Yesterday, I took a look at what the Hokies’ offensive depth chart might look like in 2012. Today is defense, where there are a lot of returning starters and plenty of familiar faces from a unit that finished 2011 ranked 10th nationally in total yardage (304.6 ypg) and seventh in scoring defense (17.6 ppg).
As I mentioned yesterday, this is a preliminary look, so it’s open for debate. I encourage all suggestions/changes/opinions in the comments section below (especially when it comes to the secondary).
Years listed are what each player’s eligibility will be next season. I won’t list current commitments if they are not enrolled. Once the signing day dust settles and Tech goes through spring ball, I’ll revise this list and maybe put a few of the incoming freshman on it.
Let’s get to it.
- James Gayle, 6-4, 257, Jr.
- Tyrel Wilson, 6-1, 219, Jr.
- Duan Perez-Means, 6-4, 248, So.
- Dadi Nicolas, 6-2, 214
- Justin Taylor, 6-2, 230
Comment: Gayle is the entrenched starter and is coming off a second-team All-ACC season, although Wilson gave the Hokies some good reps when Gayle hurt his ankle. Lots of message board chatter about Perez-Means possibly switching positions. I’ve heard nothing official about that, so I’ll keep him here for the time being. But with Gayle and Wilson, this is a position of depth.
- J.R. Collins, 6-2, 240, Jr.
- Zack McCray, 6-4, 254, So.
- Duan Perez-Means, 6-4, 248, So.
- Matt Roth, 6-2, 223, rFr.
- Dewayne Alford, 6-3, 220, Fr.
Comment: Another position with a solidified starter in Collins, who combines with Gayle to give Virginia Tech bookend pass rushers. McCray was a highly-touted recruit who has yet to have things really click so far. I didn’t know exactly where Alford, an early enrollee, will start position-wise, so I tacked him on here.
- Derrick Hopkins, 6-0, 301, Jr.
- Luther Maddy, 6-1, 283, So.
Comment: The nose position takes a bit of a hit with Isaiah Hamlette and Dwight Tucker choosing to move on from Virginia Tech and Kwamaine Battle opting not to seek a sixth year of eligibility. D. Hopkins is solid as the starter, emerging as a force on the inside, but the Hokies will need some depth here. Maddy might be one of several options. He’s the biggest of the backup tackles, so I’ll slot him in here for now, but it really could be any of the other tackles on the roster.
- Antoine Hopkins, 6-1, 306, Sr.
- Luther Maddy, 6-1, 283, So. OR
- Corey Marshall, 6-1, 253, So.
- Kris Harley, 6-0, 287, rFr.
- Ross Ward, 6-3, 260, rFr.
- Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, 6-2, 205, Sr. OR
- Alonzo Tweedy, 6-2, 189, Sr.
- Nick Dew, 6-2, 196, So.
- Wiley Brown, 5-10, 197, Sr.
- Derek DiNardo, 6-0, 2112, So.
Comment: This will be an interesting position to watch next year. Gouveia-Winslow started but was lost for the year with a Lisfranc injury. He’ll probably be limited in the spring. Tweedy, once he came back from an ankle injury, played well, especially in the Sugar Bowl to help the Hokies contain Denard Robinson. I’m not sure which one starts, but Tech has options here.
- Bruce Taylor, 6-2, 243, Sr.
- Jack Tyler, 6-0, 229, Jr.
- Brian Laiti, 6-3, 217, So.
- D.J. Ward, 5-11, 207, rFr.
Comment: Taylor, barring any injury setback, will reclaim his starting spot next year, although Bud Foster has to be pleased with how Tyler played down the stretch in Taylor’s absence.
- Tariq Edwards, 6-2, 231, Jr.
- Telvion Clark, 6-1, 228, Jr.
- Chase Williams, 6-1, 223, So.
- Jonathan Halfhide, 5-10, 217, So. OR
- Griffin Hite, 5-11, 213, rFr. OR
- Brandon Spitzer, 6-2, 210, rFr.
Comment: Edwards is another returning starter in the front seven. Clark had an ankle injury that set him back last season. Williams, the son of New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, sounds like a guy who could play either of the inside linebacker positions.
- Kyle Fuller, 6-0, 187, Jr.
- Kyshoen Jarrett, 5-10, 193, So.
- Chris Caver, 5-6, 171, So.
Comment: Will Fuller, who showed some major chops at whip linebacker, stay at corner? He’s a great tackler, and with Eddie Whitley departing at safety, you wonder if Tech might try him out there. It’s a nice luxury to have a player this versatile. Jarrett was a highly-ranked recruit who got minimal playing time last year but sounds like he has a high ceiling.
- Detrick Bonner, 6-0, 189, So.
- James Farrow, 5-10, 170, rFr. OR
- Donaldven Manning, 5-9, 163, Fr.
- Carl Jackson, 5-8, 176, So.
Comment: Bonner performed well in limited appearances last season when Jayron Hosley worked through a hamstring issue, although he had some rookie moments, as expected. Manning enrolled early, so I’m not really sure where to put him on the depth chart. He was a four-star recruit, so obviously he has some talent. His progress this spring will be huge in providing Tech depth.
- Boye Aromire, 6-0, 201, So. OR
- Ronny Vandyke, 6-3, 208, rFr. OR
- Josh Trimble, 5-11, 200, rFr.
- Antone Exum, 6-0, 220, Jr.
- Theron Norman, 6-3, 196, So. OR
- James Hopper, 5-9, 180, Jr.
- Michael Cole, 6-1, 202, rFr.
- Scott Rolin, 5-9, 173, rFr.
Comment: Again, this is where Exum started last year, so you figure with Whitley gone, he would return to the position he played for 11 games before moving to rover for the final three. Free safety, from what I understand, makes the majority of the calls in the defensive backfield. It would makes sense to have your most experienced player in that spot.