This afternoon's news of senior offensive lineman Mark Shuman retiring might help and hurt Virginia Tech's offensive line.
Shuman announced his retirement after suffering a third torn meniscus in his right knee last week. Shuman had worked his way to the top of the depth chart at right tackle prior to the injury.
But while Shuman's loss is another hit for a depleted offensive line, it might at least re-open the door to a familiar face. After starting every game at left tackle last season, sophomore Jonathan McLaughlin was moved over to the right side and demoted to second-string. Now, he'll be the likely starter again, though as assistant coach Stacy Searels has pointed out, he'll have to earn his spot.
"I told all of those kids, I don't care if you're a fifth-year senior or a true freshman," Searels said. "We're gonna play the best five. In my past, I've played freshmen and in front of fifth-year seniors. Basically, all the guys have got a clean slate. They've gotta go out and perform every day and our staff, we'll look at it and see who the best five are and that's who we'll put out there."
McLaughlin isn't the only one who's had to be pushed a bit. Redshirt freshman Wyatt Teller began fall camp as the starter at left guard, only to be moved back to second-team this week, behind redshirt freshman Alston Smith.
The Hokies also moved junior Wade Hansen to offensive line from the defensive side this week, a move that might be even more crucial with Shuman's loss. And right now, Searels said he's not ready to name a starting five.
"I see each and every one of these kids having the ability to be really good football players at times," he said. "But we've gotta be consistent and I say the same thing all the time: we're looking for consistency, we're looking for toughness, we're looking for effort. Regardless of how the day's going, we're looking to be consistent."
Below is Searels' full interview with the media this week:
Click Here to view this video.