BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech special teams coach Stu Holt wants to build on the special teams legacy of Frank Beamer.
Holt recalled visiting Blacksburg for a practice clinic early in his career to gather advice from Beamer.
“It was definitely a big draw for me, to have this opportunity to be a special teams guy and to have the opportunity to come here and work at Virginia Tech, I don’t think it’s getting any better. “, said Holt during Tech’s media day on Wednesday.
Holt offered an updated look at his depth chart for vacant roles — place-kicker, long snapper, kick returner and punt returner — but the names he mentioned haven’t changed much since the spring.
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Players working with these are Will Ross (place-kicker), Justin Pollock (long snapper), Chance Black and Keshawn King (kick returners) and DJ Harvey (punt returner).
Ross, a two-time transfer (Coastal Carolina and South Carolina), signed with Tech last year and has been listed at both depths as the team’s backup kicker. John Love works with both.
Neither has gaming experience.
“Great kicking battle,” Holt said. “Both guys hit the ball very well.”
King was an excellent kick returner last fall for Tech when he was healthy with 13 returns for 322 yards. His 24.8 return average ranked No. 31 in the FBS, and he had three returns for 30 or more yards.
Black showed similar promise last year despite redshirting. He had 11 returns — including six in the Pinstripe Bowl — for 245 yards (22.3 yards per return).
“You want a guy who has good vision and is going to hit full speed and understand the pattern on the return,” Holt said.
Tech won’t be as experienced on the punt return, where Harvey and wide receiver Da’Wain Lofton are prime candidates to win the job. Holt continues to distribute practice reps during fall camp to gain additional experience for the players there.
The Hokies dealt with post injuries in 2020 and used four different punt returns.
“As a punt returner, it takes a lot of courage, it takes a lot of balance, you have to establish the mindset that you’re in charge,” Holt said. “I don’t know how many other games in football one guy on this game is in charge of the other 21 guys, everything that happens on the pitch.”