There’s a caveat to this part of the series.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that this series is highlighting one assistant coach from each ACC team whose position group will be in the spotlight this fall. If it were any other program in which an assistant coach handled the special teams, that’s who you would see here for the Hokies, as they have to replace their kicker for the fifth straight year. They’re also looking for a new punter and could turn to starting receiver Danny Coale. Frank Beamer, though, is the one who oversees Virginia Tech’s special teams. And the goal here is to introduce you to an assistant. We know Logan Thomas had a good spring. Everyone within the program has raved about him. Quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain must deliver a dependable new first-year starter, but there’s another position group in Blacksburg that’s gotten a makeover:
Coach: Charley Wiles
Position: Defensive line
Experience: Wiles has been on Beamer’s staff since 1996. He originally joined Beamer at Virginia Tech as a graduate assistant in 1987 and held that position for two years. When he left Tech after the 1988 season, Wiles spent a year at East Tennessee State. He returned to his alma mater, Murray State, for a six-year coaching tenure, winding up as the Racers’ co-defensive coordinator. In 1995, he helped coach the Racers to an 11-0 regular-season mark and a berth in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. Wiles also served as Murray State’s recruiting coordinator.
Of note: When Beamer was the head coach at Murray State, Wiles won Kodak Division I-AA All-America honors as an offensive lineman in 1986.
His challenge: Replace three starters and develop depth. With Chris Drager’s move to tight end this spring, Antoine Hopkins is the only returning starter up front. He started the last 12 games of 2010, and will line up with his little brother, Derrick Hopkins. Wiles finished spring practices confident in his starting four, but depth remains a true concern. Defensive end J.R. Collins was moved inside to tackle on occasion during the spring, and could continue to be an option this fall. The staff will also take a long look at some true freshmen this summer to help with the depth. End James Gayle was named the team’s most valuable defensive player of the spring and earned a starting job, but he’s got to continue that this fall. This group of players showed the potential to be a gritty group capable of getting the Hokies back to being a dominant defense fans are used to seeing, but they’ve got to solidify a rotation this summer. It’s up to Wiles to coach ‘em up.