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August 28, 2012

Five Hokies Gaining Momentum

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August is always a particularly interesting time for football programs because there is a lot of new players to get acclimated to the college game. And it has to happen quickly as the season rapidly approaches. Light bulbs either go off or they don't and coaches have to decide pretty quickly what they want to do. Today, we identify five players who made a name for themselves this August.

Joshua Stanford, wide receiver

Stanford was one of the least talked about recruits in the class of 2012 and arrived in Blacksburg to little fanfare. He hadn't received a ton of scholarship offers in high school, but it became clear right from the start that he had plenty of talent.

Stanford is still in a dogfight to secure an impactful role on year's team, as Kevin Sherman must decide if he is going to get enough reps and opportunities to warrant using a year of eligibility this year. Regardless, Stanford looks sure to be one of the top receivers on the team in 2013.

Ryan Malleck, tight end

Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring had to find a starter this August out of Malleck, Eric Martin and Randall Dunn. He found one in Malleck, who emerged as the top guy at the position about mid-way through August.

Stinespring has been quoted as saying that Malleck didn't perform as expected in the spring, but picked it up significantly off the bat in August. Now, provided he stays healthy, he could be looking at a three year as the starter at tight end in Blacksburg.

Caleb Farris, offensive guard/center

Farris is a talented true freshman who spent last season as Andrew Miller's top backup at center. He was expected to challenge for playing time this spring at guard, however a knee injury really hampered him for much of the camp.

Farris didn't let that discourage him though as he came out this fall and immediately proved himself as Curt Newsome's top backup on a thin offensive line. In just one year, Farris has elevated himself from a backup center to backup center and likely some snaps at right guard as well.

Corey Marshall, defensive lineman

Marshall split time with Luther Maddy for much of last season at defensive tackle, but managed to convince assistant coach Charley Wiles to give him a shot at defensive end in the spring. Not surprisingly, Marshall impressed at both positions and now has Wiles' full trust no matter where he lines up.

With James Gayle, J.R. Collins, Hopkins, and Maddy, the Hokies have a solid starting four, but Wiles considers Marshall his fifth starter and someone he has to make sure is on the field enough in 2012. Just a sophomore, Marshall has as bright of future as any defensive lineman in the program right now.

A.J. Hughes & Hunter Windmuller, Punter (TIE)

To fix the punting woes from last year, coach Frank Beamer brought in two talented true freshmen this year in Hughes and Windmuller. What ensued was an intense and back-and-forth battle between the two for the top spot on the depth chart.

Hughes, a lefty, had a couple big scrimmages that probably won him the position heading into the Georgia Tech game, although Beamer won't be afraid to try Windmuller if Hughes struggles. Regardless, it looks like the Hokies' punting game is back on the right track after the struggles of 2011.

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