GREENSBORO, N.C. — Michael Brewer can't pass up a fishing or hunting trip, has a serious competitive streak — even in drills — and he might be Virginia Tech's next starting quarterback.
So far, that's the book on Virginia Tech's newest addition to its quarterback race. In two weeks, his audition to fill the giant shoes of former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas will begin, but Brewer is still the wild card for now.
Since arriving in Blacksburg in late May after transferring from Texas Tech, working with Virginia Tech's wide receivers, running backs and tight ends in informal throwing sessions and 7-on-7 workouts is as close as Brewer has gotten to making an impact on the field in Blacksburg. At least he's received a ringing endorsement from Virginia Tech's leading returning receiver.
"The biggest and best impression is how competitive he is," said Willie Byrn, who led Virginia Tech last season with 51 catches for 660 yards and two touchdowns. "He doesn't like to lose one rep in 7-on-7s [passing drills], and you love to see that.
"Naturally, it's summer, it's toward the end of the workout and if you get an incompletion. It's an incompletion. OK, whatever. He is mad if you don't complete the ball. If the defense breaks it up and they talk about it, he comes right back at them and he audibles the play and he does whatever he needs to win. That's the impression he left."
Brewer, a 6-foot-0, 202-pound redshirt junior from Lake Travis, Texas, will join a quarterback competition that also features senior Mark Leal and sophomore Brenden Motley. Neither Leal nor Motley were able to take ownership of the starting job in spring practices, which has only served to intensify the notion that Brewer has a legitimate shot to win the job.
"He definitely knows the playbook right now," Byrn said. "Now, it's a completely different animal when you get out on the field and you have to adjust to different looks and stuff and it's a full-on 11-on-11, but from what I've seen, we don't have to slow down at all for him when it comes to the playbook."
By virtue of obtaining his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech in just three years, Brewer will be immediately eligible to play at Virginia Tech. After having Thomas start for the past three seasons, and Hampton High graduate Tyrod Taylor in the starting role from 2008 through 2010, the Hokies are unsettled at quarterback heading into preseason for the first time in a while.
"I think we've got some really talented guys competing for our quarterback position," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I think not knowing who it is right now, we'd rather be on the other side of that, but we're going to determine it pretty quickly in our preseason practice, get it down to a couple guys and get those guys some reps.
"That's such a critical position. They need reps, they need timing with their receivers, they need to be in that huddle leading the offense, and then the other players get used to the quarterback, too."
As for Brewer's outdoorsman side, Byrn said he's looking forward to going hunting with Brewer based on some of the crazy hunting yarns he's spun. Virginia Tech defensive tackle Luther Maddy isn't a fisherman or a hunter, but he's been just as pleased with the confidence Brewer has shown.
"He's a real cool guy," Maddy said. "He seems real comfortable, not eyes wide open like (a) deer (in the headlights)."
Beamer admits to not knowing a lot about Brewer before he got to Virginia Tech. There was video of Brewer to evaluate, but the only direct read Beamer had to go on regarding Brewer's personality came from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler, who recruited Brewer.
At Texas Tech, Brewer played in 13 games, completing 41 of 58 passes for 440 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He was expected to win Texas Tech's starting quarterback job heading into last season, but a preseason back injury resulted in him having to sit out about two months.
Brewer came out of high school with impressive credentials. Rivals.com had Brewer rated No. 13 among dual-threat quarterbacks in the class of 2011, while Johnny Manziel was No. 14. Brewer even boasts a 2010 high school playoff win in Texas against Manziel.
Beamer is as anxious as anybody to make a speedy assessment of Brewer.
"I think he's got all the characteristics that you like in your quarterback," Beamer said. "He's had experience. He's been a starter, been in games, been in big games, played in a great program there at Texas Tech. I think he's got all the tools."
Wood can be reached by phone at 757-247-4642.