As the 2017 regular season concluded for Virginia Tech, college football fans were reminded again of how dominant the Hokies defense was. Virginia Tech beat Virginia 10-0 and held the high-powered Wahoo passing game to a measly 186 yards.
Their work against the running game, however, was what sent loudest message to All-ACC voters; the number of letters in Wahoo is equivalent to the yards UVA gained on the ground last Friday. As a result, the 9-3 Hokies were rewarded when the All-ACC teams were announced earlier this week.
The defense was where the Hokies saw the most glamour. LB Tremaine Edmunds and CB Greg Stroman earned first team honors, DT Tim Settle settled in on the second team, and LB Andrew Motuapuaka and S Terrell Edmunds found themselves on the third team.
Tremaine Edmunds is one of the best linebackers in the country, as the large 6-5, 250 lb frame has served him well. He finished the season with 101 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 3 forced fumbles. Motuapuaka did an excellent job of being his sidekick, accumulating 85 tackles, 10.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks.
Settle was also an important part of the dominant front-seven for Virginia Tech, finishing with 36 tackles, 12.5 for loss, and 4 sacks. It is no surprise the front seven is well represented in the All-ACC team. The Hokies finished 13th in the country in total defense, 16th in rush defense, 12th in tackles for loss, and 3rd in points allowed.
In addition, the back-five wasn’t too shabby either. Stroman (17 tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 TD) had an excellent season on the defensive side of the ball, along with Terrell Edmunds (61 tackles, 2 interceptions). They helped the Hokies finish 21st in passing yards allowed.
On the other side of the ball, Virginia Tech had a pair of offensive players make the All-ACC First Team: WR Cam Phillips and OG Wyatt Teller. Phillips (71 receptions, 964 yards, 7 touchdowns) had a stellar senior season, as he had to carry the weight of the Hokies losing QB Jerod Evans, WR Isaiah Ford, and TE Bucky Hodges. OG Wyatt Teller had a major responsibility as well, as he had to anchor an offensive line that lost their two starters on the left side of the ball.
Virginia Tech earned three honorable mentions with C Eric Gallo, DT Ricky Walker, and Greg Stroman as a punt returner.
Those who watch every Virginia Tech game are probably wondering how Stroman did not make one of the first three teams as a returner. Stroman averaged 11.3 yards per punt return, and had two touchdowns.
Two people who finished in front of him also had two house calls: North Carolina’s Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Pittsburgh’s Quadree Henderson. On the third team, North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines had only one return touchdown, while Boston College’s Michael Walker had none. While Stroman did not return kickoffs, his impact on special teams certainly had to make him worthy of making at least third team All-ACC.
Another player that was very close to making this list: Mook Reynolds (70 tackles, 9 for loss). Until he had to move from his hybrid position to safety, Mook was a very big reason why Virginia Tech’s defense was successful. He had the ability to come up to the line and stop speedy running backs, while covering wide receivers in space.
Once Virginia Tech was devastated with injuries in the secondary, Mook was forced to play an unfamiliar position. It was two plays in back-to-back weeks that possibly made the All-ACC Committee erase his name, and those two plays also came at the worst possible time. Die-hard Hokie fans will know what I’m referring to, so I’d advise you skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to relive those memories.
The first was surrendering a head scratching 80-yard touchdown against WR Ricky Jeune of Georgia Tech, which gave the Yellow Jackets a 28-22 lead with 6 ½ minutes remaining. The second was getting trucked by WR Jester Weah to put Pittsburgh at the Virginia Tech one yard line with about one minute left.
Because Mook’s disastrous plays were very visible and occurred in crunch time, voters may have been swayed to take him off the list. However, it is important to recognize the impact he has at the nickelback position, and that his bad plays were in large part due to him being moved to a safety spot that was not comfortable for him. It seems that he was at least worthy of a mention at linebacker, with respect to the fact that the ACC was loaded at that position this season.
The last surprise is that DB Reggie Floyd (65 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown) was nowhere to be found on the list. Hokie fans remember Floyd for making one of the hustle plays of the year, chasing down Jester Weah at the one yard line to preserve the 20-14 win over Pittsburgh. Perhaps since Floyd got very little playing time in 2016, he flew under the radar for voters throughout the 2017 season. Nevertheless, Floyd should be an exciting player to watch next season as he could have a featured role in the secondary due to the departures of Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson.