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Virginia Tech Hokies 2019 Football Roster Review: Linebackers

There is no really good way to launch into the linebacker situation than to mention where we were at the beginning of 2018, and where we are, now. It is literally “nowhere” to “here, and big”. Let’s check in and see what’s going on.

Andrew Motuapuaka is a hard guy to replace
John Schneider - SB Nation

The lead picture is a giveaway that this article is about not only the linebackers, but the incredibly difficult job that they had stepping to replace the combination of Andrew Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds. The 2018 season was probably the most difficult and daunting for any linebacker corps in college football. With the exception of Dylan Rivers and Rayshard Ashby who were both true sophomores, everyone was inexperienced. Both Rivers and Ashby appeared in games in 2017 (7 and 13 respectively) but we know that those “snaps” were often special teams or garbage time deals.

2018 added a new breath of tree trunk limbed Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass haired, Dax Hollifield, the heavily and now happily recruited freshman from North Carolina. By the end of the season Ashby and Hollifield would establish themselves as the probable starters for 2019. Linebackers always need reliable backups, and by the Spring, the roster had strengthened in depth and experience.

Virginia Tech Hokies 2019 Linebackers

Number Name Position Height Weight Class Hometown High School Previous School
Number Name Position Height Weight Class Hometown High School Previous School
48 Daniel Griffith LB 6-0 229 R-Jr. Chesapeake, Va. Nansemond-Suffolk Academy
38 Amare Barno LB 6-6 229 Jr. Blythewood, S.C. Butler Community College
44 Dylan Rivers LB 6-1 233 Jr. Stephens City, Va. Sherando
23 Rayshard Ashby LB 5-10 240 Jr. Chesterfield, Va. L.C. Bird
4 Dax Hollifield LB 6-1 239 So. Shelby, N.C. Shelby
15 Keshon Artis LB 6-0 237 So. Chesapeake, Va. Oscar Smith
34 Alan Tisdale LB 6-3 209 R-Fr. Greensboro, N.C. Page
47 Dean Ferguson LB 6-2 213 Fr. Sterling, VA Potomac Falls
50 Tre Maxwell LB 6-0 205 Fr. Centreville, Va. Centreville
43 Michael Peterson LB 6-1 215 Fr. Fort Mill, S.C. Nation Ford
40 Ben Skinner LB 6-1 215 Fr. Spotsylvania, Va. Riverbend
35 Matt Johnson LB 6-0 210 Fr. Glen Allen, Va. Deep Run
New depth and experience for 2019 Data Courtesy of Hokie Sports

Bud Foster is singing praises, and moving people around. There can be quite a bit of technique swapping between the designated Mike, and Backer, but this season Bud seems to be tending toward actually having Dax swap in and play some Mike instead of Ashby. Some newcomers are also getting some attention as well as Dylan Rivers (who normally backs up Dax at Backer). Rivers has been impressing coaches with his work this season. Ashby is backed up by Keshon Artis, who is also charging hard. The new transfer Amare Barno and redshirt freshman Alan Tisdale have also gotten serious attention from Bud.

Right now the depth chart looks like it could be interesting, but we’ll stick with what we think is the conventional wisdom:

Mike: Rayshard Ashby (1), Keshon Artis (2)

Backer: Dax Hollifield (1), Dylan Rivers (2)

We are likely to see some swapping around, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dax playing Mike in some situations, and some of the other depth players being subbed in as often as possible. That’s something different between 2018 and now. We saw lots of Ashby, Rivers, and Hollifield in 2018. That’s because that was all that there was, really.

Bud has some breathing room this season, and whoever takes over for Spring 2020 is going to have a really interesting linebacker corps to work with.

Next up we visit the Defensive Backs.

There is no shading the truth, either. Last season they were having serious problems. This season, we are hearing that all the water is under the bridge and the Real #DBU is back in session.