During his first few seasons at the collegiate level, Woody Baron had above-average speed and athleticism for a defensive tackle, but his lack of size and strength at around 260 to 265 pounds caused him to struggle a lot. After last season, it seemed like it might be worth giving Baron a look at defensive end with the Hokies needing some depth on the edge.
Instead, Baron bulked up this offseason to 280 pounds, a gain of about 15 pounds, and added the strength and size that many wondered if he could actually add. Baron had a very impressive offseason and leapfrogged 2015 All-ACC Honorable Mention Nigel Williams to become the Hokies’ number 3 defensive tackle.
Then, Corey Marshall suffered a nagging foot injury that has allowed Baron to start multiple games for the Hokies, and the junior defensive tackle has stepped his game up.
Through seven games, Baron has made three starts and has put up some very good numbers with 18 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 QB hurry, and 1 forced fumble. Baron has been a force on Virginia Tech’s defensive line in Corey Marshall’s absence, and should continue to do that with it being possible that Baron makes another start due to Marshall being injured.
Luther Maddy has drawn most of the attention as the star defensive tackle, and deservingly so as he has been the best defensive tackle in the ACC so far with 34 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 QB hurries. However, Baron is statistically not been too far behind the Preseason All-ACC defensive tackle.
Baron will be a full-time starting defensive tackle most likely next season barring a significant injury, and has proven that he can get the job done at an All-ACC level. Baron still can add some more size, which would only make his more of a threat to opposing interior offensive linemen.
If Corey Marshall doesn’t play as well as Baron has, the Hokies may put Baron back in a starting role even with Marshall’s past success. Of course, Marshall has four tackles for loss in limited action, but Bud Foster and Charley Wiles ill make sure that Marshall earns his job still with the impressive play of Baron.
Woody Baron is in the midst of a breakout year from leapfrogging a 2014 All-ACC Honorable Mention DT to laying the foundation for a spot potentially as an All-ACC Honorable Mention DT this season.