Defensive Line Depth An Issue For Virginia Tech

Charley Wiles and Bud Foster will have some work to do with the defensive line this spring.
Charley Wiles and Bud Foster will have some work to do with the defensive line this spring.

Earlier this week it was reported that several players would be leaving the program and would not take part in spring practice.  Starting today, we’ll take a position-by-position look at what Virginia Tech’s depth chart could look like heading into spring practice.

Since depth seems to be the biggest issue on the defensive line, we’ll begin our look with Charley Wiles’ group.  Ken Ekanem, Nigel Williams and Woody Baron have all exhausted their eligibility, rising redshirt-senior Seth Dooley gave up football at Virginia Tech, and rising redshirt-junior Steve Sobczak is apparently done as well.  There are holes to be filled, and it starts this spring.

Because of injury and attrition, depth is always an issue at several positions during the spring.  I distinctly remember a walk-on offensive lineman starting n the Spring Game one year.  That’s all part of spring practice.  That’s not unique to Virginia Tech, though.  It happens everywhere.  It just so happens that it has hit the hardest on the defensive line in 2017.

We’ll start off with Virginia Tech’s defensive ends.


Defensive End

Rising redshirt-sophomore Trevon Hill will miss the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery.  Vinny Mihota‘s arm was in a sling during the trip to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl.  It was ripped out of socked during the Thursday night win against Miami, and was never the same afterwards.  I’m assuming there’s a very strong chance that Mihota won’t be able to practice this spring either.

That would leave Virginia Tech with exactly two scholarship defensive ends for the spring.

Houshun Gaines (6-3, 248, r-So.): Gaines appeared in 12 games for the Hokies in 2016, playing mostly on special teams.  He recorded half-a-sack against East Carolina, and he’s expected to take on a much larger role in 2017.

Jimmie Taylor (6-2, 240, r-Fr.): Taylor played against Liberty and Tennessee, and made a half-a-tackle for loss against the Vols.  However, he didn’t play after that, and according to Charley Wiles the plan is to get Taylor a medical redshirt.

With so many injuries at defensive end, I project Gaines and Taylor to be starters for the Hokies this spring.  There simply aren’t any other options.  The biggest question mark is who will back them up and serve as the defensive ends for the #2 defense?  There aren’t any other scholarship defensive ends on the roster currently.  In fact, there aren’t even any walk-on defensive ends currently on the roster.

The first step obviously is to add a few walk-ons at the defensive end spot.  That will help add depth for the