Virginia middle linebacker Steve Greer is unlikely to play in Saturday night’s Chick-fil-A Bowl after recently suffering a partial ACL tear in his right knee, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the situation. Greer, a redshirt junior, was the Cavaliers’ leading tackler and a second team all-ACC selection this season.

The plan is for Greer to suit up and be available to play, but in all likelihood, redshirt freshman Henry Coley will start at middle linebacker for Virginia, the sources said. Coley played in four games this year, tallying 11 tackles and one sack. He dealt with hamstring issues that forced him to miss considerable time during the middle of the season.

Greer is scheduled to undergo surgery Jan. 3 to repair the knee, according to one of the sources. If his rehab process goes according to plan, one source said, Greer is expected to be back to full strength by June.

While Greer dressed for team workouts in Atlanta this week, he did not participate in drills during the portion of Thursday’s practice open to reporters. Coley lined up with the first-team linebackers that day. Virginia’s walk-through on Friday was closed to reporters.

Greer initially injured his knee during Virginia’s 38-0 loss to Virginia Tech on Nov. 26. He suffered a strained MCL while being chop-blocked on a play, sources said. Greer rested the knee the following two weeks, but during a mid-December practice he planted his right foot while moving laterally and went down.

He underwent an MRI exam Dec. 18 and when the results came back the following day, they revealed Greer had suffered a partial ACL tear in his right knee.

Initially, Greer held out hope he would be able to play in the bowl game. According to sources, the team ordered him a knee brace that arrived Dec. 21, and – because he couldn’t do any further damage to the knee – Greer tried to run with the brace on for two days before the Cavaliers concluded their on-campus practices and departed for Atlanta.

But it became clear over the past week that Greer would not be able to compete at his typical level.

A high-ankle sprain caused Greer to miss most of spring practice in 2010, and that stunted the development of his relationships with Coach Mike London and the new defensive coaches on London’s first-year staff. Though Greer – who had earned all-ACC honorable mention honors as a redshirt freshman in 2009 – played in all 12 games and finished second on the team in tackles (59) last season, he started just once.

This season, Greer started all 12 regular season games at middle linebacker and led the team with 103 tackles. London and defensive coordinator Jim Reid lauded Greer’s football smarts and on-field contributions numerous times this fall.