For a true freshman, arriving in the summer instead of early in the spring makes the challenge of earning immediate playing time a lot more difficult. The new redshirt rule does open some opportunity later in the season but when any player talks about earning an early opportunity, it's about playing every game and not just a few late season games.
While Virginia Tech has lots of returning talent on offense, one summer arrival is already making strong impression on head coach Justin Fuente, RB Keshawn King.
King was one of the most talked about signees of his class not only because he was a four-star recruit, but even more so because he was the highest-rated Hokie RB commit of the Justin Fuente era with Hokie fans desperate for the next great RB that has been lacking since David Wilson.
The stats show the lack of talent during the first three seasons of the Justin Fuente era at running back as the Hokies have failed to have a 1,000 yard rusher with Steven Peoples' 786 yards last season being the most for any running back in the Fuente era. While some would blame it on Fuente rotating running backs a lot, the Hokies have had plenty of questions about the running back talent pool with inconsistency plaguing some of the Hokies' top of the depth chart backs as well.
However, the addition of King gave Hokie fans plenty of hope that VT might have their great next RB largely due to his impressive tape and high school production that included some 300-yard performances in a high quality Florida league.
Keshawn King didn't arrive till the summer and has only had a short time to make an impression on Justin Fuente but based on Fuente's early impression, there's reason to believe King can fulfill the hype and do so soon.
"Explosive. (Keshawn King) had a couple of nice runs in the scrimmage. He is not scared, and he pours it up in there. He has got some elite quickness, and he has been fun to watch so far. We've got a lot of work to do with him, but he has had a good camp thus far,” Justin Fuente said.
The fact that the first word Fuente said is "explosive" is definitely of great joy to Hokie fans looking for an explosive, every-down back and not finding one to date in the Fuente era outside of Deshawn McClease at times. Combine that with the quickness and aggressiveness Fuente pointed out and King looks like he has a lot of the pieces that the Hokies desperately need
Fuente also places a lot of value on a running back's ability to block, something that usually can take more time for a freshman running back. So far though, King has the mentality to be a quality blocker even if he still has some growing in the weight room to do to take the next step as a blocker.
"Being an every-down back and running the ball occasionally are two different things, but I
have seen that he is Keshawn (King) is a willing blocker. King is not scared to run up there and throw
what weight he does have around," Fuente said.
As Fuente indirectly mentioned, King has lots of room to grow on his frame at only 182 pounds at 5'11''. King should be able to put on more weight without losing the explosiveness that was the first thing Fuente praised about what King brings to the table. Adding that weight should not only help him as a blocker, but should also increase his durability that is a concern for this fall given his current frame.
Of course, King hasn't had much time to work with Ben Hilgart and has the potential to grow some this fall though given the intensity of a football season, don't be surprised to see any major gain not come till the offseason.
The excitement surrounding Keshawn King is greater by far than any Virginia Tech running back Justin Fuente has had to date. The question that remains is whether King can live up to the hype and become the Hokies' first star running back since David Wilson?
If Justin Fuente's praise of Keshawn King is any indication, the answer may just be a resounding yes very soon.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Stay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on Virginia Tech. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our email updates.