Virginia Tech's Eddie Whitley plays through the pain
Free safety Eddie Whitley greeted reporters with a big smile on his face Monday evening after practice, happy like the rest of his teammates that Virginia Tech has dug itself out from under the 0-2 hole that it started the season with.
That grin, though, is especially important considering Whitley might be in more pain than any of his teammates right now. The junior was a surprise member of the Hokies' injury report heading into the North Carolina State game, listed with a stinger that nobody had noticed the week before.
Whitley said he suffered the injury to his left shoulder on one of the last series against Boston College when he "hit one of those big tight ends trying to be like Kam Chancellor and it just went numb on me."
During parts of last week, Whitley said he could barely raise his arm above his neck and added that even with rehab he was only about 85 percent against the Wolfpack. But that didn't stop him from playing 86 snaps in the Hokies' comeback victory. He finished with seven tackles and a forced fumble.
It's all the more impressive considering secondary coach Torian Gray said Monday that Whitley also suffered a foot injury during pregame drills before Saturday's game and is still nursing a knee injury that's been nagging him since training camp.
"He’s just banged up and for him to gut out and play 86 snaps is just unbelievable and says a lot about the kid," Gray said.
Whitley will be limited in practice this week, something that worries Gray a little bit, but he expects Whitley to play Saturday against Central Michigan. Gray said that while back-up free safety Antone Exum has played well in recent weeks as a nickel cornerback, only in a pinch would he feel completely comfortable having the redshirt freshman assume Whitley's duties, which include calling out coverages.
Regardless, according to Whitley it will take a lot more for him to miss a game. Gray and defensive coordinator Bud Foster have encouraged him to avoid going for the knockout hit while he recovers from the stinger, and instead get lower and work on his tackling technique more.
"I don't know," Whitley said with a smirk. "I’m just a head-buster.”
Whitley's good spirits also spread to the film room, where the safety shared a story with reporters about the team's 6:45 a.m. film session on Monday morning. Apparently on a kickoff, linebacker Wiley Brown, the son of D.C. music legend Chuck Brown, took a huge hit from a Wolfpack blocker and it had the whole room laughing. I'll let Whitley explain.
"Wiley is known to hit everybody, he's probably one of the hardest hitters on the team," Whitley said. "Nobody really sees Wiley because he’s on kickoff, but he got laid out and I could see Coach Beamer laughing and crying and I was dying when I saw Coach Beamer crying. It was too funny. We were all just laughing. It was hilarious."
| October 5, 2010; 9:57 AM ET
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