We've already discussed starting mike linebacker Barquell Rivers' quad injury and what it means to the Hokies going into the season. However, his isn't the only injury having an impact on Tech's linebacking corps. Three other injuries have struck Virginia Tech linebackers, keeping them out of the opening week of August camp.
According to Kyle Tucker's blog, the whip linebacker spot is missing a pair of guys from the depth chart, No. 2 Alonzo Tweedy and No. 3 Lorenzo Williams. This has allowed Zach Luckett and Nick Dew to get more quality practice time while slowing the development of Tweedy and Williams.
Tweedy was one the Hokies' best players on special teams last year, leading them with 24 special teams tackles. His groin injury and time away from live action pretty much solidifies that Jeron Gouveia-Winslow will be your starting whip against Boise State. Williams was expected to also compete for playing time, but he's out with a strained calf. Williams played free safety as a freshman, but redshirted last season and moved to whip.
The positive from those two injuries, if there is one, is that it's allowed Luckett to see the spotlight again. His redemption song could come if he's forced into action at some point during the season. The redshirt senior has gone through a lot during his career at Virginia Tech.
He missed the last 2008 season after he was suspended following a second DUI. The former receiver returned to the team last year as a linebacker and like Tweedy, was allowed to star on special teams. He played well enough to be considered in the mix at whip for this season before a catastrophic knee injury against UVa derailed him.
His remarkable recovery from the injury is chronicled in depth in Tucker's post, linked above. He said he's at around 75 percent, but is looking to take advantage of the opportunity he has during practice:
ON HIS REALISTIC EXPECTATION FOR CONTRIBUTING TO THE TEAM THIS FALL: "Initially, it was special teams. I've always loved special teams here since I was a freshman. It's always been my No. 1 thing. But seeing the doors open up (at whip), I like to set my goals high, so I'd like to get a lot of playing time (on defense) if I can. I want to get in there and contribute to the defense, because I know talent-wise, with my abilities, I can do some things out there. Just watching (former All-American whip) Cody Grimm last year, he was an inspiration because he was undersized. Hard work will get you through. He showed that. I'm trying to do the same thing, trying to get out there and make a few plays."
In addition to Luckett, Dew is also seeing addition reps. He made the most of them during the Hokies' first scrimmage Wednesday. He led the team with five tackles and according to Jimmy Robertson's Twitter feed stripped the ball from Randall Dunn after a reception and recovered the fumble.
Dew could be the starter at whip (or rover) here in a couple of years. He's a highly touted true freshman who said he patterns his game after former Hokie Aaron Rouse. You can always use a guy who plays like Aaron Rouse.
The injury bug has bitten another incoming freshman according to Sean Bielawski:
Freshman Chase Williams has not practiced this preseason with an injury. Tariq Edwards is getting the reps at #2 Backer.
Williams tweaked his hamstring during 110 testing Friday during the Hokies' first practice. The son of New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator and former Buffalo Bills head coach Gregg Williams earned the No. 2 backer spot after a strong effort during spring practice.
Trainer Mike Goforth told reporters he didn't expect Williams' injury to keep him out long, but for now it looks like Edwards is the guy backing up Lyndell Gibson. Of course, both are up in the depth chart to begin with because of Jake Johnson's fall from grace in the eyes of the coaches last season and subsequent transfer to South Alabama.
How these injuries will effect the Hokies at the beginning of the season probably won't be known until we get about a week away from the season. Tech was already thin at several positions and can now add all of their linebacker spots to that list.
What will be key is getting Rivers back. Taylor can play both mike and backer and with Rivers in the lineup it would allow Taylor to spell both Rivers and Gibson if need be. Taylor gives the Hokies options, but for now he's needed to hold down the fort at mike. That means the other two positions could be a mess if there are more injuries.