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Va. Tech QB stands tall

MU football
Sep. 19, 2013 @ 12:25 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Once upon a time in 2007, Rob Fulford, now Huntington Prep's boys basketball coach, was head coach of Mountain State Academy in Beckley.

When Fulford was an assistant for an AAU program called the East Coast Scholar Athletes, he had a kid on his team who had great size -- one he thought would be an asset for Mountain State Academy.

That kid's name? Logan Thomas.

So Fulford went to speak with Thomas and his family by going to a football game at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Va.

All it took was one look on the football field for Thomas to be very candid with Thomas' mother, Kim Tarazona.

"I told his mom that his money will be made playing football, not basketball," Fulford said. "I've always stayed in contact with Logan. He's a very high-character kid."

Thomas, now playing quarterback for Virginia Tech, recalls the encounter and said Fulford's honesty stuck with him despite it being against the needs of his team at Mountain State.

After all, Thomas was a 6-foot-6, 240-pound basketball standout. Much like what he is on the football field, he was a matchup problem on the hardwood, too.

"He was honest with me and told me he thought I'd be better off in football, which is very true," Thomas said. "He was more of a mentor than anything. Someone you could just talk to. That's how he cares for me and his other players."

Thomas put all of his focus into football and turned it into a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech, which he accepted in Nov. 2008, before signing for the Class of 2009 -- a class in which he was listed as the nation's top tight end.

My how things have changed for Thomas. He's now one of the most heralded quarterbacks in the nation and one of the top pro prospects at his position.

He leads Virginia Tech (2-1) against Marshall (2-1) in a Saturday, noon, home game in Lane Stadium that is being televised on ESPNU.

It won't be Thomas' first encounter with Marshall, however. That came in Virginia Tech's 30-10 win in Huntington during the 2011 season.

It is one Thomas remembers quite well -- albeit a painful reminder when he sees it on film.

"On my rushing touchdown in the second quarter, the safety -- he was a converted outside linebacker -- came down and hit me in the back of the shoulder and my shoulder socket swelled up," Thomas said. "I finished playing the game, but I couldn't lift it for a week-and-a-half. I just had to play through it.

"The second half, I was handing the ball off to my right with my right hand. I couldn't stretch my left hand at all. We were happy to get out with a win. They played us tough the entire game. That's what we expect out of them. Those guys don't lay down for anybody. It's going to be a hard-fought game again this week."

During that 2011 season, Thomas rushed the ball 153 times for 469 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Now, his role has changed in new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's scheme.

Thomas is refining his game as more of a pocket passer this season, although that doesn't mean he's lost his ability to run.

"It's the product of the system that we are in now," Thomas said. "They rely on me in the passing game to go through my progressions and take the check down and keep on moving, but I'm not afraid to run by any means. If the pocket breaks down and I've got to go, I go."

That isn't the only change in mindset that Thomas noted when evaluating his own game. In addition to the changes in scheme, there have also been changes in mentality.

"I'm not taking anyone any different than the biggest game of the season just because that's how you have to treat every one," Thomas said. "I guess that's a bit of a demeanor change for me this year."

It will be important for Thomas and the Hokies to stay focused on this week, given Marshall's stout offensive numbers and an improved Thundering Herd defense that has stuffed the run well this season -- a major contrast to the 2011 contest in Huntington when Virginia Tech rushed for 215 yards while gaining 5.2 yards per carry.

In 2013, Marshall has given up 201 yards total in three games.

Last week, the Hokies also struggled in the rushing department with only 46 yards against East Carolina in their 15-10 win.

Should the Hokies struggle again in the run game, Thomas, who is now 6-6 and 254 pounds, said he's ready to shoulder the load.

"For us, we would love to run the football," he said. "Running the football makes everything easier, but if it gets into the drop-back game, I think coach and myself both feel very confident that we can do that and we'll go get the job done in that category."

It isn't just about his height or the fact that he weighs as much as Marshall's defensive linemen. It's that type of presence and leadership with his team that has Thomas standing tall for Virginia Tech.

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