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August 21, 2012

Wang one of several new faces on 2012 offensive line

By: Jimmy Robertson

David Wang wasn’t in training for the Olympics this summer, but he certainly ran enough to give that impression.

Uncharacteristic of an offensive lineman, Wang ran extra sprints during the Hokies’ offseason conditioning sessions as a way to prepare himself for the 2012 campaign. Coming off a broken foot suffered in the second game of last season – one that cost him the year – Wang wanted to make sure he got himself into prime physical condition in preparation for the season.

“It feels good,” Wang said of his foot. “If it can make it through 23 110’s [110-yard sprints] without hurting, then it should be good.”

Last season, Wang’s injury robbed the Hokies of one of their top backups along the offensive line. Line coach Curt Newsome had planned on rotating Wang to give Greg Nosal some rest, while also giving Wang some experience. But the broken foot – one of several injuries to have hindered Wang throughout his career – wrecked those plans. Two years ago, he was in the mix for playing time and a shoulder injury kept him out, forcing him to redshirt.

“It’s awful,” said Wang, who may receive a “sixth” year from the NCAA down the road because of the injuries. “I feel like I get hurt right when it’s coming up on the season or right at the beginning of the season. I put so much time into it, and then it all goes to waste and I have to do it [the work] again the next year.”

Wang will be one of four new starters on the offensive line, as the Hokies lost nearly everyone off a talented and experienced unit from the past two years. Blake DeChristopher, Jaymes Brooks, Greg Nosal and Andrew Lanier combined to start 160 games in their careers. Tech allowed 17 sacks in 14 games for an average of 1.2 per game – a number that ranked 22nd nationally – and the offensive line was mainly responsible for that. Plus, the unit also paved the way for David Wilson to set the school’s single-season rushing record and for Logan Thomas to set the school’s single-season total offense mark.

So the Hokies go into 2012 hoping that a rebuilt offensive line can come close to the standard of the 2011 group. The rebuilding process started back in the spring, and it got off to a rather rough beginning when the unit performed poorly in the first couple of spring scrimmages.

“I walked out [after the scrimmages] thinking we had so much work to do, and Coach [Newsome] told us, ‘That’s not a way to start the spring,’” Wang said. “He told us there was no excuse for that, and I completely agreed with that. We didn’t have any excuses. We should always be playing our best.”

Andrew Miller, the only returning starter, anchors the unit from his center spot after starting 14 games a year ago. Wang will line up beside him, and the coaches think highly of Wang, even though he’s played in just seven games in his career. Brent Benedict, who has yet to play in a college game, and Caleb Farris, who played in four games as a true freshman a year ago, figure to use most of August to battle for the starting right guard spot.

Nick Becton, who played in 14 games last season behind Lanier, lines up at left tackle. Right tackle will be a battle between Vinston Painter, who played well this spring, and Michael Via, a versatile linemen with the ability to play multiple spots. The rest of the unit features a small group of untested reserves.

“I think we have a lot of potential,” Wang said. “It’s difficult because we’re a new group and haven’t played together a lot. But a lot of us have been on the second team and played when we’ve been up a lot in past years. We go in and work together, so we’ve got a little more experience than people think. But I like everyone. It’s a good group.”

As for Wang, he hopes to be at 295 pounds by the Georgia Tech game. But even without the bulk, he possesses the strength, hand quickness and footwork to follow in his brother Ed’s footsteps. Ed Wang is currently on the Oakland Raiders squad.

“I’m more of a technician, and he plays more physical than I do,” David said. “He is a really great player. I watched him throughout high school and here on Saturdays. It was a lot to learn, but he really molded me as a player.”


Left tackles

54 Nick Becton (6-6, 317, r-Sr.)
69 Mark Shuman (6-7, 307, r-Soph.)
52 Nick Acree (6-5, 321, r-Soph.)

Left guards

76 David Wang (6-2, 288, r-Jr.)
64 Matt Arkema (6-3, 287, r-Soph.)


74 Andrew Miller (6-4, 304, r-Jr.)
79 Caleb Farris (6-3, 309, Soph.)

Right guards

55 Brent Benedict (6-5, 304, r-Soph.)

79 Caleb Farris (6-3, 309, Soph.)
63 Laurence Gibson (6-6, 303, r-Soph.)

Right tackles

71 Vinston Painter (6-6, 309, r-Sr.)

67 Michael Via (6-7, 304, r-Sr.)

61 Darian Fisher (6-4, 285, r-Jr.)
70 Jake Goins (6-5, 305, r-Fr.)


Returning starter: Andrew Miller (14 career starts)

Starters lost: Blake DeChristopher (51 career starts), Jaymes Brooks (51), Greg Nosal (28), Andrew Lanier (29)

Projected new starters: Nick Becton, David Wang, Brent Benedict, Vinston Painter

Top reserves: Michael Via, Caleb Farris, Matt Arkema

Newcomers: none

Breakout candidate: David Wang

Notes: Via is the only player other than Miller with a career start – he started three games as a redshirt freshman … Via missed spring practice while recovering from a torn ACL … Becton has the most experience of any of the projected new starters, having played 441 snaps from scrimmage last year … Wang was named the most improved offensive player of the spring … Arkema played in four games last season as a backup at guard … Farris could also serve as the backup at center, where he played last season.