Spring Practice Update: Position Battles

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The Hokies have completed five of their 15 scheduled practices this spring
(prior to Friday’s practice), and there are still some position battles raging.
Tech held a small scrimmage on Wednesday afternoon, and some of the positions
began to shake themselves out. Saturday’s scrimmage will continue to iron out
the depth chart.

As discussed earlier this week, the expected (by some) battle between Sean
Glennon and Ike Whitaker has not materialized. Whitaker has struggled with his
throwing motion and accuracy this spring, and as a result he finds himself in a
battle with Cory Holt for the #2 spot on the depth chart. At this point, it
appears that Holt could possibly hold a slight lead over Whitaker.

Besides the backup quarterback battle, here are some other competitions that
are going strong.

Position
Battles
Position
Battles
Competitors

Backup QB

Cory Holt, Ike Whitaker

Backup RB

Kenny Lewis, Jr., George Bell, Jahre Cheeseman

Left Guard

Nick Marshman, Brandon Holland

Defensive End

Nekos Brown, Jason Adjepong, Orion Martin

Whip

Corey Gordon, Cam Martin

Rover

Dorian Porch, Kam Chancellor

Kicker

Jud Dunlevy, Jared Develli, Matt Waldron, Dustin Keys

Kenny Lewis, Jr., George Bell and Jahre Cheeseman all appear to be having good
springs at tailback, and they are separating themselves from the other players
battling to be Branden Ore’s backup. Lewis started a game last year when Ore was
hurt, and Bell is experienced as well, though his knee remains a question mark.

Cheeseman has been a pleasant surprise this spring. He looked good running
the ball in a JV game last season, but an injury ended his year early. The
r-sophomore is built well and has good acceleration and speed. Assuming he is
among the top four running backs when spring practice ends, don’t expect to see
him move back to defense.

The left guard battle is interesting because Nick Marshman and Brandon
Holland are not directly competing for the position as of yet. Holland is
filling in at right guard while Sergio Render rehabs from offseason knee
surgery. Whichever guard is most impressive this spring could have the inside
track to the starting left guard spot this fall.

Unfortunately, Marshman does not practice with the team on Mondays and
Wednesdays because of class requirements. Neither does his backup, Matt Welsh.
Holland is getting a lot more work than Marshman this spring, and the extra time
will give him a chance to challenge for the starting spot this August.

Chris
Ellis is the obvious starter at one defensive end spot. The only question is who
will be the other starter? Nekos Brown, Jason Adjepong and Orion Martin are the
top candidates. Ellis is missing spring practice due to shoulder surgery, so the
three players listed above, as well as converted linebacker Demetrius Taylor,
are getting a lot of reps this spring.

Orion Martin is a good athlete who has been in the two-deep for the past two
seasons. He has a chance to earn the starting job, but he’ll be pushed by
talented young players like Brown and Adjepong. Brown played as a true freshman
last season, while Adjepong is a very talented r-freshman that some consider the
frontrunner to win the job.

At whip linebacker, the Hokies are trying to find a player to replace
productive Brenden Hill. Senior Corey Gordon, a very athletic and talented
player who has yet to make an impact on the field, is the frontrunner to start,
and it appears that he’s finally picking up the position mentally this spring.

At 6-2, 226, running a sub 4.5 40 yard dash with a 35-inch vertical jump,
Gordon is similar to former Virginia Tech whip linebacker James Anderson, who
now plays for the Carolina Panthers. If Gordon can play up to his athletic
potential this year, the Hokies will have a deadly trio of senior linebackers to
put on the field.

The other player at whip is r-sophomore Cam Martin, a converted free safety.
Martin is athletic and plays well in space, but he’ll have to use this spring to
adjust to his new position. Right now, it looks like Gordon is ahead of him, but
Martin has a bright future at the position.

A pair of sophomores are fighting it out for the starting rover spot.
R-sophomore Dorian Porch and true sophomore Kam Chancellor are both playing well
this spring, and it remains to be seen who will win the job. Porch is listed on
top for now, as he’s had an extra year at the position.

Porch nearly played as a true freshman in 2005, but the staff decided to
redshirt him. At one point it appeared that he had hit a wall in the
developmental process, but he’s looked capable so far this spring. Chancellor is
an impressive athlete who played as a true freshman last year, and he’ll give
Porch all he can handle in the competition.

Special teams are probably Frank Beamer’s biggest concern. Brent Bowden is
the likely successor to Nic Schmitt at punter, but there are a number of guys
trying to step into the shoes of Brandon Pace. Jud Dunlevy, Jared Develli, Matt
Waldron and Dustin Keys are all battling it out, and as of now no one appears to
be separating himself from the pack.

Walk-on quarterback Brian Saunders could also work his way into the mix at
kicker and punter, but there haven’t been many hints coming out of the Merryman
Center as to the progress of the kickers and punters. We’ll have to wait until
the next depth chart is released before we know for sure.

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