Going into the spring, the Virginia Tech football program didn't have that many questions to answer. In this entry, I will cover the questions that have risen on the defensive side of the ball for the upcoming season.
Replacing the players lost to graduation, and in Jason Worilds' case the NFL Draft, is not an easy task for any program. Luckily the Hokies have one of the top defensive coordinators in the country and have benefited from deep recruiting classes over the past few years.
The level of young talent in the program is at a high level which bodes well for the Hokies. The Hokies must find replacements for three defensive line starters, one linebacker, and two members of the secondary.
On the defensive line, the new starters all have game experience due to defensive coordinator Bud Foster shuffling fresh players into the game. Chris Dragger and Stephen Friday both saw significant playing time at the two end positions. Kwamaine Battle played in 11 of 13 games in the 2009 season. Battle was not huge on the stat sheets, but his game experience is huge.
Replacing Cody Grimm will be much more of a challenge. He was a key player on the 2009 team. The former walk-on turned All-American has now moved on to the NFL. The candidates for his spot on the defense do not have the experience that the rest of the new starters will have.
This will be a key piece of the defense: If Grimm's replacement, whoever that may be, is able to step up and perform at a high level, the defense should equal that of last year's unit.
Gone from the secondary is Stephan Virgil and Kam Chancellor: two players who in their time at Virginia Tech made a significant impact. The players who will attempt to fill the gap at corner both have significant playing time due to Virgil's injury that caused him to miss time in the 2009 season.
Jayron Hosely and Cris Hill shared the playing time at the spot in Virgil's absence. Both played very well and showed improvement over the spring. Eddie Whitley is the prime candidate to replace Chancellor. Whitley played in all 13 games in 2009 and showed his talent.
The defense had a very strong spring, punctuated by a strong performance in the annual Maroon vs. White spring game. It looks as if Foster is going to continue his trend of reloading a defense and not missing a beat.