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Virginia Tech Hokies: 2019 Football Roster Review: Defensive Line

We jump from one side of the trenches to the other. If the Offensive Line is the shining new unit with depth and size, the Defensive Line still has some serious issues. It has some good talent, but it is still a work in progress.

2017’s Defense was one of our best in years.
John Schneider - SB Nation

We jump from the 2nd most complete roster chart in the books (the Offensive Line) and cross the line of scrimmage to take a look at the Defensive Line Roster. There has already been one switch between the linebacker corps and the defensive line. Jaylen Griffin is reportedly moving into a Tackle position to provide some depth.

Virginia Tech Hokies 2019 Defensive Line Roster

Number Name Position Height Weight Class Hometown High School Previous School
Number Name Position Height Weight Class Hometown High School Previous School
8 Emmanuel Belmar DL 6-2 245 R-Jr. Suwanee, Ga. Collins Hill
5 Jarrod Hewitt DL 6-1 288 R-Jr. Venice, Fla. Venice
36 DaShawn Crawford DL 6-0 283 Jr. Bay Springs, MS Bay Springs Jones County Junior College
92 Jaden Cunningham DL 6-2 304 Jr. Lithonia, Ga. Martin Luther King Hutchinson Community College
53 Aiden Brown DL 6-2 288 R-So. Silver Spring, Md. Bullis School
58 Nathan Proctor DL 6-2 237 R-So. Indian Head, Md. Lackey
98 Rob Porcher DL 6-1 271 R-So. Orlando, Fla. Dr. Phillips
41 Jaylen Griffin DL 6-1 257 R-So. Rome, Ga. Rome
45 TyJuan Garbutt DL 6-1 236 R-So. Fredericksburg, Va. Riverbend
13 Zion Debose DL 6-1 247 R-So. Salisbury, N.C. North Rowan
46 Eli Adams DL 5-11 243 R-Fr. Rock Hill, S.C. South Pointe
67 Gideon Driscoll DL 6-5 282 R-Fr. Blacksburg, Va. Blacksburg
90 Jaevon Becton DL 6-4 249 R-Fr. Virginia Beach, Va. Ocean Lakes
94 Nigel Simmons DL 6-2 209 R-Fr. Newport News, Va. Heritage
91 Josh Fuga DL 6-2 311 Fr. Woodbridge, VA Freedom
93 Mario Kendricks DL 6-0 288 Fr. Kissimmee, FL Osceola
99 Maxx Philpott DL 6-0 295 Fr. Salem, Va. Glenvar
96 Norell Pollard DL 6-0 251 Fr. Apopka, FL Wekiva
The Defensive Line is very young and not tremendously large. Data Courtesy of Hokie Sports

On a set of really positive notes, this squad is signed on, all in, and has a broad range of experience. Most of them played a serious number of snaps last season. Even though there were some degrees of unease, new positions, or simply players who needed another season before they played significant opponents, the defensive line kept working hard during the season. The losses for 2018 were just too many and too critical to not have a negative effect on the entire unit.

All of that is behind them. Several players have stepped it up and even though they aren’t seniors. Jarrod Hewitt and Emmanuel Belmar are “academic seniors” but are currently on the roster as redshirt Juniors. That means there are exactly ZERO seniors of any type on the D-Line for the 2019 season.

That might seem like a tricky thing, but there is little doubt that there was some serious experience gotten and spread through the ranks for 2018. That is going to boost 2019’s prospects.

The probable starters for the two deep (we are going to just stick with starters and not mess with designating Tackle or Defensive End for this one) looks like it is going to be:

  • Jarrod Hewitt (okay I’ll commit that Hewitt is a Tackle)
  • Jaden Cunningham
  • Nathan Proctor
  • Rob Porcher
  • TyJuan Garbutt
  • Zion Debose

There, also, will be much expected from junior transfers DaShawn Crawford and Jaden Cunningham. They have JUCO experience and are better sized Tackles than we usually see. Their workouts this Fall will be critical.

They’ll be swapped in and out, but an injury or issue that removes any of them from the mix is going to be a serious problem. Out of every unit on the 2019 Hokie football team, this one is the one that makes most of us nervous. The Linebackers are going to need to be active and the pass rush will probably be an issue. There is just to little beef in the burger.

The upside of the roster is that the anticipated starters all have heavy critical game experience. We are going to be keeping a close eye on developments. How this line solidifies is going to determine how good the Hokie Defense is this season (IMHO, anyway).

Next up the Running Back situation gets a peek.