Darryl Slater of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports starting mike linebacker Barquell Rivers and reserve center Michael Via are still not ready for preseason practice, which starts Aug. 6, and are questionable for the Sept. 6 opener against Boise State at FedEx Field. Rivers has been out since having surgery to repair a torn left quad in early March. Via injured his ACL during spring practice.
The Rivers injury is the most harmful for the Hokies. He started all 13 games at mike linebacker last year and was expected to anchor a young defense this season. If he isn't ready to go, Tech will have only five returning starters on the field from 2009 against the Broncos, who return all 11 starters on offense.
Virginia Tech trainer Mike Goforth told Slater hope still remains for both players to see the field against Boise:
"Both are progressing well," Goforth said. "It's gonna be really a last-minute decision for both of them. It's gonna be down to the end trying to get them ready for that first ball game. The first ball game is not out of the question."
If Rivers can't play on Labor Day, sophomore Bruce Taylor will likely get the nod. He played well in the spring and had five tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the spring game. However, Taylor has a fraction of the experience Rivers has, seeing time in six games last season.