- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Starting quarterback Sean Glennon won’t be participating today in Virginia Tech’s opening session of spring practice, but the rising junior is in no danger of being usurped, according to head coach Frank Beamer.

Glennon, who committed four turnovers in the Hokies’ second-half collapse against Georgia in the December Chick-fil-A Bowl, reportedly received three stitches in his throwing hand after cutting it on a bottle last week.

“He had an accident at his apartment,” Beamer said Monday in a teleconference. “[He] cut his thumb and he has trouble gripping the ball right now. I’m not sure how long he’ll be out, but I don’t think it’ll be very long. He’ll probably have to sit out a couple of days of spring practice.”

Backup Ike Whitaker, a rising third-year sophomore who underwent treatment for alcohol abuse at the end of last season, has successfully rejoined the program and is taking part in his first spring practice. Last season he served a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

While reiterating his commitment to Glennon as the starter, Beamer said all the quarterbacks will be taking more live snaps in the coming weeks.

“Certainly, you know Glennon’s our quarterback, but I expect some good competition,” Beamer said. “This will be the second time around Cory Holt’s got some experience at quarterback and he’ll be in the battle, and then Ike will be in the battle.

“[Whitaker’s] been around here with a smile on his face and gaining weight, and he’s on a good path right now.”

The coach added that all three quarterbacks will have more freedom.

“I think his thing is [he needs to] make good decisions,” Beamer said. “And we’re actually going to give [more leeway to the defense against] Sean and the other quarterbacks this spring in our scrimmage; let them go live because I think Sean needs more work on just running with the football.”

The full-speed scrimmages are intended to help prepare Glennon for game-day defensive pressure he will face when the Hokies open against East Carolina on Sept. 1, but Beamer also stressed the need to shore up an offensive line that struggled to provide consistent protection last season.

Rising junior Ryan Shuman will move in from guard to center, while Virginia Tech coaches assess the best combination of personnel around him, beginning with Aaron Brown and Brandon Holland as probable starters at guard. Rising third-year sophomore Ed Wang has bulked up to compete for a position at tackle, joining returning tackle Duane Brown as one of the Hokies converted tight ends on the offensive line.

“I think you take a guy who’s got good talent at tight end and I think he’s got great talent at offensive tackle,” Beamer said.

Virginia Tech’s special teams, a Beamer trademark, are more uncertain, particularly in the kicking game. The Hokies lose punter Nic Schmitt, deep snapper Nick Leeson and standout kicker Brandon Pace to eligibility. Beamer was confident the punting and deep snapping situations would be resolved with redshirt sophomore Brent Bowden and redshirt senior Bart McMillin, respectively, but said there’s enough uncertainty in the place-kicking unit that the Hokies will hold open tryouts.

Ideally, either Jared Develli or Jud Dunlevy, both rising seniors, will assume the kicking duties.

“They certainly I think head up the competition right now, but … we’re actually going to have a tryout for punters and kickers on Saturday,” Beamer said. “So field goal position is very much unsettled right now. But I do think we have some good possibilities.”

Notes — Cornerback Brandon Flowers is still struggling with an ankle injury sustained in the loss to Georgia. Backup corner Roland Minor is not participating in practice, reportedly to concentrate on academics. …

Defensive end Chris Ellis and offensive lineman Sergio Render both are still out, recovering from January shoulder and knee surgeries, respectively.

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