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With Warren injured, Via sees heightened role

When Virginia Tech center Beau Warren went down in the third quarter against North Carolina, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring knew it was not a minor injury.

“For Beau to go down, you knew it had to be bad,” Stinespring said. “Beau’s the toughest guy we have on this football team, and he plays as hard as anyone on this football team.”

Warren suffered a Grade II MCL sprain of his left knee when his leg was pinned underneath a pile near the goal line. He did not return to the game. Warren did not practice over the weekend and was seen on crutches. His status for Thursday night’s game at East Carolina is unknown.

With Warren at least temporarily sidelined, redshirt freshman Michael Via has stepped into a leading role. While the coaches said Via has a good football sense, filling in at center as a first-year player is not easy.

“I think it’s the most difficult position on the field with the exception of quarterback,” Stinespring said.

The center makes presnap reads and helps coordinate the blocking scheme for the entire line. Then there is the issue of snapping the ball or lining up from a shotgun formation. And then there is the actual physical element of blocking.

“He’s got a good football mentality,” offensive line coach Curt Newsome said. “It’s very important to have a guy with some football knowledge.”

Via developed a football knowledge growing up a coach’s son. His father, Bob, played and later coached at Page High School in Greensboro, N.C. Via played there before transferring to Northeast Guilford High School, where his father later became the offensive line coach.

While Via has always played on the offensive line, he moved to center once he came to Virginia Tech because there was a lack of depth behind Warren. Before coming to Blacksburg, Via said he had not played center since middle school.

“It was kind of exciting just doing something different,” Via said of playing center. “You have to look for different things. I feel like it helps just your knowledge of the offense.”

One reason Via has been able to adapt and quickly step into the starting role is because of his added weight. Since coming to Virginia Tech, Via said he added 30 pounds by eating “everything I can.” But at 6 feet 7, he is still a relatively lean and agile 284 pounds.

Now, with Warren’s status for Thursday’s game unclear, it is a matter of getting Via comfortable with more time, to minimize drop off if Warren is out.

“He hasn’t been out there,” Newsome said of Via. “He’s a freshman. You’d like for them to play as redshirt sophomores, but this is what he’s worked for. I think he’ll do a good job for us.”

By Mark Viera  |  November 2, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
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