Logan Thomas does not equal Cam Newton, and other football musings

Summer just hit fifth gear. The Fourth of July is in the rearview mirror, the Cubs' cause is predictably hopeless and Labor Day is on the horizon.

And you know what that means: Hello, football. At least the college variety, which reigns in these parts anyway.

Not to neglect the NFL and its myriad local connections, many of whom are heading our way for the Peninsula All-Star Camp this weekend at Christopher Newport. But until players and owners reach labor peace, best to avoid the collective bargaining minutiae and ponder the, wink, amateurs.

Yes, given the National Enquirer offseasons at North Carolina, Ohio State and, most recently, Oregon, it's dicey describing major college football players as "amateurs." But for those partial to the schools in our wheelhouse, the focus remains the field with nary an NCAA snoop in sight.

So with preseason practice a month away and the season opening in two, some musings on some of the region's teams.

But first: The fledgling United Football League's Virginia Destroyers debut Aug. 13 at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex, and headlined by coach Marty Schottenheimer, linebacker Darryl Blackstock (Heritage High and Virginia), safety Aaron Rouse (First Colonial High and Virginia Tech) and quarterback Pat White (West Virginia), the team has assembled an intriguing cast. The UFL's quality — five teams play eight regular-season games each — and the local support it generates merits monitoring.

Back to our go-to guys on campus.

ESPN's Josh Parcell tweeted Tuesday that the hype surrounding Virginia Tech sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas "is getting a little ridiculous. Too many (Cam) Newton comparisons, when that's not his style anyway."

Indeed, just because Thomas stands 6-feet-6 and weighs 245 pounds doesn't make him another Newton (6-5, 248). While agile for his size, Thomas projects as more of a pocket passer than Newton, who emerged from obscurity last season to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Auburn to the national title.

But other than from ESPN itself and SouthernPigskin.com, I haven't read or unearthed any Thomas-Newton stories. As it should be.

Thomas need not be off-the-charts for the Hokies to win large this season. Providing the defense avoids the brain cramps that marred 2010 losses to Boise State and Stanford, and if new kicker Cody Journell doesn't need a GPS to find the uprights, Tech should return to the ACC championship game.

The Hokies have dropped three consecutive season-openers — East Carolina, Alabama and Boise State — and a fourth to Championship Subdivision Appalachian State would be beyond troubling. But the Mountaineers should not be dismissed — they've reached the NCAA playoffs six consecutive years and return quarterback DeAndre Presley, who last season rushed for 1,039 yards and 13 touchdowns, and passed for 2,631 yards and 21 scores to earn Southern Conference offensive player of the year honors.

Virginia's opening-day opponent is equally treacherous. William and Mary last season won the FCS's toughest conference, the Colonial Athletic Association, and here's thinking that with 15 returning starters, the Tribe will be better in 2011.

Sure, William and Mary lost its best defensive coordinator in memory, Bob Shoop, to Vanderbilt. But his replacement, Scott Boone, is entering his eighth year on Jimmye Laycock's staff and coaches a linebacking corps that, with Jake Trantin's return from a season-long sabbatical, should be lights-out.

Can W&M recreate its 2009 conquest of the Cavaliers? Absolutely.

Will the Tribe prevail? There's plenty of time to address that, and other queries, as we steam toward training camps.

http://bio.tribune.com/davidteel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/sports/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP

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