The Virginia Tech linebacking corps should combine with
the defensive line to produce an outstanding front seven for the Hokies in 2005.
VT returns three outstanding linebackers for 2005, and although there isn’t a
lot of experience behind them, there is some talent. Although very good right
now, this group will only get better in future seasons.
Vince Hall, r-So., 6-0, 236
Vince Hall returns as the Hokies’ big time inside run
stuffer. Hall started 12 of 13 games last season for Tech and greatly upgraded
the linebacking corps from 2003 despite being only a r-freshman. Hall is back
and better than ever in 2005. He isn’t the most athletic linebacker in the
world, but neither is he the least. He is very instinctive, aggressive, and has
a nose for the football. Most importantly, he knows how to get off blocks. I
view Hall as Virginia Tech’s best linebacker heading into the season.
Brett Warren, So., 6-0, 229
Warren played a lot of special teams for Virginia Tech as
a true freshman last season. This year he appears to be Bud Foster’s most
improved linebacker. Similar to Vince Hall, Warren is not a special athlete, but
is just a pure football player. It will be tough to see much action on defense
this year for Warren playing behind a guy like Hall, but he appears to have a
Andrew Bowman, r-Fr., 5-11, 233
Andrew Bowman needs to step up his play soon. He did not
test particularly well this past winter, and although he has slightly improved,
he isn’t showing the ability that he was known for as a 4 star prospect coming
out of high school. With true freshman Demetrius Taylor impressing early, Bowman
will need to improve rapidly if he hopes to fight off Taylor’s charge up the
depth chart next spring.
Xavier Adibi, r-So., 6-2, 224
Xavier Adibi is firmly entrenched as the starter at Tech’s
other inside linebacker spot and is poised to have a breakout season. Adibi
played very well last season as he saw heavy playing time after coming back from
a detached bicep that many thought had ended his season. Adibi has the best
sideline to sideline ability of any linebacker that has ever played at Virginia
Tech. He is more physical at the point of attack than you would think by looking
at him. He and Vince Hall form the best sophomore linebacker combination in the
Blake Warren, r-Sr., 6-3, 236
Blake Warren isn’t a flashy player, but he is solid and
experienced. A three year letterman, he will be a major contributor on special
teams this season and serve as a very solid backup to Adibi. He doesn’t have
the lateral quickness to see a lot of playing time at linebacker, unless Adibi
Purnell Sturdivant, r-Fr., 5-9, 214
Physically, Sturdivant reminds me of former Virginia Tech
standout linebacker Myron Newsome. Short and stocky with solid athletic ability.
Sturdivant doesn’t appear to be ready to contribute on defense, but he should
see time on some special teams. Sturdivant has time to develop, as he is playing
behind a young linebacker in Adibi.
James Anderson, r-Sr., 6-3, 232
James Anderson was arguably Tech’s most improved player
from 2003 to 2004. After moving outside to whip from backer, he found his niche
and moved from third to first on the depth chart during the spring of 2004. Last
season he was very solid for the Hokies at whip, and he looks to have a breakout
season in 2005. His athletic ability and testing numbers will make NFL scouts
turn their heads. If he can match those numbers with play on the field, he will
have a chance to play at the next level.
Aaron Rouse, r-Jr., 6-4, 221
Aaron Rouse was moved to rover back in the spring but
could also backup Anderson at whip if needed. Rouse was very valuable as a
backup in 2004 and saw a lot of playing time. Tall and athletic, Rouse is the
perfect fit at either whip or rover from an athletic standpoint. He’s
aggressive and loves to come up and hit.
Corey Gordon, r-So, 6-2, 228
Corey Gordon made amazing progress when he was moved from
safety to whip this past spring. Gordon is a player who plays his best around
the line of scrimmage. He loves to come up and hit people, and quickly earned a
reputation in spring practice as one of Tech’s biggest hitters. He needs to
pick up the position a little better from a mental standpoint, but he is capable
of making a lot of plays for the Hokies. If he can continue to step up and
improve, Aaron Rouse can move permanently to rover and the coaches will not have
to worry about moving Rouse back to whip if Anderson goes down with an injury.
I’m going to surprise those who think I’m a tough
grader by giving this group an A-. The starters are outstanding. This is
probably the best group of starting linebackers that Virginia Tech has ever had,
and they’ve had some good ones before. I think the depth is better than people
give it credit for. Blake Warren is a three year letterman. Brett Warren appears
to be coming on, and some reports are saying that he is better than Blake
already. At whip, Aaron Rouse was very good as a reserve last season, and Corey
Gordon has made major strides and looks to be a contributor this season.
Looking back, I didn’t give the defensive line an A-
because of lack of depth at defensive tackle. I view the linebackers as having
slightly more depth. Both linebacker and defensive tackle have a solid senior
backup in Blake Warren and Tim Sandidge, but linebacker has one more proven
backup in Aaron Rouse.