Who will be the most important to getting the Justin Fuente era off to a good start? As we've done the previous three seasons at our previous home, we've counted down the players we believed were most important to Virginia Tech's success. And this season is no different, as we've compiled the top 16 for 2016.
Each of our staff members compiled a list of who they believed were the 16 most important players for the Hokies this season. Each player then earned a score based on where each staff member ranked them (16 points for a first place vote, 15 points for second place, 14 points for third place, etc.) and the points were added up for a true staff ranking. Tiebreakers included most higher votes and most overall votes.
For each of the next 16 days, we'll reveal each of our top players. Be sure to chime in on our message board with your thoughts and who you think should be the most important players this season.
No. 7 Cam Phillips
Jason Stamm, Publisher
There’s zero question who Virginia Tech’s top receiving threat is. When you haul in over 1,000 yards receiving, the first Hokie to do so, as Isaiah Ford did last season, that distinction is easily given.
As hard as it might seem to believe sometimes, though, Ford is only one man. And the past two seasons, his main partner in crime has been Phillips.
Coming out of high school in the 2014 class, Phillips was actually ranked higher by many scouting services (four stars) than Ford (three stars). And Phillips certainly has the capability of being a four-star caliber player. He’s speedy, runs good routes and is a threat to turn any routine play into a big one. Phillips just hasn’t shown the explosiveness and stick-um hands like Ford has.
With coach Justin Fuente implementing a spread system this season, Virginia Tech desperately needs more receiving help. The Hokies signed four receivers this spring who should help, but it’s up in the air if that will be immediate or more the 2017 season. That said, Phillips has to take that next step for the offense to truly take off and take some of the pressure off Ford.
Max Esterhuizen, Editor
Junior wide-receiver Cam Phillips has a high ceiling this season. Even though he plays opposite of star wide-receiver Isaiah Ford, Phillips’ play impacts Ford’s productivity as well. To put it bluntly, the better Phillips plays, the better Ford can be. The more effective Phillips is, the more the opposing defense will have to honor him, which opens up the rest of the field for other playmakers.
Phillips started 10 games last season while playing in all 13. He had two touchdowns and 582 yards on 2015. In 2016, look for him to be a bigger target and for his numbers to increase, partially due to the new offensive scheme that Virginia Tech is running.
Doug Bowman, Senior Writer
It feels wrong to group Phillips and Ford separately, so I just won’t there. Virginia Tech has zero depth at receiver, so keeping these guys on the field is the first most important thing. They are going to put up big numbers, as they have done during their first two years. However, this year they get to play in a wide receiver-friendly offense, which has to be exciting for both of them.
Phillips will probably make sure they have to rewrite two lines on a few of those. While the Hokies are lacking depth at a number of positions, they have some really talented players at a number of positions. If you include Hodges as one of Tech’s top receiving threats, that’s a pretty potent big three.
Kelly Porazzo, Staff Writer
Similar to his buddy Isaiah Ford, junior wide receiver Cam Phillips is a necessity on offense. Last season, Phillips averaged at 11.9 yards per carry, which was a decent number considering the hectic change of loosing the two-year starting quarterback to injury.
His longest receiving pass went for 60 yards, which was almost double from his rookie season. Hopefully he will continue to improve and boost those numbers to the level of an impressive offense.
Delaney Hall, Staff Writer
Phillips played in all 13 games with 10 starts, logged 783 plays, had 49 catches for 582 yards and scored two touchdowns. Although he hasn’t scored as many touchdowns as other players, like Ford and Bucky Hodges, Philips is an up and coming player.
Because Hodges is a such a large threat, opposing teams won’t expect Philips to be in the mix. This can definitely be an opportunity for Philips to come out as #1, instead of Hodges’ sidekick.