It isn’t even signing day yet and Virginia Tech has already suffered its first major setback for the 2013 season. Hokies cornerback Antone Exum has torn his anterior cruciate ligament and is expected to be out for the next 6-9 months. This is a big blow to a Virginia Tech defense that is expected to be one of the better units in the country.
Exum led the team, and the ACC, in passes defended last year. He had five interceptions in 2012 and 16 passes broken up. His play on the field was good enough for second-team All-ACC honors. When you consider that 2012 was his first year as a cornerback (he was a safety the year before), those statistics are even more impressive. Many expected Exum to make a big jump as a cornerback in 2013, but right now that jump, and his season, is in jeopardy.
The only good news that can come out of this is that it happened at a position where Virginia Tech is not only deep but also extremely talented. Kyle Fuller can always switch from the field corner to the boundary corner position, and it is possible that his little brother Kendall can line up as the field corner. Kendall Fuller will be a true freshman in 2013, and is considered to be one of the top corner recruits in the country.
However, that isn’t the only combination. Kyshoen Jarrett was a safety in 2012, but was a backup corner and nickel back earlier in his collegiate career. Then there is always the interesting prospect of Donaldven Manning. Manning had issues off and on the field last year as a true freshman, but he was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. If Manning has matured in the past year then he could very easily work his way into the starting lineup until Exum can return.
Virginia Tech hasn’t explained how Exum tore his ACL. Injuries like this always hurt a program, but the Hokies are one of the few teams that can deal with it. There is a slim chance that they don’t even have to play a single game without Exum. If he can come back in six months then he should be on the field for the Aug. 31 opener against Alabama. However, fans should expect to see another player lining up across from Kyle Fuller on the field in the Georgia Dome come August.