Post Spring Depth Chart: The Defense

Bud Foster’s defense looked improved this past spring. He will have a very
fast defense in 2011, including some major talent on the defense line, at
linebacker and in the secondary. However, it’s still a very young defense, and
how quickly it matures and whether or not it stays healthy will be the keys to
the season.

There is plenty of individual talent on the Tech defense, but there are also
six sophomore starters and several key freshmen in the two-deep. I think
Foster’s unit will improve in 2011, but their best football will be in 2012 and

With Tech’s schedule in 2011, there will still be a major opportunity to have
some very good defensive numbers. Here’s a look at how the depth chart shakes
out heading into the summer.

Defensive Line

Charley Wiles went into the spring wanting to see two things. First, he
wanted some of his younger players to take that next step from being a key
backup to being a full-time starter. Second, he wanted to develop some depth at
both end and tackle. One of those goals was accomplished, and the other is a
work in progress.

Line Depth Chart
Pos. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
Stud James Gayle 6-4 251 r-So.
Stud Duan Perez-Mean 6-4 252 r-Fr.
Stud Quillie Odom 6-1 242 r-Jr.
DT Derrick Hopkins 6-0 298 So.
DT Antoine Hopkins 6-0 299 r-Jr.
DT Kwamaine Battle 6-0 301 r-Sr.
DT Dwight Tucker 6-1 273 r-Jr.
DT Isaiah Hamlette 6-4 274 r-Jr.
DT Nick Acree 6-5 276 r-Fr.
End J.R. Collins 6-2 253 r-So.
End Tyrel Wilson 6-1 214 r-So.
End Zack McCray 6-5 248 r-Fr.
End Justin Taylor 6-2 220 Fr.

James Gayle and J.R. Collins were both very good backups as r-freshmen last
season, and they took a step forward and turned themselves into reliable
starters this spring. Both are dangerous pass rushers, and Gayle in particular
has the athletic talent to be a star. Collins could potentially see a few reps
at defensive tackle this season, depending on how the depth shakes out at both

Duan Perez-Means is the only reliable backup defensive end the Hokies have
right now. Tyrel Wilson is a solid player, but he’s still too small. Zack McCray
has the talent, and with a summer in the weight room, he’ll have another chance
to push his way up the depth chart in the month of August.

The Hopkins brothers were very good this spring, particularly Derrick. They
are probably the best playmaking combo the Hokies have had at defensive tackle
since Barry Booker and Carlton