Update, 2:30 p.m.: Two hours after Beamer's teleconference, Virginia Tech announced Via will miss Saturday's season opening game against Appalachian State with a left knee sprain. Head trainer Mike Goforth said Via would be probable for the Hokies’ Sept. 10 game against East Carolina.
"He has elected to try and play through this and we support his decision," Goforth said in a school-issued statement. "But we'll monitor his knee daily."
Original post: Reserve offensive lineman Michael Via is dealing with a sprained left knee and his availability for Saturday’s season opener against Appalachian State is up in the air, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said Monday during his weekly teleconference with reporters.
Via, a versatile redshirt sophomore, was expected to be the Hokies’ primary backup at both right tackle and center this season. With starting right tackle Blake DeChristopher nursing a strained pectoral injury, Via took a majority of the first team reps there during training camp.
Beamer confirmed that Via’s injury is not to the same knee in which he suffered a torn ACL during 2010 spring practice.
There were message board rumors over the weekend, and even a tweet from Virginia Tech’s student newspaper, that Via had suffered a torn ACL, not just a sprain. When asked whether the injury involved Via’s ACL, Beamer would only say, “We’ll release Thursday what his status is.”
Via was also not on Virginia Tech’s Monday injury report listing players that have pending surgeries or are out for the season. Only defensive tackle Kwamaine Battle appeared on the report.
If Via isn’t able to play Saturday, true freshman Caleb Farris would be the Hokies’ backup center behind first-year starter Andrew Miller. Redshirt junior Vinston Painter would likely back up DeChristopher at right tackle.
If Via’s injury is serious, it represents a significant blow to Virginia Tech’s depth in the trenches. Offensive line coach Curt Newsome has indicated in recent weeks that outside of his five starters, his only other game-ready players were Via, left tackle Nick Becton and guard David Wang (Stone Bridge HS).
Other than the Via news, Beamer spent much of his time Monday praising Appalachian State. Most notably, he said “there’s no question” the Mountaineers could move up to Division 1-A status, as the school’s athletics feasibility committee recommended last week.
Appalachian State is ranked No. 2 in the preseason FBS Coaches’ Poll and won three straight Division 1-AA national championships between 2005 and 2007.
“There’s just not that much difference, and this is a team that’s picked at the top of that level. This team can play.” Beamer said, noting his time as head coach at Murray State.
Beamer seemed particularly impressed with Appalachian State’s returners on offense. He even compared 6-foot-5, 220-pound wide receiver Brian Quick to former Georgia Tech star and current Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas.
“He’s up in the NFL right now, and I imagine Brian Quick is gonna be in the NFL,” Beamer said.
The Mountaineers also have senior quarterback DeAndre Presley back after a 2010 campaign that saw him account for 2,631 yards passing, 1,039 yards rushing and 35 total touchdowns.