Head trainer Mike Goforth said it’s almost certain Coles, a senior, will be granted a waiver and return next season because he played in less than 30 percent of Virginia Tech’s games this year.
Coles was only cleared to practice fully two weeks ago after recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn PCL in his right knee.
The exact nature of this knee injury will be determined in the coming days when Coles undergoes an MRI exam, one person familiar with the diagnosis told The Post. During Monday night’s game, a Virginia Tech spokesman said the injury was to the same knee Coles rehabbed this summer, but that it was unrelated to his torn PCL.
The injury occurred late in the first quarter Monday, when Coles landed awkwardly after hauling in a seven-yard catch near the sideline. Coach Frank Beamer said on this week’s ACC teleconference that the knee was swollen after the game and that Coles planned to see a doctor about it Wednesday.
If, as expected, Coles misses the remainder of the season, the Hokies would lose their best blocking receiver and a player the coaching staff felt was on the verge of a breakout senior campaign. The Maidens, Va., native finished the 2011 season with 36 catches for 480 yards and three touchdowns, and played through pain caused by the PCL injury in the Sugar Bowl.
In Coles’s place, Virginia Tech will likely lean on seniors Dyrell Roberts and Corey Fuller to help fill the void. Roberts went through a similar injury situation last year, breaking his forearm in the third game of the season before being granted a medical redshirt that gave him eligibility to play as a fifth-year senior this season.
Fuller, meanwhile, had his best game in a Hokies uniform with Coles sidelined Monday night. The Baltimore native had a career-high five catches for 82 yards, including a crucial 23-yard reception on fourth and four that set up place kicker Cody Journell’s game-tying 41-yard field goal at the end of regulation. He had two career catches entering the game.
Redshirt freshman Demitri Knowles, who caught a 42-yard touchdown pass against Georgia Tech, and freshman Joshua Stanford could also see their playing time increase with Coles sidelined for the season.
The other starting wide receiver opposite Coles on Monday, redshirt senior Marcus Davis, suffered a shoulder injury against the Yellow Jackets, but Beamer said Davis should be “ready to roll” for Saturday’s game against Austin Peay.