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Morgan returns to starting role

For Virginia Tech rover Davon Morgan, the hardest thing was learning to trust that he was okay. Morgan, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, rehabilitated his knee but still was wary of re-injuring himself earlier this season.

“It was more just cutting, planting, coming out of breaks and stuff like that,” Morgan said. “It’s not that I couldn’t do it; it was more that I was nervous to do it because I wasn’t sure how strong it was yet.”

But Morgan, a junior, has grown comfortable on his surgically repaired knee and has earned back his starting role for Saturday’s game against Maryland.

Dorian Porch, who took over the spot this season, had played more than Morgan in every game this season until last Thursday’s win at East Carolina, when Morgan played 48 snaps and Porch played 19.

“He’s always been a guy that we trust and count on,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said of Morgan. He is “a guy that’s really performed consistently down the stretch here. And we’re going to people that give us the best opportunity to win and play consistently well.”

Foster said Porch, a fifth-year senior, missed some tackles against East Carolina. But more than that, he said, Morgan has been playing well and might be more productive from that position.

“At some spots, guys get hot,” Foster said, “and you’ve got to ride that.”

For Morgan, it has been a long journey back since tearing the ACL in his right knee last season against Nebraska. He had started all five games for the Hokies, showing promise as a young member of the secondary.

Morgan said the trip to Lincoln, Neb., was his first time playing a game on an artificial surface. He said he “just didn’t like it from the start.” On a kickoff return, Morgan suffered the injury. He said he did not feel any pain; instead, he was just worried about missing time on the field.

After undergoing surgery, Morgan participated in Virginia Tech’s winter workouts and started running before the Orange Bowl in January. He said the team supported him – he referred to his teammates as family – and received get-well cards from fans.

Morgan played with the team in the spring and has come along this season. He has played in all nine games and has 23 tackles, with a sack, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Every Tuesday and Thursday, he said, he has studied film with cornerback Rashad Carmichael and other members of the Hokies’ defense.

On Saturday, when Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC) takes on Maryland (2-7, 1-4), Morgan will be rewarded for his continued development with his first start since the Nebraska game that ended his sophomore season.

“I wasn’t worried about who’s going to start, who’s going to do this and that,” Morgan said. “My focus was just going out there and performing at the highest level I could possibly perform.”

By Mark Viera  |  November 12, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
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