But as Wang lay on the turf at Heinz Field two weeks ago, his foot numb as two carts waited to take him off the field, the Ashburn native feared the worst.
“I felt one big pop,” Wang said. “I thought it was over.”
A season-ending injury would have been a devastating development for the younger brother of former Hokies stalwart Ed Wang. David Wang missed most of last year after breaking his foot in a game against East Carolina, and had only just begun returning to form when the Hokies lost to Pittsburgh two weeks ago.
All that progress looked to be for naught after a fluky play in which Wang’s ankle got rolled when he was pushed back into quarterback Logan Thomas.
“I had no idea they had two carts out there. I was sitting out there and all I could feel was [head trainer Mike Goforth] asking me if that hurt or this hurt and I just told him I couldn’t feel my foot,” said Wang, who also suffered a shoulder injury upon arriving in Blacksburg back in 2009. “But the X-rays turned out negative and that was a sigh of relief, too.”
The diagnosis was simply a sprained ankle, an injury that forced Wang to miss Virginia Tech’s win over Bowling Green this past weekend. He has been limited in practice and appears to still have a limp on the field.
But offensive line coach Curt Newsome said Wang showed significant improvement from Monday to Tuesday and both are hopeful he will be able to play Saturday against Cincinnati. Newsome said if the game were Wednesday Wang would not be able to play, but that the progress since the beginning of the week indicated the 6-foot-2, 288-pound junior might be able to give it a go.
In Wang’s place Saturday, the Hokies started senior Michael Via at left guard and used a rotation. Sophomore Matt Arkema received extensive playing time as well, and redshirt sophomore Brent Benedict got the start at right guard. Though there were some hiccups, especially early in the game, Virginia Tech ended up rushing for a season-high 246 yards.
Even when healthy this year, Wang was still getting re-adjusted to the starting lineup and he expressed disappointment that any momentum gained had come to a halt by missing last week’s game. But after watching last season disappear due to a foot injury, Wang is counting on this latest foot-related setback to be a temporary one.
“I felt like I was getting better every week,” he said. “I know I have a ways to go just being in the physical standpoint and that’s apparent. I need to get more push off the ball, and I feel like every week I was moving towards that and it [stinks] to get set back a little bit and miss a week or two.”
Note: Wide receiver Joshua Stanford and linebacker Deon Clarke have played in games this season, but Coach Frank Beamer said Tuesday the team plans to pursue redshirts for both freshmen. It’s unclear exactly what circumstances led to the decisions, although Stanford was listed as having a knee injury on last week’s injury report.
However, since both have seen action already, the Hokies will have to file for the redshirt through the ACC and the league will then petition the NCAA.