By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 28, 2009
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- In the spring, sophomore Chris Drager was one of Virginia Tech's standout performers at tight end. In fact, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said he viewed Drager as "an additional starting tight end."
But not long after that, the coaches converted Drager into a defensive end in order to address depth concerns at the position behind Nekos Brown. So far, Drager has mixed in well as part of a four-man rotation.
"I've been real pleased with the kid," defensive line coach Charley Wiles said. "It gives us four dependable, reliable guys with ability at a position that's a playmaking position."
At 6 foot 3 and 249 pounds, Drager has the build for a defensive end. Over the summer, he took measures to bulk up, spending extra time lifting weights. His diet consisted of protein and little else.
But the biggest adjustment, he said, has been shifting his mind-set. On offense, he played under control while running routes or executing blocking assignments. Defense has forced him to play faster and more aggressively. There are even differences in the way he lines up in a stance, leaning forward more on defense.
"You could just tell, if you were looking down the defensive line, that I was the new guy," Drager said of his first day on defense. "You could tell I wasn't getting off the ball as fast as the other guys."
Drager added, "I'm still not where I'd like to be, not even close, but I'm improving."Running Backs on the Mend
Virginia Tech's running backs are finally healthy. Sort of.
Josh Oglesby and David Wilson returned to practice at full speed this week and performed well on Wednesday in the Hokies' third and final intrasquad scrimmage. But Oglesby said his right hamstring remained tender, while Wilson said his shoulder was still sore.
Oglesby, a sophomore, missed the past week with a staph infection in his left heel, which he said was healed. Before that, Oglesby suffered the hamstring injury. He said the hamstring still bothered him, but he did not want to "baby it. I've still got to push it."
Wilson, a freshman, had worn a blue non-contact jersey since spraining his left shoulder in a scrimmage on Aug. 15. He has learned to play through the pain, and has worn a piece of foam padding on his shoulder underneath his pads.
Wilson rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in the scrimmage, his first significant action in a game situation, but missed a blitz pickup and had a fumble. Oglesby had nine carries for 44 yards and a touchdown, but also missed a blocking assignment in blitz pickup.
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Ryan Williams carried the ball only twice for three yards in the scrimmage. The coaches wanted to see the other running backs and to rest Williams, who tweaked his left ankle in last Saturday's scrimmage.