Spring Practice Report: Wiles Looking for More Depth

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The Virginia Tech defense has been able to stay relatively healthy throughout
the first half of spring practice. With the exception of Jayron Hosley, all of
the key young players who needed to get a lot of work this spring have been able
to practice every day. This past Saturday’s scrimmage gave us some ideas about
who will be able to contribute this season.

The big question marks heading into the spring were defensive end depth and
inexperience on the field side of the defense. The Hokies would prefer to have
at least four defensive ends to rotate, but there is a lot of youth and
inexperience at the position.

The inexperience on the field side stands out even more. Unfortunately,
Jayron Hosley has missed most of the spring with a groin injury, so Torrian Gray
hasn’t had a great chance to evaluate him.

Depth chart moves are expected to come at some point this week. As of now,
here’s what we know about the defense.

Defensive Line

Charley Wiles is spending his spring sorting out depth and defensive end, as
well as monitoring the battle between Antoine Hopkins and Kwamaine Battle for
the second starting spot at defensive tackle. There are plenty of bodies at
defensive end, but not all are ready to play major college football at this
point.

In the first move up front, defensive end Isaiah Hamlette (6-4, 247, r-So.)
has been moved inside to defensive tackle. Hamlette wasn’t quick enough for
defensive end, but it’s hoped that he can contribute at defensive tackle after
he adds more weight.

With Hamlette out of the picture, there are now five legitimate candidates
remaining at defensive end. Steven Friday (6-4, 235, r-Sr.) is starting at the
stud position, and Chris Drager (6-3, 260, r-Jr.) is holding down the end spot.
The real question is who will back them up, and whether or not Charley Wiles
will be comfortable playing more than three defensive ends in a game.

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