We’re breaking down the biggest fall camp position battles in the ACC for each team. Here's a look at Virginia Tech's, which comes on the lone spot of uncertainty on an experienced defense.
Position battle: Rover
The candidates: Senior Donovan Riley and redshirt junior Desmond Frye are the most experienced players of a group that also includes redshirt sophomore Anthony Shegog, redshirt freshman Terrell Edmunds and freshman Adonis Alexander.
The impact: The starting rover, or strong safety spot, was thrown into flux a bit upon the July dismissal of sophomore C.J. Reavis from school following a student council hearing. Reavis had impressed at the spot this spring, taking first-team reps there and cementing his place as the successor to three-year starter Kyshoen Jarrett. (Reavis announced last week he will play at East Mississippi CC this fall.)
The loss of Reavis leaves the rover spot as the only real open starting position on the Hokies' defense, which has the potential to be among the best in the country. Frye has impressed early in fall camp, after seeing his 2014 season end just two games in due to left shoulder surgery. (He was granted a hardship waiver.) Though he has yet to start on defense in any of his 28 career games through two-plus seasons, he appears to have the upper hand in camp over Riley, who could see time across the secondary in a number of different roles. (Junior Chuck Clark is expected to start at free safety.)
Prediction: Fully healthy now, Frye has been taking the first-team reps this month, so it would be a surprise if he did not end up starting at rover for the Hokies in the opener against Ohio State. That said, expect Virginia Tech to use plenty of different personnel in its sub-packages, especially considering it needs to replace both starting safeties from last season (Jarrett and Detrick Bonner). Riley may be battling with Frye at rover, but he has played virtually every position in the secondary, including cornerback last year, most memorably when he notched the game-sealing pick-six in Columbus. He is a seasoned voice in the secondary, and he will see plenty of reps in one fashion or another, though the early guess here is as a nickelback.