All that I can think of in covering this topic is “what could have been!” Well, what “coulda been” has greased the football lore machine for many more years than my lifespan. What could the 1980’s Pittsburgh Steelers been if they had drafted Dan Marino? What if the Bills had just hung it together for long enough to nab 50% of its Super Bowl appearances? This one is closer to college football; what if Nick Saban had stayed in the pros? There are tons of what ifs, and this spring and summer the “what if” bug dropped squarely into the middle of the Beamer Barn, and it just burrowed into the turf, right next to Off Field Whammy beetle’s grub that just seems to feed on shredded tires and rubber matting.
Terrell, Tremaine (though not a “DB” was used like one often), Adonis… and now Mook are gone. Some departures were sad but expected, some were tragic and should have been avoided. Others were inexcusable at any level. Either way, the #1 positions of the Hokie Defensive Depth Chart took a serious hit in the off-season of 2017-2018. Sugar coating it is pointless.
That’s enough of that, now. We cried in our beer. We dutifully mopped up the milk, and need to suck it up and press on. There shouldn’t be a whole lot of hand wringing and scalp itching because the Hokies have 9 game experienced defensive backs on the roster. Okay the #2’s have lots of Special Teams and garbage time effort but having that particular set of butterflies chased off is a good thing. Joining the top 9, we will finally get a good look at Caleb Farley and Devante Smith. They both redshirted in 2017, so they have been in the system for a year and a half. Farley, of course, ended up injuring himself in practice, and then was moved from wide receiver back to defensive back in since the end of the 2017 season. He worked out this spring, but didn’t play in the Spring Game. He will be tested in fall practice, soon enough.
2018 Virginia Tech Hokie Defensive Backs
|21||Reggie Floyd||ROV/WHIP||6' 0"||220||Jr.||1||72 Tackles 3 Picks|
|26||Jovonn Quillen||DB||6' 0"||187||Jr.||1 - ST||22 games no starts not a ton of tackles or passes defended|
|9||Khalil Ladler||CB||5' 11"||189||R-So.||1||13 games 2 starts significant snaps|
|17||Divine Deablo||FS/ROV||6' 3"||215||R-So.||1||18 games 2 seasons 1 pick injury shortened 2017|
|5||Bryce Watts||CB||6' 0"||171||So.||1||13 games significant snaps|
|29||Ishmiel Seisay||DB||5' 9"||194||R-Jr.||2||1 game|
|2||Jeremy Webb||ROV/WHIP||6' 4"||199||Jr.||2||JUCO Xfer|
|7||Devon Hunter||DB||6' 0"||222||So.||2 - ST||10 games played|
|39||Tyree Rodgers||DB||6' 1"||185||R-So.||2 - ST||7 games|
|3||Caleb Farley||CB/FS||6' 2"||198||R-Fr.||2 - ST|
|37||Devante Smith||DB||6' 1"||212||R-Fr.||2 - ST|
|12||Nadir Thompson||DB||5' 10"||174||Fr.||R||Freshman|
|20||D.J. Crossen||DB||6' 1"||191||Fr.||R||Freshman|
|22||Chamarri Conner||DB||6' 0"||200||Fr.||R||Freshman|
|28||Jermaine Waller||DB||6' 1"||179||Fr.||2||Freshman|
|31||Nasir Peoples||DB||6' 0"||192||Fr.||R||Freshman|
|42||John Jennings||DB||5' 11"||173||Sr.||Practice Squad|
|33||Bradley Parcell||DB||5' 11"||197||R-Jr.||Practice Squad|
Foster actually has five true freshmen for this season. I really do not see any of them playing in more than the four allotted games before being redshirted for the season. You never know with the injury bug but Foster has a two deep that has all positions covered; IF those positions are Rover or Free Safety. This condition predated the loss of both Adonis and Mook. The Hokie Roster doesn’t differentiate between Cornerbacks and Safeties. All positions are listed as DB/Defensive Backs, and the button lipped tech staff hasn’t really budged from that stance. Perhaps we will see a real depth chart sometime in the middle to third week in August, like last season. Suffice it to say, I have added a little SWAG logic to the position column and am venturing into crystal ball territory to spice this up a bit.
Look for the two mainstays of 2018 #DBU to be Jovonn Quillen and Reggie Floyd. We will see if Quillen gets a handle on the Free Safety position, because Reggie Floyd will be the defensive backfield signal caller. Divine Deablo is a natural Free Safety, but I wouldn’t count him out of being pressed into service as a Cornerback. It’s really going to depend on how well that foot injury has healed, and how much pressure and stress it can take in the torqueing and twisting of close in one-on-one coverage. I expect to see Kahlil Ladler playing a Cornerback slot, even if it’s just to start the season.
As far as backups go, I really see Bryce Watts and Caleb Farley stepping up. It’s really difficult to see exactly where they will fit in other than the good old “where they are needed most” position. Farley is more of a Cornerback, but both look like they are going to get a chance to find a place in #DBU. The freshman wildcard is Jermaine Waller. Even though the coaches will be pushing hard to redshirt him, he could very well break through at the CB position which would free up the players pressed into a less than optimal position for them to go back to their natural positions as Rovers, Whips, and Free Safeties.
There are just no expectations for the first half of the season for the defensive backfield, at least by me. The roster is basically variations of the same player type with many of the same skills, and pretty much the same size limits. That can be a really good thing, so I am going to leave it at that. Look to see lots of changing around for the first few games, with most positions settling out by mid-season. Above all there is some good fundamental talent on the 2018 Hokie Defensive Back Roster, and it is a Bud Foster defense. That means that it’s absolutely going to get better.
Offensive Line is next up! It’s a big one. Just think, BIG and Offensive Line typed in the same sentence; something bold and unusual for Virginia Tech.
In which game do we see the Defensive Backfield situation settle down?
This poll is closed
Game 5 - Duke Foster will need to have the ACC run stable
Game 4 - ODU That’s the last "practice" run before the ACC Grind Starts
The Bowl Game - If he gets it to work, how maddening would that be for opposing OCs?
Spring 2019. It’s just not a stable personnel situation.