ACC: Jake Johnson

Hokies will handle Johnson's transfer

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
1:30
PM ET
Jake Johnson's decision to transfer from Virginia Tech because he didn't agree with the move from linebacker to defensive end will have minimal impact on the Hokies' defense if any this fall.

At first glance it would seem as if a defense trying to replace six starters -- including three on the defensive line -- couldn't afford to lose any more depth, but the reality is that Johnson was a third-string defensive end and likely wasn't going to make a huge impact.

Johnson hasn't redshirted, so he could go to another FBS school and sit out a season without losing a year of eligibility, or he could drop down to the FCS level and play right away. Coach Frank Beamer granted Johnson his release and wished him well, according to a school spokesman.

Every coach wants players who want to be there, so this is probably a decision that will work out for the best of both parties.

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
12:05
PM ET
Around the ACC we go ...

  • Has Miami already found an elite recruit to succeed quarterback Jacory Harris in 2012?
  • Playing linebacker is so important to Jake Johnson that he has decided to transfer from Virginia Tech to do it. Johnson had been moved to defensive end this spring.
  • Florida State will edge Clemson for the ACC Atlantic Division title, writes Tony Barnhart.
  • Once again, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he expects Kyle Parker to be his quarterback next season.
  • Is it possible NC State athletic director Lee Fowler will have made three of the best hires in school history?
Virginia Tech is the final ACC team to open spring practice, and you could say the best comes last.

Just don't tell that to Hokies head coach Frank Beamer.

Virginia Tech likely will be a preseason top-10 team and a popular choice to win the league for the third time in the past four years. Beamer's bunch is absolutely loaded at running back with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. The Hokies also bring back ACC pass efficiency leader Tyrod Taylor and several solid defenders.

It's a strong group, but Beamer has no plans to sit back and relax this spring.

"Any time you're talking about top 10, and you're talking about replacing both kickers, that's a concern ...," Beamer told reporters Monday. "I think the talent level is good. It's just you've got some young guys there."

What are some key areas to watch as Virginia Tech opens spring drills? Here's a quick look:

  • Position changes: Virginia Tech has several of them, most notably Josh Oglesby moving from running back to fullback and Jake Johnson moving from linebacker to defensive end. The Hokies don't normally feature their fullbacks but could look to do more with Oglesby, a highly touted prospect buried on the depth chart.
  • Running back: The Hokies know they have a great option in Williams, but they'll be closely watching how Evans responds this spring after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Beamer expects Evans to push Williams for the starting job, but you never know how players respond to major knee injuries.
  • Specialists: As Beamer mentioned, both the starting kicker and punter jobs are open after the departures of Matt Waldron and Brent Bowden. Several players are in the mix at kicker, including Chris Hazley and Justin Myer, while Brian Saunders is expected to step in at punter. Special teams are a huge deal at Virginia Tech, so plenty of eyes will be on these two competitions.
  • Defense: Virginia Tech loses seven starters, including three along the defensive line and All-ACC linebacker Cody Grimm. In addition, linebacker Barquell Rivers is out for the spring following quadriceps surgery. Alonzo Tweedy, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Lorenzo Williams are in the mix to fill Grimm's spot at outside linebacker. The Hokies need to build depth along the line and especially at the end spots, where Chris Drager and Steven Friday try to nail down starting spots.

Virginia Tech injury update

September, 27, 2009
9/27/09
2:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


Virginia Tech released a couple of injury updates from Sunday's win over Miami. Their status won't be updated again until Thursday's injury report comes out.
  • Tyrod Taylor chipped his front tooth on a quarterback sneak early in the fourth quarter. His mouth was swollen and bloody, and he got treatment immediately after the game. He will see a dentist today.
  • Davon Morgan suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return.
  • Blake DeChristopher suffered a left ankle sprain in the first half. He missed a few snaps but played the rest of the game.
  • Sergio Render had the wind knocked out of him in the first half. He missed a few snaps but played the rest of the game.
  • Jake Johnson suffered a left ankle injury in the second half and missed a few snaps but played the rest of the game.

Hokies' defense ready to tackle next challenge

September, 23, 2009
9/23/09
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


Virginia Tech will be facing its second ranked opponent in as many weeks on Saturday, and defensive coordinator Bud Foster said Miami’s offense has more overall speed than Alabama and Nebraska.

Lee Coleman/Icon SMI
Bud Foster's defense has finished nationally in the top seven in total defense each of the last five years.
That much he knows.

What Foster doesn’t necessarily know is what to expect on Saturday from offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s playbook.

“That’s the hard part right now,” said Foster. “We’ve seen just two games, and he’s been out of the college game now for going on probably four years. It’s hard. You might go back and try to track down some old Massachusetts film, but all we can go on is what we’ve seen the first two games. There’s a consistency there in the first two games. I don’t foresee him to come out and change his whole offense for our game. That sends a different message to your kids.

“But I can see them continuing to build on their playbook they have already at Miami. We’re going to see another wrinkle added to a running play or in the passing game. That’s something we have to be prepared for. Obviously we haven’t seen his whole playbook, but hopefully we’ve built enough foundation ourselves that we can adjust and adapt to things they may throw at us.”

Miami currently leads the ACC in pass efficiency, passing offense and total offense. In wins against two ranked ACC opponents -- Florida State and Georgia Tech -- Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has worked his way into the Heisman conversations. It’s a high-flying offense that will challenge a Virginia Tech defense that ranks 77th in the nation in total defense and is tied for 107th in rushing defense. Those aren’t the numbers the Hokies are used to, as Virginia Tech has finished nationally in the top seven in total defense in each of the last five years. What Virginia Tech’s defense is used to, though, is winning football games even when the offense comes up short.

“On defense here we’re expected to play at a high level every time, no matter what happens on offense or special teams,” linebacker Jake Johnson said. “We have to hold up our end of the deal every play, 100 percent, every down. We’re expected to play like that every single snap, every single game.”

The difference this year is that they’ve been giving up too many big plays -- distances like 31, 39, 61, 60 and 48 yards. Nebraska’s Roy Helu Jr. became the third running back this season to rush for over 100 yards on the Hokies. Virginia Tech hasn’t allowed that to happen since 2002. There’s a good possibility it can happen again this weekend, as Miami running back Graig Cooper is averaging 62 yards per game, and he’s got plenty of help from Javarris James. They’re just a fraction, though, of the Canes’ options.

“They’ve created a lot of big plays against people in these first couple of ball games, and that’s kind of been our nemesis here, and luckily we’ve won a couple of them,” Foster said. “That’s one thing that really concerns me going into this game, is because of their speed, because of their ability to protect and what they do, they can create big plays.”

Last week the Hokies were plagued by missed tackles and missed assignments -- things they review as a defense every Monday morning. Johnson said the key to defending the Canes is to limit those errors.

“We have so much potential right now to be a great defense,” Johnson said. “… As long as we bring our A-game and don’t have any mental errors or things like that, we’ll be fine.”

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 10, 2009
9/10/09
12:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


The ACC kicks it off tonight with Clemson and Georgia Tech, but we already covered that. Here's what's going on in the rest of the league:
  • Here's a detailed look at the current status of the ACC and the NFL.
  • If there's one player on Virginia's roster worth keeping an eye on right now, it's rookie linebacker Steve Greer. He earned the team's defensive player of the week. As for the offensive player of the week? Well, there wasn't one.
  • Virginia Tech linebacker Jake Johnson fared well enough in his first collegiate start to be named the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game's defensive MVP.
  • Wake Forest linebacker Matt Woodliff is proving himself, too, despite the fact he's a bit undersized.
  • Unlike Clemson, Miami will have 10 days to prepare for Georgia Tech, and yes, coach Randy Shannon said, it is a big benefit.
  • FSU, on the other hand, had just four days to get ready for Jacksonville State's 3-4 defense.
  • Duke nose guard Kinney Rucker has "defied all odds" in his comeback from a toe injury.
  • Boston College had high hopes for its offensive line this fall, but those within the program say it will need a better effort than the one the Eagles got in the season opener.
  • NC State backup quarterback Mike Glennon is likely to see some more game action this weekend against Murray State.
  • Several reporters from North and South Carolina papers compiled a ranking of SEC and ACC teams -- together.
  • Maryland's Tony Logan has been limited the past two days, so look for more of Kenny Tate in the Terps' return game on Saturday.

Ranking the ACC units: Linebackers

July, 22, 2009
7/22/09
5:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This would be an entirely different list if the top two linebackers in the league -- Mark Herzlich and Nate Irving -- weren't sidelined right now. There are still a lot of standout linebackers in the conference, but this season just won't be the same without those two guys, not that Irving's return has been completely ruled out yet. Having spoken with NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer Wednesday, though, it's simply a miracle that Irving is even alive. In looking at the rest of the conference, it's tough to find teams that are deep at this position. It's a question mark for a lot of teams, and there's a lot of inexperience.

Here's a shot at ranking the best linebacking corps in the ACC:

1. Miami -- Sean Spence was one of the hardest hitters in the conference as a true freshman and will only be better this year, but the key to this group will probably be the return of a healthy Colin McCarthy, who injured his shoulder in the first half of the season last year. Darryl Sharpton, Arthur Brown and Jordan Futch still have something to prove.

2. North Carolina -- Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter started every game last year, and there are high expectations for sophomore Zach Brown. Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles last year and ranked third in the ACC in total tackles per game. This is one of the deepest groups the Tar Heels have had recently, but they are lacking some experience.

3. Virginia Tech -- Cam Martin and Cody Grimm combined to play all but nine plays at the whip linebacker spot, but they've got to replace Purnell Sturdivant and Brett Warren. Barquell Rivers proved he's up to the task when he filled in in the Orange Bowl, and Jake Johnson will have an increased role, too. There's a lot of potential in this group.

4. Clemson -- The Tigers return two starters plus a third player with starting experience. Kavell Connor started all 13 games last year and was the team's top tackler with 125. Brandon Maye had an impressive season as a redshirt freshman, and finished with 87 tackles. Scotty Cooper was a part-time starter at strongside linebacker.

5. Georgia Tech -- Even with Kyle Jackson possibly out for the whole summer with an injured right foot, the Yellow Jackets till have plenty of depth with Sedric Griffin, Brad Jefferson, Anthony Barnes and Steven Sylvester. Barnes and Jefferson are both finally healthy after injury-plagued seasons and there should be good competition for starting jobs. This group can't afford anymore injuries though.

6. Florida State -- With the graduation of Derek Nicholson and Toddrick Verdell, the Noles lose their top two tacklers. Dekoda Watson will be back from elbow surgery this spring, but it's a young group counting on sophomores like Nigel Bradham and Nigel Carr. Junior Kendall Smith is the only other upperclassman on the two-deep roster.

7. Maryland -- Alex Wujciak could be a star at this position for the Terps, and he'll definitely need to be a leader there this fall. Maryland lost four linebackers who combined to play 144 games and 54 starts. Adrian Moten is one of the few experienced faces in the group, and he earned his first start last year in the Humanitarian Bowl.

8. Duke -- The Blue Devils have to replace the ACC's leading tackler in Michael Tauiliili, but they've still got Vincent Rey, who made 109 tackles last year. The problem is, Rey is the only experienced linebacker they've got. Competition remains among Damian Thornton, Abraham Kromah, and Adam Banks.

9. NC State -- It's not clear when Nate Irving will return, but for as long as he's out, the Wolfpack will be missing their best player on both sides of the ball. The Pack still have senior Ray Michel, who is a returning starter in the middle, and Dwayne Maddox started in place of Irving when he was out last year. But this is an entirely different group -- and defense -- without Irving.

10. Boston College -- The Eagles' linebacking corps took a huge hit when Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer, and they still don't know when Mike McLaughlin will be cleared to play from a torn Achilles. BC has a reputation for its defense, so odds are this group will be OK, but there are too many unknowns right now.

11. Wake Forest -- All three starters from last year are gone, and the Demon Deacons have big shoes to fill after the departure of Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry. It's going to have to be a group effort, but there's still some athleticism and depth to work with. Matt Woodlief and Hunter Haynes are the most experienced players retuning.

12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers graduated the veteran group of Jon Copper, Clint Sintim and Antonio Appleby, and because they were so good, their backups didn't see much playing time. This group is the feature in Al Groh's 3-4 defense, and it's going to have a whole new look. There were good reports about Steve Greer this spring, and Groh said Greer tried to mimic his game after Copper, which is reason for hope.

Virginia Tech ushering in new talent at linebacker

June, 29, 2009
6/29/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It wasn't until his junior and senior year in high school that Virginia Tech linebacker Jake Johnson started paying close attention to college football and became aware of the Hokies' nationally known tradition of dominant defenses.

Now, as a sophomore with the opportunity to start for Virginia Tech this fall, Johnson is working to uphold that standard and he's been in the film room watching the players he wants to emulate -- former Hokies like Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi.

"There have been so many great linebackers here," Johnson said. "All Americans, all-ACC. The reputation of our linebackers here is great, and I want to be the next great one. I don't want to be the year where we're just OK."

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster certainly hasn't settled for 'just OK' defenses in the past, and knows his players will have to do their part if the Hokies are going to contend for the national title. Virginia Tech has some reloading to do, though, in its linebacking corps after the departures of Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdivant -- the team's top two leading tacklers from 2008. Johnson and redshirt sophomore Barquell Rivers are the frontrunners to take over, but right now their potential far outweighs their experience.

"I think we look good, though," said Cody Grimm, who returns as the leading tackler with 71, and had 7.5 sacks, two interceptions and 14 tackles for losses last year. "Barquell, obviously he played in the bowl game and he's a real strong kid. He's a good player, sure tackler, and then Jake Johnson has been doing a really good job as well. He's still young. He picked up a bunch of stuff in the spring. Once he started knowing it, he got a lot better. Both of them are really fast and strong."

How fast? Grimm said Rivers and Johnson ran around a 4.62 in their last 40-yard dash times. Rivers, who had been in on just 28 defensive plays before earning his first career start in the Orange Bowl at the expense of the injured Warren, is now the leading candidate to take over at Mike linebacker. Rivers made a name for himself in the bowl game when he stopped Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line and ended the Bearcats last chance at a comeback.

"Barquell, he knows everything right now," Johnson said. "He's like a coach out there."

That's exactly what Johnson said he wants to be by the time the Alabama game rolls around. Johnson said he is studying not only his position, but also what the defensive linemen and other linebackers are doing. He's gotten a lot of help from the two veteran linebackers, Grimm and Cam Martin, both fifth-year seniors who combined to play all but nine plays at the position. Their rotating schedule should stay the same, as long as Martin heals properly from knee surgery he had after the Orange Bowl.

"I just try to lead by example," Grimm said. "Take care of my job, and if something were to happen, like if Barquell has a bad play try to get him up, but he's a pretty calm player. He was calm in the bowl game. He knows what he's doing. He'll get all the first team reps. Coach Foster will definitely have him and Jake ready to go."

Lending a helping hand in the ACC

May, 22, 2009
5/22/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There was some progress in the ACC this spring, and each team got a little bit of help at certain positions. Here's a look at who found some help this spring and where:

BOSTON COLLEGE: Marcellus Bowman and Wes Davis are two safeties who should help make the Eagles' secondary one of the best BC fans have seen in recent years. Four players return to the secondary with starting experience.

CLEMSON: It's amazing what a year of experience can do, and the Tigers' offensive line needed it. The only direction for this group to go is up, and it started to do that this spring. All five starters return.

DUKE: The return of running back Re'quan Boyette will give the Blue Devils' running game a more potent punch. He could be a difference maker on the field this fall, and Duke will need him to be.

FLORIDA STATE: Leading rusher Antone Smith is gone, but FSU fans can rest assured Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones can carry the load for the Noles. Both had several breakaway runs this spring.

GEORGIA TECH: On a defense that lost its leaders up front, defensive end Derrick Morgan and safety Morgan Burnett established themselves as the new captains of the ship this spring, and they should be the Jackets' top two defenders.

MARYLAND: Phil Costa helped ease the transition of the graduation of longtime leader Edwin Williams at center. The Terps lost three starters up front and have four players in new positions, but Costa proved he can be the new leader of the group.

MIAMI: This "got help" award goes to new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. He had an immediate impact on the offense this spring and has Jacory Harris' full attention.

NORTH CAROLINA: Da'Norris Searcy and Melvin Williams gave the staff some confidence in life without Trimane Goddard. Searcy played well in the Meineke Car Care bowl as a fifth defensive back and played with confidence this spring.

NC STATE: Mike Glennon answered the distress signal at backup quarterback, a position that had been exposed far too many times in the past. Glennon completed 23 of 38 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in the Kay Yow Spring Game.

VIRGINIA: The return of Jameel Sewell at quarterback and addition of Vic Hall no doubt helped the Cavaliers. At this point last year, they didn't have one quarterback who had any starting experience. Now they've got three.

VIRGINIA TECH: Confidence grew in the linebackers this spring, and that's because of the efforts of Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson. Bruce Taylor and Quillie Odom are still learning, but there was progress at this position.

WAKE FOREST: Kenny Okoro and Josh Bush both proved to be dependable players at a position that just lost Alphonso Smith. Okoro in particular stood out, but both of them got a lot of reps with Brandon Ghee out with an injury.

Virginia Tech spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009
5/07/09
9:05
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech Hokies
2008 overall record: 10-4

2008 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters: Offense: 8, defense: 7, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners: QB Tyrod Taylor, TB Darren Evans, TE Greg Boone, OG Sergio Render, OT Ed Wang, WR Danny Coale, WR Jarrett Boykin, P Brent Bowden, FS Kam Chancellor, OLB Cam Martin, DE Jason Worilds, CB Stephan Virgil, ROV Dorian Porch, OLB Cody Grimm

Key losses: DE Orion Martin, ILB Brett Warren, ILB Purnell Sturdivant, CB Victor Harris, PK Dustin Keys, C Ryan Shuman, OG Nick Marshman

2007 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Darren Evans* (1,265 yards)
Passing: Tyrod Taylor* (1,036 yards)
Receiving:
Jarrett Boykin* (441 yards)
Tackles:
Purnell Sturdivant (99)
Sacks:
Cody Grimm* and Orion Martin (7.5)
Interceptions:
Victor Harris (6)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Alabama (Georgia Dome, Atlanta)
Sept. 12 Marshall
Sept. 19 Nebraska
Sept. 26 Miami
Oct. 3 at Duke
Oct. 10 Boston College
Oct. 17 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 29 North Carolina
Nov. 5 at East Carolina
Nov. 14 at Maryland
Nov. 21 NC State
Nov. 28 at Virginia

1. It's Ju-Ju, not Joseph. And it's a name you'll learn, as Frank Beamer named Joseph "Ju-Ju" Clayton his No. 2 quarterback this spring. Marcus Davis moved to split end and had a good spring game, despite being at his original position for one week, but the door won't be closed on him at quarterback. He needs to work on his arm strength, and until that improves, the staff wanted to find a spot for him on the field.

2. Liking the linebackers. Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson both had good springs. They've got a few players behind them who still need some grooming in Bruce Taylor and Quillie Odom, but overall confidence grew in the group this spring.

3. Overall improvement on the offensive line. The coaches have eight players they're confident can play. They'd still like to find one or two more, but it's better depth and athleticism than in the past. Ed Wang, Sergio Render, Beau Warren and Jaymes Brooks are the starters, and at right tackle, Andrew Lanier is listed as the co-starter with Blake DeChristopher. That's a good sign for how well Lanier played this spring.

Fall questions

1. Searching for a kicker. Matt Waldron, who was in a battle for the job last year and is probably the most consistent candidate, is the leader going into fall, but he doesn't have the job locked up. Cody Journell, a highly touted incoming freshman, will be given a chance to win the job. Justin Myer, who handled kickoffs last year as a true freshman, is still in the mix.

2. Disguised defensive ends. There just aren't a lot of bodies to choose from here, as evidenced by the fact the staff moved tight end Chris Drager there to help the depth. Jason Worilds, who missed the spring after shoulder surgery, and Nekos Brown are the only two natural ends. John Graves was moved to tackle to help while Worilds was out.

3. Musical chairs in the secondary. Stephan Virgil is moving from boundary corner to field corner to replace Macho Harris, and Rashad Carmichael is now taking over Virgil's spot with Cris Hill behind him. It's a rotation that's become a tradition for the Hokies, and while the staff is confident in Virgil, Carmichael still has a few things to prove in his new position.

Virginia Tech's mini-scrimmage report

April, 8, 2009
4/08/09
7:19
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This scrimmage report just came in from Virginia Tech's sports information office:

Tyrod Taylor's 65-yard touchdown run and Eddie Whitley's 61-yard interception return for a touchdown highlighted the Virginia Tech's 40-play mini scrimmage Wednesday afternoon on the practice field.

Taylor attempted only two passes and ended up with 67 yards rushing. Darren Evans carried the ball three times for 28 yards while Ryan Williams carried it five times for 12 yards. Josh Oglesby had six carries for 27 yards.

Below are some quick stats from the scrimmage for the leaders. Tech will hold its first formal scrimmage Friday afternoon, rain or shine, in Lane Stadium. Stretching will start at 4:30 and the scrimmage is open to the public.

Rushing
Taylor -- 5 rushes, 67 yards, TD (65 yard TD run)
D. Evans -- 3 rushes, 28 yards

Passing
Ju-Ju Clayton -- 3-8, 26 yards, INT

Receiving
Dyrell Roberts -- 2 rec., 16 yards

Defense
Alonzo Tweedy -- 3 tackles
Jeron Gouveia-Winslow -- 1 tackle, 1 INT, 1 PBU
Nekos Brown -- 1 sack
Jake Johnson -- 1 tackle, 1 FR
Eddie Whitley -- INT for TD

Virginia Tech's pre-spring depth chart

March, 30, 2009
3/30/09
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This can obviously change -- that's what the offseason is for -- but the Hokies released their pre-spring depth chart on Sunday. I'll have more on this after coach Frank Beamer's teleconference Monday, but thought Hokies' fans might want to take a look:

OFFENSE

SE Jarrett Boykin -- Austin Fuller
LT Ed Wang -- Nick Becton
LG Greg Nosal -- Will Alvarez
C Beau Warren -- Michael Via OR Richard Graham
RG Jaymes Brooks -- Vinston Painter
RT Blake DeChristopher -- Andrew Lanier
TE Greg Boone -- Chris Drager OR Sam Wheeler
QB Tyrod Taylor -- Ju-Ju Clayton
RB Darren Evans -- Josh Oglesby OR Ryan Williams
FB Kenny Jefferson -- Kenny Younger
FL Danny Coale -- Dyrell Roberts

DEFENSE

DE Nekos Brown -- Steven Friday
DE John Graves -- Isaiah Hamlette
DT Demetrius Taylor -- Kwamaine Battle OR Courtney Prince
DT Cordarrow Thompson -- Antoine Hopkins OR Dwight Tucker
OLB Cody Grimm -- Jeron Gouveia-Winslow OR Alonzo Tweedy
ILB Barquell Rivers -- Bruce Taylor
ILB Jake Johnson -- Quillie Odom
FC Rashad Charmichael -- Cris Hill
FS Kam Chancellor -- Lorenzo Williams
ROV Dorian Porch -- Davon Morgan OR Matt Reidy
BC Stephan Virgil -- Eddie Whitley

SPECIAL TEAMS

FG Matt Waldron -- Justin Myer
KO Justin Myer -- Tim Pisano
P Brent Bowden -- Brian Saunders
LS Colin Carroll -- Matt Tuttle

Virginia Tech's infusion of youth

August, 25, 2008
8/25/08
1:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer can't remember the last time he's taken so many rookies on their first road trip.

Beamer said 10 true freshmen and 15 redshirt freshmen are likely to play when the Hokies face East Carolina in Charlotte on Saturday. In all, there will be 30 players on the travel squad who have never played in a college game, meaning 41 percent of the travel squad will be new.

"It's a little bit scary," Beamer said. "I think it says a couple of things. We lost a lot of kids from last year, but we are very impressed with our freshman class. Very impressed. We had some discussion on some other kids, sometimes it's the need, too. A large percentage of those freshmen, whether they're playing this year or next year, I think we're going to be happy they're here before it's all over. I'm really happy with that class."

What's the biggest thing they're going to have to overcome?

Beamer paused. Sighed.

"Ohh, probably throwing up before the game," he deadpanned. "It might be me. I don't know when we've had 41 percent of our team that's never been in the game before, but we do have a lot of good players. If you know what you're doing, you're OK, even thought the setting is new and you're in a new situation. We had a good preseason and hopefully we can get them confident in knowing their assignments. If they're confident that way, then I think they'll be able to play OK. That's the challenge to us as coaches, make sure they know their assignments so they can be confident."

Among the freshmen likely to see playing time are flanker Jarrett Boykin, flanker Dyrell Roberts, running back Ryan Williams, cornerback Lorenzo Williams, cornerback Eddie Whitley, linebacker Quillie Odom, linebacker Jake Johnson and linebacker Bruce Taylor. They're all most likely to contribute most on special teams.

As for who will start at quarterback, we'll find out Tuesday.

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