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   Welcome to TSLMail #283 - Friday, June 15, 2007    
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   Tech Sports News

Hokie Linebackers Among Class of the ACC
by Chris Coleman,

Last week we previewed the returning defensive lines in the ACC, and this week we'll take a look at the linebackers. Like their counterparts in the trenches, the ACC linebacking corps are very impressive, and you'll recognize a lot of names.

Boston College could return all three starting linebackers this year. The key word is could. Brian Toal had offseason surgery to repair an injured shoulder, but his status for this season is still unclear. If he returns, he'll combine with Tyronne Pruitt and Jolonn Dunbar to form one of the most imposing groups of linebackers on the east coast.

They'll be even better this year as a group, because they'll be playing behind a defensive line that returns all four starters. Backup linebackers Mark Herzlich, Kevin Akins and Robert Francois all have some experience, and they will add quality depth.

Clemson's linebackers are talented, but there are some question marks. Tramaine Billie missed last season with a broken ankle, and then in the offseason, he ran into academic difficulties. Returning starter Nick Watkins also had academic problems in the offseason. If everything is straightened out on that front for the season, they should combine with Antonio Clay to form a solid group of linebackers.

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However, there isn't a lot of experienced depth behind those three players, and an injury or some other problem could end up being very troublesome for the Tigers.

Duke's linebacker corps is led by one of the most underrated players in the ACC. Michael Tauiliili has led the Blue Devils in tackles each of the last two years. He is a hard-nosed, instinctive defender. However, he is the only returning starter at linebacker for Duke. The success of this group will depend on new starters Tim Ball and Vinny Rey.

Florida State always has very gifted linebackers. They lost Lawrence Timmons and Buster Davis to the NFL after last season, however they do return the very athletic Geno Hayes at weak side linebacker. They'll start former Virginia Tech recruiting targets Derek Nicholson and Marcus Ball at the other two linebacker spots.

This will be a talented group, as usual. However, they aren't that big. As a strong side linebacker, Ball is listed at just 213. Hayes is 218, and Nicholson is 230. They'll rely on their speed, instincts and aggressiveness to be successful.

Georgia Tech lost KaMichael Hall to the NFL, but they return starters Gary Guyton and Philip Wheeler. Guyton will slide to Hall's old spot on the weak side this year, while Wheeler will continue to hold down the middle linebacker spot. He is a great athlete and a perfect fit for Georgia Tech's blitzing style defense, as evidenced by his nine sacks last season.

R-Freshman Anthony Barnes and sophomore Shane Bowen will battle for the starting spot at strong side linebacker. However, there isn't a lot of depth in this group, and an injury to a starter could hurt them a lot.

Maryland could be in trouble at linebacker this year. Only Eric Henderson returns. David Holloway and Wesley Jefferson have both moved on. Henderson is a solid ACC linebacker, but the rest of the unit is unknown. The coaching staff does believe rising r-freshman middle linebacker Alex Wujciak has the potential to be a star, but they aren't sure when that will happen. The Terps look to be thin on the second level of their defense this year.

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Miami isn't as loaded as you might think at linebacker. They have some solid depth, but no standouts. Sophomore Colin McCarthy passed returning starter Tavares Gooden at strong side linebacker in the spring. Glenn Cook, Romeo Davis and Darryl Sharpton will all get a chance to start at middle linebacker. If Cook doesn't start at middle linebacker, he could start on the weak side.

Overall, there are a lot of question marks for Miami at linebacker. They have a lot of players with chances to earn a spot in the lineup, but they don't currently have an All-ACC caliber linebacker on their roster, at least not based on last year's performances. Linebacker is the weakest link of Miami's defense.

It looks like North Carolina will struggle at just about every position this year, including linebacker. They return one full-time starter in Durell Mapp, and Chase Rice and Martel Thatch have also seen some starting time. However, this isn't the most talented group in the world. True freshmen Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter could make their way into the 2-deep this fall, and possibly even start.

NC State will likely start three seniors at linebacker this year. James Martin II, Ernest Jones and LeRue Rumph are the three players, and Rumph is the only returning starter. The problem with this group is that there is no true middle linebacker. They have all played outside linebacker in the past. Right now, Martin is the starter at middle linebacker. Depth is also an issue. There are no proven backups on the Wolfpack roster.

UVA returns all four starters in their 3-4 defensive alignment, and they are all pretty good ones. Jon Copper and Antonio Appleby man the inside positions, while Jermaine Dias and Clint Sintim come off the edge. Sintim could be ready to have a breakout season. The Hoos should also have more depth this year. John Bivens could challenge for playing time at one of the inside spots. This should be one of the ACC's best units in 2007, if the starters can remain healthy.

By most accounts, Virginia Tech will have the best group of starting linebackers in the ACC this year. Vince Hall returns, as does Xavier Adibi. They are both considered to be among the top linebackers in the nation. Senior Corey Gordon will start at whip, and if his on-field performance matches his athleticism, he should have a good season. With three senior starters, Tech will have one of the most experienced units in the conference.

The only question mark is depth. Brett Warren would likely do a solid job at mike if Hall were to go down, and Purnell Sturdivant improved at backer in the spring. However, they are still untested in game situations.

Wake Forest's Jon Abbate left early for the NFL Draft, which was a mistake since he didn't get drafted. However, the Demon Deacons do return two very effective starters in Aaron Curry and Stanley Arnoux. Curry is the most underrated linebacker in the ACC. He's big and athletic, and he just has the look of a good football player when you see him on the field. Arnoux seems to always find himself around the football, with three fumble recoveries last year.

The question mark will be middle linebacker Eric Berry. He has performed well when he's gotten playing time in the past, but can he do it over the course of an entire season? And with just about every position for Wake Forest, depth is an issue. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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TSL Audio: Interview With Bill Roth

June 15, 2007
Courtesy of WINA AM 1070 in Charlottesville: Bill Roth appeared on "The Best Seat in the House" with host Jay James this week, and Bill and Jay discussed Virginia Tech's upcoming football season, Tech QB Sean Glennon, basketball recruit Gus Gilchrist, and the draft prospects of Zabian Dowdell, Jamon Gordon, and UVa's Sean Singletary. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 2.9 MB, 12:10).

Checking in on Vinston Painter
June 15, 2007
6-6, 315-pound OL/DL Vinston Painter, perhaps the top prospect in the state of Virginia in the 2008 recruiting class, was not able to make a planned visit to Virginia Tech last Saturday. The Hokies still remain at the top of his list, though, and he may visit Blacksburg later this summer.

Hokie Summer Recruiting in High Gear
June 14, 2007
With Virginia Tech's first Senior Football Camp of 2007 in our rear view mirror, it's time to take a step back and take an overall view of the Hokies' recruiting this year. There have been some interesting commitments so far this year, and some interesting comments from camp prospects. Judging from Chris Horne's updates, the coaching staff made a great impression on everyone who attended the camp last weekend.

VT Scores Commitment from In-State Speedster
June 14, 2007
First Colonial (Virginia Beach, VA) running back Tony Gregory wanted to commit to Virginia Tech at last Saturday's camp, but decided to take some time to think it over. It didn't take long and the 5-11, 175-pound prospect is now the 9th high school senior to commit to Virginia Tech for the 2008 recruiting class.

Via Discusses Commitment to Tech
June 14, 2007
"In the recruiting process, I was open to everything. I chose Virginia Tech because I like the school and the campus, but I admit it is pretty exciting knowing I've been going to games for so long and now I'll be playing there," Virginia Tech recruit Michael Via said. Northeast Guilford's (McLeansville, N.C.) standout offensive lineman is certainly excited about his commitment to Virginia Tech.

Salem Star Commits to Hokies!
June 13, 2007
The 2006 Beach district Defensive Player of the Year plans to sign a letter of intent with Virginia Tech in February of 2008. Today, Salem (Virginia Beach, VA) star LB Lyndell Gibson pledged his verbal commitment to the Hokies.

Camp Report: TN DE T.J. Walker
June 13, 2007
William Blount (Maryville, TN) defensive end prospect T.J. Walker attended Virginia Tech's camp last Saturday in hopes of receiving his first official Division 1A scholarship offer. The 6-3, 221-pound rising senior did not return home with an offer, but he did turn in a good performance and remains very much on Virginia Tech's recruiting radar.

Hopkins Schedules Summer Visits
June 13, 2007
It is an in-state battle right now for Highland Springs (VA) star defensive lineman Antoine Hopkins, and both Virginia and Virginia Tech will have more chances to impress this summer. Hopkins has scheduled visits to each school and is looking forward to both experiences.

Camp Report: Gibson Impresses
June 13, 2007
5-11, 220-pound recruit Lyndell Gibson received high praise from Virginia Tech coaches last Saturday, performing well in Tech's senior camp. It is nothing new for the Salem (Virginia Beach, VA) linebacker, who earned Beach district Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2006.

Hokies Land Commitment #7!
June 12, 2007
Michael Via grew up a Virginia Tech fan, so he was certainly excited to receive a scholarship offer from his childhood favorite several weeks ago. It wasn't until this week, though, that the 6-6, 260-pound offensive line recruit pledged his verbal commitment to the Hokies.

Camp Report: Rose Names Favorite
June 12, 2007
Amherst (VA) rising senior Peter Rose grew up following Virginia Tech. His teammate, Derrick McCoy, has already committed to the Tech program for the 2008 class. Tech has many things going for it in this race and it kept its momentum going by impressing Rose at Saturday's camp.

Camp Report: Star CB Looking to Narrow List
June 12, 2007
Robert Blanton, regarded as one of the top cornerback recruits in the nation, had a "great visit" to Blacksburg this past Saturday. The 6-1, 175-pound Butler (Matthews, N.C.) blue-chipper enjoyed his time, important especially because this may be the last visit he makes to Blacksburg before making a verbal commitment to his school of choice.

Wallace Looking for Big Summer
June 12, 2007
A prospect on the rise in the recruiting ranks hails from one of the top programs in the state of Maryland. Friendly (Fort Washington, MD) defensive back Devin Wallace has picked up an official offer from the University of Virginia and is looking to impress a number of schools at camps this summer.

Camp Report: Terrell Manning's Trip a Good One
June 12, 2007
6-2, 205-pound Scotland County (Laurinburg, N.C.) LB Terrell Manning, one of the most highly recruited prospects out of the state of North Carolina, did indeed make the trip to Blacksburg on Saturday. The rising senior discussed his trip, his conversation with current Virginia Tech linebacker Xavier Adibi and which schools make up his top five.

Camp Report: Virginia Tech Offers Hamlette
June 11, 2007
Once rising senior Isaiah Hamlette participated in college camps, Brooke Point (Stafford, VA) head coach Jeff Berry felt the athletic defensive end would score scholarship offers. Coach Berry's belief proved true, as the 6-3 1/2, 250-pound prospect landed a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech following an impressive camp performance on Saturday.

Camp Report: Whitley Names Top Two
June 11, 2007
Of his experience at Virginia Tech on Saturday, Butler (Matthews, N.C.) standout defensive back Eddie Whitley said, "I loved it up there." The visit truly seems to have made a big impression on the 6-1, 175-pound prospect and a college decision could be made by next month.

Camp Report: VT Surges Ahead for Davis
June 11, 2007
One of the more impressive physical specimens in the state of Virginia's 2008 class was in Blacksburg on Saturday. Marcus Davis, a 6-5, 215-pound rising senior out of Ocean Lakes High School (Virginia Beach, VA), is yet another recruit who came away with a very positive feeling about his visit to Virginia Tech.

Track Teams Finish Out the Season
June 11, 2007
Virginia Tech's Track & Field teams participated in the National Championships last week. The events concluded on Saturday, and several Hokies did very well. In fact, three earned All-American honors.

Camp Report: Gregory Lists Tech on Top
June 11, 2007
Like Smithfield's Dyrell Roberts, 5-11, 175-pound running back Tony Gregory was also making his first ever trip to Blacksburg this past weekend. The First Colonial (Virginia Beach, VA) speedster had an outstanding experience and, though he didn't commit, he now puts the Hokies solidly at the top of his list.

Camp Report: Roberts Makes First Visit to VT
June 11, 2007
After making his first ever visit to Virginia Tech on Saturday, Smithfield (VA) WR/DB Dyrell Roberts has taken the first of two key visits in the month of June. Needless to say, the visit was important for the Hokies to impress the dynamic 6-2, 190-pound playmaker. After all, Roberts had visited the University of Virginia on many occasions throughout the past 12 months and had enjoyed each one.

Camp Report: Ruff Enjoys Visit
June 11, 2007
6-4, 290-pound Norview (Norfolk, VA) rising senior defensive lineman Klinton "Buddy" Ruff attended Virginia Tech's senior camp this past Saturday. It was a significant visit for the talented lineman, whose decision may likely come down to Virginia Tech and Virginia when all is said and done.

Martin Chooses Hokies
June 9, 2007
Virginia Tech's first commitment from the 2008 senior camp comes from 6-3, 235-pound tight end recruit Eric Martin. Martin, a standout out of Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Virginia, becomes the sixth rising high school senior to commit to the Hokies in the 2008 class.
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