with Eric Green (2000) for most picks by a first-year player. In that same game, he also recovered a fumble that led to the Hokies’ first touchdown, and he later caused a fumble. He added two solo tackles, two assists and a quarterback hurry.

Fuller has been good, too. He picked off two passes in his first five games, and in that span, he had more tackles than James Gayle, Detrick Bonner and his brother, Kyle. He sealed the Hokies’ win over Georgia Tech with his interception in the final minute.

The two of them more than made up for the production lost when Antone Exum missed the first part of the season while recovering from his knee injury suffered last winter. In fact, the two played so well that they left defensive backs coach Torrian Gray and defensive coordinator Bud Foster trying to figure out how to juggle four guys at two spots once Exum returned for the North Carolina game.

Kendall plays the whip linebacker spot in Tech’s nickel package, so that leaves Facyson sort of as the odd man out. But Gray said he plans on splitting reps between Exum and Facyson, at least until Exum gets in game shape, and the staff also decided to give Facyson some reps at wide receiver.

“It’s not an easy decision. You have a kid who is playing at an extremely high level,” Gray said of splitting the reps. “At the same time, Antone, at the end of last year, was probably one of the best players in the country. It’s one of those situations where I don’t know if I’ll have this many corners again. It’s a hard problem to have, but a good problem to have.”

Tech’s coaches broached the subject of giving some reps at receiver to both Fuller and Facyson before the season even started. Fuller, in fact, was the Washington Post’s offensive player of the year last season.

But Fuller gives the Hokies a cover guy at the whip spot, something of extreme value. And Facyson possesses the makings of a good receiver, given his height, his smarts – he plans on being a heart surgeon – and his ball skills.

“How many people get to play receiver and corner?” Facyson said. “I wasn’t against it. I’m a defensive back, but I’m also a receiver. I played it in high school. I love to go up and get the ball. I think that’s what makes me a great defensive back.”

Facyson understands how the game is played. He also understands how the game is played.

He knows that senior All-Americans get every chance to reclaim their spots once they return from injury. He also knows that young guys need to be patient no matter how hard that may be.

“Everyone wants to be on the field,” he said. “Tone [Exum] is a great player. He’s proven himself for two or three years. He’s been here longer. I’m still learning from him. It’s still a great opportunity for me to keep learning and keep going.”

He hopes to get enough reps to add more interceptions to his total and keep his lead over his good buddy and roommate, Fuller. The two share a suite with a couple of others over in Cochrane Hall, and while they’re the best of friends, they’re also typical athletes.

In other words, competitive.

“I’ve told him to watch out,” Fuller said. “I’m going to try and catch him.”

“We’ve been best friends since we got here,” Facyson said. “It’s competitive. It’s been fun. If we do say anything, it’s all in fun. We know we’ve got to stay hungry.”

A year ago, Gray barely had enough cornerbacks to fill a starting lineup. Now his options seem limitless.

Fortunately, Facyson and Fuller will be around for at least two more years. That means Tech’s cornerback positions are in good hands.