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Position changes for Virginia Tech spring football

Virginia Tech kicks off its spring football practices in earnest on Wednesday, and a few Hokies players will be in different positions when they take the field for the first time in 2010.

Among the most notable changes were the decision to move running back Josh Oglesby to full back and linebacker Jake Johnson to defensive end. There are no new injuries that will affect the spring roster, but three players are recovering from surgeries and will not be available.

Linebacker Braquell Rivers, who tore his left quadriceps while weight lifting, is expected to be out five to since months after undergoing surgery in March. Zach Luckett, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee during in win at Virginia last November, is still out. Also, Andrew Miller, who redshirted last year as a freshman, underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and is still out.

With regard to the position switches, there are various reasons for the coaching staff's decisions to act the way it did.

With Oglesby, the move represents an attempt to free up space in the Hokies' crowded backfield. Virginia Tech has standouts in Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, both of whom will start spring practice tied atop the depth chart, in addition to young talent like David Wilson, a rising sophomore.

Williams, the Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year in 2009, broke Virginia Tech's single-season freshman rushing record in the fall (1,655 yards). He broke the ACC freshman rushing record set by Evans with 1,265 yards in 2008.

Wilson, who only played a bit role as a freshman in 2009, is an explosive, athletic addition was not always mentally sharp and struggled with blocking assignments at times last season. He could redshirt in 2010 if it does not seem like his role would increase.

As it pertains to Johnson, asking him to put his hand on the ground is a shift to bolster a depleted defensive line and to play to his strengths after he had trouble handling responsibilities at linebacker.

The Hokies are thin on depth after losing three of their four defensive line starters, including Jason Worilds, who left after his junior year for the NFL. The Hokies have Steven Friday and Chris Drager working at the end spots, but could use more bodies.

Johnson started the year strong at linebacker with his hard-hitting, aggressive play, but he sometimes was out of control, failing to play within the scope of the defense. Missed assignments and poor performances cost him playing time, as Lyndell Gibson eventually replaced Johnson as the starter.

By Mark Viera  |  March 29, 2010; 7:13 PM ET
 
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