Hokie fans were dealt some disappointing news to their football team. It was reported by the Roanoke Times that rising senior cornerback Adonis Alexander was declared academically ineligible and would no longer be on the team, while fellow corner and junior college transfer Jeremy Webb suffered an Achilles injury and is out for the season.
The two losses are a serious blow to the Hokie secondary, which was thin on experience to begin with. Last year’s starting corners, Greg Stroman and fifth-year senior Brandon Facyson, both graduated, as did linebackers Andrew Motuapuaka and Anthony Shegog. Stroman was taken in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, while Facyson signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers. Additionally, Tech lost brothers Terrell and Tremaine Edmunds, both juniors, to the draft.
Alexander had been a mainstay of the Hokies’ defense since his freshman year in 2015, during which he started eight games and recorded four interceptions. While certainly talented, Alexander ran himself into trouble, having been suspended by the team multiple times, including a two-game suspension last September. He was also injured late in the year, missing two games, and recorded just one interception, that coming against Miami on November 4th.
Alexander indicated on Twitter he would enter the NFL Supplemental Draft. The last pick taken from in the Supplemental Draft was Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle in 2015.
— 36clips ❗ (@Adoniskaaaaa) June 1, 2018
Webb, a junior college transfer from ASA College in Brooklyn, committed to Virginia Tech in December of 2017. Among JUCO players, Webb was ranked as the 2nd-best corner and 10th-best player nationally. He was almost certainly bound to be an impact player in Tech’s secondary, and may have even landed a starting job come September.
Last year, the Hokies’ pass defense was tremendous, as they allowed opponents to complete just 48.6% of their passes, the best mark in the country among FBS teams. The defense as a whole surrendered less than 5.2 yards per play against FBS competition, good for 31st in the nation.
But with nearly the entire linebacking and defensive back unit from last year’s team gone, the Hokies will have to rely on young players to step up. Among them is highly-touted 4-star sophomore Devon Hunter, along with redshirt freshman Caleb Farley, who was previously a wide receiver. Junior Jovonn Quillen may also see time at the cornerback position. Senior Mook Reynolds is a veteran, having started 26 career collegiate games. Though he has mostly played safety, he started his career as a corner and could end up there again.
What you can be sure about is that the one man who isn’t inexperienced, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, will surely have something up his sleeves. Having been at Tech for over thirty years, Foster has shown the ability to make more with less and churn out high-quality defenses. While Hokie fans should expect the defensive unit to regress in 2018, don’t expect that they won’t be competitive again.