2017-05-19 / Sports

New faces will get fresh look at Blacksburg spring game

By SCOTT POWELL
Ledger Sports Writer

Blacksburg football fans will get a sneak preview at the future tonight when the Wildcats play their spring football game.

Coaches plan to evenly split the 68-member Wildcats into two separate teams for a 6p.m. scrimmage in T.A. Campbell Stadium. This will give head coach Drew Chisholm some film to evaluate players after losing a large senior class off last year’s region champions.

Blacksburg graduates 23 seniors next week, including several three and four year starters. Many players from the junior varsity moved up this spring and are now competing for starting roles.

“We graduate 23 seniors this time around so we have a lot of question marks. We also feel like we have some answers from our rising 11th grade class,” Chisholm said. “Confidence will be an issue early in the season. We have a lot of kids who have played a lot of jv football for us over the past two years. They just don’t have a lot of experience on the varsity.”

Blacksburg must replace three starters on the offensive line. Rising junior tackle J.J. Martin possesses ideal size at 6’4, 250 pounds and had a real good spring. He is expected to be a key lineman after starting several games last season.

Rising junior running backs Brandon Rawlison and Michael Hull are the two fastest players in the program and add a big play element to the Wildcats running game.

Chisholm said he hopes the Wildcats can feature rising senior Elijah Rodgers more at wide receiver.

“We hope T.T. (Peeler) can play more at quarterback this season,” Chisholm said. “This would allow us to put Elijah at receiver. Elijah made some acrobatic catches last year and could be a great receiver for us.”

Blacksburg returns six starters on a defense led by defensive end Kwame Sutton and defensive back Elijah Rodgers.

Rodgers is an Indiana verbal commitment while Sutton has five scholarship offers.

“We feel we will be as good on the first and third level of our defense as we’ve been in a while,” Chisholm said. “Linebacker is where we have a question mark because we lost three senior starters. Taye Strother has shown a lot of moxie this spring and an ability to make plays at inside linebacker.”

Blacksburg players have already shown a willingness to put in the hard work necessary to continue the program’s recent success. Now the Wildcats are busy seeing how the pieces on this year’s team puzzle will fit together for the 2017 season.

“We have spent a lot more time teaching this spring,” Chisholm said. “We are evaluating a lot of kids as we look to build our depth. We’ve had a good offseason. Some of our kids have made tremendous gains in the weight room. Our kids have a great attitude.”

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