Former Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and head coach Justin Fuente have both been vocal advocates of the work ethic and potential of linebacker Amare Barno.
New defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton has also been an advocate for Barno and the versatility he brings to the Virginia Tech defense.
However, heading into the 2020 season, Barno may not be slotted in his original reserve linebacker spot as most expected. The Hokies are loaded at linebacker, with Dax Hollifield, Rayshard Ashby, Keshon Artis, and Alan Tisdale all expected to be in the rotation in some form or fashion.
Originally, Barno figured to factor in as well as one of the first reserves off the bench behind starters Dax Hollifield and Rayshard Ashby. However, after news that defensive end Tyjuan Garbutt may not play this season due to a family matter, the Hokies are even thinner at defensive end than expected.
As such, the 6'6" 235 lbs. Barno has been working in reps with the defensive line during the early stages of fall camp.
With graduate transfer Justus Reed slotting into one starting defensive end position, it is likely that Emmanuel Belmar starts opposite of Reed, assuming the starting edge rusher position that he occupied for most of last season. Prior to the news that Garbutt was out indefinitely, it was likely that Reed and Garbutt would be the two starting defensive ends with Belmar being the first rotational end off the bench.
Now, with that rotation spot open, it is likely Barno will figure into the rotation as a reserve defensive end with Mario Kendricks, Jaylen Griffin, and others. If Barno proves he can handle his own at defensive end, there is likely a much better path to playing time for him on the defensive line than there is at linebacker.
Perhaps that's why the coaching staff is electing to get him some work on the line during camp. Sure there's a need at defensive end, but if it's also a way to get him on the field quicker, all the better.
This will certainly be a situation to continue to monitor as fall camp progresses.