The Virginia Tech Friday Q&A: Crowded RB Room, Kick and Punt Returners, and More

Virginia Tech, Malachi Thomas
Malachi Thomas is one running back who will definitely be on the 2022 Virginia Tech roster. (Ivan Morozov)

1) How many RBs do you feel like the staff will keep after spring ball is over, and who do feel like will be left in the RB room after the smoke has cleared? – SCHokie1103

CC: Virginia Tech running back coach Stu Hold told the media that his ideal number is six running backs. I don’t know if he meant six scholarship backs, or five scholarship backs plus an emergency walk-on. The latter would probably be my ideal scenario, but that’s splitting hairs. At any rate, Tech doesn’t currently have any walk-on running backs, so it doesn’t matter.

Here are Virginia Tech’s running backs…

Jalen Holston (r-Sr.)
Marco Lee (r-Jr.)
Keshawn King (Jr.)
Malachi Thomas (So.)
Jordan Brunson (r-Fr.)
Jalen Hampton (r-Fr.)
Chance Black (r-Fr.)
Kenji Christian (r-Fr.)
Bryce Duke (Fr.)

We know Bryce Duke will be on the team, as he’s a true freshman. We know the coaches have said that Malachi Thomas is the best back, on balance, so he’ll be on the team. Jalen Holston has gotten plenty of work, so he’ll be on the team. The coaches have also worked Chance Black in heavily, so he’ll be on the team. They’ve also worked Keshawn King at both running back and in the slot, and they value his ability in the open field, so I would expect to see him on the roster this spring.

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I just named five guys, so if Holt wants to keep six, that means there’s one spot remaining for Lee, Brunson, Hampton and Christian. Brunson, Hampton and Christian are all redshirt freshmen, while it appears that Lee has been passed by younger players such as Duke, Thomas and Black.

Brent Pry has talked about having “hard conversations” with players. It’s possible that one or more of those four guys avoids such “hard conversations” and decides that he doesn’t want to be the seventh, eighth or ninth string tailback and decides to enter the portal on his own. It’s also possible that a “hard conversation” may need to be had with one or two of them.

If it does come down to the coaching staff selecting which player(s) to keep, I suspect the ability to contribute in some way on special teams will be the deciding factor.

Brent Pry, Virginia Tech

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