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2024 Position Group Previews: Running Backs

By Mike Holmes | June 29
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Photo: Virginia Tech Athletics


#33 Bhayshul Tuten Sr 5’ 11” 209 Paulsboro, NJ (2023 Stats 173 Att. 922 Yds. 10TDs 5.0/YPC)

#24 Malachi Thomas R-Jr 6’ 0” 215 Hartwell, GA  (2023 Stats 83 Att. 396 Yds. 5TDs 4.6/YPC)

#21 Jeremiah Coney R-Fr 6’ 0” 200 Richmond, VA  (2023 Stats 10 Att. 30 Yds. 2.8/YPC)

#20 P.J. Prioleau R-Jr 5’ 11” 180 Radford, VA  (2023 Stats N/A )

#23 Tyler Mason Fr 6’ 0” 194 Mount Airy, NC  (2023 Stats N/A)

#16 Tralon Mitchell R-Fr 6’ 0” 209 Middlesex, NC  (2023 Stats 1 Att. 3 Yds.)

#35 John Buetow Fr 5’ 10” 205 Irmo, SC  (2023 Stats N/A)

2023 Review

North Carolina A&T transfer Bhayshul Tuten came into the fold last season and many Hokie Fans did not know what to expect.  The Hokies had established producer Malachi Thomas already in the room and a few younger talented performers including Chance Black, Bryce Duke, Jeremiah Coney and Tralon Mitchell.  It’s safe to say that Tuten exceeded expectations from the start of the season.  Through the first four games of the season, run production was limited as the power inside run scheme we were running was not the best fit for our personnel.  Starting with the Marshall and Rutgers games, we began to start including more outside runs and RPO’s.  As that change began to take firm hold during the Pitt game, Hokie fans saw a virtual explosion in the running game.  Pressure was taken off of the interior of the offensive line and really suited Tuten’s running style.  Across the remainder of the season, Tuten amassed 822 of his 922 yards in those games.  Malachi Thomas added an inside run threat and contributed nearly 400 yards.  Including the awesome rushing threat from QB Kyron Drones, the Hokies amassed 2795 yards over the course of the season.  

2024 Spring Notes

Tuten came into the spring the unquestioned starter with Thomas, Coney, and Mitchell as returning contributors.  Bryce Duke and Chance Black hit the transfer portal, but the Hokies added PJ Prioleau, Tyler Mason, and John Buetow to the running back room.  With Tuten and Thomas controlling the top spots in the room, the real battle was for the remaining slots on the depth chart.  PJ Prioleau looked amazing in the spring game and Coach Pry added that his versatility in the passing game gives the offense an added dimension that we did not have in 2023.  Coney and Mason also showed flashes in the spring game and gained much needed experience and reps as young running backs.

2024 Outlook

The running back situation at VT is something that all Hokie Fans annually look at as a make or break position group.  If the Hokies can move the ball on the ground, the offense operates more smoothly and gives an advantage to the passing game.  Bhayshul Tuten has the strength, speed, and vision to be one of the top all purpose backs in the league and the country.  Tuten’s abilities in the kicking game also cannot be understated.  Where he needs to improve is also where the offensive line needs to improve, which is running between the tackles.  Teams have a year of film on our offense and will scheme to take away the outside run.  It is imperative that the Hokies loosen up the middle of the field with Tuten and Thomas to bring those defenders back inside the box for that outside scheme to be effective.  Tuten and Thomas as a 1-2 punch should be able to give opposing defenses fits this season and health of those two will be of massive importance.  Prioleau in sort of a wingback type role in the run and pass game is another added dimension that defenses will have to account for moving forward.  The RPO game and Kyron Drones developing as a passer should also continue to open up spaces for the running backs.  This season will be a success if Bowen and company can continue to be creative and schematically ahead of opposing defenses.  Below please watch the Hokie Hitter from the Syracuse game for examples of that type of creativity.  Tuten and the rest of the running back room have all the skills necessary to have a breakout productive season.  The biggest question remains, Will we see improved production in the offensive line room (Previewing next week!) that will keep holes open for the running backs and Drones off his back!


Hokie Hitter of the Week: Syracuse


I am a 5th Generation Hokie. I have Orange and Maroon blood coursing through my veins. I was lucky enough to attend VT from 1999-2003 and graduated with a history degree. I became a history teacher and football coach working my way to spending multiple seasons as Head Coach at schools in North Carolina and Colorado.

I now live in Colorado, with my wife and son and do what I can to follow the Hokies from afar. The outstanding team here at Sons of Saturday was gracious enough to let me talk some football and be able to impart some my knowledge gained from years spent on the sideline.

Aside from following the Hokies in all sports, I am a fan of the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Braves, and Carolina Hurricanes. I also try to play a lot of golf and enjoy skiing out here in the rockies!

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