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   Welcome to TSLMail #278 - Friday, May 11, 2007    
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   Tech Sports News

2007 Hokie Defense Loaded With Experience
by Chris Coleman,

The 2007 Virginia Tech defense will start six seniors in the front seven, as well as a senior at free safety. The Hokies will have the most experienced defense in the ACC, and perhaps in the country. But how do they compare to Tech's top defenses of the past in terms of experience?

We've go back to the 1995 team for the first comparison. The Hokies started five seniors on defense that season. Six of the eight players on the defensive line two-deep were seniors: Three of their starting DL were seniors, and three of their top four DL backups were seniors. They also had a senior mike linebacker in George Del Ricco and a senior free safety in William Yarbrough.

With so many seniors up front, including J.C. Price and Hank Coleman, as well as junior Cornell Brown, the Hokies were #1 in the nation in rushing defense that year. Tech was able to play a lot of guys up front. Although they had little to no depth at linebacker and defensive back, they were able to stay healthy for most of the year.

The 1999 defense was very similar to the 2007 defense in the number of seniors. Like 2007, they had six senior starters in their front seven, and they also had a productive backup senior defensive lineman in Chris Cyrus. They had one senior in the secondary, cornerback Anthony Midget, and the 2007 team also has just one senior in the defensive backfield, free safety D.J. Parker.

The 1999 defense had more star power on the defensive line than the 2007 defense does. Corey Moore and John Engelberger were nationally known defensive ends, and Moore was the top defensive end in the nation that year. However, the 2007 squad has much more athletic linebackers than the 1999 group. Micheal Hawkes and Jamel Smith were very good, but they weren't quite at the level athletically of Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall.

The 2001 defense had perhaps more depth in the front seven than the 2007 defense. The Hokies started all seniors at both defensive tackle spots and both inside linebacker positions. Chad Beasley and David Pugh were All-Big East defensive tackles, and even better, the Hokies' top five defensive tackles were seniors. After Pugh and Beasley came Dan Wilkinson, Derrius Monroe and Channing Reed.

Virginia Tech also had a trio of good inside linebackers that season. All-American Ben Taylor manned the backer spot, while seniors Jake Houseright and Brian Welch platooned at mike linebacker. The Hokies had never been as experienced or as talented up the middle on defense as they were in 2001. As a result, they finished #2 in the nation in total defense that year, dropping from #1 to #2 in the last week of the season.

The 2005 defense started three senior defensive linemen, a senior linebacker and two senior defensive backs. Each of those players went on to the NFL. Darryl Tapp, Jonathan Lewis, James Anderson and Jimmy Williams were the big names of that defense, but Tim Sandidge and Justin Hamilton moved on to the NFL as well.

Overall however, the 2005 defense brought back a lot of good players for 2006. All of the backups in 2005 returned, so the Hokies didn't lose any depth. It helped that four of the five non-senior starters in 2005 were only sophomores at the time, so those players are entering their senior seasons in 2006.

Here's a look at Tech's projected 2007 starting defense.

2007 Starting Defense
Position Starter Year


Orion Martin



Barry Booker



Carlton Powell



Chris Ellis



Vince Hall



Xavier Adibi



Corey Gordon



Macho Harris



D.J. Parker



Kam Chancellor



Brandon Flowers


The first thing you notice is all the seniors in the front seven. Six of them, to be exact. Perhaps more importantly, every single member of the starting front seven has been redshirted, meaning six guys are fifth year players, and Orion Martin is a fourth year player. That's A LOT of physical and mental maturity that should come through in some tight games this fall.

One interesting point about the secondary is that only one starter redshirted, and that wasn't a true redshirt. Brandon Flowers was playing as a true freshman in 2004 against Western Michigan, returning an interception for a touchdown. However he fractured his fibula in that game and took a medical redshirt. Had he not been injured, he never would have redshirted. The fact that none of Tech's starters in the secondary have been redshirted displays the coaches' ability to evaluate and recruit good defensive back prospects.

Softball Team Starts Out ACC Tourney With a Win

Quick update on the Hokie softball team in the ACC tournament: The #1 seed Hokies beat #8 seed Virginia 4-1 in their opening game of the tournament, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth to come roaring back from a 1-0 deficit.

Angela Tincher went the distance for Tech, striking out 11 in seven innings to become the ACC's all-time strikeout leader. Tincher, just a junior, now has 1,403 strikeouts in her distinguished career.

Shortstop Charisse Mariconda was the hitting star for Tech, breaking open a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run single. For a full recap, see

VT plays #4 seed Florida State at 3 p.m. Friday.

To follow all the action, see the Softball Tournament Home Page at Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. Updates From the Past Week

Hard-hitting Gibson Looking for Offers

May 11, 2007
Dominate. This is Salem (Virginia Beach, VA) junior linebacker Lyndell Gibson's motto on everything football, whether he is performing at a Virginia Beach camp or playing in a playoff game. His aggressive attitude matches his aggression on the field, as he has a reputation for being one of the fiercest hitters in the Virginia Beach area.

Ellis' Stock is Rising
May 11, 2007
6-2, 290-pound Dunbar (Washington, D.C.) defensive line recruit Reggie Ellis has been on a roll as of late, performing well in recent camps and combines and adding to his scholarship offer total. We caught up with the talented rising senior, who gave the latest on his recruitment.

Johnson Draws In-State Interest
May 11, 2007
Chris Johnson, a 6-3 1/2, 220-pound rising senior defensive end, helped Tallwood (Virginia Beach, VA) turnaround a 2-8 2005 season with an 8-2 season this year that included a trip to the Eastern Region Playoffs. Johnson, who racked up around 10 sacks last season, may be Tallwood's top Division 1A prospect.

Beach Camp: Davis, Manuel, Whaley Impress
May 10, 2007
Coaches from Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among about 20 others, were in attendance for yesterday's first Virginia Beach Football Camp. The Beach is filled with talent this year and all of its star prospects - with the exception of Landstown's Xavier Boyce, who was injured - were on display.

2007 Post-Spring Football Outlook: ACC Coastal Division
May 10, 2007
Tuesday we took a look at the ACC Atlantic Division. Today we'll focus on the Coastal Division. The Coastal is an interesting division that features three teams that could challenge for the conference title, as well as the two bottom feeders of the ACC. How are things looking for these six teams following spring practice? Find out inside.

Sportsmanship in the Wake of the Tragedy at Virginia Tech
May 9, 2007
The initial rush of emotion from the April 16th shootings at Virginia Tech has died down. The long-term emotional residue is unknown at this point, but there will be a lot of it. Right now, for those of us not directly affected by the shootings, it's an emotional "quiet period," and as the tragedy recedes into the distance, how it is remembered and treated is yet to be determined. As a sports web site, we ask the question, what will be the effects on the interaction of Hokie fans with their rivals and opponents?

Top PA Recruit Still Considering Virginia Schools
May 9, 2007
One of the top rising senior recruits in the state of Pennsylvania, Christian Wilson, a 6-3, 235-pound RB/LB out of Montour High School (McKees Rocks, PA), has tallied around 30 to 40 Division 1A scholarship offers. The two 1A football programs from the state of Virginia are among the long list of offers and both remain under consideration.

2007 Post-Spring Football Outlook: ACC Atlantic Division
May 8, 2007
Virginia Tech fans know their team returns a lot of experienced players this year and should challenge for the ACC Coastal Division Championship again. What many may not realize is that the majority of ACC teams return most of their starters, and the race for Jacksonville is tight in both divisions. Here's TSL's post-spring look at ACC football, starting with the Atlantic Division.

Blue Hoping for Virginia Tech Offer
May 8, 2007
Gaston Gazette Area Player of the Year last season as a junior, 6-1, 200-pound quarterback/athlete A.J. Blue still awaits his first Division 1A scholarship offer. The North Gaston (Dallas, N.C.) junior hopes an offer could come soon and he is looking for one school in particular.

Stephens Considers Timetable for Decision
May 7, 2007
Halifax County (South Boston, VA) junior Allen Stephens is doing well in varsity baseball, batting around .375. But football is the future for the 6-1, 240-pound linebacker prospect, and he has an idea of when he will decide where he will play on the next level.

Hokies' APR Report a Mixed Bag
May 4, 2007
The NCAA released its latest round of Academic Progress Rate (APR) data Monday, and though none of Virginia Tech's athletic teams are in imminent danger of losing scholarships, the Hokies' APR scores aren't impressive, and Tech's APR scores rank last in the ACC in two of the four major sports of football, men's and women's basketball, and baseball.
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