Hokies' Chris Drager filling a hole - again

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The career of Virginia Tech redshirt senior Chris Drager has officially come full circle, as he will spend his final season where his collegiate career began -- as a tight end.

Drager, who spent the past two seasons as a defensive end, has returned to the top of the offensive depth chart almost by default, as the graduation of tight end Andre Smith left the Hokies with just one returning tight end who has caught a pass in a game, Randall Dunn (one). Redshirt freshman Eric Martin was the second tight end when the Hokies used two-tight end sets, but he missed three games midseason with an injury.

Enter Drager.

“It’s not like discouraging,” he said of the volley between offense and defense. “It’s like, ‘I’ve got to learn another playbook,’ even though I kind of know it. It wasn’t as bad as the last move, since I have an idea of what’s already going on.”

Drager played 11 games at tight end in 2008, including one start. He caught three passes for 37 yards, but moved to defense the following fall. He fared well and started 11 games last year. He finished with 31 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and two sacks. He also had four pass breakups, 20 quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said he expects Drager to make a smooth transition this spring.

“I think he’s going to be fine,” Beamer said. “He’s such a smart guy. He’s been there, so he’ll be coaching Coach [tight ends coach Bryan] Stinespring for two or three days.”

Drager said he probably enjoys playing defensive end more, but both he and Beamer agreed that his skills are best suited for the tight end position, especially when it comes to NFL potential.

“I’ve always been a team player,” Drager said. “If they needed me at defensive end, I’d be playing defensive end right now. But it’s definitely nice that our last year, I get to play the position that I’m most likely going to be playing -- if I play -- in the NFL.”