Virginia Tech's spring football game, a.k.a. "The Hokie Nation's annual mid-April Tailgate Party Preparedness Exercise," is coming up next Saturday in Blacksburg.
The events, of course, are one and the same. The hard-core Hokie fan, eager to scout the players in action on the field next week, will be just as delighted to score a great deal on a box of fried chicken and a case of your favorite beverage at Kroger. One must be properly fed and hydrated even for the spring game, right?
We know that quarterbacks Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor are going to wow the crowd. You know what those kids can do, although Taylor will look a bit bigger if you haven't seen him since the Orange Bowl game.
But this game, which actually serves as the Hokies' final spring scrimmage, is an important one for some guys who are going to be big stars this fall and in the future at Tech.
Bring your radio. We'll have live coverage from ISP Sports on 105.3, The Bear in Blacksburg (pregame begins at noon with Rick Watson and Scott Stevens. Mike Burnop and I take over at 1:45 p.m. and the kickoff is at 2 p.m.). If you can't make it, you can follow the broadcast live on hokiesports.com.
Who to watch:
- No. 62 Blake DeChristopher (6-5, 293, r-Fr., OT) Tech coaches bit the bullet and redshirted Blake this past season, although there was heavy debate in staff meetings about playing him last fall. He had a terrific offseason in the weight room and improved his footwork, and now it's his time. This is the future at right tackle at Tech. He's got a very good chance to start this fall and will clearly play a lot of snaps in 2008. I'm eager to see him block Orion Martin and Jason Worilds going at full speed in this game. Imagine having a guy who could a four-year starter at tackle? Blake's the guy.
- No. 27 Jahre Cheeseman (5-10, 205, r-Jr., RB) This is Jahre's second full season as a tailback after moving over from corner. He's battling Kenny Lewis, Jr., and a couple of freshmen in Josh Oglesby and Darren Evans this spring, and another contender for playing time, Ryan Williams, will arrive this fall. That means the time is now for the kid who ripped off that 70-yard run at Georgia Tech last fall, which was the Hokies' longest run of the season. Jahre is too good of an athlete to sit on the bench. He can play offense and he can play defense. But if he's going to be a factor at tailback, now is the time to shine. You know Tech isn't going to play all freshmen at tailback, so it's important for Jahre to emerge.
- No. 17 Kam Chancellor (6-3, 225, Jr., FS) Kam makes this list for the second year in a row because of his new position (free safety). Tech defensive coordinatorBud Foster is convinced Chancellor can be a star at this position and the Hokies are counting on the junior to make a smooth adjustment. You'd be shocked if Kam doesn't thrive here, which will be really good news for the Hokies and bad news for opposing offenses.
- No. 21 Rashad Carmichael (5-10, 193 r-Soph., DB) and No. 9 Cris Hill (5-11, 185, r-Fr., DB) These two kids are battling for the field corner spot and both will play this fall. Rashad served as the back-up at field corner last year and did a nice job. Tech coaches came mighty close to playing Hill last fall and that tells you what they think of his potential. You recruiting gurus will recall that Hill was rated as the No. 3 player in Virginia when he signed with Tech in 2007 and has a bright future. Could both Hokie corners be former Highland Spring Springers (Hill and Macho Harris)? The speed, talent and depth at corner at Tech is really exciting to watch, and Foster is very pleased with the depth he has here, which provides him with options in the fall and competition every day in practice.
- No. 24 Dorian Porch (5-11, 211 r-Jr., Rover) and No. 2 Davon Morgan (6-0, 190, Soph., Rover) OK, so this is the 'new look' rover position for the Hokies. Dorian is the best leaper on the team and has played this position for the past couple of years. He's had a terrific spring. Morgan moves over from free safety, where he played as a true freshman last year. Tech coaches like the way Morgan can deliver a hit and he has good instincts out there. Varina High fans will be focused on him on Saturday to see if he's ready to knock people around at his new spot.
- No. 60 Beau Warren (6-3, 276, r-Soph., C) If you recall, Beau played great, or should we say GREAT, last season in emergency starts helping Tech win against Georgia Tech and Florida State. He's gotten reps with the No. 1 offense all spring since Ryan Shuman is being held out of practice this spring after having knee surgery. At the very least, Beau is likely Tech's starting center for 2009 and 2010, but he's making a push for serious playing time this year, too, with a solid spring.
- No. 76 Will Alvarez (6-5, 327, r-Fr., G) Talk about a dude who passes the 'eye test.' Alvarez looked like he was ready to play the day he arrived on campus. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the 2011 Hokies), he arrived late last fall and was redshirted. Now, he's a guy who will play at both guard spots this fall. It's exciting to watch guys develop, learn the offensive line positions, and pick up little tricks of the game. Alvarez, DeChristopher, Warren and Jaymes Brooks are all in that position this spring. We're going to see all those guys on the field this fall and the spring game gives us a chance to see them all at once.
- No. 6 Dustin Keys (6-2, 207, r-Sr., K) Keys has done a nice job kicking the football in practice. Now, coach Frank Beamer will trot him out there in front of a big crowd at Lane Stadium. You think road games at UNC, Nebraska, Miami, BC, Florida State, Miami and even that ECU game might not come down to a last-second kick? Well, Keys is the guy who is the odds-on favorite to win the place kicker battle. He's a key guy on Tech's 2008 team.
- No. 33 Brett Warren (6-1, 223, r-Sr., LB) The guy who will have to fill Vince Hall's shoes in 2008 is the guy who did it so well last year. When Hall was injured, Warren became a very solid guy at the 'mike' linebacker spot. Foster says Brett has been even better this spring. Also, he's a terrific role model at the spot for redshirt freshman Barquell Rivers, who will wear No. 52 in the spring game. Rivers is an excellent prospect at this spot for Foster and Co.
- No. 95 Cordarrow Thompson (6-2, 323, r-Jr., DL) When they announce the award this spring for the 'Most Improved' player, don't be surprised if it is Thompson. He's dropped about 30 pounds and is moving and attacking much quicker. You'll be impressed with what you see out of this fine defensive tackle prospect who is a key man on the Hokies' 2008 defensive front. The Hokies lost their key tackles and Thompson to this point has the look of a guy who is ready to grow and become the next good defensive tackle.
- No. 19 Danny Coale (6-0, 203, r-Fr., WR) The Hokies lost a ton of experience at wide receiver and it shows in a big way this spring. The one guy who has been most consistent here has been Coale from Lexington, Va. At practice last week, Tech had an ex-quarterback (Cory Holt) and a converted cornerback-on-loan (Macho Harris) as its top two receivers. That's an issue gang. The other receivers on Tech's team have to make an impact now because the number of receivers in Tech's program is going to increase in big way in August when Dyrell Roberts, Jarrett Boykin, Randall Dunn, and the rest arrive.
- No. 75 Greg Nosal (6-6, 281, r-Fr., OT) Every spring, a guy steps up and shows us something exciting. A move to tackle for this former tight end looks like a good move. It was a great move to sit him out last year because now he's bigger and will find a terrific home on the offensive line. This is another one of those stories of a 260-pound 17-year-old tight end with great feet who could be near 290 or higher as a tackle by the time he finally plays in a game as a 19-year-old freshman. Don't be surprised one bit if Greg Nosal is a very fine offensive tackle over the next couple of years for the Hokies, running around at three-bills-plus, knocking people off the ball. A couple of other things to remember: The 2008 VTAF Annual Meeting and Spring Picnic will once again be held on the same day as the spring game. All Hokie Club members are welcome to attend the meeting at 11:15 a.m. in Cassell Coliseum. The spring picnic will follow the meeting at 12:15 p.m. and costs $15 for adults and $7.50 for children ages 10 and under. Also, remember Tech's softball team will face Florida State at 5 p.m. and the baseball team will face N.C. State at 5:30. It's Hokie Kids' Club Day at English Field, which is a lot of fun for mom, dad, and the kids, too.
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