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Andrew Lanier gets his shot at left tackle for the Hokies

Redshirt junior Andrew Lanier admits some of his Virginia Tech teammates like to joke around about his tennis-playing days. See, back when he was in high school in Moore, S.C., Lanier was a rarity in the tennis world — a 6-foot-5, 240-pound No. 2 doubles player.

A converted tight end, Lanier now weighs 280 pounds but it's his agility and quick feet from his days swinging a racket that give Virginia Tech coaches a degree of confidence heading into Monday night's showdown against No. 3 Boise State. Lanier is listed as the starter at left tackle, called on to protect quarterback Tyrod Taylor's blind side and combat the Broncos' talented duo of defensive ends, Ryan Winterswyk and Shea McClellin.

Lanier takes the place of a projected starter, sophomore Nick Becton, who has missed large chunks of fall camp because of a turf toe injury. Becton has practiced this week, and is expected to see some time Monday night as well.

But the Hokies are placing much of their trust in Lanier, who started against Duke last year but has primarily served as a backup during his time in Blacksburg.

"I’ve been having some butterflies ever since [offensive line coach Curt Newsome] told me I was gonna be the starting guy out there, so I’ve just been trying to mentally get myself prepared for it," Lanier said Thursday. "Coming into the camp I didn’t feel prepared at all. I think this camp, I got a lot of work in and I think I’m game ready right now.”

In particular, Lanier said he struggled keeping his weight up. He's recently stabilized at 280 pounds. He's also been getting some extra work on his footwork and hand placement with former Virginia Tech left tackle Jimmy Martin, who now serves as a graduate assistant.

Still, Lanier is the one big question mark for a Hokies offensive line that returns three starters from a year ago. He'll be thrown into the proverbial fire Monday night against a Broncos defensive line that his own coach said "doesn’t have to take a backseat to many people in the country."

"He’s gotten so many quality reps, and I think he’s gained confidence," Newsome said of Lanier. "But he’s gonna find out, it’s gonna be a full night for him because they flop [Winterswyk and McClellin]. Everybody’s gonna get a taste of them, so we’ll find out.”

By Mark Giannotto  |  September 3, 2010; 2:20 PM ET
 
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