2014: Defensive Line

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Virginia Tech lost some very good defensive linemen following the 2013 season.  Replacing them with quality players will be one of the goals of the offseason.

Here’s a quick list of the guys Tech lost, and their career production…

DE James Gayle: 40.5 TFL, 22 sacks
DE J.R. Collins: 33 TFL, 17.5 sacks
DT Derrick Hopkins: 25.5 TFL, 13 sacks
DE Tyrel Wilson: 11.5 TFL, 8 sacks

That’s a grand total of 110.5 tackles for loss and 60.5 sacks.  Without doing the research on all 120+ Division 1A football teams, I can’t imagine there is a program anywhere in the country that lost that much production off their defensive line following the 2013 season.  Charley Wiles has his work cut out for him this spring and into the month of August.


Defensive End

The loss is felt most heavily at defensive end, where Gayle, Collins and Wilson depart along with their numerous tackles for loss and sacks throughout the past four seasons.  I know a lot of folks don’t feel like Gayle was as productive as he could have been, but the guy averaged a little over 10 tackles for loss per season during his career.  It doesn’t get much more productive than that.

Who do the Hokies have lined up to replace those guys?  Mostly a bunch of young and inexperienced players.

Dadi Nicolas (6-3, 224, r-Jr.): Nicolas has 10.5 TFL and six sacks during his career.  Half of his sacks have come while lined up as a blitzing outside linebacker rather than a defensive end (remember that Pitt game?).  He has 436 career defensive snaps.  There’s no question that Nicolas can run and make plays, but how well can he hold up against the run, particularly with inexperienced linebackers