The Virginia Tech Hokies are looking to get back on track under head coach Frank Beamer after a bumpy 2012 campaign. The key for them in 2013 will be their defense and whether or not they can return to an elite level. Whether or not they can achieve that may rest on the shoulders of linebacker Tariq Edwards as he makes his return from injury.
Virginia Tech is set as far leadership on their defense goes with the return of All-ACC linebacker Jack Tyler. The senior comes back to Blacksburg as the leading returning tackles in the conference after recording 119 tackles in 2012. What Edwards can bring to the table is a playmaking ability that could take the Hokies’ defense over the top next fall.
Edwards is coming off a wasted year where he rushed back from offseason leg and knee surgeries to reduce pain from a stress fracture. He didn’t have a chance to fully heal before the 2012 season and recorded just four tackles in seven games. That isn’t the kind of production that would give you high hopes for his senior season, but Edwards has returned this spring 100 percent healthy.
The last time he was on the field and healthy in 2011, Edwards flashed the big-play ability he brings to the table. He recorded 71 tackles as a sophomore, including 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also recorded a pair of interceptions and broke up another two passes. His ability to both attack the ball-carrier in the backfield and drop into coverage makes him a versatile tool for defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
If Edwards returns to his 2011 form, the Hokies will have a stout defender that will make them a serious contender in the ACC title race. His health and ability to bounce back from a bad 2012 will go a long ways in determining just how successful Virginia Tech will be next fall.