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The fast-rising Hokies cornerback racked up more accomplishments against Georgia Tech on Thursday.
Georgia Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee and Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Facyson (31) dive for Lee’s fumble on Thursday in Atlanta. Virginia Tech recovered the ball.Tech quarterback Vad Lee (2) and Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Facyson (31) dive for Lee's fumble on Thursday in Atlanta. Virginia Tech recovered the ball.]
Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee (2) is brought down by Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Facyson in the second half of Thursday’s game in Atlanta.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
ATLANTA — At practice, Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Facyson still wears a Northgate High T-shirt under his jersey, an homage to the coaches and school in Newnan, Ga., that helped him get a big-time scholarship offer.
He’s not allowed to wear it under his jersey in games, but Facyson did one better: He put on a show in front of friends and family who made the 40-minute ride up the Interstate to see him play against Georgia Tech on Thursday.
The precocious freshman continued his fast start, notching his fourth interception in five games to grab a share of the national lead.
But that wasn’t all. He had three tackles, broke up two passes, recovered a fumble and forced another, doing so against a Georgia Tech team that was his other finalist in the recruiting process.
“He’s not a freshman. He’s just not,” Hokies linebacker Jack Tyler said. “He’s so far ahead of what most freshmen are at that point. Just football IQ-wise, ball skill-wise, he’s a heck of a player. And if he keeps getting better … whew. He’s going to be one of the best corners in the country fairly quickly.”
Considering his counterpart on the other side, fellow freshman Kendall Fuller, is a former five-star recruit whom coaches have praised endlessly, the future seems bright at DBU, even after Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum are finished after this year.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s definitely just starting,” Facyson said. “Me and Kendall, we will be here for years to come. We want to be that next great tandem together.”
“Those guys are unbelievable,” quarterback Logan Thomas said. “I got the chance to see them in practice in the spring and now in the fall. … Obviously Fuller comes from a pretty good pedigree, and I think Facyson probably has the best ball skills on the team.”
Facyson has four picks to Kendall Fuller’s two and leads in passes defended (7-5), although Fuller has the lead in tackles (20-10). Not that they’re keeping track.
“Naw,” Facyson said with a laugh. “We’re both doing great jobs. Kendall is like my brother. We’re around each other 24-7. When we go over key reads with each other as well. It’s not really competition. As long as we’re helping the team out, I really don’t care who gets the interceptions.”
With Exum nearing a return from offseason surgery for a torn ACL and bone fracture, it raises an interesting question: do the Hokies push either of the two freshmen aside for the veteran?
The answer appears to be yes.
Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray has said the All-ACC performer Exum has earned the right to start and, if completely healthy, will do so upon his return. Exum will be in Pensacola, Fla., this weekend getting his knee checked. He’s expected to be cleared to return this week in preparation for North Carolina.
If 100 percent, Exum would join Kyle Fuller as Tech’s starting cornerbacks, with Kendall Fuller and Facyson trying to find spots to work in. Virginia Tech uses the nickel so frequently that three cornerbacks are often on the field, mitigating the problem somewhat. But that’s still four players for three spots.
With free safety Detrick Bonner’s struggles in pass coverage lately, it raises another question: could Exum return to his old position to give the Hokies help? Exum began his career as a safety/rover, although he made the full-time switch to cornerback in the offseason before 2012, nearly two years ago.
However it plays out, Virginia Tech knows it has viable options in Facyson and Kendall Fuller, unlike last year when the Hokies’ young corners were in over their heads. It’s a good problem to have.
“They’re for real. It’s amazing,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “Corners in this game have a lot on them too. Both of them are smart kids, tough kids, understand the game. They’re legit. They’re for real.”
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