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Injuries deplete Virginia Tech's offensive line

In recent years, Virginia Tech's offensive line has been a weakness. But after a solid 2009 season and with important components returning, the unit appeared to be strong at the outset of 2010 spring practices.

The Hokies have instead been beset by injuries to reserves on the offensive line, which has been thinned of its depth and is a cause of concern for the coaches. Four offensive linemen, including two centers, have missed time with injuries or have been injured during spring practices.

Michael Via, the backup center who did well in limited action in 2009, is going to have surgery Thursday to repair a stretched anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and hopes to return at some point in the fall. Andrew Miller, a reserve center who redshirted last year as a freshman, is out after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason.

"What's problematic is two of the major hits have been at the same spot, at center," offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "So we've really been at a struggle from that standpoint."

The coached had hoped to work Via, who stands 6 feet 6, at tackle in the spring, but were not allowed to do so because of the injury to Miller. Then Via went down with the ACL injury.

Also, Vinston Painter, the backup right guard and an emerging player, dislocated his left kneecap. The injury will not require surgery but Painter will miss the rest of spring practices.

Tyler Barfield, a reserve left guard who is going to be a redshirt freshman in the fall, has also missed time the spring with injury.

"Vinston Painter was someone we were counting on a great deal and was moving in a great direction," Stinespring said, who added that the coaches wanted to see what Barfield could offer this spring.

For the remainder of spring practices, Virginia Tech's second-team offensive line will consist of freshman Laurence Gibson at left tackle, redshirt freshman David Wang at left guard, redshirt sophomore Bo Gentry at center, freshman Dale Davis at right guard and redshirt junior Andrew Lanier at left tackle.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the nature of Michael Via's injury. He stretched his left anterior cruciate ligament; he did not tear it.

By Mark Viera  |  April 13, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
 
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