By Jerry Ratcliffe
Tony Elliott and his coaching staff met with the media Thursday, and Virginia’s first-year head coach said his team is in pretty good health heading into the first practice next Wednesday.
There are a few exceptions: wide receiver Malachi Fields, running back Ronnie Walker Jr., kicker Justin Duenkel, and incoming freshman wide receiver Dakota Twitty will all miss August training camp due to injury or recovery after injuries.
“Malachi will not be with us training at this fall camp,” Elliott said. “He broke a bone in his foot and had to undergo surgery.
“Ronnie Walker looks good but not where he needs to be yet from a change of direction perspective, but he looks good straight ahead.”
Coaches said doctors originally predicted Walker would not be ready to return to action until October, but he is ahead of schedule for his rehab and is now expected to return in September.
Duenkel missed the spring due to injury and Twitty suffered an ACL and will not be active in camp.
The players wrapped up their strength and conditioning work on Thursday, and Elliott decided to give them a few days off before fall camp opens next week. The coaching staff has been busy in meetings over the past few days, getting on the same page for all pre-camp planning.
Elliott said: “I have that feeling in my stomach”, which all footballers get when the season is just around the corner, and added that when he watched some of the Cavaliers running Thursday morning, he liked what he saw.
“It’s a different football team than the one we left in the spring,” Elliott said. “The numbers are way better, but the body types are really nice. You can tell these guys bought into the strength, conditioning and nutrition aspect of the program.
The new head coach, who has been Clemson’s offensive coordinator for the past 11 years, has spent a lot of time scheduling practice schedules to accommodate player schedules.
“Summer school schedules continue until the 13th, so we really only have one week of camp where everyone is captured to really bring the team together,” Elliott said. “So it’s a bit different, but we’re not going to apologize.”
His decision was to train at 6:30 in the morning or go at 6:00 p.m., and the coach decided that he would prefer the players to focus on their studies first, take up weight lifting, have good meetings, then train in the evening. .
“The first week we practice with a few grad students who have classes running late, and then the next week the grad students are done. So then we train with a group of guys who have lunch classes and then once we get them all together we have to get out in the heat for a bit.
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