BLACKSBURG — Whether it’s during wind sprints or a particularly exhausting portion of practice, rover Reggie Floyd looks across the Virginia Tech defensive backfield and can’t help but watch in amazement at how indefatigable free safety Terrell Edmunds is.
“He’s never tired,” Floyd said. “It’s really crazy. It’s amazing. His speed and his stamina, it’s ridiculous.I have no clue [how]. It’s his secret.”
But contrary to that prevailing thought, the middle Edmunds brother does, in fact, get tired on occasion. He’s just good at masking it.
“I try to hold myself to coach [Justin] Fuente’s standard, and not put your hands on your hips. Never put your hands on your head,” Edmunds said. “Coach [Ben] Hilgart and all the strength and conditioning coaches, they always say, ‘Never show any weaknesses.’ That’s big in my head.
“Each time I even feel like I’m tired, I just stand up and I try to clap. I try to yell. I try to just make a crazy impression, you could say, because I try to get loud when I’m tired. So, whenever I’m loud and clapping all crazy and yelling, that’s when I’m kind of tired.”
That’s not a bad example for Floyd to follow. The Hokies shuffled some pieces around on the back end of the secondary this season, sliding the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Edmunds over from rover to the free safety spot vacated by the departed Chuck Clark. Those aren’t small shoes to fill, considering the underrated Clark was a three-year starter who was third on the team with 94 tackles last fall and ended up being the first Hokie selected during last spring’s draft in the sixth round.
Edmunds’ switch opens up the rover spot, where Floyd, a sophomore, is the presumptive starter working ahead of several up-and-comers, including redshirt freshman Kalil Ladler and true freshman phenom Devon Hunter.
“Everyone’s just trying to be great,” Edmunds said. “We’re all out there competing every day. It’s a tough spot over at the rover position. Everyone is competing. It’s a head-to-head race, and they’re all trying to push each other to be the best players they can be.”
In making the switch, the Hokies are banking on Edmunds being able to as seamlessly move to free safety as he was going from cornerback to rover prior to last season. That change went off without a hitch, with Edmunds registering 89 tackles, making a team-high four interceptions and leading the team in bone-rattling hits.
But it’s his unrelenting style, both in practice and games, that catches everyone’s eye.
“I just have never seen a guy that can’t get tired,” Fuente said. “He just doesn’t. We know about the family. Just great people, in general. But there’s just something different about him in terms of his stamina, his strength, his work ethic, his intelligence. He’s a pretty special kid.
“When they go run in the summertime and we go do things and you’re playing games and he’s covering punts and he’s playing safety and covering kickoffs and is the fastest guy out there all the time, every single rep, I mean, that’s pretty fun to watch.”
For the Edmunds move to work, the Hokies need a rover to come up the ranks. They have several options, led by the 6-foot, 218-pound Floyd, who played mostly on special teams as a true freshman last year and ascended to the first team in the spring.
He’s remained there, despite being pushed by Ladler, a converted cornerback from the 2016 signing class who redshirted while rehabbing an ACL tear last year, and Hunter, the 6-foot, 216-pound prized signee last winter from Virginia Beach who coaches have said will have some role immediately, though likely on special teams to start.
“There’s going to be competition across the board,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “And having quality depth and quality competition is healthy for your program.”
Floyd hasn’t shied away from the competition, even somebody as promising as Hunter. Foster half-joked in the spring that if Floyd missed a tackle, he’d point over to a visiting Hunter on the sideline and note his eventual arrival, but Floyd’s simply used that to drive him.
“Everything motivated me,” Floyd said. “Devon’s, of course, a great player. Came in as a five-star. He’s a great kid. He learns very very quickly. But I want to say that wasn’t that much of a big deal for me. I know that coming into the ACC, college, you have to compete with everybody that’s here, that’s not here. So I think it was a great motivation.”
He’s got a good role model in Edmunds, whose undiminished effort on the field serves a larger purpose: preventing anything less than 100 percent from seeping into the Hokies’ practice efforts.
“Going hard every day, you never know how great the team could be,” Edmunds said. “You never know how great you can push somebody else to be, because if I show that I’m tired … the younger guys, they’re looking up to us. If they see that we’re tired, bending over and doing all this, that and the third, they’ll think that they can do that as well.
“At the end of the day, coach Fuente would be mad. We want to win 10 games like we did last year, so each and every day, I push myself and I push the team just to go out there and not even think about being tired. Just go out there and give 100 percent each and every play, and the outcome will come.”