With Andrew Motuapuaka potentially out for up to four weeks, the Hokies need a new plan at mike linebacker. Bud Foster revealed that plan on Tuesday night.
“Sean Huelskamp will start,” Foster said. “We’re taking the redshirt off – potentially – of Carson Lydon. Carson’s had a great summer. He’s ready to play.”
Huelskamp is a r-sophomore walkon who played well in the spring of 2014 before tearing his ACL while covering kickoffs at Ohio State. He played much of the second half against Furman.
“He reminds me a little bit of Jack Tyler,” Foster said. “The same makeup. He doesn’t have the experience right now. Good football IQ. Smart kid. Tough kid. Can run. ”
As a high school player, Huelskamp was outstanding. He made 140 tackles as a senior, with nearly 40 of them coming for a loss. He was a first-team All-Group AAA selection by Virginia Preps and the Virginia High School Coaches’ Association, and the Concorde District Defensive Player of the Year.
However, his size – 6-1, 207 – kept Huelskamp from being heavily recruited by major programs.
“Really my only other serious option was to go to William & Mary on scholarship,” Huelskamp said. “I wanted to compete at a higher level, so I just chose Virginia Tech. I love it here now.”
Just in case Huelskamp isn’t up to the task, Foster will likely pull true freshman Carson Lydon‘s redshirt. He is currently running with the #2 defense.
“It’s hard for a young guy to come in and play well right away,” Foster said. “At the end of spring he wasn’t ready. But he’s a guy who is very conscientious, it’s very important to him, he did a great job this summer…he’s really improved 100% from where he was in the spring.”
Even with a spring under his belt, playing mike as a true freshman will be difficult for Lydon. I asked Bud Foster if he remembers ever playing a true freshman at mike.
“Uhhh….I don’t know if I’ve ever played a true freshman at mike,” Foster said. “We’ll see where he is. We’ll see where he figures in. I’m hoping Sean will do a great job. We’ve got to have a great week of practice.”
Brett Warren played 72 special teams snaps as a true freshman mike in 2004, but he only appeared on defense in one game that year…at the end of a 55-6 whipping of Maryland on a Thursday night. Jake Houseright played as a true freshman fullback in 1998, but he didn’t move to mike linebacker until the spring of 1999. From the information I’ve been able to dig up, no true freshman mike has played real snaps in a game as long as Bud Foster has been defensive coordinator.
According to Deon Clarke, Lydon’s head is spinning a bit, as you might expect.
“He’s definitely got the build,” Clarke said. “But he’s way younger than Sean. He’s out in practice still messing up a lot. In the locker room he was like “Man, I don’t want to watch film tomorrow” because he messed up.
Still, Bud Foster plans to make things as simple as possible for his inexperienced mikes, and he still expects them to play well.
“The plan will be pretty simple for those guys. They’ll do a good job for us.”