Virginia Tech had its team picture Saturday at Lane Stadium. It featured fewer players than expected.
Three scholarship players who appeared on the team’s initial roster this training camp are no longer part of the football team, while another is mulling his future, according to associate athletic director for football operations John Ballein.
Offensive lineman Adam Taraschke, defensive lineman Jarontay Jones and cornerback Davion Tookes have all left the program. All three were members of the 2012 signing class who had not played, redshirting last season. No reason was given for their departures.
Another player, sophomore cornerback Donaldven Manning (pictured), is taking the day to consider his future with the team.
Of the group, only Manning was in line for playing time, listed as a co-No. 1 at one of the cornerback spots with true freshman Brandon Facyson. Manning, a sophomore, nearly left the team in the middle of a rocky freshman year but stuck with it after meeting with head coach Frank Beamer.
Manning, a Miami product who played in eight games as a true freshman last year and had one interception, said he was excited about this season’s prospects just on Wednesday, eager to see how his bulked up 181-pound frame held up.
“The biggest difference this year from last year is that I’m way more mentally into the game,” he said. “Last year, being a younger guy, sometimes I was out of sync. … But I took time. I studied my plays. I’m ready for a good season. I’m ready to make plays.”
Beamer mentioned Saturday that Facyson and Kendall Fuller would be getting work at the cornerback spot vacated by the injured Antone Exum. Previously, the Hokies had said Fuller would work almost exclusively as a nickelback.
“Those two are battling right now for the No. 1 corner, with Kendall being the nickel guy and Brandon right now being our nickel corner, probably when it’s all said and done going into this first game, until we get Tone back,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said.
“But those guys are going to continue to grow. They’re true freshmen. But at the same time they both have a lot of abilities and I’m excited about their future.”
One other player, walk-on free safety Greg Jones, will no longer play for medical reasons. He had shoulder surgery in the spring.
Offensive lineman Jake Goins is presently excused for medical reasons, although it hasn’t been decided if he’s finished for good. The third-year player from Midlothian started August as the backup left tackle, although he never played in a game.
Taraschke, both Joneses, Tookes, Manning and Goins did not appear in the team’s media day picture Saturday.
Taraschke, who’s from Fredericksburg, began August as the team’s backup right guard, although Tech shuffled its lineup almost daily.
Jones, from Lithonia, Ga., never made much headway on the defensive line. Tookes, who is from Fairburn, Ga., had a quiet first year but made a move in the spring, getting in the discussion with Manning and Donovan Riley as a player who could compete for playing time at corner.
It’s the latest in a summer of attrition for the Hokies. Running back Michael Holmes was dismissed from school by a student conduct committee following his arrest for his involvement in a fight shortly after the spring game. Receiver Kevin Asante was dismissed from the team this summer, although no reason was given for his departure.
Another scholarship player, reserve defensive lineman Justin Taylor, chose not to return to the team this year.
Receiver-turned-running back Joel Caleb, meanwhile, faces a one-game suspension for an unspecified “violation of team rules” and will miss the opener against Alabama on Aug. 31.
Including offensive lineman Nick Acree, who was a medical disqualification this summer for bad knees, that’s seven scholarship players from the spring who are no longer playing, with the possibility that number could rise to nine.