Spring Practice Update – Defense

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Bud Foster is very pleased with how his defense has progressed this spring. He has a lot of depth up front, and despite the fact that all three linebackers who started last year’s opener have missed the spring, the front seven has been very dominant. The position changes in the secondary have also gone well, with guys like Detrick Bonner and Antone Exum playing at a very high level.

Defensive Line

Antoine Hopkins (r-Sr.) missed contact this spring while recovering from his ACL surgery, but he will be 100% in August. Charley Wiles has had very good defensive line play, despite the fact that the elder Hopkins hasn’t been around. If you’re worried about Hopkins’ recovery, don’t be; although he has been non-contact, he is moving well and should be fully recovered by August.

James Gayle and Alonzo Tweedy

Tech has experimented with several players getting snaps at both defensive end and defensive tackle. Zack McCray (r-So.), Corey Marshall (So.) and Justin Taylor (r-Fr.) have lined up both inside and outside this spring. Wiles is searching for his best combination of pass rushers to put on the field in long yardage situations.

Two young defensive tackles have stood out recently. Luther Maddy (So.) is probably the most improved defensive lineman on the team, and Kris Harley (r-Fr.) was much better in the second scrimmage. Those two guys offer a lot of quality depth, and Tech’s defensive tackles will be very deep when Antoine Hopkins returns to practice in August.

Younger players like Dadi Nicholas (r-Fr.) and Matt Roth (r-Fr.) have shown flashes this spring. They might need another year to add strength and mass, but they look like good players down the line.

This is how the depth chart looks now, to the best of our knowledge:

Stud: James Gayle, Tyrel Wilson, Dadi Nicholas
End: J.R. Collins, Zack McCray, Justin Taylor, Matt Roth
DT: Derrick Hopkins, Luther Maddy, Corey Marshall, Kris Harley

That’s a pretty deep group, especially