Virginia Tech linebacker Tariq Edwards will undergo surgery Tuesday to alleviate pain stemming from a stress fracture in his left shin, head athletic trainer Mike Goforth said Monday evening. The rising redshirt junior will have a rod inserted to support the bone and likely will be out three to four months.
Goforth maintains that there is “no question” Edwards should be back to full health by the start of training camp in August, but he will not participate in Virginia Tech’s spring practice, which begins March 28.
“We tried the non-surgical approach, and it hasn’t worked out quite the way we wanted it to, and we felt we were at the point that we needed to put the rod in there to stabilize that bone,” Goforth said. “We found out about this right before the bowl game and him, and his dad [former Hokies wide receiver Bo Campbell] and his family both chose to go ahead and play. We were hoping we wouldn’t have to do surgery.”
Edwards had a breakout season in 2011, emerging as one of the mainstays on a defense that endured several injuries to key players during his first season as a starter. The Cheraw, S.C., native finished the year with a career-high 71 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions.
Though Edwards isn’t expected to miss any games, his injury is significant if only because it means the Hokies will be without all three of their starting linebackers from last season’s opener when spring practice gets underway.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster confirmed Monday that the team will hold middle linebacker Bruce Taylor out of most drills next week because he’s still recovering from the Lisfranc fracture in his foot that he suffered last October. Whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (Stone Bridge), meantime, will be held out of all scrimmages and be limited during drill work, Foster said, as he gets back to full health from his own Lisfranc fracture.
That means the top of Virginia Tech’s linebacker depth chart will include redshirt junior Jack Tyler at middle linebacker, redshirt junior Telvion Clark at the backer spot Edwards usually plays and redshirt senior Alonzo Tweedy at whip linebacker.
Taylor and Edwards are expected to regain their starting jobs upon returning from injury in August, but Gouveia-Winslow likely will compete through training camp with Tweedy to see who earns the starting whip spot this year.
Foster, though, isn’t all that concerned with the mounting injuries to his linebacking corps because it is probably the deepest position on the team. It will actually allow him to get a better look at younger prospects like redshirt sophomores Chase Williams, the son of embattled NFL defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and Nick Dew.
“Spring ball is about getting some guys a little bit better, but then working with our younger guys and create some depth,” Foster said. “That’s one of our goals this spring. We took big strides last year. I want us to keep with that and take another step in our improvement and attitude, but I also want us to create some depth a little bit. We’ve got some young kids that were in some back-up positions or even redshirted last year that have a bright future and this is a big spring for them.”