April 5, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Steve Greer, the projected starter at middle linebacker for UVa’s football team, has missed nearly all of spring practice with a high-ankle sprain.
Most of his snaps have gone to Aaron Taliaferro, who’ll be a redshirt junior in the fall.
Taliaferro appeared in one game in 2008, at outside linebacker. He moved to inside linebacker last year but never cracked the rotation.
The former Gloucester High star played five snaps on defense in the 2009 opener. He was in for one play on special teams in the second game, then didn’t participate in any of the Cavaliers’ final 10 games.
With a new coaching staff, though, Taliaferro has made a fresh start.
“He’s taken full advantage of the reps that he’s gotten this spring,” linebackers coach Vincent Brown said after practice Monday evening. “He’s done a fantastic job. Just fantastic.”
At 6-2, 230 pounds, Taliaferro isn’t as big as many of the linebackers who played for Al Groh in UVa’s previous scheme, the 3-4.
“That’s OK,” Brown said. “He doesn’t have to be 240 or 250 pounds to play in this defense. Just gotta be tough, gotta make good decisions and gotta be able to run.”
Groh’s successor, Mike London, and new defensive coordinator Jim Reid have installed the 4-3, the scheme run by most high school and college teams.
At outside linebacker, Jared Detrick, Ausar Walcott, LaRoy Reynolds and Tucker Windle are dividing most of the snaps.
“Each one of them brings something different to the table, and I think you need that,” Brown said.
Billy Schautz was also at outside linebacker early in spring practice, but the 6-4, 240-pound rising sophomore has been working at defensive end recently.
“He’s a flexible guy, so he can help us in a number of ways,” Brown said. “Coach Reid wanted to take a look at him [at end], because it’s a long season. You need as many pass-rushers as you can.
“We’re always moving guys around, trying to see: Can this guy do that? Can he do this? How can he help us the best?”