Steve Helber/Associated Press
Dadi Nicolas sacking Pitt's Tom Savage
Spring candidates: Dadi Nicolas, Ken Ekanem, Seth Dooley, Dewayne Alford and Vinny Mihota
Defensive tackle could have easily been on this list, too, but Bud Foster revealed that junior Corey Marshall would be playing at defensive tackle this spring, per Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times.
Marshall, who redshirted last fall, has shifted between end and tackle throughout his Virginia Tech career. Foster, however, felt he was needed more at tackle, at least this spring:
As we evaluated him over the last couple years, he was a little more productive as a defensive tackle than he was a defensive end. So those are things we look at. And I’m not saying that’s locked in stone. I’m just saying that’s kind of what we recognize and where we feel we need him to be to help our defense be the best we can be.
With Marshall seemingly out of the picture at defensive end—at least for now—that leaves Dadi Nicolas, presumably, locking up one starting spot. Nicolas, a 6'3", 224-pound junior, had four sacks in 2013 as a backup to Gayle and J.R. Collins.
He is a terrific pass-rusher and has a chance to be an All-ACC performer.
But who will play opposite of him?
Ekanem is a former top recruit for the Hokies. He redshirted in 2012 and played sparingly last season. Spring practice will present a prime opportunity for Ekanem to show the coaches he is ready to be a starter. He must prove to Foster he can keep contain in the running game and play the run.
Alford, a sophomore, played mostly on special teams in 2013. Is he ready to play a larger role?
Dooley, a redshirt freshman, has good size (6'5", 245 pounds) and would be nice complement to Nicolas.
The most intriguing player, though, is Mihota. An early enrollee, Mihota has a chance to show coaches he can make an impact next fall. If he has a good spring he will not only avoid a redshirt, but more than likely find himself in the rotation.