Virginia Tech defensive lineman Corey Marshall has left the team “to take care of some personal matters,” director of football operations John Ballein announced Monday afternoon in an e-mail.
Marshall’s leave of absence came after a Monday meeting with Coach Frank Beamer, and Ballein wrote “his status with the team will be determined at a later date.”
Marshall, a junior from North Dinwiddie, Va., was expected to be a key contributor along Virginia Tech’s defensive line this season. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster had lauded his unselfishness after agreeing to switch from defensive end to defensive tackle for depth purposes just before training camp began.
“It was kind of a mutual decision,” Marshall said when training camp opened earlier this month. “They had some concerns about the inside depth, and I understood that.”
But the 257-pound Marshall did not participate in Virginia Tech’s open scrimmage on Saturday afternoon. Marshall’s high school coach told The Richmond Times-Dispatch that Marshall returned home “to get his head clear” this weekend.
Marshall came to Virginia Tech in 2011 as the program’s highest-rated in-state recruit that year and immediately worked his way into the defensive line rotation as an undersize defensive tackle. As a sophomore in 2012, Marshall moved back to defensive end — the position he prefers to play — and started four games. In two years, he has recorded 39 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
Sophomore Kris Harley, redshirt freshmen Alston Smith (the son of former Hokies great Bruce Smith) and Nigel Williams and freshman Woody Baron will now all compete to be the main options behind starting defensive tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy.
Marshall’s leave of absence only adds to the attrition Virginia Tech has dealt with in the weeks leading up to its season opener against two-time defending national champion Alabama on Aug. 31. Already this month, the Hokies have watched cornerbacks Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes, offensive lineman Adam Taraschke and defensive end Jarontay Jones leave the program for various reasons.
Running back Michael Holmes was dismissed from school in July by a student judicial board after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault and battery charge. Beamer also announced last month that wide receiver Kevin Asante had been kicked off the team for this year.
In addition, Virginia Tech has encountered a wave of injuries since training camp began. Just last week, linebacker Ronny Vandyke (shoulder) and running back Tony Gregory (knee) suffered season-ending injuries and offensive lineman Mark Shuman learned he will miss four to six weeks after tearing his lateral meniscus.
Sophomore running back JC Coleman’s status for the season opener is also in doubt after he sprained both of his ankles in practice. Meanwhile, senior cornerback Antone Exum likely won’t return to the field until ACC play begins on Sept. 26 as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.”