While the line is tied with Notre Dame for the most starts in Division I with 100, their experience hasn’t led to results.
The men up front have been plagued with injuries.
Redshirt senior left tackle Ed Wang missed six games in 2007 with a broken fibula, redshirt sophomore right tackle Blake DeChristopher sat out two games in 2008 with a thigh bruise and bruised kidney, and senior left guard Sergio Render had shoulder surgery after the 2009 Orange Bowl.
This year, however, all five starters should be ready to go for the season opener, Sept. 5 against Alabama. While Render is still recovering to be 100 percent, he will be ready for the start of the season.
“My shoulder’s pretty good,” Render said. “Before I had shoulder surgery, my bench press was up to like 480, but after shoulder surgery and after I healed, I was still able to get 430, so that was pretty good knowing that I just came off shoulder surgery. So, it feels great.”
Render mentioned his shoulder does get sore, but it hasn’t kept him out of any practices.
Should there be any more injuries this season, offensive line coach Curt Newsome remains confident in the team’s depth.
“I thought we had some guys that showed that they’re getting closer to playing,” Newsome said. “Greg Nosal, I think Andrew Lanier, as Michael Via gets stronger – center’s not a position to change people, but I think we’ve got some guys that hopefully will help us in September.”
There will be two new starters on the line: redshirt junior Beau Warren at center and redshirt sophomore Jaymes Brooks at right guard.
Brooks started for the Hokies in the Orange Bowl against Cincinnati and Warren participated in several games over each of the past two seasons.
That type of experience should help both of the new linemen when they lineup against Alabama, but their teammates’ respect will help as well.
DeChristopher said of his teammate Warren, “I think he is a really smart player. He’s improved a lot. I respect him. I think he works hard in every practice and he’s getting better every day – he should be good.”
Warren and Brooks are helping to build a more athletic offensive line than in years past.
“Defensive lines have gotten so athletic,” coach Newsome said. “We’re looking for that guy that can move his feet first. I don’t think he has to be 6-foot-8-inch to be able to move his feet, but anybody that can move their feet and has athletic ability, I think, becomes a priority.”
These fast defensive lines have proven to be a big challenge for offensive lines on every level, forcing linemen to change their games to adapt. The players are doing their part to make themselves better physically.
DeChristopher and Render have gained weight and become stronger.