2017 Linebacker Preview: Tech’s Depth Better Than Usual

Virginia Tech football
Andrew Motuapuaka (54) leads an experienced and deep linebacking corps heading in 2017. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

The Hokies go into the season with a pair of very experienced starters at linebacker.  They also appear to have much better depth than usual.  Even though a lot of that depth is young, Tech overrecruited linebacker in the last couple of years, which virtually guarantees that they’ll have good replacements for Andrew Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds when their careers are over.

For now, it seems as if the Hokies might have a few more backers in the program than mikes.  However, they also have a few versatile linebackers in the program who could potentially play either position.  Tech hasn’t released a depth chart, so I’m not exactly sure where some of the players are spending their time right now.  If they are all playing their natural position, then that leaves Tech heavy on backers and short on mikes.  However, I expect defensive coordinator Bud Foster has figured out a way to roughly even out the numbers at each position.

Mike linebacker

There’s no question about the top two players at this position.  Andrew Motuapuaka (6-feet, 236 pounds, r-Sr.) enters his third year as Virginia Tech’s full-time starting mike linebacker.  He’s proven himself to be a playmaker over the years, with four interceptions, five fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles to his name.  He’s also scored three touchdowns.

Motuapuaka can sometimes struggle against the run.  He can have trouble navigating blockers in the box, and mobile quarterbacks have given him trouble before.  However, he’s a very experienced player who knows Foster’s defense inside and out, and he should have a solid senior season.