No position on Virginia Tech’s roster is facing more change than the secondary in 2018. Gone are multi-year starters in Terrell Edmunds, Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman. Senior cornerback Adonis Alexander flirted with the NFL Draft, but wisely chose to return to Blacksburg for his senior season. The Hokies are certainly happy Alexander is back, too.
|27||Shawn Payne||-||DB||6' 3"||190||rSr||Chesterfield VA||L.C. Bird|
|36||Adonis Alexander||3||CB||6' 3"||207||Sr||Charlotte NC||Independe NCe|
|6||Mook Reynolds||2||DB||6' 0"||185||Sr||Greensboro NC||Northern Guilford|
|42||John Jennings||-||DB||5' 11"||173||Sr||Centreville VA||Centreville|
|29||Ishmiel Seisay||-||DB||5' 9"||193||rJr||Springfield VA||St. Stephen's & St. Agnes|
|21||Reggie Floyd||2||DB||6' 0"||221||Jr||Manassas VA||Stonewall Jackson|
|26||Jovonn Quillen||2||DB||6' 0"||187||Jr||Hampton VA||Hampton|
|9||Khalil Ladler||1||DB||5' 11"||189||rSo||Stone Mountain GA||IMG Academy|
|17||Divine Deablo||2||DB||6' 3"||212||rSo||Winston-Salem NC||Mount Tabor|
|39||Tyree Rodgers||1||DB||6' 1"||185||rSo||Camden NJ||Camden Catholic|
|5||Bryce Watts||1||DB||6' 0"||171||So||Toms River NJ||Toms River North|
|7||Devon Hunter||1||DB||6' 0"||218||So||Chesapeake VA||Indian River|
|3||Caleb Farley||-||DB||6' 2"||197||rFr||Hickory NC||Maiden|
|37||Devante Smith||-||DB||6' 1"||202||rFr||Manassas VA||Stonewall Jackson|
|20||D.J. Crossen||-||DB||6' 1"||191||Fr||Greensboro NC||Dudley|
|28||Jermaine Waller||-||DB||6' 1"||179||Fr||Washington DC||Avilon School|
|33||Bradley Parcell||-||DB||5' 11"||195||Fr||Roanoke VA||Franklin County|
|50||Dylan Thevayagam||-||DB||6' 2"||218||Fr||Cinna MInson NJ||Cinna MInson|
While Alexander has one spot locked down, it’s a battle to start opposite of him at corner. The guy with the biggest opportunity this spring is sophomore Bryce Watts. As a freshman last fall, Watts played in all 13 games, appearing mostly on special teams. That is generally the route young players go who are expected to be big contributors down the road for Bud Foster. Watts impressed coaches last fall and must continue to add muscle to his 171-pound frame.
Junior-college transfer Jeremy Webb will push Watts when he arrives this summer, however, for now; Watts has a terrific opportunity in front of him.
Other cornerbacks in spring practice include freshman Caleb Farley (limited, as he returns from knee injury), senior Shawn Payne, junior Jovonn Quillen, freshman Jermaine Waller, sophomore Tyree Rodgers and Ishmiel Seisay. You can see why the coaching staff felt they needed Farley back on the defensive side of the ball, for now at least. Fortunately for the Hokies, some reinforcements will enroll this summer and while this group will lack game experience, there will be some talented options to choose from.
Keep an eye on Quillen. He’s impressed coaches and teammates throughout spring practice and made his name on special teams last season.
At safety, things are better. Presumed starting free safety Divine Deablo is limited this spring. Deablo broke his foot last fall after a promising start to the season. He received a medical hardship for an extra year of eligibility this winter. He should be good to go in August. In his absence, Khalil Ladler is gaining valuable experience. A former corner, coaches would love to see Ladler take a major step forward and contribute this season.
There are no questions about strong safety. Reggie Floyd took over the position last season and was arguably the top performer in the secondary. He turned a question mark into a position of strength. Floyd is the ideal strong safety for this defense and he is only getting better. He is a hammer against the run and proved to be capable against the pass, too.
Sophomore Devon Hunter is playing some whip linebacker this spring in the absence of starter Mook Reynolds. Hunter is impressing coaches in his new role and the more experience he gains playing different positions means he will be a major contributor in the secondary this fall. Hunter can be an X-factor for Foster’s defense in 2018.
Freshman D.J. Crossen, who enrolled in January, has impressed this spring. He can play either safety spot or whip linebacker. This spring is big for him and will determine whether he plays or redshirts this fall.
Tech’s secondary is always a position of strength, however, for the first time in a while, this group lacks major experience and it will be something to watch throughout the spring and into the summer.