Friday Q&A: January 13, 2012

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Football season is in the rear-view mirror, but spring practice is right around the corner. In this week’s Friday Q&A, we talk about depth at defensive tackle and linebacker, how the starting lineup might look in the secondary, as well as how the running back situation could shake itself out.

1) With the loss of several backup defensive tackles (Courtney Prince, Isaiah Hamlette and Dwight Tucker) just announced, how does our DT depth look in the coming years?

Chris Coleman: I’d say strong … to quite strong. I think defensive tackle depth will be one of the strengths of the team next season. Prince, Hamlette and Tucker did exactly what most people expected them to do. Instead of spending their final season of college football as practice bodies, they are either transferring or giving up football. Can’t blame them. Best of luck to them, and thanks for being good Hokies, and most of all – thanks for graduating. A high graduation rate always looks good for the program, and it’s good for the individual players, too.

Derrick Hopkins will be a junior in 2012, and he’ll be the bell cow. We know Antoine Hopkins can play, but there is no guarantee that he’ll get his starting position back from Luther Maddy. That guy had a heck of a year as a true freshman, and who knows how good he’ll be this year after spending his first year in a college strength and conditioning program? That’s three guys who are capable of playing at a very high level.

Corey Marshall made a couple of big plays in his first season, and he’ll add some much-needed weight heading into his true sophomore year. Some people think he’ll move back to defensive end. He might give it a shot there in the spring, I don’t know, but I’ve seen him play both positions and I think he’s a much more natural fit at defensive tackle in Tech’s system. He just played better inside than he did outside, simple as that.

Don’t forget about Kris Harley. He had the size and physical ability to play right away, but he wasn’t quite there mentally. I was told in late September that the coaches were pleased with his progress and deemed him “ready to play” at that point, though they elected to keep the redshirt on him. He’s a big guy (6-0, 287 as a true freshman), and combined with the Hopkins brothers and Luther Maddy, this will be Tech’s biggest group of defensive tackles in awhile.
Antoine Hopkins is a

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