Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said the race to be the Hokies' starting quarterback is down to two players -- a fifth-year senior and a junior who has been on campus for a bit less than three months.
Mark Leal (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) is the fifth-year senior; he was listed as the backup quarterback to Logan Thomas -- now with the Arizona Cardinals -- in each of the past three seasons, but has played in just eight career games for 98 snaps. Michael Brewer (6-0, 200) is the junior; he transferred from Texas Tech and played in 13 games in two seasons with the Red Raiders. They split snaps with the first-team offense in the Hokies' first fall scrimmage Saturday.
"I thought both of them had their moments," Beamer told the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press. "We'll watch some video, grade it, spend a lot of time with it, and we're going to make a decision here pretty quickly."
Despite being the main backup the past three seasons, Leal struggled during spring ball. With sophomore Brenden Motley having a good spring and with Brewer's pending arrival, Leal was seen as the odd man out. But Leal has rebounded with a strong camp, and Motley has been sidelined by a lingering back injury and is out of the running, at least for now.
While the scrimmage was closed to the public, Tech did release composite statistics, though no individual numbers. Three quarterbacks saw time -- true freshman Andrew Ford, whom Tech wants to redshirt, was the third -- and they combined to go 14-of-36 for 202 yards and three TDs. A look at the completion percentage numbers and Hokies fans might end up pining for Thomas, who was consistently inconsistent the past two seasons.
As for Motley, Beamer's post-scrimmage comments seemed to indicate that even though the starter will be Leal or Brewer, coaches can't wait for Motley (6-4, 218) to get healthy.
"He's a tremendously important guy," Beamer said of Motley. "You've got two quarterbacks that are not as big and bulky as we want. I think the third quarterback in this situation is real, real important."
Virginia Tech opens with FCS opponent William & Mary on Aug. 30, but then faces Ohio State, East Carolina and ACC foe Georgia Tech on consecutive Saturdays.