Our top 10 player countdown continues on at number 8 with an emerging defensive star who is one of the top players returning on what appears to be a loaded Virginia Tech defense. This is another player who also made a shift in position to get on the field and stepped up in his new spot.
That man is Mook Reynolds.
Mook Reynolds played at cornerback as a freshman and was usually the Hokies’ nickel cornerback, but Bud Foster saw someone who he needed to find a way to get on the field. Foster did that by shifting Reynolds into a hybrid whip linebacker/nickel cornerback role from being on the outside at cornerback and the move proved to unsurprisingly work quite well for Foster’s defense.
Reynolds played quite well this season as he started 13 of 14 games and had 64 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks (both came in the Belk Bowl), 4 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups. Reynolds became a playmaker at the whip linebacker spot that drew comparisons to Kyle Fuller and is one of the emerging stars on what was one of Virginia Tech’s best defenses in a few years this past season.
Reynolds had some big performances this season including an interception, 6 tackles, and a tackle for loss in the win at Pittsburgh and 5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks in the huge second half comeback victory over Arkansas. Reynolds finds plenty of ways to make plays and seems to always find a way to be around the ball whether he’s there making the play or ready to make it in case someone else can’t.
Reynolds has allowed the whip linebacker role to evolve into more of an extra safety shifting the defense to more of a true 4-2-5 with Reynolds not only being capable working out of the box, but also being able to drop into coverage effectively whether he is playing in a more traditional safety role over the top or being used in man coverage out of the slot.
Reynolds is a very capable pass coverer that could also be the replacement at free safety next season for Chuck Clark with Anthony Shegog potentially sliding into the whip role. However, Bud Foster will definitely have to consider leaving Reynolds at the whip linebacker and moving a couple other defensive backs around which will likely depend on how guys like Reggie Floyd, Jahque Alleyne, Tyree Rodgers, and Khalil Ladler look this spring.
Mook Reynolds has a very bright future and is one of the burgeoning stars on a Virginia Tech defense that definitely can be one of the America’s elite in 2017.