Virginia Tech receivers Dyrell Roberts and Marcus Davis know what is at stake this season. They know Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin are gone. They know all eyes will squarely be fixed on them to step up and make their own name.
So you understand why they feel a growing sense of urgency headed into this season. Both are seniors, and understand this is their final shot to make an impact. For Roberts, that urgency has taken on greater meaning after missing parts of the last two seasons with injury.
For Davis, that urgency has taken on greater meaning knowing he has yet to live up to his full potential.
"I’m taking this as an opportunity to show not only fans but the coaches and everybody else that even though we lost those guys, there’s still something here," Davis said in a recent phone interview. "There is something special we can do here."
Davis goes into the season as one of the top returning receivers, after setting career highs with 30 receptions for 510 yards and five touchdowns. D.J. Coles returns as well, after catching 36 passes for 480 yards and three touchdowns. But he has been slowed by a knee injury and could miss some time this season. That leaves Davis as the No. 1 target for Logan Thomas.
There is no question Davis has what it takes to be the go-to guy. He is big, athletic and known for making plays down the field. Last year, he averaged 17 yards per catch, tops on the team and among the best in the nation. But there have been various times throughout his career when he has lacked the motivation to get up for every single game. He has spent his offseason improving his mind-set, to be sure that he will be prepared every time the ball is snapped.
"I focused a lot on just being consistent, how I approach things, how I approach practice, how I approach the weight room," Davis said. "Some games you can’t get up for, and so I changed my approach to have my focus on everything so I won’t have to worry about getting myself motivated to play a game. I have to leave everything out on the field because I won't get a second chance."
Learning from Coale and Boykin helped him mature. And knowing he is the No. 1 receiver also has forced him to change his mind-set as well.
"I just have to put it together and do it now because I don’t have that in the back of my mind -- if I mess up I’m going to come out," Davis said. "I know what I have to do. I think people are going to see that I can make plays not only down the field but also in the short passing game and in my blocking game."
A huge opportunity awaits Roberts as well. Last season, he only played in three games before breaking his arm on a kickoff return against Arkansas State. The year before that, his season ended when he needed surgery on his thigh. Roberts is more than eager to get onto the football field and actually play in a game because of what he had endure the last two years.
"I'm up for the challenge," Roberts said. "I talk to my coaches a lot, they tell me they think I can play a big role and things like that. I think that's every player's dream to have your role increase in the offense. I've been around for a while, I've been in a lot of big games, but it's a dream come true to know your role is going to increase this year. That gives me motivation to push myself to go even harder and get better at the little things. You can never feel you've arrived because there's always something you can get better at."
Given his increased role in the offense, you will probably be hearing more about Roberts. But there is one thing about him you may not know. He has a black dog that is mix a between a bichon frise and a poodle. Her name is Dymond, spelled that way after Roberts' first name, of course. He has had the dog for three years now, and Roberts says around the football team, "She has become a household name."
Now it is time for Roberts and Davis to become household names as well.