Flowers and Miller Injured
The news has been mostly good out of Blacksburg through
three days of football practice (not including Monday). However, there has been
some bad news. R-freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Theo Miller both came
up lame over the weekend with hamstring injuries, forcing them to miss valuable
Flowers’ injury appears to be the most severe. He was
injured in Saturday’s practice. Miller was injured on Sunday, and his injury
does not appear to be as bad. However, it is unclear as to when both players
will be back to full speed.
Flowers played in one game last season, returning an
interception for a touchdown against Western Michigan. He also broke up another
pass in that game, flashing serious potential. However, an injury forced him to
miss the remainder of the season and he was able to redshirt. He began camp
solidly in the two-deep at cornerback and was putting heavy pressure on
r-sophomore Roland Minor.
Miller is a r-freshman who is probably a year away from
working his way into the two-deep. He began August as a second string
cornerback, but the general consensus is that Miller will be the 5th cornerback
on the team, behind Jimmy Williams, Minor, Flowers and true freshman Victor “Macho”
Speaking of Harris, the injuries to Flowers and Miller
means that Virginia’s #1 prospect of 2005 must speed up his development.
Harris will now be Tech’s third cornerback until Minor and Miller return.
Harris has been highly impressive thus far in preseason
practices. He appears to be the most advanced of all the freshmen, although he
will not be the only true freshman to play. He is athletic enough to play the
position at a high level right now, he just needs to get more reps and grow into
the position. He has already shown an ability to jam receivers at the line of
scrimmage. He is a much more physical player than he was known for coming out of
Expect to see Harris on the field for the Hokies this fall
on defense and special teams. It is also possible that VT could play him on
offense as well to take advantage of his excellent athletic ability.
No Surgery For Boone
True freshman quarterback Greg Boone received some bad
news last week. He found out that he had partially torn his MCL while working
out over the summer. Then he received some good news. Surgery will not be
required to repair the damage. Boone will miss a lot of time, but the injury
will heal on its own after some rehabilitation.
However, this is a tough break for Boone in the
quarterback race. Boone wasn’t exactly expected to put the head on Marcus
Vick, but he is in a battle with fellow incoming freshman Ike Whitaker. Whoever
emerges from the spring of 2006 ahead on the depth chart, whether it is Boone or
Whitaker, will stand the best chance of starting down the road. Boone being
sidelined means that Whitaker will get off to a sizeable lead in this race.
Boone also reported to camp overweight at 287. He needs to
get back down to a more comfortable weight of 250-260. If the quarterback
position does not work out for Boone, there are other positions that he can
play, including defensive end and tight end.
Speaking of Whitaker, he has been impressive in the
limited action that he has received. He has a live arm, and although he hasn’t
had the opportunity to show it, he can run. He will redshirt this year but will
be given the opportunity to win the backup job in 2006. Sean Glennon and Cory
Holt need to turn it up a notch right now, or they could find themselves in a
major battle with Whitaker whenever Vick departs.
Of course, Whitaker must first beat out Boone. The Hokies
have a nice problem at quarterback.
Other Freshmen Impress
Macho Harris isn’t the only freshman that is impressing
the Virginia Tech coaches thus far. There are several players that have been
catching the eye of their coaches and have a chance to play this fall.
At cornerback, Jahre Cheeseman has looked good. Cheeseman
will also see increased time with the injuries to Brandon Flowers and Theo
Miller. It is still likely that Cheeseman will redshirt, but he appears to have
a bright future in Blacksburg.
William Wall reported in great shape and looks to play
early at defensive end. The jury is still out until they put the pads on, but it
will be surprising if Wall redshirts. He will battle r-freshman Orion Martin for
the fourth defensive end spot.
Demetrius Taylor also has a chance to play this fall. The
mike linebacker was very impressive in freshman testing. Also, consider the
Hokies’ other mike linebackers behind Vince Hall. Andrew Bowman is likely a
year or more away, and he has not been as impressive in the weight room as
Taylor has in his short time. Brett Warren played as a true freshman last
season, but on special teams, taking just one snap at LB. Taylor has a chance to
provide some immediate, quality depth.
Kenny Jefferson is a candidate for early playing time, but
that is dependent on how much the Hokies want to use the fullback this season.
If Tech continues to use a lot of one-back sets, it wouldn’t make sense to
play Jefferson. However, if the Hokies want to use more two-back sets than they
did a year ago, Jefferson could play.
Overall, many freshmen who reported this August look
physically ready to play. However, with the Hokies being deeper in talent than
they have ever been, most will not have to.
Offensive Line Developing Depth
Offensive line depth is considered the biggest concern on
the team, but some developments have taken place recently that give Bryan
Stinespring some breathing room. Brandon Frye has apparently looked much better,
and the coaching staff feels ok about him in a backup role at this point.
Frye, a r-junior, is a monster in the weight room who has
yet to transfer that ability to the field. If he can turn himself into a
reliable offensive tackle, that would greatly help Tech’s depth problems this
year. It also gives hope to the offensive line in 2006.
Brandon Gore has also improved and is pushing for a
starting spot at left guard. If Gore shows he is capable of starting,
Stinespring will move Will Montgomery from guard back to center, allowing the
inexperienced Danny McGrath to serve as his backup. Stinespring has never been
hesitant to move players around if it means getting his best five on the field,
and he could do so in this case as well.