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Leading returning tackler Steve Greer not assured a starting spot at middle linebacker

The player who last year tallied more tackles in a season than any other freshman since Darryl Blackstock in 2002 may not start for Virginia on Saturday in the season opener against Richmond. Redshirt sophomore Steve Greer – who registered a team-high 92 tackles in 2009 – remains locked in a battle for the starting middle linebacker job with redshirt junior Aaron Taliaferro.

On the latest depth chart released Monday, Greer and Taliaferro were listed as interchangeable. Taliaferro – who considered leaving the team last winter but eventually elected to stay – appeared in two games last season before making a huge impression on the new coaching staff during spring practices.

Greer, meantime, suffered a high ankle sprain during spring practices, which forced him to miss time. As he worked his way back to full speed during training camp, Greer found himself in the odd position of being fended off by someone else who sat atop the depth chart at his position, despite the fact he is the leading returning tackler on a team that won three games a season ago.

“Aaron has done a nice job,” London said Monday. “Unfortunately, Steve got hurt with the high ankle sprain during spring practice. But as Steve started coming back, you started to see why he played a lot and why he made a lot of tackles. Because Steve is a very smart player. He's like the quarterback on offense for the defense. He calls the fronts and he makes the adjustments, and a lot of time it affects the secondary and what they're doing. And you could just see over the course of August practices and up until here recently that Steve has an eye for the football, he understands the game and he puts himself in position to make plays.

“Actually, he's made the competition at that position much more fierce because now Aaron knows he's got to be on his Ps and Qs. Steve's best attributes are getting us lined up and being able to understand formations and making those coverage calls and things, which has caused Aaron to have to step up. It's been healthy competition. Both of them will play a lot. It's a good position to be in, I'm quite sure, for both of them, knowing that no one has anything over the other one. We're going to need both of them to play.”

By Steve Yanda  |  August 31, 2010; 9:46 AM ET
 
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