Rising Sophomore linebacker Max Valles will be the first to admit his freshman season on the Virginia football team was very much "on-the-job" training.
"Last year I still had to ask (rising senior middle linebacker) Henry (Coley) and (rising senior outside linebacker Daquan) DaDa (Romero) for plays," Valles explained. "We'd be in a game situation and I'd have to look over to them. This year I've got the hang of things."
That could be a scary proposition for opposing offenses in 2014.
Valles finished second on the team last year with four sacks, including a dominant 2.5-sack game in his start at Pittsburgh and showed flashes of being a dominant threat off the edge in Jon Tenuta's defense.
"I feel like I've got much better. Last year was just getting a feel for college football and this year I've got to really prove myself because I was already out there last year," Valles said.
The Virginia coaching staff has been moving Valles around like a chess piece in spring practices. He plays outside linebacker in the team's base defense but lines up on the edge in a pass-rush position opposite leading sacker Eli Harold when the team shifts to a nickel defense.
It's a strategy Mike London hopes bears fruit this upcoming season.
"If he can bring that, along with Eli, coming off the edge, that's a formidable foe right there," London explained. "So he continues to get stronger, to know the system, to get comfortable with the techniques we're trying to teach him. He can be as good as he wants to be."