Inside The Numbers: The Virginia Tech Running Back Rotation

Malachi Thomas, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech true freshman running back Malachi Thomas can no longer redshirt. How many carries should he get? (Ivan Morozov)

This week’s Inside The Numbers will focus on the Virginia Tech running back rotation.  We’ll also touch on the snaps and production (or lack thereof) of the backup wide receivers, and a few other random topics.

Malachi Thomas: The Redshirt Situation

I’ve been running with the PFF numbers for tracking redshirts this year, and PFF lists Malachi Thomas as having appeared in five games this season.  However, lists him as only having played in four.  According to PFF, he got two snaps on the kickoff team against UNC, but does not list him as having participated in that game.  If is correct, then Thomas is still eligible to redshirt if he doesn’t play any more this season.  If that’s the case, then the coaching staff has a decision to make this week, not last week as I originally thought.

How many snaps would Malachi Thomas need for the remainder of the season to justify burning his redshirt?  I don’t really have an answer to that question.  All I can do is look back on the number of carries and snaps the Hokies gave past true freshman tailbacks who did not redshirt.  Note that PFF snap counts only go back to 2014, so beyond that we’ll be looking at only the number of touches.  I also won’t include players who had the majority of their seasons cut short due to injury, because that’s not a fair comparison.

Keshawn King, 2019: 161 offensive snaps, 79 carries, 9 receptions
Jalen Holston, 2017: 167 offensive snaps, 70 carries, 1 reception
Marshawn Williams, 2014: 2018 offensive snaps, 124 carries, 4 receptions*
Jerome Wright, 2013: 7 carries, 3 receptions
JC Coleman, 2012: 109 carries, 21 receptions
David Wilson, 2009: 59 carries, 0 receptions**