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Hokies signing day: Offensive line

Hokies Journal is taking a position-by-position look of Virginia Tech's incoming class on national signing day. Virginia Tech had seemed to shore up its class early, so all prospects listed were among the recruits expected to sign Wednesday with the Hokies. Follow @HokiesJournal on Twitter for any changes or unexpected signings.

One of Virginia Tech’s biggest areas of need for this recruiting class was on the offensive line. The Hokies took strong steps to fill those holes by nabbing four offensive linemen.

The Hokies return three starters to from their 2009 offensive line and have a cast of talented backups. But Virginia Tech will undeniably miss guard Sergio Render and tackle Ed Wang, whose departures will leave Virginia Tech thin on the left side of the line. Render was a four-year starter in Blacksburg and a stalwart of the Hokies’ line, although he did not always play consistently. Wang was the protector of quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s blind side, leaving a hole at left tackle likely to be filled by Blake DeChristopher.

Even after the departure of Render and Wang, the Hokies’ coaches have all spoke highly of young prospects like Michael Via, Greg Nosal and Andrew Lanier, all of whom are of an leaner, athletic build.

Mark Shuman, a highly rated prospect out of Fork Union Military Academy, is a key addition for the Hokies. Shuman had offers from Georgia, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Virginia, among others. Shuman, who is 6 feet 6 and 290 pounds, is the brother of former Hokies center Ryan Shuman, who played from 2006 to 2008.

Another important offensive line commitments was Laurence Gibson. At 6-6 and 300 pounds, Gibson has a big-time build that could get him on the field early in his tenure in Blacksburg. In fact, Gibson, who played the 2009 season at Hargrave Military Academy after attending Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Ariz., enrolled at Virginia Tech for the 2010 spring classes.

Matt Arkema, who is 6-3 and 290 pounds, has the size to be successful at the college level, but he might also have a bit of the mean streak to back it up. He is said to finish plays with a relentless motor, although he also reportedly had a 3.86 grade-point-average in fall 2009. Arkema, who played at Midlothian High School in Midlothian, Va., put together a very impressive highlight tape and could be a big-time player for Virginia Tech in a few years. [See video, below.]

Caleb Farris is a guard out of Rockbridge County High School in Lexington, Va. At 6-4 and 315 pounds, is another big-bodied addition for the Hokies. He does not come with as much of the buzz as Shuman or Gibson, but was considered one of the top prospects in Virginia. With good reason: Farris registered 36 pancake blocks as a sophomore, and has continued to develop and grow into his beefy frame.

Here is a video of Laurence Gibson at Buena High School in 2008.

Here is a video of Matt Arkema at Midlothian High School in 2008.

By Mark Viera  |  February 3, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
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