Virginia Tech’s running game has taken yet another hit, as J.C. Coleman, one of the top two running backs on the team, has sprained both ankles, and Tony Gregory has suffered a career-ending torn ACL, the school announced on Thursday. In early July, running back Michael Holmes was kicked off the team for an off-field incident, and Joel Caleb was suspended earlier this month for the season opener against Alabama for a violation of team rules.
Coleman’s injury could leave redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds as the lead candidate to carry the load against Alabama.
“J.C. has a left high ankle sprain and a right regular ankle sprain,” Virginia Tech head athletic trainer Mike Goforth said in a prepared statement. “We’re hoping to get him back in less than two weeks, but that’s very optimistic. We think he’ll be ready and back in time for the Alabama game. He’s working hard to get back as soon as he can.”
Gregory, a redshirt senior, was the veteran of the group, but had a career plagued by injuries, including the first time he tore his left ACL, in 2010. He also missed the majority of spring practices because of a rib injury.
“He will evaluate his options over the next couple of days,” Goforth said, “but his career at Virginia Tech is effectively over.”
Heading into summer camp, the staff felt like Coleman and Edmunds were their top two options at running back. Edmunds was close to playing last fall, but the coaches chose to redshirt him. Coleman ended last season as the Hokies’ starting tailback, and impressed the staff as a blocker. His 21 receptions were the fourth-highest on the team. He started six games last year and was second on the team in carries (109) and rushing yards (492), and he scored two touchdowns.
“J.C. has continued to improve, Trey looks smoother and more natural than he did at tailback in the spring,” running backs coach Shane Beamer told ESPN.com in a recent interview. “He’s a bigger back. He’s 218 pounds, and he can run. He’s explosive. I’m excited about him. The key is finding that third guy.”
It could be Caleb, who moved from wide receiver this past spring to help the depth at the position.
“I think we’ve found a spot for him,” Beamer said. “He’ll miss the first game, but we’re high on him. He’s a bigger back, similar to Trey, and he was a high school back. He’s good with the ball in his hands. He was slow coming around at receiver, but I think he’ll have a chance to help us at tailback.”
Additional injury updates from Goforth:
Offensive lineman Mark Shuman: “Mark Shuman has a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. We are looking to do surgery on him early next week. We’ll be talking to his parents tonight and getting a plan together. It’s the same knee he’s had scoped before. He’s actually torn the meniscus before in a different location. It’s a 4-to-6 week recovery period and we expect him back full.”
Outside linebacker Ronny Vandyke: “Ronny needs surgery on his right shoulder. We are waiting to talk to his mom to get a surgical plan, but it will keep him out 6-to8 months, so he will miss the remainder of the season and will be probable for spring ball.”
Offensive lineman Augie Conte: “Augie has an ankle sprain in his left ankle. It shouldn’t take long at all. I don’t know if he’ll scrimmage Saturday, but if he doesn’t scrimmage Saturday, there’s no reason he can’t be back full on Monday.”