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Freshmen DEs Hill and Urban might play Saturday

Although the injury to Matt Conrath would likely slide Zane Parr into the starting role, freshman Will Hill was listed with the first-team defense on the depth chart.

Hill enrolled at Virginia during the spring semester, so he had the benefit of spring practice. He has played every game this season, although only two at defensive end. The rest have been on special teams.

Even if Parr starts over Hill as expected, Hill will likely play more than usual if Conrath is sidelined.

"Clearly, he'll get more plays than what he got in the past, but he's just in the same circumstance here in week seven that a good deal of his predecessors have been in year one,” Coach Al Groh said. “Whether it was [Darryl] Blackstock, [Wali] Lundy, [D'Brickashaw] Ferguson, a lot of those guys who started in the very first game of their freshman year.

"Obviously we thought those guys were ready for that and capable of it. If we'd thought Will Hill was ready to start the first game as those guys, clearly we would have done it. But we're confident in Will and any of these guys we put out there."

One of those players might be true freshman Brent Urban, who would move up on the depth chart into the role of the fourth defensive end in the rotation, which Hill has been with a healthy Conrath.

Like Hill, Urban is a true freshman. Unlike Hill, Urban has not yet played this season and is still eligible for a redshirt. But Groh, who holds no reservations about playing a true freshmen, would not consider Urban’s possible redshirt season if Urban needs to play.

"What would be the reason?" Groh said. "Everybody gets all hung up on this redshirt thing. For one, this is the season that we're playing. And two, just because a player doesn't redshirt this year doesn't mean it's impossible to do so in the future.

"In fact, we've had players here who have done that, who played initially as a first-year player, sat out the second year because somebody else could do just as much and caught up with a year's worth of growth that way. So we're not looking much further beyond next Saturday. That's pretty important."

By Zach Berman  |  October 23, 2009; 10:15 AM ET
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