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Injury on D-line has Hokies in search of depth

BLACKSBURG

Injury concerns on the defensive line already have Virginia Tech doing some shuffling to create depth in the second week of training camp.

An abdominal injury Friday to defensive end and Nansemond River High grad Dewayne Alford led Tech to move freshman Melvin Keihn from inside linebacker to defensive end to add depth.

Alford was one of only four scholarship players at end, joining starters Ken Ekanem and Dadi Nicolas and backup Seth Dooley.

"We were really thin at defensive end," defensive line coach Charley Wiles said. "If there was a problem, Melvin was going to have to be that guy. So there was a problem and we're repping a guy that's not going to play. Let's get a kid in there who eventually will play."

Defensive end isn't foreign to Keihn, who was slotted as a "Mike" linebacker after arriving at Tech this summer. For 3-1/2 years at Gilman School in Maryland, he played with a hand on the ground, and the Hokies recruited him knowing he could eventually end up at linebacker or end.

The need now is at end.

"To be realistic about it, he had a hard time at linebacker seeing things as quickly at our level," defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. "I think he's got a chance to be a good linebacker, but he stepped right in the other day and made a couple impact plays (at end). He's a smart kid, he's a tough kid, he's athletic. I think he can give us some immediate help, at least give us some added depth....

"We did that with (former All-American) Cornell Brown. Cornell wanted to play linebacker. He played one day at linebacker. We moved him quick."

The Hokies are trying to fast track Keihn's development, holding 90 minute meetings with him to get him up to speed. Wiles had him stay in extra on a couple of sled drills Tuesday.

Keihn is listed at 6 foot 1,209 pounds, which is extremely light for a defensive end, but that's where the Hokies need him.

"The future is now," Foster said.

d-tackle back in pads; another now on o-line

Sophomore defensive tackle Woody Baron returned to practice Tuesday in full pads but wearing a blue, limited jersey. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery.

He'll be the fourth defensive tackle, if he's well enough to play, on the second team with Nigel Williams behind starters Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall. The coaches said true freshman Ricky Walker will play this year as a backup tackle, while classmate Vinny Mihota could be an option, depending on Baron's recovery.

Wade Hansen, who was tied for a second-team spot at the end of spring, switched to the offensive line. He worked at right tackle in drills Tuesday.

on the injury front

There were plenty of Hokies in blue jerseys with various bumps and bruises Tuesday, but they weren't considered serious.

Senior right tackle Mark Shuman, though, was in a green, no-contact jersey with a knee sprain. He's been working with the first team.

Sophomore Jonathan McLaughlin, who had been relegated to the second team after starting 13 games at left tackle last season, took reps with the first team at right tackle in Shuman's spot.

Posted to: College Football Sports Va. Tech Football Virginia Tech football

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CHOKIES

So another football season begins and the Pilot will continue its love affair with the VaTech Chokies. Too bad. Expectations will, of course, be high at Chokie Nation and then, as usual, disappointment will follow. Once Coach Bummer retires and a real coach, say their defensive coordinator, takes over, maybe the Chokies will have a chance in one of the weakest conferences in college football. ROLL TIDE!!

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