Virginia Tech Football and defensive coordinator Bud Foster have always instilled fear in the hearts and minds of opposing offensive coordinators. For years, Foster has been able to turn under-recruited gems into top talent. Guys like Seattle Seahawks’ Kam Chancellor came in as middling recruits, and left as polished athletes with a strong knowledge of defensive schemes and experience leading a top defense in the nation. This past season, Virginia Tech Football put up yet another stout defensive season. Over the course of three weeks during the season, they outscored their opponents 137-20, and posted a shutout against Boston College. Luckily, the secondary returns almost all of their starters this season, and the potential for improvement is exciting.
Starting with the losses, the Hokies lost four-year-safety Chuck Clark to the NFL when the Baltimore Ravens drafted him in the sixth round. The Ravens snagged themselves a strong leader with a lot of college experience, and that will be greatly missed in the secondary. That being said, the Hokie secondary is not without experience. The Hokies return nine defensive backs with experience on the field last season, and they’re all promising players.
At cornerback, the Hokies return Brandon Facyson, Adonis Alexander, and Greg Stroman. Facyson has had an up-and-down career with the Hokies, since being named a Freshman All-American and third team All-ACC after a stellar five-interception first year campaign, he has battled injuries and expectations and has yet to grab another interception going into his last season in Blacksburg. Even with his rollercoaster career, he is respected nationally as a top college corner.
Adonis Alexander is in the same boat. He has prototypical corner size and speed, as well as a good feel for the game. Of the Hokies corners, he is projected to go highest in the NFL draft, and barring any off-the-field issues like he had last season, he could find himself as an early pick. As for Greg Stroman, once the weak link, he has turned into a speedy ballhawk. Early in his career, he was the target of jump ball after jump ball, often ending up on the wrong end of that battle, but lately he has turned that around. Last season he grabbed three interceptions, including an acrobatic one handed grab. As far as cornerbacks go, the Hokies have plenty of options.
When it comes to safeties, the Hokies don’t have much fall-off from the corners. Terrell Edmunds is a talented defender known for big hits, even if a few times they have come with a penalty or suspension. This season he is making the move from Bud Foster’s “rover” position to safety, a move which Bud Foster has said will be more natural for him. With this move, the versatile Mook Reynolds will be lining up more at rover. Mook was a highly recruited defensive back, and under coach Foster he can flourish into an all-around nightmare for offenses.
This season will also be the debut season for Khalil Ladler, a four-star defensive back from IMG academy who redshirted last year due to an ACL injury. He is competing with Reggie Floyd for playing time at rover. Additionally, Deon Newsome and Divine Deablo are converted offensive players trying to find their fit in the defense. Newsome has a season under his belt on the defensive side while Deablo just made the move this offseason. Both of these players are athletically gifted and could see some snaps this season.
Possibly the most exciting for Hokies fans will be the arrival of one of the highest recruited players in Virginia Tech history, Devon Hunter. Ranked by many as a five-star recruit, he could see the field in his first season in Blacksburg. One of the reasons he says he picked the Hokies was his ability to contribute in every facet of the game. He could take offensive snaps, return kicks, and find himself in the secondary sooner rather than later. Even without his contribution, this secondary will be one of the best in all of college football. The Hokies defense will be exciting to watch this season and mostly thanks to the depth of talent they possess in the defensive backfield.