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.