For the next couple weeks were going to look at the 2010 depth chart and here what you have to say about who should start and who should spend time on the field. Next season could be a special one for the Hokies, but they'll need a lot of luck when it comes to injuries and they'll need some younger players to play like seniors at key positions.
For the first round, we'll get through the group of positions that barring something unforeseen, we know who the starters will be. But while there's little question as to who will see the majority of playing time, there's still some questions that need to be answered.
After the jump we'll break down these positions and ask for your input on how the depth chart should look.
Starter: Tyrod Taylor, Sr. (returning starter)
Possible Backups: Logan Thomas, Fr.; Ju-Ju Clayton, So.
Outlook: Tyrod will lead the Hokies' offense full-time for the second-consecutive year. His improvement as a junior sets up what could be a special senior year provided he gets enough time in the pocket. While his run/pass decision making got better in 2009, there is still room for improvement. Tyrod is still a very improvisational quarterback.
Starter: Kenny Younger, Sr.
Possible Backups: Joey Phillips, So.; Josh Call, So.
Outlook: Younger backed up Kenny Jefferson in 2009 and while he'll certainly be a step down at the position, that's more an endorsement of Jefferson than an indictment of Younger. Jefferson was one of the more underrated players on the team and you know he did a good job as the lead blocker because we didn't hear his name much. I expect Younger to perform admirably considering he's a senior who knows the offense.
Starter: Jarrett Boykin, Jr. (returning starter)
Possible Backups: Marcus Davis, So.; Xavier Boyce, So.; D.J. Coles, So.
Outlook: Boykin established himself as Tyrod's No. 1 target late in the season and had several huge catches for the Hokies. He could have a big year if Tech decides to pass more in 2010. Boyce was expected to challenge Boykin to be the No. 1 split end, but was passed by Davis for the second-team spot by the end of the season. Davis is a former quarterback who moved to split end prior to the 2009 season and is still learning the position. Coles played on special teams as a true freshman and his size is impressive for someone who hasn't been through a full off-season workout under Mike Gentry.
Starter: Andre Smith, Sr.
Possible Backups: Logan Thomas, Fr.; Prince Parker, Sr.
Outlook: I think Smith is a no-brainer as the starting tight end because he's the best blocking tight end on the 2010 roster and I think Thomas is of much better use to the Hokies elsewhere. You'll probably still see Thomas at TE from time to time next year, but the main guy could and should still be Smith.
Starters: John Graves, Sr. (returning starter); Antoine Hopkins, So.
Possible Backups: Kwamaine Battle, Jr.; Dwight Tucker, So.; Courtney Prince, So.; Joe Jones, So.
Outlook: Cordarrow Thompson was an important player in the middle for the Hokies, but I think Hopkins will wind up being a better player. He's just as stout and built lower to the ground like Barry Booker. To me, Booker is more of the prototype for the college defensive tackle than guys like Graves. Graves is built almost like a rush end, which allows him to get between offensive linemen easier, but squat guys like Booker and Hopkins can be the low man easier on run plays. Hopkins was a star at last year's spring game and hopefully he'll develop even more this year. Depth will be important at this position and Battle and Tucker need to close the large gap between first and second team we've seen at defensive tackle in recent years.
Starter: Barquell Rivers, Jr. (returning starter)
Possible Backups: Bruce Taylor, So.; Tim Richardson, Sr.
Outlook: Rivers performed well in his audition for the mike linebacker spot in the Orange Bowl against Cincinnati. He started all 13 games for the Hokies in 2009. Taylor could wind up being a beast for the Hokies, but he'll have a tough time wrestling the starting job away from Rivers. Tech was weak up the middle in 2009, especially at stopping the run late in the year. I'm not sure how much of the blame can be placed on rivers, though. While Rivers plays the middle linebacker position, Tech's efficiency problems against the run sprang up when Lyndell Gibson replaced Jake Johnson at backer. Gibson's pass defense was better than Johnson's, but it appears the run defense suffered when Johnson lost his starting job.
Starter: Davon Morgan, Jr. (returning starter)
Possible Backups: Antoine Exum, Fr.
Outlook: Morgan is the only returning rover on the roster after Dorian Porch and Matt Reidy graduated. Morgan is a great comeback story for the Hokies. He won the starting job in 2008, but suffered a torn right ACL against Nebraska. He came back in 2009, wasn't quite full speed and lost the job to Porch, who started the rest of 2008. However, Morgan regained his position midway through the ECU game in 2009 when Porch was struggling. All signs point to a great senior year for him. The question is who will back him up. Someone is going to have to change positions and to me it could be Exum. He projects as a free safety, but was recruited as an athlete and could move over to rover. If there's anyone else you can think of who could play rover, fire away in the comments.
Starter: Eddie Whitley, Jr.
Possible Backups: Lorenzo Williams, Jr.; Antoine Exum, Fr.
Outlook: Whitley should be a solid free safety, replacing Kam Chancellor. Chancellor wasn't the best free safety the Hokies had, but he was probably the best athlete and best NFL prospect we had in the secondary. Whitley seems to fit the free safety mold better and while he won't be nearly as good a football player as Chancellor, I think he'll still play the position better. Williams is a star on special teams who saw some time at free safety in 2007. Exum is young and inexperienced but is supposedly a freakish athlete.
Up for Debate
- How should the Hokies use Logan Thomas?
- Where should Antoine Exum play?
- How worried are you about our depth at defensive tackle?
- Anything else on your mind regarding these positions?