Imagine if the looming threat of the NFL with its alluring lucre, blood sucking agents, and overweening pride weren't there. Imagine then a football program with players at the apex of their careers wanting to make the best possible showing for no other reason than pride and a university degree. Then wake up and realize that you were living in a 1920's fantasy world.
That harshed mellow is what I get when I look through the Hokie defensive back roster, this season. I can see sweat forming on the brows of every one of this season's opponents coaching staffs when they see #LPD and in particular #DBU crawling by a Twitter feed for the season.
In case anyone hasn't paid too much attention to things, the Virginia Tech Hokie defensive secondary didn't lose much of much last season. Yes, Chuck Clark has gone to try his luck with the Balmer Crows. I guess not many folks also picked up on the fact that Chuck Clark stuck with the program for all four eligible seasons, and is now primed for a great shot at success at the next level, either.
There is a huge however coming, trust me. Chuck Clark was the only defensive back that we lost to graduation. Yes, he was a leader. Sure, he had a cool head, good anticipation skills, and he hit like a Mack truck going downhill on I-81. We are going to miss him, but we knew he was moving on. Well, we did, but so did Bud Foster's defensive coaching staff.
How many teams with a star defensive back leaving can just shrug it off and smile like they just ate the last package of Ho-Hos from the pantry, just when Dabo Sweeny was having a chocoholic attack? Betcha not many would be even near a sneer. Well, Dabo is going to be rebuilding nearly everything this season and his best barely got by our best back in December.
So what are we looking at here? Let's not worry about positions for just a few minutes and look at the roster sorted just by experience, and then look at the names. Now you can breathe and take in one of those big "Ah-ha!" moments that might not have occurred to you before you started reading this article.
Folks, few teams are going to want to throw the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2017 season. Now, I'm not going to go into 2018, 2019 or beyond. Let's just concentrate on 2017 and take in the sneaky, brutal, skilled, wonderfulness that we see in a simple list.
2017 Hokie Defensive Back Roster
|3||Greg Stroman||3||CB||6' 0"||180||Sr.||Bristow, Va.|
|31||Brandon Facyson||3||CB||6' 2"||197||Sr.||Newnan, Ga.|
|20||Deon Newsome||2||S||5' 11"||193||r-Sr.||Hampton, Va.|
|36||Adonis Alexander||2||CB||6' 3"||193||Jr.||Charlotte, N.C.|
|6||Mook Reynolds||2||DB||6' 0"||183||Jr.||Greensboro, N.C.|
|22||Terrell Edmunds||2||S||6' 2"||210||r-Jr.||Danville, Va.|
|17||Divine Deablo||1||DB||6' 3"||208||So.||Winston-Salem, N.C.|
|21||Reggie Floyd||1||S||6' 0"||205||So.||Manassas, Va.|
|26||Jovonn Quillen||1||DB||6' 0"||176||So.||Hampton, Va.|
|27||Shawn Payne||-||CB||6' 3"||192||r-Jr.||Chesterfield, Va.|
|29||Ishmiel Seisay||-||DB||5' 9"||197||r-So.||Springfield, Va.|
|39||Tyrone Thornton||-||DB||5' 9"||193||r-So.||Boston, Mass.|
|41||John Jennings||-||DB||5' 11"||177||So.||Centreville, Va.|
|2||Tyree Rodgers||-||DB||6' 1"||173||r-Fr.||Camden, N.J.|
|9||Khalil Ladler||-||DB||5' 11"||183||r-Fr.||Stone Mountain, Ga.|
There are 10, count them 10, quality defensive backs with at least one solid year of experience. The group is lead off by true Senior Greg Stroman, who not only does defensive back duties, but last season performed some admirable punt and kick return duties. Stroman is solid, covers well, and is fast an elusive enough to ball hawk here and there. You’ll see his name again in the Special Teams roster review because Stro even punted the ball last season. He’s going to be a serious leader on both the defense and special teams.
Next up is the other true Senior of the defensive backfield, cornerback Brandon Facyson. Brandon is a medical redshirt as he suffered greatly during the 2014 and some of the 2015 seasons with a leg injury that ended up in a fracture. Last season was Facyson’s first completely healthy effort starting all 14 games and racking up 32 tackles and 16 assists. He also had 4 of those for TFLs. He did have some coverage issues, and really didn’t get much in the way of interception attention but did defend 11 pass attempts with breakups. This season he should be even healthier and have worked on some skills improvement.
Deon Newsome has played in 30 games over his three seasons on the field. This season might be his chance to push some numbers and complete his time at Tech in a sprint to the finish.
The guys with two years of experience cannot be ignored. Adonis Alexander played in every game but one, he broke up 9 passes picked the ball off twice, and ran a fumble back for a TD. Mook Reynolds and Terrell Edmunds each dominated the opposing offenses.
Adonis Alexander had a few issues that could have derailed his Hokie career. Patience and guidance from the coaching staff got him straightened out, and he rewarded Hokie Nation with a quality effort for 2016. His 31 solo tackles and 13 assists were impressive enough, but Adonis has the makings of a serious ball hawk, snagging two last season. He is listed as a Cornerback, but can be shaded into several DB techniques on the fly. That makes him difficult to read, and allows Foster to dial up all sorts of mayhem.
Mook Reynolds operated in a catch all sometimes Rover, sometimes Corner, and sometimes Safety. You could see him in the box, or backed off in coverage on any given play. His 36 solo tackles and 28 assists over all 14 games (13 of which he started) is a superb record for a young man in his second season on the field. His 2 interceptions were clutch. Reynolds looks to show up on the starting depth chart again this season.
Terrell Edmunds, often on the field with younger and larger brother Tremaine, has been a defensive star; some would argue for two seasons. He seems to be everywhere. He’s in the box stuffing runs; he’s blitzing the Quarterback or hammering a running back at the line of scrimmage. He might cover a pass, or picking them off (he had 4 last season). Te Edmunds is a name to watch. He’s attracting attention, and he’s stopping the opposition anyway that Bud Foster asks him to make those stops.
Add to those impressive probable starters and we see three players with one year of experience, and each promising to step up to the next level of performance this season. Divine Deablo, Reggie Floyd, and Jovonn Quillen all made significant contributions last season. Look for them to get more field time, and allow Bud Foster to mess with opposing Quarterbacks’ heads.
The last probable starter is with just one year of experience, but looking like he’s an old pro
The remainder of the roster is peppered with talent, some of whom have made it to the field and some who haven’t gotten any snap time. They’ll have to fight for positions in the depth chart, but given the tendency for defensive backs to lose playing time due to injury, they’ll need to be ready.
There are more than a few new Quarterbacks out in ACC land. Miami, UNC, Pitt, yes – us, but college Quarterbacks have to start somewhere. Just think about what it’s going to be like for Miami’s newbie to line up and look at 4, no 5, no maybe 6 Hokie defensive backs. Who’s going to blitz? Who is in man, who’s in deep zone and looking to pick one off? Where are the holes in this defensive backfield?
I’m not seeing any this season.