Bud Foster is one of the most respected and well paid defensive coordinators in college football. During his tenure at Virginia Tech he has made the Hokies’ defensive unit one of the most feared in the game. In the past he has had top ranked defenses and numerous All-Americans. Bud Foster’s 2012 unit has a lot of promise, but could it be the best that he has ever had?
Virginia Tech’s defensive unit is athletic and experienced, but dealt with a rash of injuries last season. In 2011 the Hokies lost linebackers Bruce Taylor and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow to Lisfranc sprains. They also lost defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins to an ACL tear. Those were just the season ending injuries; Bud Foster had to go through stretches without defensive end James Gayle and cornerback Jayron Hosley.
One good thing came out of those injuries in that it gave plenty of playing time and experience to young players like Luther Maddy who could be a valuable asset to the defense.
The good news for Virginia Tech is that the defense has only lost two starters from last season as Hosley left early for the NFL and safety Eddie Whitley graduated. With nine returning starters, Virginia Tech will have one of the most seasoned defenses in the ACC. If the Hokies can remain healthy then this defense could be unstoppable.
There are two potential All-Americans on this defense in cornerback Kyle Fuller and Bruce Taylor. Last season Fuller was the field corner, but he will be making the move to the boundary position in 2012, taking over for Hosley. Despite the fact that Bruce Taylor has a screw in his foot he still appears ready to play come September.
The Hokies also have two All-ACC candidates in corner Antone Exum and defensive end James Gayle. Exum is moving from the safety position to the field corner, but he has experience as a nickel back. Gayle is the only member of this group that isn’t switching positions or coming back from a season ending injury. Gayle missed five games last season but he was still able to record seven sacks last season.
It would difficult to say that this defensive unit will be the best Virginia Tech has ever had but they have the potential to be in the conversation. But, with the Hokies massive turnover on offense, Virginia Tech needs Bud Foster and this unit to play like it.