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Spring Practice Opens Soon
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #476, March 18, 2011

Believe it or not, it's almost time for spring football practice to begin. The Hokies will take to the practice field on Wednesday, March 30 and participate in 15 spring practices, culminating in the annual Spring Game in Lane Stadium on April 23 at 2pm.

Here's a list of the days during which the Hokies will be practicing.

2011 Spring Practice Schedule
Date Event
March 30 Practice 1
April 1 Practice 2
April 2 Practice 3
April 4 Practice 4
April 6 Practice 5
April 8 Practice 6
April 9 Practice 7
April 11 Practice 8
April 13 Practice 9
April 15 Practice 10
April 16 Practice 11
April 18 Practice 12
April 20 Practice 13
April 22 Practice 14
April 23 Spring Game, 2pm

Virginia Tech generally holds two Saturday scrimmages during spring drills as well, and if that's the case again this year, they will take place on April 9 and April 16. Scrimmages are critical in determining depth chart positions.

Big question marks that the coaching staff hopes to get answered this year include:

  • How well will Logan Thomas perform?
  • Will Tech get quality play from their backup tight ends?
  • Who will kick and punt for the Hokies this year?
  • How will Tech's young defensive ends perform?
  • What will the linebacker depth chart look like?
  • Will there be any tweaks to the Virginia Tech defense?

Obviously all of those questions will not be answered, but it's probable that at least a few of them will be before the start of the summer.

Gayle Steps Up

Speaking of young defensive ends, one such player had an extremely impressive offseason in the strength and conditioning program. James Gayle finished the 2010 season with 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks as a r-freshman, and showed flashes of a promising future.

His strength and conditioning numbers were even more impressive. Gayle measured in at 6-4, 251, and won the highest award an athlete can receive in the strength and conditioning program: the Excalibur Award. Here are a quick glance at his numbers.

  • 420 bench press
  • 420 front squat
  • 341 push jerk
  • 366 power clean (defensive end position record)
  • 38 inch vertical jump
  • 4.45 in the 40 yard dash

We always knew that Gayle was a very raw athlete, and just needed to put on size and learn technique. However, those are incredible numbers. His explosion and speed are exceptional for a player his size, and his lifting numbers show how strong he is. If he can play football at the same level this season, he has a chance to have an exceptional year.

He'll have to step up, because Steven Friday's career is over, and Chris Drager has been moved to tight end. Fellow r-sophomore J.R. Collins will see time at defensive end and defensive tackle this spring. That means r-freshmen Zack McCray and Duan Perez-Means are going to have to shoulder a big load as well. One of those r-freshmen may be called upon to start, if Collins ends up seeing substantial time at defensive tackle.

It will be interesting to see how much help Gayle gets from new coach Cornell Brown. Brown's official title will be outside linebackers coach and assistant defensive line coach. Tech's only outside linebacker is the whip, which is a completely different position than defensive end. Exactly how much time will Brown spend with the defensive ends? Will any of those ends be used in a stand-up outside linebacker role at times? That would make sense, considering Brown's coaching title, and the fact that the defensive coaching staff just visited Ohio State. The Buckeyes are known for using standup defensive ends.

In a couple of weeks, we'll begin to hear some of the answers to those questions.



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   TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week
2011 Spring Practice Preview: Tight Ends
March 18, 2011
In an offense that likes the power running game, tight end is a very important position. In the past, Virginia Tech has had teams that featured multiple quality tight ends. However, last year they had just one reliable player at that position, and this year's group is a major question mark as well.

2011 NIT Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Wichita State
March 18, 2011
Virginia Tech's competition will take a big step up this weekend. They easily beat Bethune-Cookman in the opening round of the NIT, but this time they face a very good and very well-coached Wichita State team that is no stranger to winning basketball games.

South County's Vandyke Up To Four Offers
March 17, 2011
South County (Lorton, VA) junior Devin Vandyke has four major FBS scholarship offers in the fold, including Boston College, Maryland, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. The 6-1 1/2, 205-pound linebacker is also drawing interest from Navy, Pitt, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Is either in-state FBS program closing in on an offer?

2011 Spring Practice Preview: The Backfield
March 17, 2011
Virginia Tech lost two of the best tailbacks in school history, Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, to the NFL Draft. Starting fullback Kenny Younger must also be replaced. New running backs coach Shane Beamer won't have quite as much to work with as Billy Hite did last year, but the talent is still there to have an outstanding running game.

Hokies Whip Bethune-Cookman 79-54
March 17, 2011
Virginia Tech came out strong and put a beating on Bethune-Cookman, winning 79-54 in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies are now 22-11 on the season, and they'll host #4 seed Wichita State on Sunday morning at 11am in the second round of the NIT.

Holsey Adds Three Offers, Schedules VT Visit
March 16, 2011
Creekside (Fairburn, GA) defensive back/wide receiver Joshua Holsey picked up three new offers recently, including one from national champion Auburn. The 5-11, 180-pound junior discussed his new offers as well as his plans for the spring in this latest recruiting update.

2011 Spring Practice Preview: Quarterbacks
March 16, 2011
Virginia Tech brings back most of their team for the 2011 season, but they will have to break in a new starter at the most critical position on the field: quarterback. All indications are that the new starter will be talented sophomore Logan Thomas, who will bring something to the quarterback position that we haven't seen in the past: height and athleticism combined.

2011 NIT Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Bethune-Cookman
March 16, 2011
Though it's not the postseason they were looking for, #1 seed Virginia Tech will face #8 Bethune-Cookman in the opening round of the NIT in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. If the Hokies win, they'll take on either #4 Wichita State or #5 Nebraska.

Tech Talk Live Notes for 3/14/11
March 15, 2011
Seth Greenberg and Jim Weaver talked about being left out of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night's Tech Talk Live. Weaver also discussed the search for a new women's basketball coach.

Commit Profile: QB T.J. Millweard
March 15, 2011
T.J. Millweard's home may be in Forth Worth, Texas, but he was well aware of Virginia Tech's accomplishments on the football field. But the 6-4, 230-pound rising senior quarterback's initial interest in Tech, one of 15 schools he sent film to this winter, went beyond the gridiron.

Numbers and Conspiracies
March 14, 2011
Looking at the numbers and trying to decide why Virginia Tech didn't get into the NCAA Tournament is a pointless exercise. You can't change what has already happened. Still, as a glutton for punishment, I'm going to do it anyway. Also, if you like a little conspiracy theory, keep reading.

Christchurch Notes: Homer Planning June Decision
March 14, 2011
The focus of Christchurch (VA) offensive tackle Win Homer continues to be on three schools - Boston College, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. The 6-6, 240-pound rising senior standout hit the recruiting trail recently with a trip to Charlottesville. In this latest update, Homer reveals what's next on his visit schedule as well as when he wants to make a commitment.

March 13, 2011
You know what, folks? I've got nothing. It's past 11 PM Sunday night, four hours after another snub, and much like my favorite basketball team, my tank is on "E". I thought the Hokies' body of work was enough this year, but the poopsmiths on the NCAA Selection Committee reminded us of the guiding principle behind the carrot on a stick: you never actually get to eat the carrot.
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