Utility man Michael Via trying to find his place again on the offensive line after offseason surgery
Tackle, however, is where he’s started out this August after returning from offseason knee surgery, playing behind projected starter Vinston Painter on the right side.
“That is where we had some extreme depth issues,” offensive line coach Curt Newsome said.
Via is the cure-all in that sense. He’s played every position on the line at some point in his career.
But he sat out the spring after undergoing surgery on his left ACL. In that time, five players — left tackle Nick Becton, left guard David Wang, center Andrew Miller, right guard Brent Benedict and Painter — established themselves on the first unit.
Now it’s about him finding a place again.
“I’m comfortable with anywhere,” said Via, who at 6-foot-7, seems suited to play tackle. “The other day Newsome put me in at some center reps to get some time at right guard. I’m still capable of playing all of them.”
Even if he doesn’t unseat Painter for the starting job, he could rotate in, something Newsome has done over the years.
First, Via has to get back into the swing of things. He lost plenty of weight in his legs following surgery, getting down to as low as 275 in the offseason. But he’s back up to 304 after weigh-ins earlier this week.
“I feel like I’m carrying it pretty well,” he said.
Coaches always want to establish cohesion in their offensive line with an established starting five, but Via doesn’t think a rotation at any position affects that.
“Because if we’re doing a rotation in a game, you’re doing rotations in practice,” he said. “So you get that chemistry between each other.”
Here are few more notes and quotes from post-practice interviews Thursday night ….
- I spoke at length with Newsome about the offensive line and will have more on that in a post tomorrow morning sometime. He said his goal right now is to have “to have a pair and a spare” up front, meaning two tackles, two guards, a backup at each and two centers that he could trust to put in the game. Is Tech there yet? “We’re heading in that direction,” he said.
- Running backs coach Shane Beamer made sure to let 5-foot-7 J.C. Coleman know something going into the summer workouts: “Shane told me if I wanted to play here, I had to gain some weight,” Coleman recalled. The freshman obliged. After weighing in at 176 in January, he bulked up to 192 pounds for this week’s weigh in. His goal is to play at 190 this year. “I feel like if I play there I’d be right along with all the other backs in terms of weight, and then with my speed, I think that’d be pretty good with me,” he said.
- It doesn’t mean he’s going to be a bruising back, by any means, but Coleman won’t shy away from a pile. “It’s not quite my game, but I’m going to hit it up in there and hit the whole hard and get where I can get when I need to,” he said.
- Coleman put on the extra pounds with extra time in the weight room and by eating all he could — chicken breasts, greens, egg sandwiches, protein shakes. He wouldn’t eat more meals, just more at each meal. “My first go-around, I’d probably eat about two or three plates, and then I’d go back for seconds and thirds,” he said.
- Coleman said he hasn’t lost his ability to move. “At first, when I got around 185 and ran around, I was feeling it a little bit,” he said. “But as much as I’ve put on, work on the field and stuff like that, I started doing footwork drills and stuff like that, I got used to carrying it around. So it’s good.”
- Along with Michael Holmes, Martin Scales, Tony Gregory and a pair of freshmen, Chris Mangus and Trey Edmunds, there’s plenty of competition at the running back position this August. Holmes is the frontrunner for the job, but … “no spot is a guarantee,” Coleman said. “It’s just going to be an uphill battle from anybody’s standpoint. … I feel there are definitely going to be carries to go around for everybody.”
- Freshman wide receiver Joel Caleb is going through what Coleman did last January — adjusting to the college level. But there’s an added twist for Caleb, who played quarterback in the latter part of his high school career at Clover Hill. “I wasn’t really coached up on routes, so I’m out here trying to learn as much as I can from coach [Kevin] Sherman,” he said. “I kind of know the position from playing quarterback, but it’s a little different going out there and running routes.”
- Caleb is a big receiver at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, so Sherman wants him to do one thing in particular. “I’ve got to learn how to keep my hips down and how to come out of routes and basically go from there,” he said.
- Caleb, who has worked at the Z receiver position behind Marcus Davis, didn’t have much of an indication if he is going to have much of a role this year (“It’s up to the coaches,” he said), but his health won’t be a detriment. He said he’s close to 100 percent after suffering a tear in his right meniscus a little over a year ago, an injury that cut short his senior season of high school. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to just be ready for anything, whenever coach calls my number,” he said. “To just do what I can to know the plays and do what I can to help the team.”
- Lastly, some personnel matters, courtesy of Virginia Tech’s website: Freshman Dahman McKinnon has moved back from free safety to whip linebacker. The Hokies only had three there with Wiley Brown‘s future up in the air because of family issues.
- In addition to Carl Jackson moving up with the twos at boundary cornerback in place of freshman Davion Tookes (who moved to field corner), redshirt freshman Michael Cole moved from rover to free safety to play with the second-team defense tonight. Cole was originally listed behind Kyshoen Jarrett and Boye Aromire at rover.
- Corey Marshall worked some with the first-team at defensive end, with J.R. Collins getting some work with the twos today. Marshall, a sophomore, has worked both inside and outside in his career.