2016 Hokies Football Preview: Chuck Clark and Virginia Tech’s Safeties

With fall practice about to start, our position-by-position preview nears it conclusion with Chuck Clark and Virginia Tech’s safeties.

The Virginia Tech Hokies have always had plenty of talent in the defensive backfield and that once again includes their starting duo of safeties in Chuck Clark and Terrell Edmunds.

After starting 11 games in 2014 at cornerback, Clark made the move back to his natural position of free safety and the Suffolk, Virginia native was quite productive with 107 tackles, 3 total tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 8 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery. Entering 2016, Clark returns as one of the top safeties in the ACC and someone who with another strong season, could get drafted on the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

With Bud Foster looking to add more zone coverage to his defensive game plan in 2016, Clark’s skill set should fit even better with what Foster wants to do. While Clark can be solid in man coverage and improved those skills from his time playing cornerback for the Hokies, Clark is a very talented zone coverage defender that also has very good ball skills.

Clark is a versatile defensive playmaker that provides plenty of leadership in the defensive backfield and has the football IQ to help make sure his fellow defensive backs have a good understanding of their assignments. Clark may not be seen as the star of this defense, but Clark may just be the most talented player on this defense and can be relied on the be consistently productive and avoid big mistakes.

Next to Clark at the rover spot is somewhat of a surprise in Terrell Edmunds, especially after Adonis Alexander showed tons of promise as a freshman at rover and Edmunds was productive on the outside at cornerback. However, the position change was made and Edmunds has bulked up to 210 pounds to prepare himself for the physicality of playing the rover spot in Bud Foster’s defense.

With Bud Foster likely to still use a lot of man coverage even with his safeties, having someone like Edmunds at rover who has proven he is plenty capable in man coverage is a benefit along with how he has shown some success as a run defender along with having good tackling skills after having 34 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss last season.

The move for Edmunds to rover definitely seemed to be a surprised but Edmunds has shown a lot of versatility in the defensive backfield while also immediately becoming an above-average man coverage rover. Edmunds has the upside to be a very talented rover and if it doesn’t work out as well as hoped, Foster can always swap Edmunds and Alexander back to their previous positions.

Redshirt senior Der’Woun Greene projects to be one of the two top backups at either of the safety spots with Greene having the versatility to play either spot depending on what may happen with injuries. Greene has never been able to earn himself a starting spot but having a veteran redshirt senior defensive back like Greene will be quite useful given the youth and inexperience in the other backups.

Jahque Alleyne played mostly on special teams as a freshman but is an intriguing player to watch as potentially the future starting free safety for the Hokies. Alleyne has good length and size for the position, and Foster will expect the 757 native to step up in practice this fall and develop into a backup that Foster can trust behind starting free safety Chuck Clark.

One wild card in all of this will be former wide receiver Deon Newsome who, as a redshirt junior, is making the move to the defensive side. Newsome also projects as a free safety and has a good amount of speed and athleticism to make some plays. Newsome will have a lot work ahead of him to develop into someone that can earn playing time but it seems like he’s ready to give it a shot.

Reggie Floyd was recruited as a rover though many believed that his best position at the collegiate level may be running back. However, Floyd is an intriguing rover prospect as someone who is not afraid of contact whatsoever and projects as someone who has the physicality to make some plays happens though a redshirt would likely be beneficial. Floyd could also be someone who avoids a redshirt by earning time on special teams this fall.

Jovonn Quillen is another intriguing athlete that may get a long look at free safety given the presence of Floyd at rover though it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 757 athlete also get a look at the rover spot. Quillen is an intriguing athlete that definitely has some athletic upside though a redshirt would also likely be good for him.

FS Depth Chart Prediction

  1. Chuck Clark
  2. Jahque Alleyne
  3. Deon Newsome
  4. Jovonn Quillen (Redshirt)

Rover Depth Chart Prediction

  1. Terrell Edmunds
  2. Der’Woun Greene
  3. Reggie Floyd (Redshirt)

Once again, there’s no surprise with Chuck Clark and Terrell Edmunds being the starting safeties while Jahque Alleyne seems ready to be the backup free safety. However, Der’Woun Greene¬†will most likely¬†still be the first safety in whether it be at free safety or the rover spot if injuries are an issue. Meanwhile, Reggie Floyd and Jovonn Quillen are likely redshirts unless they impress in practice on special teams.

Virginia Tech has talent at the top of the depth chart at safety led by Chuck Clark but could also use their young depth to step up and help alleviate concerns in case Clark or Terrell Edmunds get injured.

Tomorrow, we finish up our position-by-position preview with a look at the Hokies’ specialists from kickers and punters, to long snappers and return men.

Check out the home of our 2016 Virginia Tech Football Preview right here.

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