Sports reporter Nathan Warters shares the latest on Virginia Tech sports and more.
VIRGINIA TECH FOOTBALL: Fredericksburg-area players in the mix this spring
A trio of Fredericksburg-area players — defensive lineman Vinny Mihota, safety Anthony Shegog and offensive lineman Adam Taraschke — could position themselves this spring to have big roles with the Virginia Tech football team in 2014.
Spring practice begins Thursday and will conclude with the spring game April 26 at Lane Stadium.
Mihota might be chief among that list because of his potential at multiple spots. Tech’s defensive line appears to be the most fluid personnel group on the team, so Mihota, a Massaponax grad who enrolled in January, could find himself in a battle for one of the important backup spots at end or tackle.
Mihota will be competing for the fourth defensive end spot at the start of spring. He is currently listed as one of the backups at end (Dewayne Alford is the other) on the spring depth chart released on coach Frank Beamer‘s website. Ken Ekanem and Seth Dooley are competing for one of the starting end spots, while Dadi Nicolas seems pretty secure at the other.
Mihota could also compete for a reserve role at defensive tackle. Luther Maddy, the team’s only returning starting defensive lineman, is entrenched at one of the DT spots while Corey Marshall and Nigel Williams are listed as co-No. 1s at the other tackle position.
According to the depth chart, defensive tackle Woody Baron is out with an injury, and Wade Hansen and Jeremy Haynes will be competing for reps at the fourth tackle spot. Hansen is a senior transfer from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and Haynes was a scout team player last season.
Shegog, a redshirt freshman from North Stafford, will compete this spring for the backup job at strong safety behind returning starter Kyshoen Jarrett.
Jarrett is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, so he is expected to be out for the spring. Shegog will compete with Desmond Frye and Chuck Clark for the No. 2 job. Frye is listed as the spring starter, while Shegog and Clark are listed as co-backups.
Sophomore Adam Taraschke, a Riverbend grad who returned to the team this winter after a one-year hiatus, could be in line for one of the backup guard spots. Sophomore Kyle Chung and redshirt freshman Wyatt Teller, neither of whom have played a college snap, are listed as the backups at left and right guard, respectively.
Taraschke will open spring practice as the third-team right guard behind starter Brent Benedict and Teller, who bulked up to 296 pounds this offseason after making the switch from the defensive line last fall.
A few more observations from the spring depth chart:
***The pecking order at quarterback is as follows — senior Mark Leal, sophomore Brenden Motley and freshman Andrew Ford. This is a huge spring for all of them. Leal is coming off a disappointing performance in the Sun Bowl. Motley, last year’s third-stringer, finally gets a spring to work after missing last year’s drills with a knee injury. Ford, a January enrollee, is offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler‘s first recruit at the postion. Missing from this group is Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, who won’t enroll until late May.
***This is a big spring for the defense. In addition to the three open starting spots on the defensive line, there are also two openings at linebacker (2013 starters Tariq Edwards and Jack Tyler graduated). Junior Deon Clarke and sophomore Dahman McKinnon start the spring as co-starters at the backer spot, and senior Chase Williams is listed as the starter at the mike position. Josh Trimble, who started five games at whip linebacker, is listed as a co-starter with senior Derek DiNardo. Ronny Vandyke could also be a factor in the whip competition, but he is currently nursing a shoulder injury.
***Starting tailback Trey Edmunds won’t participate in any contact drills this spring, as he continues to recover from surgery on the broken leg he suffered in the 2013 regular season finale at Virginia. Junior J.C. Coleman will be the spring starter, with sophomore Jerome Wright getting second-team reps at the start.
***Senior Corey Marshall will start the spring at defensive tackle, but he could also factor in at defensive end. He has played both positions during his Tech career.
***Junior Ryan Malleck and sophomore Kalvin Cline are listed as co-starters at tight end. Malleck sat out all of last season with a shoulder injury, and Cline had a breakout campaign in his place with 26 catches for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
***Wide receiver E.L. Smiling, a Brooke Point grad who saw limited playing time in his time at Tech, has decided to call it a career, according to Roanoke Times scribe Andy Bitter.
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