guided Virginia Tech to more victories than any quarterback in
history. He graduated on time, earned
Player of the Year honors last season and was a model citizen.
His successor, Logan Thomas, could be just as good. Maybe better.
That hunch is meant not to saddle Thomas with grand expectations but to compliment his seamless transition from seldom-used, seldom-heard backup to face-of-the-program starter.
Yes, Saturday's opener against visiting Appalachian State marks Thomas' starting debut. And yes, he threw only 26 passes last season as a redshirt freshman.
But Thomas exudes excellence. He's comfortable in the Klieg lights, engaging but not boastful. And at 6-foot-6, 254 pounds, he commands a room.
"I think he's got a lot of the same qualities as Tyrod," coach
said earlier this month. "I think he's smart, competitive. … I think he's a very natural leader, great character, a lot of the same things as Tyrod, except he's … taller.
"Just like Tyrod was the right kind of guy to lead your football team, Logan is the right kind of guy to lead your football team."
Taylor led by example but was a reluctant public spokesman. Thomas is more vocal, whether on the field or interview podium.
But if eloquence were the sole prerequisite for elite quarterbacks,
would have been Pro Bowlers instead of presidents.
Can Thomas play? Our only glimpse came last November at Miami. With Taylor groggy on the sideline after a jarring hit, Thomas threw a 24-yard rope to Danny Coale to convert a third-and-16.
"I caught that ball, and I think my immediate reaction was: 'Wow,' " Coale said. "I got hit pretty hard, but it wasn't because of the hit. It was because he stepped in there cold, poised as ever, and just delivered a strike. It was one of the better balls I've seen.
"He wants those situations. I know already he wants the situations, third-and-long, third-and-short, whatever it may be. He wants the ball in his hands."
But that was one play. What will happen when the Hokies are down 10 in the fourth quarter on the road?
"He's got to play through some stuff," Beamer said.
"We try to mess with him (in practice) a little here and there, give him a little disguise," safety Eddie Whitley said. "For the most part I can just see his vision, his composure, his accuracy, he already has the arm strength, everything is clicking. Everything is coming naturally to him. … We (aren't) surprised. We knew he was a special talent."
Recruited as a tight end out of Brookville High near Lynchburg, Thomas revealed himself when Tech coaches approached him in 2009, his redshirt year, about switching to quarterback.
"I didn't have any words at all when they told me that," Thomas said. "I was already part of the team, already part of the family. Once you're a part of the team, a part of the family, you do what you can to help the team and family win games."
Thomas didn't add the timeless "there is no I in team" adage, but you get the point. He is, at first blush, and much like Taylor, selfless.
"They're cut from the same mold," assistant coach Curt Newsome said. "There's none of the off-the-field issues that you might worry about (with some others)."
A sixth-round draft choice in April, Taylor has assured himself a roster spot with the
and could well be
's understudy come opening day. Beamer envisions Thomas as a pro, too.
"I firmly believe that if he continues to develop he's going to be in the NFL as a quarterback," Beamer said. "That's what I felt and that's what I told him. He's got the height, he's got the athletic ability."
Once hesitant to play the position, Thomas is all in — long-term.
"I have a backup (NFL) plan at tight end right now," he said. "Of course right now my mindset is quarterback all the way."
: Appalachian State at Virginia Tech.
: 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
: ACC Network
We celebrate Frank Beamer's 25-year legacy at Virginia Tech in our football section "Tackling Milestones" — which will be in Sunday's edition after delayed by
. Also look for it at