After a busy month of changes to the coaching staff in February, some Hokie football players are now being moved around as the staff prepares for spring practice, which begins on March 30. The highlighted moves are Chris Drager switching from defensive end back to tight end, and a couple of backups moving around on the offensive line.
Chris Drager signed with Tech as a member of the 2007 recruiting class and played the 2007 season as a tight end. He was primarily a special teams player early in the season, though he saw action and caught a pass in Tech’s 48-7 drubbing at the hands of LSU. In the fourth game of the season against William & Mary, Drager caught a 9 yard pass and suffered a season-ending knee injury on the play. He received a medical redshirt and sat out the spring of 2008.
Drager caught 3 passes for 37 yards in the 2008 season (see the pic at right for Drager sporting his old tight end number from that season), and followed that up with 4 catches in the 2009 Spring Game. He appeared to be one of Tech’s best returning tight ends for 2009, but he was abruptly switched to defensive end (a position he played in high school) in the fall of 2009.
Drager caught on quickly at defensive end, and in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, he played in 25 games and accumulated 56 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He did not start any games in the 2009 season, but started 11 games in 2010.
With the graduation of starting tight end Andre Smith and very little experience beyond Smith (Eric Martin, Randall Dunn, and a crop of redshirt freshmen and true freshmen), the Hokies have a need at tight end, so they have moved Drager back.
Drager will be a redshirt senior in the 2011 season. He has already received a degree in Human Nutrition Foods and Exercise, and is working on his Masters. He has a near-4.0 grade point average and is a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
In other announced position changes, rising redshirt-junior offensive lineman Vinston Painter will be moving from guard to tackle, and rising redshirt freshman Laurence Gibson will move from tackle down to guard. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring foresees a starting lineup (left to right) of Andrew Lanier/Nick Becton (LT), Greg Nosal (LG), Andrew Miller (C), Jaymes Brooks, and Blake DeChristopher (RT).
Backups whom the staff sees as having a chance at significant playing time are Gibson, Painter, Mark Shuman and Michael Via.
These position changes were discussed last week in several updates to BeamerBall.com, where you can find more information, including quotes from the players and coaches for their thoughts on the moves.
Other rumored position changes are rover James Hopper to tailback, and defensive end JR Collins to defensive tackle. At this point, those are just message board rumors, and not verified.
Hopper’s move to tailback would be to shore up a position that has seen Ryan Williams and Darren Evans go pro, and which has lost Tony Gregory for spring practice due to a knee injury. That leaves David Wilson, Josh Oglesby, and little else for spring practice. As a senior in high school, Hopper played tailback and rushed for over 1,300 yards and 26 scores, including 192 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the 4-A state championship victory over Douglas Byrd.
If Collins moves to defensive tackle as rumored, it may just be a temporary experimental move for the spring.