2006 Virginia Tech Football Season Preview: Defensive Line

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of the great strengths of the 2005 Virginia Tech Hokies was the outstanding play
of the defensive line, led by seniors Darryl Tapp and Jonathan Lewis. Tech lost
both of those players, as well as Tim Sandidge, to the NFL. There will naturally
be some dropoff up front for the Hokies, but how much?

Defensive End

Virginia Tech is known for putting star defensive ends on the field. Past
greats include Bruce Smith, Cornell Brown, Corey Moore, John Engelberger and
Darryl Tapp. Can there be another great one in 2006?

Chris Ellis, 6-5, 260, r-Jr.

Chris Ellis is the defensive end most likely to have a breakout season. He
posted 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and 16 quarterback hurries in 2006.
Ellis is fairly big for a Virginia Tech defensive end, with long arms and very
good athletic ability. He has been a major contributor along the defensive line
for the Hokies since his r-freshman season.

With Tapp and Lewis gone, Ellis will get the most recognition of all of Tech’s
defensive linemen. It is important that he step up to the challenge. He
dominated the young Tech offensive line in the spring and will look to take his
game to a new level in the fall.

Noland Burchette, 6-2, 261, r-Sr.

Burchette will serve as the other starting defensive end in 2006. He was a
full-time starter in 2004 opposite Darryl Tapp, and a part-time starter last
year with the emergence of Ellis. Burchette isn’t a flashy player, but he is a
very solid one who knows his assignments and defends his gaps well.

Burchette posted four tackles for loss and three sacks last season. He also
had 18 quarterback hurries, more than Ellis. If he can turn some of those
hurries into actual sacks, it would be a big boost to the Tech defensive line.