Virginia Tech freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson enrolled in school early hoping to get a jump on the competition.
After 15 spring practices, Facyson has made quite an impression and is a virtual lock to play in 2013 -- perhaps even start until Antone Exum gets healthy.
"Brandon Facyson was probably one of the pleasant surprises," defensive coordinator Bud Foster said in a phone interview Wednesday. "He might be our best corner. We had him behind Kyle Fuller in the spring but if we were to play tomorrow or this next week, we might be getting him ready to be our field corner."
That speaks volumes for the type of player Facyson has the potential to be. Many times, freshmen who come in as early enrollees take time to develop and get adjusted to their new surroundings. But Facyson has been quite the quick study.
"He’s really got a good demeanor about him, a lot of poise about him, and he’s very coachable," Foster said. "This will be a big summer for him, to get bigger, faster and stronger. I knew what kind of prospect he was, but I was really pleased with how quickly he picked things up and learned our defense and his position.
"To me, he seems to be a very mature young man. He seems to be one that’s ahead of his time a little bit. That will contribute to his ability to play a little earlier. Coach [Torrian] Gray coached him hard a couple times to challenge him and he responded. Some young guys sometimes will stick their head back in a shell but he’s a guy who bulled his neck and kept going like a bulldog. That showed something about him, that he’s got a little fight in him. And you’ve got to have thick skin to play corner.
"I think Coach Gray was trying to challenge him and find that out. Is he ready for prime time or is he going to be a guy who takes a little time? If he gets beat or things don’t go his way, how is he going to respond? I think we saw him respond favorably."
Foster was very pleased with the development of his defensive backs this spring, an area where the Hokies need to improve their depth. Foster also singled out Donovan Riley, Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes as players who came on this spring. Highly heralded Kendall Fuller also arrives in the fall as well.
As for Exum, the starting cornerback seems to be ahead in his recovery from a major knee injury he sustained while playing pick-up basketball in January. Though Foster didn't have an update on the timetable, Exum told reporters in Blacksburg last week that he wants to be ready for the season opener against Alabama on Aug. 31.
"He feels very good, he’s planning on being here for the opening of camp," Foster said. "I don’t know when they’re going to give him his release, but if there’s anybody who can do it, he can do it. He’s got tremendous physical attributes as far as his strength and the muscles surrounding the joint. If the ligaments and all those things heal up, I know the muscles will be strong enough. We’ll just have to see. He’s a guy that’s very conscientious as far as his work ethic and doing the right things. If there’s anybody who can do it because he’s going to will himself, it would be Antone."