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Spring 2016 Virginia Tech Hokies: Defensive Back Review-Pt. 1

A quick roster look at the defensive back situation for the Hokies, but the picture is incomplete and will have to be revisited with another review that concentrates on the new position coach. Torrian Gray is leaving and that is a significant but not disastrous event.

Riley Graduates - who steps up?
Riley Graduates - who steps up?
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

I was supposed to write a Spring 2016 review of the Defensive Back roster, but the recent massive tectonic shift has placed an added burden on the entire effort.  Well, more like disconnected the rails for the remainder of the trip and left the train to sit around and go nowhere until someone is hired to replace Torrian Gray.

Honestly, the departure of Coach Gray is not very surprising.  The hows, whys and wherefores of his departure are also beyond my direct knowledge, so speculating is pointless.  It is also unfair to both him and the team.  I also don't think that it's the end of the world.  There are many young assistant coaches out in the world that would jump at the chance to work at Virginia Tech in the #LPD.   We will see someone brought in to compliment both Coach Foster's defensive scheme, and Coach Scott's new presence.

I have also noted several references to the continuation of the #DBU ethos because that wasn't Gray, it was there before, etc.  Sorry, Twitter wasn't there before Torrian Gray.  Yes, there were some really good defensive backs coached by others to graduate from Tech and make it to the NFL, including Torrian Gray, himself.

The University of Florida has gained an excellent position coach, and Gray will be missed.  On the process front,  I have little doubt that this was a known move, and there are some good candidates being interviewed to fill the position.  There is even a chance for Coaches Fuente and Foster to reach back into the design bag and come up with some skills and scheme changes to enhance the secondary.   Since it's going to have to serve the backup linebacker technique for the next season or two, it might be a chance to get someone in who can work the Rover/Whip hand-offs to strengthen the midfield coverage.

The personnel left over from 2015 is virtually unchanged.  Yes, Kendall Fuller has departed for the NFL Draft, but there is a pretty good lineup of capable players with serious game experience, now:

Number

Name

Position

Height

Weight

Class

6

Mook Reynolds

CB

6' 1"

181

So.

12

Erikk Banks

CB

5' 10"

177

r-Jr.

17

DuWayne Johnson

CB

6' 2"

178

So.

19

Chuck Clark

CB

6' 1"

204

Sr.

25

Elisha Boyd

CB

6' 0"

175

r-So.

27

Curtis Williams

CB

5' 9"

167

r-Jr.

31

Brandon Facyson

CB

6' 2"

196

r-Jr.

18

Tyrone Thornton

DB

5' 10"

190

Sr.

17

Jahque Alleyne

FS

6' 1"

180

So.

23

Der'Woun Greene

FS

5' 11"

186

r-Sr.

26

Desmond Frye

FS

6' 2"

197

r-Sr.

29

Greg Jones

FS

6' 2"

205

r-Sr.

22

Terrell Edmunds

ROV

6' 1"

201

r-So.

24

Anthony Shegog

ROV

6' 3"

212

r-Jr.

36

Adonis Alexander

ROV

6' 3"

197

So.

Regardless of the starting order, this list is loaded with talent that is staying to play football for Coach Fuente.  That might be his biggest victory.  On the recruiting front, we have a 3-Star enrolled Cornerback, Khalil Ladler checking in for Spring practice at 5'10" and hovering around 170.  He's a shade on the small side, but from his scouting reports he looks like he'll fit into most schemes.

The challenge for the new coaching staff is going to be how to make up for the thin linebacking depth without impinging on critical skill sets for covering passes.   My first impression is that Anthony Shegog, Adonis Alexander, and Terrell Edmunds might get more Whip technique assignments than their Rover position normally gets.

As has been mentioned more than a few times, the "head turned around to track the pass and avoid the flag" technique just never was a fashion in the Gray secondary.  The team suffered from it on more than one "craned in the back of the head with the ball moment".  It's difficult to get a handle on the real numbers, but there were more than a few critical deep passes over the last few years that could have either been knocked down or picked off if the defensive back had managed to get his head turned around to locate the ball.

This will be a two part article since we are still waiting for official news from the Athletic Department as to who is going to fill in Coach Gray's considerable sneakers.  There are rumors as to who has been interviewed, and there are several former Hokies in the mix.  I will not offer idle speculation as to who, but when the name is announced we'll be digging to get the full story and some idea of how all things in the secondary will go.

Go Hokies!!!