Virginia Tech got good play from true freshmen tailbacks Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie last year. Unfortunately, they both tore an ACL. McKenzie was lost in October against Western Michigan, while Williams was injured against Duke and did not have surgery until December.
Because he was injured earlier, McKenzie is more ready to play in 2015 than Williams. He had a few carries in Tech’s second open scrimmage, and he looked quick and difficult to tackle. The plan is to play him this year, after he serves his one-game suspension against Ohio State.
“Shai, we don’t expect to redshirt him,” Shane Beamer said. “We plan to be full speed ahead with him once we get to Furman. Depending on how he feels. He’s got a little bit of a hamstring that’s been nagging him the last few days, so he hasn’t done much. So we’ll see how his hamstring is.”
If he’s healthy, we can expect McKenzie to get his first carries of the season in that Furman game. We might have to wait longer before we see Marshawn Williams, as in a whole year from now.
“What I’ve talked to Marshawn about is let’s prepare and rehab like you’re playing,” Beamer said. “When you’re 100% and you’re officially cleared, and when you feel 100% conditioning wise…we’ll see where we are.”
Though Beamer didn’t offer up a timetable, he didn’t rule out the possibility of Williams redshirting. In fact, he said it could go either way.
“With him, it’s sort of 50-50 right now, and that will be something we discuss when that time comes. Right now it’s not worth discussing because he’s not 100%.”
From the outside looking in, it sounds as if a redshirt for Williams is not only possible, but perhaps even more likely than the 50-50 split that Beamer hypothesized. The Hokies have two veteran backs in JC Coleman and Trey Edmunds, and r-freshman Travon McMillian has impressed in scrimmages. If Shai McKenzie gets back to form, there will be no need to play Williams. The staff will have the luxury of redshirting him to get him healthy, and to create some separation between him and McKenzie.