Practices have been grueling, the heat stifling. But Virginia Tech freshmen Trey Edmunds, Brenden Motley and Der’Woun Greene are ecstatic about playing in Friday’s Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star football game at Darling Stadium.
I caught up with the trio Tuesday afternoon as they grabbed lunch at Hampton University in between two-a-day workouts.
Preferring to sleep, Greene, a projected receiver from Portsmouth’s Wilson High, strolled in later than most. He sounded more confident than the others.
A quarterback from Christiansburg High and the nephew of the Hokies’ top receiver in 1985 and ‘86, Motley views Friday as a head start and is eager to redshirt this season.
Edmunds, a running back/linebacker from Dan River High and the son of a former Pro Bowl tight end, lit up the cafeteria with his smile. If he emerges as a top-flight talent, his engaging personality could make him the face of the program.
“I took it as, this is my last high school game,” Edmunds said of accepting the all-star invitation. “I wanted to go out one more time playing with the area guys.”
But there was an even more personal motive. Friday could be Edmunds’ final opportunity to wear No. 3, the jersey he wears in honor of his father, Ferrell, a former All-ACC tight end at Maryland and Pro Bowler with the Miami Dolphins.
Trey is Ferrell Edmunds III.
“That’s exactly the reason I wore it,” Edmunds said of being the third Ferrell. “I’ll always cherish No. 3. For me to wear it one more time before I start my college career is just amazing.”
Edmunds played for his dad at Dan River.
“We have the father-son connection and also the player-coach connection,” Edmunds said. “It couldn’t be father-son all the time during practice and during school. He had to treat me like he did the rest of the players. Sometimes he was even harder on me. This is something I had to learn, and now I understand it.”
Edmunds knew better than to request No. 3 at Tech. It belongs to All-ACC quarterback Logan Thomas.
Besides, No. 3 is not a common number for a linebacker, the position he’ll play Friday. But at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Edmunds could also land at tailback, where the Hokies lack a proven commodity. Another uncertainty: whether he redshirts.
“Basically, I just want to come in and help the team wherever I can,” Edmunds said. “If a coach needs me, whether it’s on offense or defense, then he’ll play me. … I really don’t have a preference. At the end of the day, I would like to play, but I know these coaches will do what’s best for me.
“Believe it or not … I really can’t pick a preference (linebacker or tailback). I’ve never played either at the college level, so I’m not sure how that will be. But in high school, I felt I could dominate both. So hopefully, if I put in the work in the weight room and keep my mind straight, I can do the same thing in college.”
Conversely, Motley told Tech coaches from the start that he wants to redshirt, in large part because he ran an option offense at Christiansburg, which lost the Division 4 state championship game to Briar Woods, 28-26.
“It’s a chance for me to grow as a person, as a player, to get stronger physically, mentally,” Motley said. “I’m not very familiar with Tech’s offense.”
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson recruited Motley for his option offense, but Motley couldn’t resist the lure of his hometown school, where his uncle Donald Wayne Snell was a receiver.
“I’m very excited about being the local guy,” said Motley, whose high school teammate and fellow all-star, running back Zach Snell, is an invited walk-on for the Hokies.
“I wanted another chance to go out with a bang,” Motley said of Friday. “My high school career, the last game I played, we were in state, and we ended up losing. It’s a chance to play with guys with a lot of talent, get some experience with the guys that are going to be at Tech. It’s kind of like a head start.”
Motley and Edmunds are naturals for the West all-stars, but Portsmouth resident Greene is a geographic mismatch. A shortage of versatile athletes led coaches to move him from East to West.
Like Motley, Greene was a high school quarterback. Unlike Motley, he’s eager to switch positions, to wide receiver.
“Corner, receiver, punt return, kick return: I’m going to be on the field (a lot Friday),” Greene said.
Will he see the field as a true freshman at Tech? The answer is unclear, but Greene’s inclination is not.
“Oh yeah, I’m ready,” he said. “I’ve been working out since February. Getting quicker, getting faster. I run a 4.4 (40).”
Greene and East receiver Thomas Smith of Lafayette, a Tech signee who will prep a year at Fork Union, have been swapping good-natured barbs this week about who will win their one-on-one all-star battles Friday.
“It’s hyped up,” Greene said. “The East, they want me to play with them. But they’re saying, ‘We’re going to beat the mess out of you.’ It’s going to be competition out there. We’ll be going at it.”
Three generations of Greene’s family – great grandmother, grandmother and mother – will attend the game, along with Greene’s siblings, cousins and aunt.
“Growing up I was a Tech fan,” he said. “I always wanted to go to Tech.”
Greene and other freshman football players arrived on campus July 1.
“Last Sunday when we first went to Harper Hall, the bond was just there,” Edmunds said. “We just became family and friends. Just being surrounded by an atmosphere like that is always a plus. That’s one reason why I like Virginia Tech: Everyone there seems so loving and caring and that was hard to say no to.”
Edmunds, Greene and Motley – Tech recruits Deon Clarke and Desmond Frye bowed out of the game -- return to Blacksburg this weekend. Preseason practice begins Aug. 7.
“I’m eager and anxious to get out there,” Edmunds said.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns, including today’s on Tech signee Thomas Smith.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times