I told DeChristopher Tuesday he looked like the lion from the “Wizard of Oz” and predicted he’d be a menacing figure if he decides to deliver any pregame speeches this year. He hasn’t trimmed the beard in close to two months, he said, and it could be developing supernatural powers.
“I don’t think I would have to say anything,” DeChristopher said of a hypothetical locker room talk to the team. “My beard would say it all.” (For the record, colleague Kyle Tucker got a photo of the beard during the first day of training camp last month, and it’s only gotten shaggier.)
More important, though, is another DeChristopher body part – the left pectoral muscle he strained just before training camp began. As expected, though, the player with more starts than any other player on Virginia Tech’s roster declared himself 100 percent healthy and ready to go for Saturday’s season opener against Appalachian State.
DeChristopher said he finally felt back to normal last week, but he’s not sure whether the extended amount of time off will prove beneficial or not.
“It was nice to rest up my body. I’ve been struggling with some tendonitis and a pulled hamstring I had a couple weeks before the pec,” DeChristopher said. “I have been through the program a couple times, so that’s helped me, being able to miss some things and just watch on film. But on the other hand, you need to get better and that’s what camp is all about.”
Virginia Tech’s offensive line always seems to be a polarizing unit, and last year they took the brunt of the blame for the Hokies’ three losses. But the one that has yet to fade from memory is that Orange Bowl defeat to Stanford.
Afterward in the Sun Life Stadium locker room, DeChristopher was despondent, admitting to reporters that the Cardinal’s blitzes “just got in our head.” The sting has lasted through the offseason, especially for a unit that returns four of the five starters from that game.
“We messed up on offensive line and as starters we took that on our shoulders and took it to heart because we don’t want to be a team that gets beat up like that,” DeChristopher said.
Earlier in training camp, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring called his offensive line “a viable group,” but he wanted to hold his ultimate judgment until after the season. Regardless of the opponent he wants them to “go out there and win a game for you.”
They may have to do that this week since nobody on the Hokies offense is quite sure what Appalachian State’s new 3-4 defensive front will look like. It’s a challenge that DeChristopher and his beard seem up to, though.
“We all agree with what Stinepring said completely,” DeChristopher said. “We gotta have that mindset that we’re gonna dominate people and in order to do that we’ve gotta bust our [butt] every day in practice to get better. That mentality will help us move in the right direction.”