One of the more intriguing defensive position battles for Virginia entering training camp in August will be at middle linebacker. Coach Mike London said Wednesday that rising redshirt junior Steve Greer and rising redshirt freshman Henry Coley are tied atop the team’s depth chart at that position exiting spring practice.
After recording more tackles than all but four players in the ACC and earning honorable mention all-conference honors as a freshman in 2009, Greer suffered a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss nearly all of spring practice a year ago.
According to London, Greer was “kind of chubby” after returning from that injury and struggled to regain his starting spot in the 4-3 base defensive alignment implemented by the new coaching staff. London had succeeded Al Groh – who ran a 3-4 defense – in December 2009.
Although he started just once, Greer played in all 12 games and ranked second on the team in tackles (59) last season. London said Greer has lost “about 15 pounds” since returning from the ankle injury.
Greer has “always studied the game,” London said. “He’s always kind of been a guy that he can run sideline-to-sideline, very smart player, very instinctive. But I think coming out of spring practice if you want to say, ‘Who’s the starting middle linebacker?’ you could probably slash the line and say Henry Coley and Steve Greer.”
London said Coley, a Virginia Beach native who was a first team all-state selection in Virginia’s largest high school classification his senior year, has “got a chance to be really, really good.” Greer, who is from Ohio, has the edge in experience.
“We’ve got a battle at the middle linebacker position with an up-and-coming young player and with a veteran,” London said.