2006 Spring Football Wrapup: The Defense

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Virginia Tech’s defense was expected to be the team’s strong suit during
spring practice, as usual. But because of some major losses to the NFL such as
Darryl Tapp, Jonathan Lewis, Jimmy Williams and James Anderson, no one was
really sure how they would perform this spring. The Hokies began practice with
question marks along the defensive line and linebacker. All reports indicate
that while Tech might have some new players defensively this year, the group
still appears to be very good.

The Hokies didn’t lose a lot of players off the defense last year, but they
did lose some high quality players. Tapp, Lewis, Anderson and Williams are
expected to be drafted, and it is possible that Justin Hamilton could be as
well. Defensive tackle Tim Sandidge has also drawn NFL interest. That is a lot
of good players to replace, and Tech was expected to have depth problems on the
defensive line and linebacker this spring.

Defensive Line

Losing players like Darryl Tapp and Jonathan Lewis, who were among the best
in the nation at their positions, is tough. With unproven backups like Barry
Booker and Kory Robertson, as well as r-freshmen Cordarrow Thompson and Hivera
Green, it was impossible to know how good Tech would be at defensive tackle this
spring. Carlton Powell is the only proven returnee.

At defensive end, the Hokies bring back proven players in Noland Burchette
and Chris Ellis, and Orion Martin has a year under his belt. But could anyone
step up as the fourth defensive end? All of these questions were answered in a
positive manner over the course of the spring.

It appears that both Barry Booker and Kory Robertson have proved that they
are capable of starting next to Powell, and Thompson looks like he will see a
lot of playing time in a reserve role. All three players have come a long way,
particularly Thompson, who spent last August jogging around the practice field
rather than actually practicing, because he reported too heavy and out of shape.
Hivera Green had a chance to work his way into the rotation, but he