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The senior starter is expected to miss the Keydets’ game Saturday against the No. 15 Spiders.
The Roanoke Times | File 2011
VMI's Chris Harper drags down Stony Brook's Brock Jackolski. Harper is likely to miss the Keydets' 2013 season opener Saturday.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Barring some kind of miracle cure, starting senior linebacker Chris Harper will be missing in action for VMI’s season opener at 15th-ranked Richmond on Saturday.
Keydets coach Sparky Woods said Tuesday that Harper is expected to miss the game with a separated shoulder. It’s a cruel blow for Harper, a former standout at Richmond’s Douglas Freeman High.
“Chris was chasing a ball with his arm extended and fell on it, and his shoulder came out,” Woods said. “I anticipate him being back. I just don’t think he going to be back for a couple weeks here so that’s a big loss.”
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound outside linebacker started all 11 games for VMI last season. Harper’s 59 tackles (26 solo, 33 assists) ranked seventh on the defense. Eight of those stops came in Richmond’s 47-6 romp in Lexington last year.
William Hyman, also a fifth-year senior, will move into Harper’s starting spot. Hyman played in all 11 games as a backup last season and made his mark, making 20 tackles, including 4 1⁄ 2 stops for loss. Woods said that redshirt sophomore Chris Copeland of Hampton will spell Hyman on Saturday.
“William will step in there and do a great job, and it’s an opportunity for Chris Copeland to do what he’s wanted to do and that’s play football,” Woods said. “It’s not like we’re without a player there. It’s just that we can’t afford to lose many and Harper has been a good player for us here a couple years and we’ll be glad to get him back.”
Woods said redshirt freshman Bradley Lipscomb, who was moved from linebacker last spring to help out a depleted running backs corps, likely won’t play because of an ankle injury. Lipscomb, whom Woods identified as one of his “surprise” players, is backing up lead backs Derrick Ziglar (Martinsville) and Jabari Turner.
Meanwhile, the good news on the injury front has been the steady improvement of starting left offensive tackle Emmanuel Cooper. The 6-5, 293-pound Irondale, Ala., native started fall camp wearing a boot for painful shin splints but has progressed since and is ready to go, Woods said.
“Emmanuel has been practicing good, I think he’s been managing that OK,” Woods said. “He’s bigger and stronger, the offseason has been productive for him, and I think his leg feels fine and he’s ready to go play. He will have a good test this week on that blind side there protecting our quarterback.”
Now that fall camp is over and his team is well into game week for the opener, Woods was asked which freshmen likely will see action along with place-kicker and kickoff man, Dillon Christopher of Newport News. He quickly pointed to his wide receiver newbies such as Dane Forlines of Richmond, Aaron Sanders of Stafford and Matthew Nicholson of Front Royal.
Woods also mentioned Midlothian’s Taylor Stout as a potential kick returner, plus Forlines as a possible punt returner with incumbent James Fruehan.
“Those are a couple of young guys, I know that makes you a little nervous sticking them back there. But they’ve got to play, so put ‘em back there and let ‘em play,” Woods said.
Woods also dropped the names of Andrew Lewis, a tight end from Snellville, Ga., strong safety Alijah Robinson of Waldorf, Md., and nose tackle Walker Hays of Vestavia Hills, Ala.
“That’s probably more than I would like to mention that has a chance to play as a freshman, but they all do have that opportunity for us,” Woods said.
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