ACC: Cordarrow Thompson

Opening camp: Virginia Tech

August, 6, 2010
8/06/10
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Schedule: Practice starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 6:15 p.m. All practices, with the exception of two open scrimmages, are closed to the public.

What’s new: The offense is ahead of the defense. It doesn’t happen often, but the storyline has switched in Blacksburg. One of the nation’s consistently best defenses is in a rebuilding mode, having to replace six -- and possibly seven starters, if Barquell Rivers is not cleared by the Boise State game. Meanwhile, the offense is loaded with a veteran quarterback in Tyrod Taylor and two 1,000-yard rushers in Darren Evans and Ryan Williams.

Sidelined: Redshirt sophomore backup center Michael Via (knee) and Rivers, who missed spring practices after surgery to repair his left quadriceps tendon. Via is expected back in the next week or two, and a school spokesman said Rivers will be cutting it real close to being cleared in time for the Boise State game.

Key battle: We need not mention the obvious (Williams vs. Evans), so let’s go with defensive tackle. Kwamaine Battle finished spring practice with a slight lead for the job vacated by Cordarrow Thompson, but Antoine Hopkins will keep things interesting this summer. There will also be good competition at field corner between Jayron Hosley and Cris Hill.

New on the scene: Nick Becton at left tackle, where he takes over for Ed Wang. Becton won the starting job this past spring, and the coaches think Becton has the potential to be a three-year starter.

Breaking out: Defensive end Steven Friday. He made plays in every scrimmage this past spring, and is one player defensive coordinator Bud Foster is expecting to be a leader. He was named the most improved defensive player this spring and is capable of game-changing plays like forced fumbles. He was the top backup to Jason Worilds last year.

Don’t forget about: Evans. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, Williams isn’t the only talented back on this roster. Don’t forget Evans became the first Hokies freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and at the time, his 1,265 yards was the highest season total in ACC history by a freshman. He finished spring ball listed as a co-starter with …

All eyes on: Williams. Until proven otherwise, he is the best player on this roster and has a legitimate shot at the Heisman Trophy this year. He rushed for a school-record 1,655 yards last year, also an ACC freshman record. He scored 22 touchdowns, including 21 rushing, breaking ACC season records in both categories.

Quotable: “Obviously the talent that I have is the best I’ve ever had at Virginia Tech from top to bottom. … The thing we are going to try to do as an offensive staff is to get more than one of them on the field at the same time. I think that will be a big help to us offensively and will stress some defenses.” -- Running backs coach Billy Hite.

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
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2009 overall record: 10-3

2009 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 5, punter/kicker 0

Top returners

QB Tyrod Taylor, TB Ryan Williams, TB Darren Evans, FL Danny Coale, SE Jarrett Boykin, DT John Graves, CB Rashad Carmichael, ROV Davon Morgan, LB Barquell Rivers

Key losses

TE Greg Boone, OT Ed Wang, OG Sergio Render, DE Jason Worilds, LB Cody Grimm, DT Cordarrow Thompson, DE Nekos Brown, CB Stephan Virgil, FS Kam Chancellor

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Williams* (1,655 yards)

Passing: Taylor* (2,311 yds)

Receiving: Boykin* (835 yds)

Tackles: Grimm (106)

Sacks: Brown (6.5)

Interceptions: Carmichael* (6)

Spring answers

1. Thomas makes a statement. Backup quarterback Logan Thomas -- at least according to the statistics -- had a better spring than Joseph “Ju-Ju” Clayton. Based on his performances, it would seem Thomas is the front-runner to back up Taylor this season, but coach Frank Beamer wasn’t ready to solidify that after the spring game. In six spring scrimmages, Thomas had no interceptions and Clayton threw five.

2. Evans can run -- over defenders. If Evans is suffering any lingering effects from last year’s torn ACL, it wasn’t evident during his first carry of the spring game when he ran over teammate and safety Antone Exum. Evans told reporters he’s feeling the best he has since he was injured. Beamer said he has no concerns about Evans being 100 percent this fall.

3. Strong secondary. It was one of the highlights this spring on a defense tasked with replacing six starters, including two in the secondary. Exum was one of the players who stood out in the spring game, as he had three pass breakups.

Fall questions

1. How will Evans and Williams be used? The spring game was a time to evaluate younger players, and with Williams sidelined for a bruised knee, there were no answers as to how the Hokies’ backfield might look this fall with two 1,000-yard rushers.

2. Will David Wilson redshirt? Wilson is a talented athlete in a crowded backfield, but he didn’t want to redshirt last season and played sparingly as a true freshman. Beamer said after the spring game that the coaches will make a decision “at the proper time.” That wasn’t this spring.

3. Groundhog’s Day in the kicking game. For the third straight year, the Hokies need a new place-kicker. If the season started tomorrow, Chris Hazley would handle field goals, Justin Myer kickoffs and Brian Saunders would punt, but the competition will continue this fall when freshmen join the team.

ACC position superlatives: Virginia Tech

March, 12, 2010
3/12/10
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The Hokies are up next in our series about the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the ACC:

Strongest position: Running back

Key returnees: Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, Josh Oglesby, David Wilson

Key departures: None

The skinny: The staff still isn’t sure how much they can expect from Evans this spring as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, but the Hokies should have two healthy 1,000-yard running backs by the season opener. Virginia Tech has a lot of depth with the return of Oglesby, who was the team’s third-leading rusher a year ago behind Williams and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Wilson declined to redshirt last year and played in all 13 games, had only 59 carries but was a valuable kick returner. Wilson will be given the opportunity to redshirt again this year.

Weakest position: Defensive line

Key returnees: DT John Graves

Key departures: DT Cordarrow Thompson, DE Nekos Brown, DE Jason Worilds

The skinny: The decision of Worilds to leave school early and enter the NFL draft was another hit to a unit already tasked with replacing veterans. In addition to losing three of four starters up front, the Hokies also graduated top backup defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor. The staff has high expectations for Steven Friday to blossom as a senior at defensive end, and Chris Drager, who moved from tight end last year, now has little choice but to stay on the defensive side and help out at defensive end. The interior line is Bud Foster’s biggest concern.

What to watch in the ACC this spring

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
10:00
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Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program heading into the spring:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring practice starts: March 18

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• How linebacker Mark Herzlich progresses. Herzlich, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer last May, has been going through winter conditioning with his teammates, and he plans on participating in spring drills. How quickly he regains his form will be worth watching, as he and sophomore Luke Kuechly could give the Eagles one of the most formidable linebacking corps.

• The quarterback battle. After one season, Dave Shinskie has the most experience on the roster, but he’ll get some competition from Josh Bordner and Chase Rettig, two early enrollees. There were times last season when Shinskie looked like the future of the position and there were others when he looked like any other freshman.

• Defensive linemen. For the second straight year, BC is looking for some stability up front. The Eagles have to replace left tackle Austin Giles and defensive end Jim Ramella. They return Kaleb Ramsey, Giles’ backup, and Brad Newman, Ramella’s reserve, but some young faces are likely to be seen in the rotation.

CLEMSON

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Life without C.J. Spiller officially begins. The backs behind him had a pretty good year, so there’s no need for full panic mode. Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington actually combined for a higher yards per carry average (6.1 to 5.6 yards). Clemson will also be looking to replace Spiller’s lost kickoff return yardage. The Tigers had a 13-yard advantage in average starting field position, as their start was their own 37-yard line compared to opponents’ 24-yard line. Ellington is a candidate in the return game.

• Kyle Parker’s batting average. No, really. How well Parker does this spring with the baseball team will help determine whether he remains Clemson’s quarterback or turns to the MLB draft. He didn’t have a great 2009 season, but he was still the fastest player to 25 home runs in school history. It remains to be seen this spring if he’ll become a high enough draft choice to give up college football.

• Secondary shuffling. It seems like eons ago since Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor weren’t the Tigers’ starting corners, as Butler started 40 straight games and Chancellor started 42. Butler finished his career second in school history in interception return yards. Now it’s time for a new duo. Will Marcus Gilchrist move to corner, which he’s capable of doing? Might Rashard Hall move to safety with DeAndre McDaniel?

DUKE

Spring practice starts: Feb. 14

Spring game: March 27

What to watch:

• Quarterback competition. Somebody has to take over for the graduated Thaddeus Lewis, but his backup – Sean Renfree – will miss the spring with a torn ACL. Redshirt freshman Sean Schroeder should be heavily in the mix to be the starter, pending Renfree’s recovery.

• Defensive line makeover. It’s wide open. Charlie Hatcher is entrenched at nose guard, but it’s really anyone’s game. The staff might move redshirt senior Wesley Oglesby, who played the majority of his career at defensive end, inside. Other options are defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento, a redshirt freshman, and Curtis Hazelton, who played sparingly last season.

• Johnny Williams’ move from wide receiver to cornerback. He had 31 catches in 2009 – the fourth-best on the team. Now they need his help in the defensive backfield. Duke will lose starter Leon Wright and his 10 career interceptions, and the pass defense, which allowed 215.75 yards per game, could use a boost.

FLORIDA STATE

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Christian Ponder’s return from shoulder surgery. Ponder is expected to practice this spring, though it could be on a limited basis, at least early. He’s ahead of schedule, but the coaches won’t subject him to any risks now. Yes, E.J. Manuel is talented and played well at the end of the season, but make no mistake – Ponder is FSU’s starter and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.

• The defense under first-year coordinator Mark Stoops. His secondary, in particular, will be interesting to watch, as will how quickly he can help the front seven generate a pass rush and plug the middle. Stoops has been a secondary coach, and the Noles lost three starters there. The fourth, Ochuko Jenije, could be pushed to retain his job.

• New faces, new opportunities. In addition to the fab freshmen who are coming in, FSU has a handful of unfamiliar players already on the roster who played sparingly or not at all. We'll see how they fit in this spring. RS-So DT Anthony McCloud and RS-So RB Debrale Smiley are both junior college transfers and former teammates. Physically, freshman linebacker Jeff Luc is already a man, but how quickly can he mature on the field? Two young wide receivers worth watching are Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead.

GEORGIA TECH

Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• The defensive transformation. The Jackets will switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 under first-year coordinator Al Groh. In addition to learning the new scheme, the staff has to figure out who goes where. Linebackers might play defensive end and vice versa, safeties might play outside linebacker. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this team lines up in the spring.

• The replacements. From Georgia Tech’s coaching staff to the new faces who will be tasked with filling in for the Fab Four -- Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett and Demaryius Thomas -- the Jackets will need some “Hello My Name Is” tags this spring.

• The offensive line. Three offensive linemen redshirted who could start, and Georgia Tech might need them to, especially if guard Joseph Gilbert decides to transfer to pursue his MBA. The Jackets lose two starters on the offensive line, and Gilbert, who graduates this spring, would be a third if he leaves. Center Sean Bedford and tackle Austin Barrick return as seniors.

MARYLAND

Spring practice starts: March 23

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• The quarterback competition. Chris Turner has graduated, leaving Jamarr Robinson the top option going into the spring, but he has limited experience. The staff liked what he did when Turner was injured, but Danny O’Brien, Miami (Ohio) transfer Clay Belton and C.J. Brown will all be given an opportunity. Look for O’Brien to start the spring at No. 2 on the depth chart.

• Cornerback: Cameron Chism is the only returning starter in the secondary, but right now the staff has fewer concerns about the safeties. Maryland will have to find some bodies at corner, and Dexter McDougle, who redshirted as a true freshman last year, is one option. Michael Carter and Trenton Hughes, who was the third corner last year, are also among a handful of candidates.

• The offensive line. Losing Bruce Campbell to the NFL hurt, but the Terps also lost starter Phil Costa. Justin Gilbert, a redshirt sophomore, could inherit Campbell’s job. And there’s always Mr. Versatility -- Paul Pinegar. He has helped the Terps at both tackle spots and left guard, and this spring he’ll likely be given a shot at center.

MIAMI

Spring practice starts: Feb. 23

Spring game: March 27 (tentative)

What to watch:

• Tight end/offensive line: Jimmy Graham is gone, and the Canes don’t return any tight ends with any experience other than Richard Gordon, who was injured the majority of last season. Miami signed four tight ends in this recruiting class, but none of them were early enrollees. Miami has to replace three starters up front, including both tackles and the center.

• How the two young quarterbacks perform: The health of Jacory Harris was precious last year, as he had nobody behind him with any experience after the transfers of Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith. The depth has improved a bit with A.J. Highsmith, who played sparingly last year, and Stephen Morris, one of the early enrollees.

• Upgrade on the d-line? Progress up front began with the hire of Rick Petri as defensive line coach, and it’s up to Petri to help the Canes become better pass rushers. Miami will depend upon its two mainstays -- Allen Bailey and Josh Holmes. The right end position was a group effort last year, and Miami has to replace Joe Joseph and Eric Moncur.

NORTH CAROLINA

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Quarterback T.J. Yates. It’s his job to lose, and the coaching staff still has confidence in him, but Bryn Renner is waiting in the wings, and Braden Hanson will also be given an opportunity. The staff is looking for the offense to improve its passing efficiency and cut down on turnovers.

• The offensive line. It was a patchwork effort in 2009, thanks to injuries and inexperience, and will be a major key in how much UNC improves offensively this year. The Heels have to replace two starters, and Jonathan Cooper is likely to move from guard to center, and right guard Alan Pelc will miss spring drills while recovering from shoulder surgery.

• Defensive line tweaks. There aren’t many questions on a defense that should be one of the best in the country, but somebody has to replace Cam Thomas and defensive end E.J. Wilson. Tydreke Powell is the frontrunner to take over at defensive tackle and Quinton Coples at defensive end. Both were backups last year at their respective positions.

NC STATE

Spring practice starts: March 9

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

• Backup quarterback Mike Glennon. Russell Wilson is the starter, but he’s going to be playing baseball all spring. Keep an eye on his backup to see if Glennon can make it any more of a competition in Wilson’s absence.

• Chris Ward at punter. No, it’s not usually, the highlight of the spring, but in this case, it’s necessary. Ward is it -- he’s their only option right now, and it’s a position the Pack struggled with last year. Ward was expected to be the starter last season, but he was inconsistent. He’s definitely got the talent to be the guy.

• The recovery of linebacker Nate Irving. After being severely injured in a one-car crash last summer, Irving is hopeful he can go through spring drills. He has been lifting with the team and running with the sports medicine staff, but it’s still uncertain how limited his contact will be.

VIRGINIA

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Quarterback competition. Marc Verica is the only one with any experience, and first-year offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor hasn’t been in Charlottesville long enough to evaluate any of the candidates. That’s what the spring is for, and true freshman Michael Strauss is the lone incoming quarterback on campus, so he’ll have a head start on the playbook. Of the four quarterbacks Virginia signed in this year’s class, Strauss is the only one listed as a true quarterback. The Cavs also have Ross Metheny, who redshirted last year, and Riko Smalls, who redshirted in ‘08 and was No. 2 on the depth chart when Verica was out with a concussion.

• Coaching transition. First-year coach Mike London has hired almost an entirely new staff, and they’ll bring changes in philosophy and scheme. London has said he wants to get the defense back to the traditional 4-3, and revert to the tradition of featuring the tight ends, offensive linemen and running backs.

• Running back. The Cavs will have the help up front, but they need to replace their four leading rushers in Mikell Simpson, Rashawn Jackson, Vic Hall and Jameel Sewell. The staff will look at true freshman Kevin Parks, but also have Torrey Mack and Dominique Wallace, who had just seemed to be coming on at Southern Miss when he was injured and missed the rest of the season.

VIRGINIA TECH

Spring practice starts: March 31

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• Revamped defensive line. The Hokies have to replace three of four starters up front. The only defensive ends with significant playing time are Chris Drager, who the staff wanted to move back to tight end, and Steven Friday. Redshirt freshmen will be given a chance – Duan Perez-Means, Tyrel Wilson, James Gayle and J.R. Collins – but they’ve never played. Isaiah Hamlette is the only other end who’s played and that was a skinny minute. At defensive tackle, Antoine Hopkins will be the frontrunner to replace Cordarrow Thompson.

• Darren Evans’ comeback. Evans, the team’s leading rusher in 2008, is working his way back from a season-ending ACL injury, and one of the biggest questions in Blacksburg is how the staff will divide the carries in such a talented backfield that includes Ryan Williams. With two returning 1,000-yard rushers, will David Wilson decide to redshirt? The spring will help him in that decision.

• The evolution of Tyrod Taylor. He’s going to be a senior, and with so many questions on defense heading into the season, the offense will be leading the way. This should be a breakout year for Taylor, who by now should have mastered the offense and should consistently be a passing threat to compliment his running abilities.

WAKE FOREST

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

• The quarterback competition. It’s the most glaring hole the Deacs have to fill this spring, as they’re tasked with replacing the winningest quarterback in school history, Riley Skinner, and his backup, Ryan McManus. Redshirt sophomores Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones, and sophomore Brendan Cross, will compete with rookie Tanner Price for the top spot.

• Offensive line. The Deacs will take a huge hit here, as seven players in the two-deep depth chart were redshirt seniors, including all four tackles. Three starters have to be replaced.

• The interior defensive line. Nose guard Boo Robinson and John Russell have graduated, and Russell’s backup, Michael Lockett, was also a redshirt senior. The Deacs are in good shape at the ends, but will need some help inside.
Tags:

Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Coastal Division, Atlantic Division, Miami Hurricanes, Wesley Oglesby, Russell Wilson, Darren Evans, Christian Ponder, Ochuko Jenije, Chris Drager, Cam Thomas, Demaryius THomas, Justin Gilbert, Isaiah Hamlette, Marc Verica, Rashawn Jackson, A.J. Highsmith, Boo Robinson, Torrey Mack, Trenton Hughes, Quinton Coples, Chris turner, Phil Costa, Cannon Smith, Jamarr Robinson, Mike Glennon, Tyrod Taylor, David Wilson, Jimmy Graham, Cameron Chism, Jamie Harper, CHris Chancellor, Michael Carter, Ryan McManus, Joseph Gilbert, Brad Newman, Antoine Hopkins, Sean Renfree, Dave Shinskie, Cordarrow Thompson, Richard Gordon, Mikell Simpson, Austin Barrick, Johnny Williams, Morgan Burnett, E.J. Wilson, Paul Pinegar, Tydreke Powell, Bryn Renner, Jacory Harris, Riley Skinner, Joe Joseph, Skylar Jones, Derrick Morgan, T.J. Yates, Braden Hanson, Sean Bedford, Jonathan Dwyer, C.J. Brown, John Russell, Jameel Sewell, Allen Bailey, Mike London, Nate Irving, Rodney Smith, Marcus Gilchrist, Mark Herzlich, Taylor Cook, Willie Haulstead, Andre Ellington, Josh Holmes, Thaddeus Lewis, E.J. Manuel, Leon Wright, Crezdon Butler, Ryan Williams, C.J. Spiller, Kaleb Ramsey, James Gayle, Eric Moncur, Jonathan Cooper, Bruce Campbell, Ted Stachitas, Jim Ramella, Danny O'Brien, Luke Kuechly, Sean Schroeder, Tyrel Wilson, Dominique Wallace, Austin Giles, Mark Stoops, Brendan Cross, Stephen Morris, Rick Petri, Bill Lazor, Chase Rettig, Michael Strauss, Tanner Price, Anthony McCloud, Debrale Smiley, Josh Bordner, Kyle Paker, Rahsard Hall, DeAndrew McDaniel, Charlie Hatcher, Sydney Sarmiento, Chris Hazelton, Clay Belton, Dexter McDougle, Chris Ward, Ross Metheny, Roko Smalls, Kevin Parks, Duan Perez-Means, J.R. Collins, Michael Lockett

Scouting Virginia Tech's defense

February, 11, 2010
2/11/10
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The Hokies' defense will be one of the biggest questions in the ACC this preseason, as Virginia Tech has to replace six starters. Still, expectations are high heading into 2010 that Virginia Tech will be one of the best teams in the country. Much of that confidence comes from defensive coordinator Bud Foster's proven ability to reload.

Can he do it again?

Bud Foster
AP Photo/Steve HelberBud Foster will have some new pieces to work with this season.
Here's a closer look at exactly what Virginia Tech's situation is on defense heading into spring practice, and how much work the Hokies have to do:

  • Overall, Virginia Tech needs to replace three of four starters up front, outside linebacker, cornerback and free safety.
  • The only defensive ends with any significant playing time are Chris Drager, who the staff wanted to move back to tight end, and Steven Friday. There are a few redshirt freshmen you might get to know: Duan Perez-Means, Tyrel Wilson, James Gayle and J.R. Collins. Of course, the only problem with redshirt freshmen is that they haven't played yet. Isaiah Hamlette is the only other defensive end who has played, but that was extremely sparingly. It's possible the staff could move tackle John Graves back to end, where he practiced last spring, or possibly look at moving other players.
  • At defensive tackle, Antoine Hopkins will be the front-runner to replace Cordarrow Thompson, and he has experience so that shouldn't be too much of a concern.
  • At outside linebacker, Cody Grimm and Cam Martin have to be replaced, leaving a wide open competition.
  • At cornerback, Jayron Hosley or Cris Hill will likely take over for Stephan Virgil. No worries there.
  • At free safety, Eddie Whitley was Kam Chancellor’s backup, and the staff is confident in him. Antone Exum will also be given an opportunity.
  • The good news? Virginia Tech returns cornerback Rashad Carmichael, rover Davon Morgan, Graves at defensive tackle, and Lyndell Gibson at inside linebacker.
It's a lot to ask for a team that faces Boise State's offense on Labor Day, but the Hokies wouldn't be so highly ranked this preseason if people didn't think they could do it.

Foster to earn his money in 2010

January, 7, 2010
1/07/10
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Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster has continuously found ways to reload the Hokies' defense and it make it one of the nation's best, but with the news that defensive end Jason Worilds has decided to forgo his senior season, there should be some legitimate growing pains for Virginia Tech's defense in 2010.

The Hokies will lose six starters on defense, including two in the secondary and their defensive MVP this year, linebacker Cody Grimm. Three of four starters on the defensive line will now have to be replaced (ask Georgia Tech how easy it is to do that, and they had Derrick Morgan).

The only defensive ends with significant playing time are Chris Drager, who the coaches wanted to move back to tight end, and Steven Friday. There are some redshirt freshmen the staff is high on -- Duan Perez-Means, Tyrel Wilson, James Gayle and J.R. Collins – but they’ve never played. Isaiah Hamlette is the only other defensive end who’s played, and that was very (very) sparingly. The staff could move defensive tackle John Graves back to end, where he practiced there in the spring.

At defensive tackle, Antoine Hopkins will be the frontrunner to replace Cordarrow Thompson, and Hopkins earned some significant snaps this year. At outside linebacker, where Grimm and Cam Martin both have to be replaced, it's wide open. Hokies can stay confident in their cornerback, where Jayron Hosley or Cris Hill will take over for Stephan Virgil. At free safety, Eddie Whitely was Kam Chancellor's backup, and the staff has confidence in him.

This defense will be one of the ACC's biggest question marks heading into 2010, as the Hokies try again to be a national title contender.

Weekend rewinds: Scrimmage wrap-ups

August, 24, 2009
8/24/09
10:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich Here's a recap of the scrimmages that happened this weekend, with the help of the sports information directors, and the local newspapers that covered them: BOSTON COLLEGE As if things couldn't get worse for coach Frank Spaziani's quarterback situation in his first year, leading candidate Dave Shinskie was injured in Sunday's scrimmage. It might be a bruised rib. Here's how the rest of the team fared without him: All four quarterbacks played and redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle went 8-for-16 for 84 yards. Junior Codi Boek threw for 74 yards on a 6-for-12 day while freshmen Michael Marscovetra and Shinskie both had three completions. Junior Jordon McMichael and sophomore Colin Larmond Jr. both had three receptions for 18 and 33 yards, respectively. Sophomore Montel Harris was the leading rusher with 46 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. Senior Steve Aponavicius went 2-for-4 in his field goal attempts, hitting from 42 yards both times. A 44-yard attempt went awry following a bad snap and his 37-yard try was blocked by sophomore Isaac Johnson. Redshirt freshman Alexander DiSanzo shined on defense with seven tackles, a forced a fumble and an interception. Senior Roderick Rollins and freshman Luke Kuechly both had a team-high nine tackles. DUKE Quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis, Sean Renfree and Sean Schroeder combined to complete 25 of 39 passes for 240 yards. Renfree threw for a team-high 93 yards by hitting on 11 of 18 throws while Lewis was 7-of-12 for 86 yards. Freshman running back Desmond Scott led all receivers with six catches for 39 yards while rookie wideout Conner Vernon had three grabs for 42 yards. Redshirt sophomore running back Cameron Jones picked up a scrimmage-best 49 yards on just three rushing attempts. Defensively, sophomore safety Matt Daniels caused and recovered one fumble while redshirt sophomore cornerback Colin Jones registered one interception. Junior kicker Will Snyderwine booted a 27-yard field goal and successfully converted his lone PAT attempt. FLORIDA STATE Quarterback Christian Ponder had another good day, but with no interceptions, did the defense? Ponder wasn't thrilled with the results and said it might have been because guys were too eager to end their two-a-days. Jimbo Fisher said overall it was far too inconsistent. To read the Noles' entire practice report, click here. MARYLAND The Terps' scrimmage was a mixture of good and bad, and it was the latter that kept coach Ralph Friedgen going. There was one player, though, who made a name for himself in Friedgen's book -- redshirt freshman running back Gary Douglas. Douglas rushed 17 times for a scrimmage-high 122 yards, including four runs of 15 or more yards. He didn't score a touchdown but almost single-handedly led the offense down the field for a score on one drive, accounting for 72 of the 80 yards. Quarterback Chris Turner completed 13 of 20 passes for 113 yards. Backup Jamarr Robinson didn't fare quite as well as he had in previous scrimmages, hitting on just 5 of 14 passes for 59 yards, though he did direct two scoring drives. Mike Barbour looked sharp early, capping off two drives with field goals. The redshirt freshman, who had a leg up on the No. 1 place-kicker job, hit from 30 and 36 yards out. "Barbour started off pretty good, and then he missed his last three," Friedge
n said. "He kind of looked like he had solidified the job and then he opens it up again." Defensive back Eric Franklin, a true freshman, made a scrimmage-best eight tackles and picked off Turner on the sixth possession. MIAMI The Canes wrapped up their final two-a-day of fall camp on Sunday, and coach Randy Shannon said everything -- that's right, everything -- is still up for grabs. Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post had a couple of notes for you off Sunday's practice. Morning Practice Highlights -- (pads) Joe Joseph and Marcus Robinson each had a sack in 11-on-11 drills. Randy Phillips (INT, pass break-up) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (two pass break-ups) stood out in the secondary. Lee Chambers and Damien Berry each broke off a couple runs of 15+ yards. Javarris James caught several passes in both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 sessions Afternoon Practice Highlights -- (shells) Sam Shields (red zone), Chavez Grant (7-on-7) and C.J. Holton (11-on-11) all recorded interceptions. Grant returned his for a touchdown while Holton caught his off a tipped pass. A.J. Highsmith connected with Tommy Streeter (11-on-11) and LaRon Byrd (7-on-7) for significant yardage. Damien Berry took a short pass in the flat from Taylor Cook for a long gain. Other highlights include a near interception by Randy Phillips, a pass break-up by Ramon Buchanan and a sack by Micanor Regis. Red zone touchdowns included Jacory Harris to Richard Gordon and Taylor Cook to Jimmy Graham. VIRGINIA TECH So ... add Ryan Williams to the list of VT running backs who are banged up. Williams sprained his ankle, and Josh Oglesby has "the worst infection" coach Billy Hite has ever seen on a foot. Also, the coaches want to redshirt Logan Thomas, and Kenny Lewis Jr.'s recovery has been delayed. Not a lot of happy news coming out of Blacksburg these days. To read Virginia Tech's entire scrimmage report, click here. Tyrod Taylor completed 8 of 11 passes for 78 yards. Xavier Boyce led all receivers with two catches for 47 yards. Freshman running back Tony Gregory rushed 18 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns. Williams rushed just five times for 22 yards before spraining his ankle and sitting out the rest of the scrimmage. He did score on a 4-yard run and he returned several punts. Matt Waldron was 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts. (31, 32, 43, 30) Defensive tackle Cordarrow Thompson led the defense with seven tackles, four for a loss, and one sack.

Ranking the ACC units: Defensive lines

July, 20, 2009
7/20/09
5:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Clemson -- The Tigers return three starters up front, and first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele's pressure defense is the perfect fit for guys like Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp. Sapp was having a good season last year before he tore his ACL at Virginia and missed the rest of the season. Defensive end Kevin Alexander is a returning starter who had 34 tackles last year, and nose guard Jarvis Jenkins tied Sapp for the team lead with 10 tackles for loss. Opposing quarterbacks won't have time to think against this bunch.

2. Miami -- Anyone watching the Virginia Tech game last year saw what this group is capable of, and of the nine linemen who started at least one game for Miami last year, seven are back. Allen Bailey has moved from end to tackle, but he sometimes played there in third-down situations. He led the team with five sacks. Marcus Robinson is a solid pass rusher, Marcus Forston could also be an impact and Eric Moncur is entering his sixth season and if he plays like he did in 2007 (11.5 tackles for loss) could really give this line a boost.

3. Virginia Tech -- Depth is the only question mark here, as Jason Worilds, John Graves, Cordarrow Thompson and Nekos Brown are more than capable of continuing Bud Foster's tradition of nationally ranked defenses. Nobody is questioning Worilds' toughness, that's for sure, and Graves and Thompson both started every game last year. They're still looking for another defensive end, though, and will keep an eye on what Chris Drager adds to the position after moving from tight end.

4. North Carolina -- Not only do all four starters return, but the depth is the best it's been in recent years. Last year, defensive end Robert Quinn became a starter in the second game of the season, and defensive tackle Cam Thomas had one of his his best season at UNC. Marvin Austin and E.J. Wilson played well, and should be even better this year. Reserves Quinton Coples and Michael McAdoo had solid rookie seasons and will push Wilson and Quinn for playing time this year. Aleric Mullins and Tydreke Powell are interchangeable with Austin and Thomas as starters at tackle.

5. Florida State -- The end position is reason for concern, as the Noles have to replace both Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett, who were first and second, respectively, on the team in sacks. Markus White will be tasked with filling the shoes of Brown, but he had a good transition season from junior college last year to build off of. Kevin McNeil, who had four sacks last year, is the favorite to replace Moffett. The interior should be solid with the return of Budd Thacker, Kendrick Stewart, Moses McCray and Justin Mincey.

6. NC State -- Defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash and end Willie Young have combined for 46 starts and should be two of the best linemen in the conference. The other two players penciled in as starters -- Shea McKeen and Leroy Burgess -- were both junior college transfers who earned starting time last year. Backup tackles will be a concern, but Markus Kuhn could wind up playing a bit of both until the staff decides where he can help the most.

7. Wake Forest -- Tackles John Russell and Boo Robinson will highlight a defense that recently bid farewell to some of the best seniors to come through the program. It should be one of the Deacs' most experienced groups in recent years, which is important considering the new faces behind them at linebacker. Defensive end Kyle Wilbur showed a lot of promise as a redshirt freshman with three sacks in only seven starts, and Tristan Dorty played in 10 games as a redshirt defensive end last year.

8. Virginia -- It's one of the few units on this team that didn't get a complete makeover, as seven of the top eight linemen return. Sophomore Matt Conrath, who had 35 tackles and four sacks last year, returns at end. There's a lot of experience next to him at nose tackle, where senior Nate Collins and sophomore Nick Jenkins split time last season. Collins' 35 tackles are the top among the returning linemen, while Jenkins finished with 25. Junior John-Kevin Dolce proved himself in the pass rush package with five sacks among his nine total tackles last year.

9. Boston College -- Replacing tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace is obviously one of the biggest concerns for this team, but they've got several options. Damik Scafe, Nick Rossi and Brendan Deska were each second-stringers at the tackle position and are the early favorites to replace the NFL draft picks. The Eagles also signed a pair of defensive tackles in the offseason, including highly touted recruit Dillon Quinn, who could make an immediate impact. Austin Giles replaced the injured Alex Albright last year for 12 starts, and Jim Ramella started all 14 games at the other end position.

10. Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets have to replace three of four starters up front, and until they prove they found dependable replacements, they're going to be stuck down here. The lone returning starter is junior end Derrick Morgan, and there's no doubt about his capabilities, but the Jackets will sorely miss the three starters who combined for 100 career starts and 100 tackles for loss. Ben Anderson, Robert Hall and T.J. Barnes are all candidates to start.

11. Duke -- The Blue Devils took a step forward last year and should improve again with the return of tackle Vince Oghobaase and end Ayanga Okpokwuruk, who started five games and had 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. They combined for 9.5 sacks last year. Oghobaase ranks second in the ACC in both career tackles for loss (29.0) and quarterback sacks (11.5). They'll need new starters at nose guard and right end.

12. Maryland -- The Terps have to fill a void left by Jeremy Navarre and Trey Covington, and so far it looks like that will be up to Derek Drummond, Dion Armstrong, Travis Ivey and Jared Harrell, though Armstrong was dealing with some academic issues. The arrival of De'Onte Arnett, Zachariah Kerr, and Cody Blue this past spring should help with the depth.

Hokies' D-line building upon last year's success

July, 16, 2009
7/16/09
11:09
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
  Lee Coleman/Icon SMI
  A healthy Jason Worilds should be a big boost to Virginia Tech's defensive line.

Virginia Tech had goals last year, and a separated shoulder certainly wasn't going to get in the way of defensive end Jason Worilds. His gritty determination rubbed off on the entire team, but behind closed doors, Worilds was paying the price for each of his 18.5 tackles for loss.

He played the entire season with chronic dislocations in his left shoulder, and it popped out in three different games.

"He's like a brother to me," defensive tackle John Graves said. "We talked about it, and he told me that he was in pain. He's a warrior, though. No matter what anyone would say, he knew he had to do it for his team. He wanted to do it for his team. We just have the most respect for this guy to get hurt in the second game of the season and continue through the whole season with an injured shoulder."

"I just wanted to try to help my team," Worilds said. "We had goals. We came into the season, we wanted to win the ACC, go to the Orange Bowl again and avenge our loss from last year. I put so much into it that when the doctors told me I could still possibly play, I took that opportunity and ran with it."

Was it worth it?

"It was definitely worth it," he said.

Having Worilds back completely healthy when the Hokies are trying to make a run for the national title, though, could mean even more.

Worilds missed the spring because of his offseason shoulder surgery but said he was recently cleared and rehab is going well and his strength is coming back. Having Worilds at 100 percent will give the Hokies one of the ACC's most formidable defensive lines this fall, even with the graduation of defensive end Orion Martin.

"This summer I think we just need to pick up where we left off last year," Worilds said. "I think we left of at a great point as far as playing together, knowing our assignments, playing with great technique and just playing as intently as we have in the past. Going into the summer if we pick up on that and continue to improve, we have a chance to be one of the best d-lines in the country."

Worilds will be joines by Graves and Cordarrow Thompson, who both started every game last year. The Hokies have to find somebody to replace standout defensive end Orion Martin, but Nekos Brown is quietly taking care of that. Brown, the Defensive MVP of spring practices despite missing two workouts a week to attend classes, has been in the rotation at defensive end each of the past two seasons.

"Nekos is in the best shape of his life," said Graves, who worked out at the end spot this spring to help the coaches evaluate some of the younger tackles but starts the fall as the No. 1 nose tackle. "This man, you're talking about a work horse. When we get done with our lift, this man goes out and runs some extra. He's ready for the season. He's excited. That's a great combination right there."

So is the combination of Graves, Thompson and Worilds. Worilds was in on a tackle for loss in 11 straight games and finished with eight sacks even though he didn't play in the Orange Bowl. Even he admitted he was a little surprised - especially considering the pain he was in during most of the season. It kept him from working out and practicing like he wanted to, which is why he said even he has room for improvement this fall.

"Actually I went back and watched film and there were a lot of plays I didn't make," he said. "I was tired, I wasn't focused on that play. I just have to go back and fine-tune my game, really critique the little things and take it one day at a time in trying to get better at those little things."

That's the goal for the entire unit this summer.

"We have the potential to be great, but we have to do the things that are necessary to be great," Graves said. "That comes with working hard and doing the extra things, and I think our guys are doing a great job of it right now."

Virginia Tech's pre-spring depth chart

March, 30, 2009
3/30/09
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This can obviously change -- that's what the offseason is for -- but the Hokies released their pre-spring depth chart on Sunday. I'll have more on this after coach Frank Beamer's teleconference Monday, but thought Hokies' fans might want to take a look:

OFFENSE

SE Jarrett Boykin -- Austin Fuller
LT Ed Wang -- Nick Becton
LG Greg Nosal -- Will Alvarez
C Beau Warren -- Michael Via OR Richard Graham
RG Jaymes Brooks -- Vinston Painter
RT Blake DeChristopher -- Andrew Lanier
TE Greg Boone -- Chris Drager OR Sam Wheeler
QB Tyrod Taylor -- Ju-Ju Clayton
RB Darren Evans -- Josh Oglesby OR Ryan Williams
FB Kenny Jefferson -- Kenny Younger
FL Danny Coale -- Dyrell Roberts

DEFENSE

DE Nekos Brown -- Steven Friday
DE John Graves -- Isaiah Hamlette
DT Demetrius Taylor -- Kwamaine Battle OR Courtney Prince
DT Cordarrow Thompson -- Antoine Hopkins OR Dwight Tucker
OLB Cody Grimm -- Jeron Gouveia-Winslow OR Alonzo Tweedy
ILB Barquell Rivers -- Bruce Taylor
ILB Jake Johnson -- Quillie Odom
FC Rashad Charmichael -- Cris Hill
FS Kam Chancellor -- Lorenzo Williams
ROV Dorian Porch -- Davon Morgan OR Matt Reidy
BC Stephan Virgil -- Eddie Whitley

SPECIAL TEAMS

FG Matt Waldron -- Justin Myer
KO Justin Myer -- Tim Pisano
P Brent Bowden -- Brian Saunders
LS Colin Carroll -- Matt Tuttle

ACC position rankings: Defensive line

July, 17, 2008
7/17/08
6:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Georgia Tech: This veteran defense should help take some heat off the offense while it figures itself out. Senior tackles Vance Walker and Darryl Richard, along with defensive end Michael Johnson are legitimate NFL draft picks and should have their best seasons yet under first-year coordinator Dave Wommack.

2. Clemson: Three of the four starters return, including seniors Dorell Scott and Rashaad Jackson, and junior Ricky Sapp, who had 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and 22 quarterback pressures as a sophomore when he started all 13 games. And don't forget freshman Da'Quan Bowers, who will work his way into the rotation at defensive end with Kevin Alexander as they try to fill the void left by Phillip Merling.

3. Boston College: The Eagles had the No. 1 rushing defense in 2007 (75.5 yards per game), and that was without academically ineligible B.J. Raji and injured end Alex Albright, who had 8.5 sacks despite missing the last few games with a broken left forearm. Now they're back, along with senior tackle Ron Brace.

4. Florida State: Defensive end Everette Brown is the leader of this group and could be one of the best in the ACC. He led the team in sacks last year, when he was in a part-time role, and led all linemen in tackles and tackles for loss. Benjamin Lampkin converted from linebacker to end in the Music City Bowl. Budd Thacker started eight games last season and missed four because of an injury. Paul Griffin didn't start a game last year, but had 6.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

5. Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have to replace their top end in Jeremy Thompson, and fifth-year senior Anthony Davis, his backup, will inherit the job. Matt Robinson missed 2006 with a broken kneecap and then suffered a high ankle sprain last season and missed the three games. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility and will play as a grad student. Their strength will be inside with returning starter Boo Robinson at nose guard. John Russell is simmering with potential. Ted Randolph moved from tight end to defensive tackle midseason last year.

6. Virginia Tech: Only three ends with playing experience and one tackle return. Redshirt senior Orion Martin is the only returning lineman who started every game last season. Redshirt sophomore Jason Worilds should be No. 1 at the other end spot heading into fall and Nekos Brown and Steven Friday are competing for the backup spots. Demetrius Taylor has moved inside to tackle and will compete with John Graves, Cordarrow Thompson and a few others.

7. Duke: Junior tackle Vince Oghobaase is the real deal. He had 12 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. He's one of four returning starters, along with defensive ends Greg Akinbiyi and Wesley Oglesby, and defensive tackle Ayanga Okpokowuruk.

8. Miami: Hurricane fans have good reason to be excited about freshman Marcus Forston, but there's little that's certain about this line. Allen Bailey's move here from linebacker should help, but this offseason he's been slowed by a pectoral injury. Eric Moncur has struggled to stay healthy, along with Courtney Harris. Senior left tackle Antonio Dixon, Joe Joseph and Dwayne Hendricks are competing with Forston for the tackle spots.

9. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have to replace two of the league's best linemen in tackle Kentwan Balmer and end Hilee Taylor. There are plenty of options at tackle, where Aleric Mullins is a returning starter, but Taylor's absence will be felt. Darrius Massenburg broke his wrist and didn't participate this spring, Darius Powell is more of a third-down guy, and Vince Jacobs is a converted tight end.

10. Maryland: Jeremy Navarre is the veteran of this group, having started a team-high 35 games, and should move from end to tackle. Mack Frost is expected to take Navarre's end position, but he missed this spring because of knee surgery. Trey Covington has plenty of experience at the Terps' LEO position, which is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. More is expected of nose tackle Travis Ivey, who played sparingly last year mostly in goal-line situations. Walk-on Bemi Otulaja passed him on the depth chart this spring.

11. NC State: Defensive end Willie Young and tackle Alan-Michael Cash are two certainties in an otherwise questionable line. While the move of Ted Larsen and John Bedics helped out the offensive line, it hurt the depth on defense. Markus Kuhn is a viable option at defensive end, and Antoine Holmes could help at tackle.

12. Virginia: With Chris Long and the lone answer to his departure, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, no longer on the team, the Cavaliers have a serious hole to fill, and there's not much experience at end to choose from. Alex Field played sparingly in every game and Sean Gottschalk played in nine.

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