It is no secret the Virginia Tech run game is in need of a major jump-start. True freshman Marshawn Williams could provide that this fall.
The early enrollee has drawn raves so far, taking advantage of his opportunity to get meaningful reps with starter Trey Edmunds out because of injury. Given all the hype that has surrounded Williams since he arrived on campus, he is one of the biggest players to watch in the spring game Saturday.
"Marshawn, he's a beast," quarterback Mark Leal said. "For him just to be here for a few months and making the progress and strides he's made, it's outstanding. It's been a while since I've seen a young guy come in and have the impact he's had on the team so far. To be honest, he doesn't look like he's a freshman out there. He looks like he's been here for a while, like he could possibly be starting by the time the season comes around. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens because he's a good young kid, he's smart and his work ethic is outstanding. So I think he's going to be a really good player for us."
Edmunds is expected to be the starter once he returns from injury, with J.C. Coleman right behind on the depth chart. But given what coaches have seen this spring, it will be hard to keep Williams off the field -- especially if he can be a difference maker. His 5-foot-11, 224-pound size alone makes him valuable, especially when you consider how bad the Hokies were on third down last season.
The Hokies have not averaged more than 150 yards rushing over the last two seasons. The last time they went two years without hitting that mark was in 2006-07. They also saw a decrease in their average yards per carry, down to 3.2, their lowest total since 2006. Edmunds really started to play well toward the end of the season, so the hope is he can pick up where he left off in the Virginia game once he gets completely healthy. Williams is still listed behind Edmunds, Coleman and Joel Caleb on the most recent depth chart.
But based on the spring, it appears the Hokies at least have more options in the backfield for 2014.
"He’s a big, strong, powerful back, fits perfect in what we want to do in the running game," offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. "He makes guys miss, he’s powerful, he breaks tackles. He’s got football intelligence, savvy. He’s going to really help our football team."