The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching, something we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. That’s not until July 21, however. In the meantime, it’s as good a time as any to start taking a closer look at Virginia Tech.
This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on the Hokies’ roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people/ideas that will determine whether Virginia Tech’s 2013 season is a success or not. Next up is …
No. 10: Jack Tyler, inside linebacker
It was fortuitous timing that this post comes right after Tyler was named to the Nagurski Trophy watch list and it was announced that he and Logan Thomas will represent the Hokies at the ACC Kickoff in Greensboro in a little over a week.
It just goes to show the kind of of reputation Tyler is gaining.
The former walk-on (as a sportswriter, I’m legally obligated to write that) is one of this team’s leaders, voted as a permanent captain in the spring. That takes on a greater significance on defense, where the Hokies lost Bruce Taylor, the unequivocal vocal leader of last year’s group.
This year’s candidates for that job include James Gayle and Antone Exum, but it’s really a role that’s tailor made for a linebacker, and Tyler fits the bill.
It helps that there’s production behind all that talk. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Tyler took full advantage of the opportunity created by injuries to Taylor and Tariq Edwards since the middle of he 2011 season (and Telvion Clark‘s dismissal in the spring of ’12), stepping into a starting role and never looking back.
His 119 tackles last season were third in the ACC and tops on the team. It marked only the second time in the last five years a Hokie has topped the century mark (Cody Grimm did it in 2009). He’s the first inside linebacker to do it since Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall both accomplished the feat in 2007. That’s pretty good company.
It earned Tyler a first-team spot on the coaches’ All-ACC team and a second-team spot on the media’s, foreshadowing what Tech fans hope will be big things in 2013.
With Edwards returning from an injury that essentially cost him all of 2012 and Ronny Vandyke still inexperienced at the whip, the Hokies will look to Tyler as the constant in the middle of that linebacking group. He’s proven to be up to the task in every previous instance.
Coming Friday: The man is a pretty good wakeboarder.
- No. 25: Ryan Malleck, tight end
- No. 24: Defensive subs
- No. 23: Andrew Miller, center
- No. 22: BeamerBall
- No. 21: Ronny Vandyke, whip linebacker
- No. 20: D.J. Coles, wide receiver
- No. 19: Cody Journell kicker
- No. 18: Tariq Edwards, inside linebacker
- No. 17: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett, safeties
- No. 16: A.J. Hughes, punter
- No. 15: J.R. Collins and Dadi Nicolas, defensive ends
- No. 14: Demitri Knowles and Josh Stanford, wide receivers
- No. 13: Kyle Fuller, cornerback
- No. 12: Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy, defensive tackles
- No. 11: Young cornerbacks