And we’re off.
Below, you’ll find a complete rundown of Virginia Tech’s injuries as camp began this afternoon. First, a smattering of observations from the first half of practice (players are only in shorts and T-shirts today) that us hacks are allowed to watch ...
* OL Michael Via clearly used his time off from running (knee injury) this summer to work the upper body. He was pretty skinny for a college OL last season, but he’s a filled-out 300 pounds now, with pretty massive arms. He wins the most-changed award.
* A photographer, seeing true freshman DT Nick Acree for the first time, said: “That’s the biggest human I’ve ever seen. I just can’t stop staring at him.” As I’ve mentioned before, Acree looked like some sort of monster in football pads today.
* OL Blake DeChristopher has packed on some pounds. He was noticeably wider and thicker in the middle. We’ll see if those are positive pounds very soon.
* OL Vinston Painter will likely join Acree as the first two Hokies off the bus. Painter's always been a mammoth specimen, but he's shed 10-15 pounds and looks like a real terror. After missing the last week or so of spring with that dislocated kneecap, this month of camp is huge for him and Tech. He's probably their top backup guard and the Hokies need Painter to start playing like he looks.
* RB Ryan Williams’ entire upper body now appears to be covered in tattoos. Both arms are full sleeves of ink. Now weighing just 202 pounds, he’s slimmed down a good bit, but looks fit.
* RB Darren Evans, on the other hand, is now a chiseled 220. I’ve had readers snap at me for characterizing Evans a “power back,” saying it downplays his excellent vision and other attributes. Sorry, folks, the dude is diesel and he is the quintessential POWER back. That’s not even remotely an insult.
* Even more notable than his physique: Evans practice with no brace, no protective sleeve, no nothing on his surgically repaired knee. And he ran hard, ran smooth. Looks like the guy I remember from 2008, except scarier.
* Didn’t see RB Kenny Lewis Jr. out there today, despite recent indications that he was working hard to give football one more shot as a senior. We’ve now learned that Lewis has left the team. Hard to blame him. Tech’s backfield is loaded and he was trying to return after a season and a half lost to a blown Achilles. Lewis is universally considered by his teammates and coaches as “one of the good guys.” Good luck to the guy, wherever he goes from here. Lewis, whose father was a star tailback at Tech, finished his career with 657 yards and nine TDs rushing.
Now for the injury update. More coming after practice ...
HOKIES ATHLETIC TRAINER MIKE GOFORTH
ON THE PRIMARY INJURY ISSUES ENTERING CAMP: “Well, basically we’ve got a couple guys that aren’t practicing right now. We’ve got (LB) Barquell Rivers, who’s coming off the quad tendon rupture, but he’s doing good. He’s been running for most of the second half of summer, especially the second summer session. (OL) Michael Via is actually looking great at about four months out (from ACL surgery). He probably could’ve passed his 110 test today (sprinting) but it’s still a little early. So we’re going to continue to rehab both of those guys on the side; they won’t be in camp.”
ON SECONDARY INJURIES: “We’ve got a couple other guys: (WR) Dyrell Roberts had hernia surgery three weeks ago, so we’ve got him in blue (non-contact jersey). We expect him to get cleared; he’ll probably for full (contact) the beginning of the week after next. But he’s doing great. He’s doing light activity. (CB Jayron) Hosley is out here in blue today just because he got a little bit of a groin strain during 110s, but he’ll be back full quickly. (LB) Chase Williams is another hamstring from the 110 test, but he’ll be back out here full very quickly. That’s probably about it.”
ON RIVERS AND VIA’S STATUS FOR THE SEASON: “I expect Via to be cleared by the first game. Barquell might be a little bit after that, but both of them are working hard toward that. But we’ve got three more weeks, or however long it is, and I feel pretty good about Via’s chances.”
ON RIVERS BEING HIGHLY UNLIKELY TO PLAY IN GAME 1: “Yes, I would say that. That’s a tough, tough injury. You’d rather have an ACL than you would that.”
ON SOME OLD INJURIES AND WHERE PLAYERS STAND NOW: “(LB Zack) Luckett (knee) is good to go. He passed his 110 test and he’s ready to roll. (OL Vinston) Painter (knee) is ready. He’s out here full-go, had a great summer. (OL Andrew) Miller (shoulder) is full-go. (OL Greg) Nosal (shoulder) has been fine with that. He had a little hamstring over the summer, but all those guys are good to go. (LB Alonzo) Tweedy was the other when in blue. Again, it was a groin strain from his 110s. He might be a couple days. Nothing I’m worried about.”
ON RB DARREN EVANS’ STATUS: “I tell you, he’s had a great summer, great preparation. He’s going to be something this year. About the last month and a half, two months, he’s been back to his old self. He’s very confident about it right now.”
ON WHY RIVERS’ INJURY IS SO SLOW TO HEAL: “It’s one of the biggest muscle groups in the body, has a very small tendon. When you tear that and have to repair it, you’ve got to take it slow. We’ve had a couple staff members around here that have had that happen to them and they’re amazed at where he is right now with it. It’s pretty AMAZING how he’s doing. He can run, he can do drills. He’s just not up to football shape yet, or football movement yet. But he’s right where we want him to be. He’s doing everything; he’s just got to refine it now.”
ON RIVERS GETTING BACK WITHIN THE FIRST FOUR GAMES: “Yeah, I think so.”