The 2016 Tech Lunch Pail Awards start tonight with the first of our five awards and likely the most unique one, the Position Coach of the Year. All five of our award selections were not unanimous with there being a couple worthy choices to be our Position Coach of the Year, but one coach coming out on top in the end.
That man is DL coach Charley Wiles.
Charley Wiles once again proved that he is one of the best defensive line coaches in the business as he built another strong defensive line despite losing three starters from last season. Wiles has done this time and time again, and not only did he have a talented group of starters but he had young backups ready to step in and make an impact when injuries became a problem.
Virginia Tech’s defensive line had quite a strong season as 7 defensive linemen had at least 5 tackles for loss with 2 having double digit TFLs and at least 5 sacks (Woody Baron and Ken Ekanem). The defensive tackle play was particularly strong as Woody Baron was an All-ACC First Teamer with 18.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks while Nigel Williams had 5 TFLs and 0.5 sacks despite struggling with injuries throughout October and November while Tim Settle had 7 TFLs and Ricky Walker started 4 games for Williams and had 6.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks.
Meanwhile, the defensive end play was quite good for the Hokies as well this season with Ekanem leading the way with 10 TFLs and 7.5 sacks while Vinny Mihota had 7 TFLs and 2 sacks, and Trevon Hill proved to be quite good as the third defensive end with 6 TFLs and 2.5 sacks while also having 37 total tackles, one more than Ekanem and 6 less than Mihota.
Not only was the defensive line impressive this season but despite the fact that the Hokies are once again losing three starters (Woody Baron, Nigel Williams, Ken Ekanem); Wiles’s defensive line seems poised to only get better with Tim Settle, Ricky Walker, and Trevon Hill all showing tons of potential and talent this season while the Hokies also have a couple solid backups to step up in the gaps they’ve left in Steve Sobczak and Houshun Gaines who have flashed a lot of potential and will definitely be quality backups next season.
James Shibest also received a vote and while he didn’t have Bucky Hodges at tight end, he did do a solid job with TEs as Chris Cunningham was a red zone TD magnet with 4 receiving touchdowns despite only having 6 catches all season.
However, Shibest’s best work came with a special teams unit that was Virginia Tech’s best in years as Joey Slye earned All-ACC First Team honors, Mitchell Ludwig steadily improved throughout the season, Greg Stroman averaged 8.8 yards and CJ Carrol averaged 8.9 yards per punt return with both flashing tons of talent, and Henri Murphy proved to be the Hokies’ best kick returner in years averaging 26.8 yards per kick return. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech also blocked four kicks and returned one of those for what would prove to be a critical touchdown against Duke.
Congrats to Charley Wiles on being our Position Coach of the Year. Coming up tomorrow, the Breakout Hokie of the Year.