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Virginia Tech football: DE Antwaun Powell-Ryland could bring the pass rush the Hokies have lacked

Antwaun Powell-Ryland transferred home from Florida.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 17 SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry’s quest to improve the roster, he hit the NCAA transfer portal hard this offseason.

We know of Virginia Tech’s work on offense this offseason. The Hokies added wide receivers Ali Jennings, Quan Felton and Jaylin Lane, running back Bhayshul Tuten, quarterback Kyron Drones and offensive lineman Clayton Frady. All are expected to play a role on the 2023 roster, with Jennings as the No. 1 receiver, with Lane and Tuten also starting for the Hokies. Drones is competing to be the starting quarterback.

However, the Hokies also added some impact defenders: Cornerback Derrick Canteen and defensive end Antwaun Powell-Ryland. Both players will start for the Hokies this fall. Powell-Ryland is a player Virginia Tech recruited hard out of Indian River High School. After three seasons with the Florida Gators, Powell-Ryland returned “home” to Blacksburg.

His commitment was cause for celebration for Pry, defensive coordinator Chris Marve and defensive line coach J.C. Price. Not only were the Hokies landing a prized player from the Commonwealth, but Powell-Ryland was productive in a part-time role for the Gators last season.

The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Powell-Ryland immediately impressed Virginia Tech coaches. And, according to Pry, Powell-Ryland had one of the more impressive reps he’s seen since arriving in Blacksburg, noting his explosiveness and get-off.

While those compliments may not seem like much in August, the Hokies have lacked an edge rusher with the explosiveness of Powell-Ryland. TyJuan Garbutt had some twitch, but not to the level of Powell-Ryland.

It’s been a while since the Hokies have put fear in opposing offenses with a pass rusher off the edge. Could Powell-Ryland be that guy in 2023? The Hokies also return Cole Nelson and some promising young rushers like Keyshawn Burgos and Jason Abbey.

Things are looking up for Virginia Tech’s defense.