Virginia Tech lost some excellent defensive backs
following the 2004 season, two of which have gone on to the NFL. Some of you
might have seen Eric Green’s interception return for a touchdown this past
weekend, and you might have seen Vinnie Fuller lining up for the Titans as well.
Those guys are gone, along with starting rover James Griffin and backup safety
Mike Daniels. So the Hokies must be a little thin on talent in the secondary,
While the Hokies only return one starter, he happens to be
arguably the best defensive back in America. Tech will also field a lot of young
players in the secondary this year, but they are very talented.
Roland Minor, r-So., 6-0, 205
Minor served as Virginia Tech’s third cornerback as a
freshman, and although he didn’t see a lot of time, he did play very well. He
came up with two critical interceptions against Georgia Tech, one of which he
returned for a touchdown to seal the game. He is the fastest of the Tech
defensive backs, and he really worked hard in the offseason to change his body.
Jimmy Williams gets the hype, but Minor has an NFL future as well.
Macho Harris, Fr., 6-0, 186
Harris was one of the most highly touted recruits in the
country in the class of 2005, and Virginia Tech’s top signee. Thus far, he
hasn’t disappointed. He came into practice with confidence and has shown
natural athletic ability, as well as a knack for jamming receivers at the line
of scrimmage. It’s not known exactly how much playing time Harris will get
this season, but he will definitely play.
Brandon Flowers, r-Fr., 5-10, 186
Flowers showed major flashes of ability last season when
he returned an interception for a touchdown against Western Michigan. An injury
forced him to miss the remainder of the season, and he was granted a redshirt.
Flowers is a smart, instinctive player who makes the right reads. He’s not
quite as athletic as Tech’s other corners, but he can move around the field.
At this point, he should be considered Tech’s fourth cornerback, as he has
missed virtually all of August with a pulled hamstring. The injury allowed Macho
Harris to move ahead of him.
You will never find a better fit for the boundary corner
position than Jimmy Williams. He is one of the biggest cornerbacks in the
country, and he excels in pass coverage and run support. College football rarely
sees a cornerback with this combination of size, speed and hip movement.
Williams will lock down his side of the field for the Hokies this fall, then
will move on to the NFL where he will be a Top Ten draft pick.
Theo Miller, r-Fr., 6-2, 184
Miller is not as refined at this point as Tech’s other
cornerbacks. Expect to see him only in blowouts in 2005. He needs to continue to
work hard in the weight room to gain weight and improve his strength. At this
point he is a below average tackler. He also tends to get turned around a bit
too much in the passing game. He does have good athletic ability, and can be a
player for the Hokies down the road.
D.J. Parker, So., 5-11, 184
Parker played sparingly at cornerback for the Hokies last
season. He is a speed safety who is much more physical than his size would
indicate. In practices thus far he has been able to hold off a strong challenge
from Justin Hamilton by setting up the defense correctly and not letting
receivers behind him. There may be a few growing pains early in the season for
Parker, but he should have a solid season.
Justin Hamilton, r-Sr., 6-3, 222
Former tailback/wide receiver Justin Hamilton has been
working at safety since the spring, and has picked it up surprisingly well. He
loves to come up and hit in run support, and has picked up his coverage
techniques much more quickly than most would have thought. Hamilton is just a
natural football player no matter what position he plays, and he will see a good
share of playing time this fall. Putting him on the field with Williams, Minor
and Rouse would make up possibly the biggest secondary in the country, with all
four DBs checking in at over 200 pounds.
Cam Martin, Fr., 6-0, 192
Cam Martin is a good, young safety who will become a
regular in the defensive backfield early in his career. It appears he will
redshirt this season, unless injuries become a factor. Martin has a great future
Aaron Rouse, r-Jr., 6-4, 221
Rouse excelled as the backup whip linebacker in 2004 and
will enter the 2005 season as the starter at rover. Rouse has excellent size for
the position and is extremely athletic. He has looked good in pass defense in
the preseason, but that must be proven on the field beginning September 4. He
will be terrific against the run.
Cary Wade, r-Jr., 5-10, 178
Wade plays much bigger than he actually is, especially in
run support. Wade has shown in spring practice, as well as the most recent
scrimmage, that he can be an excellent open field tackler and defender in space.
He has developed very good instincts in his Tech career. He injured his ankle in
the scrimmage on Saturday, and it is not clear at this point how serious the
Dorian Porch, Fr., 5-11, 200
Porch has impressed the coaches with his ability to pick
up the defense in the early stages of the preseason. Porch is still a
possibility to play this season, although he will likely redshirt. It could be
dependent on how serious Wade’s ankle injury turns out to be. Either way,
Porch is Tech’s rover of the future.
The 2005 secondary is a B+ group. Many players do
lack experience, but all are very talented, and each position goes at least two
deep. VT puts more defensive backs in the NFL than just about anybody, including
Tyronne Drakeford, Eric Green, Garnell Wilds, Nick Sorensen, Cory Bird, DeAngelo
Hall and Keion Carpenter, among others. There are currently ten former Hokies
playing defensive back in the NFL. This group is exceptionally talented and will
be no different.
In the preseason, the secondary is tackling well and not
giving up deep passes. If that continues into the season, the Hokies will have
another excellent defensive backfield in 2005.