Two years ago, wide receiver Divine Deablo looked like he would become Virginia Tech’s next great receiver. At, 6’3”, 220 pounds, Deablo had the size, athleticism and smoothness to become a special receiver. The freshman from Winston-Salem played mostly on special teams but stood out. Playing behind upperclassmen like Isaiah Ford, Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips, Deablo was just biding his time until he took on a starring role in 2017.
It didn’t quite happen that way.
Instead of becoming the next great Hokie receiver, Deablo chose a different path, by moving to the defensive side of ball and becoming a safety. Deablo played in Tech’s first four games last, tallying eight tackles, breaking up three passes and picking off one, too. He looked like a future star for the Hokies.
Unfortunately, Deablo broke his foot and his sophomore season was cut short just as he was hitting his stride.
Now, Deablo is back and ready to pick up where he left off.
With a full year under his belt as a defensive back, Deablo feels more comfortable on defense and is 100 percent healthy. Earlier this week, Deablo spoke to the media about playing safety and he appears confident that he’s ready to become the permanent starter at free safety, per Mike Niziolek of The Roanoke Times.
I feel like I know this position like the back of my hand now. I can play more than the free safety position, honestly. I’ve had a lot of time to learn the defense, look at other positions as well, like nickel and rover. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the defense down by now.
Don’t discount Deablo when he speaks about how much more comfortable he is with the defense now. Last year, he made the switch in the offseason, so the position was still relatively new to him and he was still making plays. Now, Deablo understands his role within the defense and is ready to take off.
With so many new faces in the secondary, the Hokies really need Deablo to become a standout next to Reggie Floyd. For now, Deablo is the co-starter at safety with another redshirt sophomore, Khalil Ladler. The competition is good for both players but Deablo is the player to watch for VT’s defense.
Deablo was asked if he had any second thoughts about leaving receiver behind and he left no doubts about where he belongs.
“I love DBU,” Deablo said. I’m all about defense. I’m more about hitting now.”
That’s music to Bud Foster’s ears.