BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech running back Jalen Holston is making sure the new staff knows he doesn’t want to spend his farewell tour on the sidelines.
Holston made a strong first impression on first-year coach Brent Pry as one of the veteran leaders during winter workouts and spring camp.
He’s happy to mentor the team’s many young backs, but he’s spent the first two weeks of fall camp pushing to land atop the depth chart for the Hokies opener against Old Dominion on Sept. 2.
“That’s a competitive room,” Pry said. “The first thing I want to say is, all those guys have done well, but Holston has really impressed me this summer and this camp. He’s been very consistent, which is something we were asking and looking for.”
This is the fourth straight season Holston has been in contention for the starting job.
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He was used sparingly last year after getting 37 carries in the first four weeks of the season. He went seven straight games without a carry and ended the year with 53 carries for 199 yards last season (3.8 yards per carry).
His season-highs came in the opener against North Carolina with 13 carries for 49 yards (3.8 yards per carry).
Holston’s most productive season came in 2018 as a sophomore with 57 carries for 281 yards with two touchdowns. He suffered a setback in 2019 when he suffered a season-ending leg injury in the opener against Boston College, but has remained healthy ever since.
Holston recounted the “frustrating” final chapter of the Justin Fuente era back in March. He grew increasingly disenchanted last season as the weekly game plan offered differed from what the team practiced during the week with little communication from the coaching staff.
Tech wide receiver Kaleb Smith echoed those complaints at ACC Kickoff.
Pry, offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen and running backs coach Stu Holt seem like they are on the same page about the running back. The coaches all took time at Tech’s media day on Wednesday praising the veteran.
“That veteran presence is something I notice everyday, his leadership within that room and our offense, and to be honest, just his consistency in every aspect of what we are asking those guys to do,” Bowen said. “Whether that’s carrying the ball, catching the ball, pass protection, he’s been very consistent in his work ethic and everything he does at practice.”
Holt labeled Holston and sophomore Malachi Thomas as “1a/1b” right now in the room.
“They can play on any down and in any situation,” Holt said.