Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Replacing Jack Tyler at linebacker will be a tall, tall task for whoever steps into his shoes.
Tyler was the heart and soul of the defense for most of the past three years, making tackles in numbers that strain credulity.
While Bud Foster would probably prefer to have a variety of options to test out to replace Tyler, it would seem the Hokies only have one realistic player ready to go at middle linebacker: Chase Williams.
As a fifth-year senior, Williams has plenty of experience with Foster’s system, but he’s still very much an unknown commodity.
However, he does seem to have the confidence of the coaching staff, as Bitter details.
Coming out of high school in Northern Virginia, Williams was a ballhawk who posted 173 tackles as a senior at Loudoun County High, a scholarship guy the Hokies thought could be a tackling machine in college. Problem is, he played behind another player just like that in Tyler, who held down a starting spot for nearly his final three seasons at Tech. Now that Tyler is gone, this is Williams' chance to step up into the spotlight. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, he's not overwhelming physically (again, just like Tyler), but he's been productive in spring scrimmages and practices in the past. He's a coach's son (St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is his dad), so he's likely got plenty of smarts to play inside linebacker. His time might not have come until his fifth year on campus, but a featured role is there for the taking if he's up to it.
With only one incoming recruit at inside linebacker and redshirt sophomore Devin Vandyke working his way back from an ACL tear last summer, it seems like Williams will be the man from day one.
He’s impressed coaches before during spring practice, and if he does so again, he’ll get the huge burden of playing inside for the Hokies.
Foster treats the position like the quarterback of the defense, and Tyler ran it to a tee—Williams seems like he’s got the right qualities to fit in, but if he shouldn’t, the Hokies will be in big trouble.
Either way, he’s going to get on the field a whole bunch after riding the bench for the last four years, and few players on the team will have their roles expanded quite as much as he will in 2014.