Hokies Football Preview: Luther Maddy Headlines Virginia Tech’s Deep Group of Defensive Tackles

The position-by-preview of the 2015 Virginia Tech Hokies continues today on the inside of the defensive line at the defensive tackle position. The Hokies may have the deepest group of defensive tackles in college football with ESPN five-star recruit Tim Settle potentially headed for a redshirt because of the immense depth at the position.

One player that will be included in our depth chart is Harry Lewis who we believe will still end up at defensive tackle despite being listed as an offensive lineman on the Hokies’ website. Our defensive tackle depth chart will also list players in one general depth chart (top 2 being first string, next 2 being second string, etc).

Early Fall DT Depth Chart

  1. Luther Maddy
  2. Corey Marshall
  3. Nigel Williams
  4. Woody Baron
  5. Ricky Walker
  6. Tim Settle
  7. Steve Sobczak
  8. Harry Lewis

Luther Maddy suffered injuries early in the 2014 season, leading to him being shut down soon enough into the season where Maddy could return for a second chance at a better senior year via a medical redshirt. Entering this season, Maddy will definitely be playing with a chip on his shoulder to prove he is still is a great defensive tackle, and to improve his draft stock.

Maddy was a dominant force in 2013, shining on an experienced defensive line with 55 tackles, 13.5 total tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks on his way to earning All-ACC Third Team honors. Despite playing in only four games in 2014, Maddy still earned All-ACC Honorable Mention honors while deservingly receiving a spot on the 2015 Preseason All-ACC team.

Maddy has always been a powerful force and great run stuffer that can also be effective as a pass rushing defensive tackle. Maddy has actually slimmed down a little this offseason as he looks to improve his speed some so that on some plays, he can be more than just a run-stuffing space eater.

However, Maddy has proven to be much more that in the middle of the Hokies’ defensive line throughout his time in Blacksburg. Maddy has the strength to dominate opposing interior lineman and prevent the opposing running back from getting the up-the-middle hole they may be looking for.

Luther Maddy is back and has a big chip on his shoulder as he looks to prove that he still has it. The fact that Maddy has that type of chip on his shoulder likely will scare a lot of opposing offensive coordinators.

Corey Marshall is somewhat undersized for a defensive tackle at 6’2” and 268 pounds, but Marshall has proven to be a nimble, quick defensive tackle with a solid amount of strength and a great amount of speed for a defensive tackle. Marshall isn’t going to be someone that is a space eater, but he has the speed and a few finesse moves to quickly get into the backfield.

Last season, Marshall had 41 tackles, 9.5 total tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 1 interception on the way to receiving All-ACC Second Team honors from the coaches and Third Team honors from the media. Marshall proved to be a very good run defender and a quality pass rusher that was able to put tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks even if he only had 2.5 sacks.

Marshall returns in 2015 and as one of the top four defensive tackles in the ACC, and someone that will be ready to put a lot of pressure on opposing backfields with his great speed, above-average athleticism for a defensive tackle, and solid strength. Don’t be surprised if Marshall once again receives at least All-ACC second or third team honors in 2015.

The Hokies also have the best backup defensive tackle in college football in Nigel Williams who would start on many power 5 conference teams.

Williams stepped up in the absence of Maddy, and shined in his first year starting for more than half of the season with 34 tackles, 9.5 total tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks on his way to earning All-ACC Honorable Mention honors. Williams proved to be a quality defensive tackle that the Hokies will be ready to rotate in whenever Maddy and Marshall need some rest.

Williams seems likely to receive his fair share of snaps this fall even though he is the number 3 defensive tackle for the Hokies. Williams is a big reason why the play at defensive tackle will not drop off much in 2016 despite the coming departures of Maddy and Marshall after the 2015 season.

Nigel Williams is the real deal that could start on many power 5 conference teams, but instead is the best backup defensive tackle in college football.

Woody Baron and Ricky Walker seem set to battle for the fourth defensive tackle spot over the course of this season and into next. Both players are quality defensive tackles that actually haven’t been redshirted for a single season in the past with Baron being ahead of Walker on the depth chart at the beginning of fall practice.

Baron does not have great strength, but definitely brings above-average speed to the position for a defensive tackle. Baron also seems to have the versatility to be able to move outside to defensive end if the Hokies need him to this fall to provide some depth. Baron doesn’t have great strength, but he is a solid, productive player that plays very similar to Corey Marshall.

However, the higher upside guy is sophomore Ricky Walker who has a good amount of strength while also having a solid amount of explosiveness and speed. Walker proved to be a solid backup last season, and seems ready to overtake Baron on the depth chart this fall though Baron did seem to have a better spring than Walker.

This battle between Baron and Walker may last throughout the season, but one guy who may have an outside shot of getting involved is Tim Settle.

Settle was able to get his academics up enough to be able to enroll immediately in Blacksburg and join the Hokies. Settle has a huge ceiling with great size and an impressive amount of strength at 6’3” and 359 pounds. However, the Hokies will likely try to get Settle down to a weight below 330 to help improve the athleticism and speed of Settle.

Settle has shown that he is going to be a starting defensive tackle in the not too distant future for the Hokies, but he might be able to earn some playing time. However, a redshirt for Settle definitely seems like a possibility given the impressive depth the Hokies already have.

Harry Lewis seems headed for a redshirt this fall while Steve Sobczak will look to try and earn some playing time in some sort of role after redshirting last year. However, Sobczak will have some work to do if he is going to get in the hunt to get some playing time this fall.

Projected DT Depth Chart vs. OSU

  1. Luther Maddy
  2. Corey Marshall
  3. Nigel Williams
  4. Ricky Walker
  5. Woody Baron
  6. Tim Settle
  7. Steve Sobczak
  8. Harry Lewis

Don’t expect too much change on the depth chart with Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall being very solid as the starters with Nigel Williams as the top backup. Ricky Walker has a lot of potential, and seems ready to move ahead of Woody Baron on the depth chart with Tim Settle and Harry Lewis seeming to be likely redshirts.

What is definitely certain is that the Hokies have some impressive depth at the defensive tackle position with a very good pair of starting defensive tackles on what is the best defensive line in college football.

Check out more of our 2015 Virginia Tech Football Preview right here.

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