2014 Spring Football Lookahead: Inside Linebackers

Even though Jack Tyler and Tariq Edwards were only full time starters for two seasons, their dependable play week in, and week out, made me feel like they were in the lineup forever. As spring practice kicks off, Bud Foster finds himself with perhaps the most inexperienced group of linebackers he's had since Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson started against Alabama in 2009. Tyler and Edwards set a high standard for preparation, communication, and execution which are all paramount for a system in which every player must defend their appropriate gap or watch the ball carrier go off to the races. Chase Williams, Deon Clarke, Andrew Motuapuaka, and Dahman McKinnon are each talented players, but they have big shoes to fill behind a defensive line that only returns one starter.

Whit Babcock: "We have a plan"

Yesterday, I watched new Athletic Director Whit Babcock win his 40-ish minute press conference on the future of the men's basketball program. That's the last time I'll prefix "new" to his title, even though his appointment as AD began on March 1st. After firing James Johnson, Whit's sleeves are already rolled as he searches for Virginia Tech's next basketball coach.

Even though he was engaging with the media, it felt as if he was speaking directly to the fans. Without divulging specifics and compromising the search, Whit did an excellent job of outlining the process, expectations, and possible outcomes. If you're considering investing in the program, i.e. donating to the Hokie Club, his candidness, forthrightness, and transparency has to make you feel better about stroking a check. The honesty from up top during this period of transition is refreshing.

The CliffsNotes are as follows:

2014 Spring Football Lookahead: Offensive Line

Despite winter's last ditch attempt to keep its bitter grip on the weather, spring football is just around the corner. Virginia Tech begins spring practice on March 27th, with the practice sessions culminating with the Maroon–White Game at 2:00 PM on Saturday, April 26th. In the weeks leading up to the game, I will take a short break from the Class of 2014 First Look series to preview position battles critical for any potential return to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game. A successful season requires continued improvement on the offensive line. Coach Jeff Grimes left Blacksburg for LSU in the offseason, and Coach Stacy Searels has been hired build on the solid foundation that Grimes put in place.

James Johnson Fired

HokieSports.com announced James Johnson was released as men's basketball coach. The following statement is from new Athletic Director Whit Babcock.

"I want to thank Coach Johnson for his dedication and hard work for our university and our basketball program over the past seven years," Babcock said. "A change of this significance affects many people and is never taken lightly, but I felt a change and a new direction was necessary for the long term, best interest of our department."

Johnson took over a program that had been gutted, and was in need of a rebuild. However, he could only muster 6 ACC wins in two seasons of play.

Versatility Brings Out the Best in Stone Bridge's Tanner Karafa

At the end of his junior season, 6-foot-3 tight end Tanner Karafa earned new responsibilities.

When Ashburn's Stone Bridge High School lost a linebacker due to injury in the playoffs, Karafa got the call.

There wasn't much time to learn how to play outside linebacker.

"We put him on the edge and told him to go get the football," Bulldogs Coach Mickey Thompson said. "He came up with a lot of amazing plays, but didn't know how to make many reads.

"You can't just go to linebacker and play."