Hokies set to open spring practice
A lot of positions are up for grabs
March 25, 2008

BLACKSBURG - The departure of the winningest senior class in Virginia Tech football history, combined with the early exit of junior star Brandon Flowers, leaves the Hokies with a lot of holes to fill when 2008 spring football practice opens Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday will be the first of 14 practice days leading up to the annual Maroon-White spring game Apr.19 at 2 p.m., inside Lane Stadium. The spring game will be the only practice open to the public.

"I think this is going to be an exciting spring practice," says Tech head coach Frank Beamer. "Most years, you are already set with certain people or at certain positions when you head into the spring. It's been a long time since we went into a spring practice with this many question marks. For the most part, positions are open and it is going to be great to get out there and see these kids compete and find out who claims these jobs."

Tech lost seven starters on defense and five on offense from last year's 11-3 team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and played in the Orange Bowl. The Hokies also have to replace their place-kicker, snappers, holder and leading return man on special teams.

"As to which position is the most critical to fill, I think it kind of goes on and on," Beamer says. "Offensively, it still all starts with the offensive line, and we've struggled there for a couple of years. Hopefully, we're closer to getting more good players on the offensive line. There are a lot of openings at wide receiver, and I think we've got some good young talent at those positions. The tailback position is also open and we'll have to see what happens there. We've got the most returning guys at tight end, but we are still looking for improvement there. On defense, you worry about right up the pipe after losing three tackles and both starting linebackers. That is a real issue for us, as are special teams, where we lost all but one starter."

Defensively, the Hokies will make a couple of switches. Returning starter Kam Chancellor will make a move in the spring for the second year in a row. Last year, Chancellor moved from cornerback to rover, where he started every game this past fall. This year, he will take over the top spot at free safety, replacing graduated D.J. Parker.

"Kam Chancellor has been a tremendous player for two years and we are going to get him at free safety where he is very much involved with the whole field," Beamer says. "I think he will be a good leader back there. I feel it will be a good position for him."

Another returning defensive starter is also slated for a change. Cornerback Victor Harris will switch from his starting field corner position to the boundary corner spot vacated by Flowers. Before making that move, however, Harris will take a brief detour to offense, where he will work as a flanker for the first six practice days.

On offense, redshirt junior Ed Wang will move from right tackle to left tackle, taking over the duties of graduated starter Duane Brown. Redshirt freshman Blake DeChristopher will be one of the top candidates to take over Wang's spot on the right side. DeChristopher is one of 18 freshmen and sophomores listed on the initial spring two-deep roster.

"We're young," Beamer admits, "but I think we are going to be talented. It is going to be interesting to see how quickly this talent can come along and play at a successful level."