Virginia Tech starting defensive end James Gayle will not play at Wake Forest this Saturday, the team announced via twitter Thursday. Gayle, who suffered a sprained left ankle during the first series of the Hokies’ 38-35 win over Miami, will not even make the trip with the team because of the injury.
Gayle is second on the team with 3.5 sacks this season and has 15 total tackles through six games. His loss means the Hokies will now be without two starting defensive linemen against the Demon Deacons because defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins is already out for the year after tearing his ACL against Clemson two weeks ago.
Gayle’s absence means undersize redshirt sophomore Tyrel Wilson will get his first career start at defensive end. Primarily a special teams contributor during his time at Virginia Tech, Wilson had two tackles and a quarterback hurry when he played 50 snaps against the Hurricanes last week.
Wilson, who weighs just 219 pounds, will spend most of his evening going against 320-pound Wake Forest right tackle Doug Weaver, a redshirt senior. Redshirt freshmen Zack McCray and Duan Perez-Means could also see an increase in playing time due to Gayle’s injury.
Virginia Tech also announced that back-up tight end Eric Martin will not travel to Wake Forest because of a shoulder injury. Redshirt freshman guard Laurence Gibson, meanwhile, will dress for the first time in his career.
We’ll have more later this afternoon when Virginia Tech releases its official injury report.