Last week, I previewed the offensive depth chart for the Virginia Tech football team and this week it’s time for the defensive depth chart. There were a few very good players that were seniors last season that left the program including Kyle Fuller, Derrick Hopkins, and Antone Exum. Who will be the starters and backups this year?
Dadi Nicolas is coming off a good first season playing for the Hokies. He played 13 games starting one and now it looks like he will be the full time starter this coming season. Backing him up will be Dewayne Alford, who hasn’t gotten any playing time since he was a redshirt freshman last season. Look for Nicolas to have a breakout year for the Hokies.
Starting on the other side of Nicolas will be interesting to see since none of the other defensive ends on the roster started last season. There are a few players that are capable such as Laird Gardner or Jeremy Haynes. I think Gardner gets the start even though he missed all of last season due to his good spring practice. Haynes will back him up since he will only be a redshirt sophomore and will need more time to learn Bud Foster’s defense.
Starting this year at one of the defensive tackles will be Luther Maddy, who started all of last year and was a beast. He had 55 tackles last year and 6.5 sacks. He’s going into his last year at Virginia Tech so expect for this year to be his best one yet. His backups will be possibly Corey Marshall, if he doesn’t win the other DT job, and Vinny Mihota, who’s just a freshman.
As for the other defensive tackle spot, there could be a competition between Nigel Williams, the redshirt sophomore, and Marshall who’s a redshirt junior. Williams will have to show Frank Beamer in practice that last year wasn’t a fluke for him where he made 14 tackles and had two sacks. Marshall didn’t play at all last season and was redshirted, so expect Nigel Williams to win the job.
Virginia Tech will not have Jack Tyler at outside linebacker this year due to his graduation. It will surely be a big loss since he was one of the leading tacklers on the Hokies for the past few seasons.
Starting this year at one of the spots will be Josh Trimble as he goes into his junior year. He had a good season last year making 20 tackles including two for a loss and a sack in only five starts. Imagine what he can do starting all of the games for the Hokies this coming season- his numbers will surely double. His backup could be Josh Eberly who will be a redshirt sophomore.
At the other spot, Rony Van Dyke could get the start even though he missed all of last season with an injury. He had a good season before that where he appeared in all 13 games and made two starts so obviously the experience is there for him. Derek Di Nardo also could challenge for the job as he is going into his senior year at Tech. He’s listed as an outside linebacker but he plays more on special teams than anything else. Expect him to be the backup this season.
There will be some new faces at inside linebacker this year for the Hokies. One of those starters may be Chase Williams, who is going into his senior year. He didn’t start last year but he has a real opportunity to show Bud Foster how good he actually is.
Others who are possibly in the running could be Deon Clarke, Devin VanDyke, and Dahmon Mckinnon. I think that the spot definitely goes to Chase Williams this season.
Virginia Tech has arguably the best cornerback tandem in all of college football. At one side, they have Kendall Fuller, who is one of the best cornerbacks in the country. He has the opportunity to really raise his draft stock this coming season as he is primed for his best season yet. Last year, he had 58 tackles and six interceptions in his first season with the Hokies which is remarkable. Expect him to have a better year than that.
Backing him up will be Chuck Clark, who’s a sophomore and hasn’t seen much playing time.
On the other side, Tech has Brandon Facyson who also is one of the best cornerbacks in the country. He had a great freshman year last season where he had five interceptions, 27 tackles, and eight pass breakups. He’s also a third-team all ACC selection. Expect him to also have a much better season this year.
Tech’s safeties will still be good this year even with the loss of Antone Exum. Starting another season at free safety will be Detrick Bonner who’s going to be a senior. He started all 13 games last season and had 48 tackles while adding a pair of interceptions and breakups. His backups will most likely be Desmond Frye (who has a chance to start next year), and Greg Jones, who is a redshirt sophomore.
Starting at strong safety this year for the Hokies will be Chuck Clark even though he’s listed as a cornerback right now. Clark has a lot to prove this season so we’ll see how he does in his first full year of starting for the Hokies. Backing him up will be CJ Reavis, who’s a freshman this season.