Virginia Tech Spring Football Primer: The Defense

With Virginia Tech spring practice beginning at 8am on Wednesday, we’ll finish up our spring primer with a look at the defensive side of the ball. By my count, there are 36 scholarship players on defense on the spring roster, and we’ll break them down by position.

Note that heights and weights have not been updated as of yet, and we aren’t sure if they will be updated before August. We’re going to list each player in order of seniority, so just because a player is listed first at a particular position doesn’t mean he’s going to be the starter, or that we are projecting him to be the starter.

Zion DeBose Virginia Tech
It will be a big spring for Zion DeBose (35) and the other young defensive ends. (Photo by Jon Fleming)

Defensive End (7)

Houshun Gaines (6-3, 235, r-Sr.)*
Emmanuel Belmar (6-2, 250, r-Jr.)
TyJuan Garbutt (6-1, 245, r-So.)
Zion DeBose (6-1, 250, r-So.)
Nathan Proctor (6-2, 240, r-So.)
Eli Adams (5-11, 240, r-Fr.)
Jaevon Becton (6-4, 250, r-Fr.)

*Virginia Tech will be missing senior starter Houshun Gaines this spring as he rehabs from a torn ACL suffered against Pitt last season.

To our knowledge all defensive ends with the exception of Gaines are available and healthy. Considering five of the seven current defensive ends on the roster are redshirt sophomores or younger, this spring should be very productive in terms of developing young talent.

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Because of the lack of depth at defensive tackle this spring (more on that shortly), it’s possible that Charley Wiles could take a look at somebody like Jaevon Becton or Zion DeBose at tackle this spring. Even if that happens, I would still expect that the majority of their reps would come at defensive end.

Much of Virginia Tech’s defensive improvement hinges on the development of the young ends. Tech’s pass rush was non-existent last season, and that has to get better if Bud Foster wants to help his defensive backs. We don’t know how healthy Gaines will be this year, and Belmar isn’t fluid enough to be anything more than an average pass rusher. An improved pass rush will depend on the development of guys like DeBose, Garbutt and Proctor.

Jarrod Hewitt Virginia Tech

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