Spring practice opens this afternoon for Virginia Tech, and there will be many unfamiliar faces roaming the practice
fields behind the Merryman Center. Four new coaches joined the staff in the offseason, and there will be a lot of new
players moving into the two-deep on both sides of the ball. Spring practice will go a long way towards establishing this
season’s depth chart. We’ve got news on position changes, the status of William Wall and Ike Whitaker, and notes on
the quarterback race as spring practice opens.
The Hokies are coming off an 11-2 season and a Gator Bowl victory over Louisville, but they have endured a rather
large talent exodus in the offseason. Many outstanding players such as Darryl Tapp, Jeff King and Jonathan Lewis
expended their eligibility after the 2005 season, not to mention Marcus Vick, who was dismissed from school and later
declared for the NFL Draft.
The most glaring holes on offense come along the offensive line. Tech lost three full-time starters and one part-time
starter off the 2005 team. Tech also has to find a quarterback and a starting tailback. On defense, there are question
marks on the defensive line and whip linebacker. Some position changes have been made as a result of these needs.
Duane Brown has moved from right tackle to left tackle. All of Virginia Tech’s quarterbacks are right-handed, so it
is important that Tech’s best pass blocker be used to protect the QB’s blind side. Brandon Frye will slide over to
right tackle, where he is listed as the starter.
At tailback, Victor "Macho" Harris is even with Elan Lewis on the second team. They both trail George Bell.
Harris will play tailback for at least the first half of spring practice. Branden Ore is not enrolled in school this
semester. Ore had surgery on his shoulder following the Gator Bowl, and elected to rehabilitate his shoulder back home.
He will return to Blacksburg this summer, but for now the Hokies need bodies at tailback.
Cornerback Jahre Cheeseman will also play some running back in the spring, although he will not be moved until the
second half of the spring, when he and Harris will switch places. In another position change, Richard Graham has been
moved from offensive tackle to tight end. This move is necessary because John Kinzer will sit out this spring. Kinzer,
who has had a history of neck problems, has not been able to get over his injury issues. He will sit out this spring and
then decide if he wants to continue his college football career.
The anticipated move of Ryan Shuman to guard has not happened, at least not yet. Shuman is currently listed as a
co-starter at center with incumbent Danny McGrath. Sergio Render is the starter at left guard, and Nick Marshman is
currently slated to start at right guard.
At wide receiver, there is player movement as well, as always. Eddie Royal remains at the flanker position, but he is
now joined by David Clowney. Last season Clowney was Tech’s starter at split end. Josh Morgan, Josh Hyman and Justin
Harper are listed at split end for the spring.
Rouse Still at Rover
Aaron Rouse has not moved back to whip linebacker, at least not at the beginning of spring practice. There was
rampant speculation in the offseason that with the graduation of James Anderson, the Hokies would be forced to move
Rouse back to his original position. As of now, that hasn’t happened. Brenden Hill and Corey Gordon will be given a
chance to win the starting job in the spring. Right now Hill is listed ahead of Gordon, but it is commonly thought that
if Gordon can learn the position he will catapult himself ahead of Hill. Hill boosted his stock by being just one of two
players (Duane Brown was the other) to earn a T-shirt during every one of Tech’s recently completed 6 a.m. winter
workouts. The T-shirts are awarded at the end of each workout to reward effort during the difficult, exhausting drills.
With Rouse staying at rover, this solidifies what should be a very good defensive backfield. D.J. Parker returns at
free safety after seeing starting time last year, while Roland Minor returns at field corner. Tech’s most natural
cover corner, Brandon Flowers, appears to be the frontrunner to start at boundary corner. Rouse has the ability to be a
star no matter what position he plays.
Wall to Participate in Spring Drills
William Wall is listed on the latest depth chart, so it is apparent that he will be participating in spring practice.
Wall left the team last fall while redshirting to concentrate on academics.
Wall was a highly-touted defensive end prospect who enrolled at Tech this past August. He showed the physical ability
to play early, but he had not developed a feel for the game. Following a redshirt season, he should be able to
immediately contribute as part of the two-deep, provided he is in good academic standing.
Ike Whitaker was suspended indefinitely back on March 2nd. He was arrested and charged with possession of alcohol,
destruction of property and public swearing/intoxication. All of those charges are misdemeanors.
It isn’t clear how long Whitaker will be suspended. His court hearing is set for Thursday, March 23, and depending
on the outcome, he could return as soon as Friday, March 24. According to sources, he could also miss spring practice in
its entirety. It is too soon to tell, but the longer he misses, the further behind he will fall in the starting
Frank Beamer said during his media conference call Tuesday afternoon that the quarterbacks will not wear
yellow jerseys during scrimmages this spring. In the past, VT quarterbacks have worn yellow jerseys, which indicated to
defenders that they were not allowed to be hit. The last time a quarterback did not wear a yellow jersey was when Bryan
Randall played for both teams in live conditions in the 2002 spring game.
Beamer indicated that he wants to use the scrimmages to see how each quarterback responds when he is under pressure.
That is something the coaches have typically not done in the past, instead waiting until actual games before turning
their quarterback loose. Beamer mentioned that Sean Glennon was first on the depth chart right now, followed by Cory
Holt and then Greg Boone. Whitaker could get back in the mix, but he must return from his suspension quickly.