Biggest shoes to fill: Virginia

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
5:00
PM ET
Our series continues today with the Cavaliers, who are looking to replace an NFL-bound cornerback.

OUT: Chase Minnifield. Bypassing the NFL Draft to return for his senior season, the Jim Thorpe Award finalist notched three picks, 1.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, 50 tackles, eight pass break-ups and a blocked kick for Virginia in 2011. He also received the Pop Warner National College Football Award, which recognizes a Pop Warner alumnus for the difference he made on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The son of former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl defensive back Frank Minnifield, Chase Minnfield had 13 career interceptions for Virginia and is projected by most to be an early-to-mid-round pick during next month's draft.

IN: Demetrious Nicholson. As a true freshman last season, Nicholson played nearly every single down. He had two interceptions, two tackles for loss, eight pass break-ups, a forced fumble and 60 total tackles. Having started every all 13 games in 2011, Nicholson is now the elder statesman of a re-tooled secondary. The Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia in 2010 and an ESPNU 150 prospect coming out of Bayside (Va.) High School, Nicholson has a chance to be the Hoos’ No. 1 corner this season -- meaning he will probably get the top wide receiver.

Matt Fortuna | email

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