The Hokies opened up camp yesterday afternoon 105 bodies strong and ready to get the season underway. Er, I guess I should've said most of those bodies were ready to get underway. Several important Hokies are carrying injuries and are yet to be 100%. But this is not unusual of this time of year. In fact, it seems like a yearly ritual to worry about at least one key player being ready for the beginning of the year as they are recovering from injuries sustained in the spring or last season.
The most concerning injuries are those to D.J. Coles and Tariq Edwards. Coles is coming off a surgery to repair the PCL in his right leg and Edwards had to have a rod put in his leg to alleviate pain from a stress fracture he sustained. Both players struggled with the injuries down the stretch, but played through the pain. These injuries were a known commodity coming into camp, but until today, outsiders didn't really have a good picture of the progress the two had made in their recoveries. For what it's worth, Beamer said this:
"I'm concerned. When you come out here and you're not able to work full tilt...we've got three weeks here and we'll see where we are. I know Mike Goforth has a plan on how much work they should do and so forth. But they're two quality players who can't do things full tilt right now."
That's certainly not a glowing endorsement. It appears that both guys are laboring right now, and given several position changes (some of which may be a temporary measure to increase depth at positions that are short on numbers right now), we may need to consider the possibility of starting the season with these guys not on the field.
Bud Foster also gave his take on Edwards and what he saw from today.
"I was kind of discouraged today with his inability to run. We'll take it one day at a time."
Foster continued on Edwards' injury:
"We're going to put our best 11 on the field. I fully expect we'll get Tariq back. When? I don't know that."
So there you have it. Those quotes don't necessarily inspire optimism. But Tariq had his own outlook on his progress.
Edwards also sounded encouraged about being on the field to face Georgia Tech in a little more than three weeks:
"I'm not really worried. I've just got to keep fighting and get this leg stronger and stronger."
As for the position changes I mentioned, Bruce Taylor has moved to Edwards' backer position while always there to answer the call Jack Tyler was slotted as the top mike backer. I have full confidence that with Taylor being able to handle the backer duties, and I'm fine with Tyler as the starting mike in the meantime. After all, Tyler has gotten a lot of big game experience over the last two years with the injuries we've sustained at that position. Additionally, he has a reputation as better against the run than the pass. While that might help against Georgia Tech, I'd rather see Tariq back in the saddle for the remainder of the season.
Also, Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner have officially switched positions. Bonner is now slotted in at free safety while Jarrett will man the rover. The Hokies are somewhat infamous for doing this when fall camp opens. Last year Antone Exum and Eddie Whitley made a similar swap.
Though Coles and Edwards were limited, neither of them wore the blue jerseys that designate a player is off-limits for contact and they participated in all of the drills. Two players, freshman defensive tackle Nigel Williams and redshirt-freshman linebacker Devin Vandyke, will miss the entire camp recovering from surgeries on their shoulder and knee respectively. Freshmen corner Davion Tookes, defensive end Jarontay Jones, running back Trey Edwards and rover Zach Snell all practiced despite issues with their hamstrings.
Also of note, many freshmen performed well, including true freshmen wide receivers Joel Caleb and Joshua Stanford. Both apparently made some pretty impressive catches in the passing skeleton. Also, freshmen Hunter Windmuller and A.J. Hughes both looked good at punter (which would be a huge score if true).
For a video and synopsis of the first day of camp, take a look at the Hokiesports blog and video of footage from camp. And of course for all of your football needs, make sure you keep checking back with us here at Gobbler Country.