Last year, the Virginia Tech Hokies had their most experienced defensive back at free safety in Chuck Clark to help give the Hokies some leadership in the heart of the Virginia Tech secondary. With Clark gone, it left a vacancy at free safety that some saw as a potential door of opportunity for Devon Hunter even with Hunter coming in as a true freshman and not arriving till the summer.
Instead, Bud Foster knew he had a versatile safety in Terrell Edmunds who shined at the rover spot last year and was willing to slide into a free safety role at times with Clark playing around the line. Now, the Hokies have moved Edmunds to that free safety spot, opening the door for Devon Hunter to earn the starting rover job over the summer.
The move of Edmunds to free safety makes a lot of sense as putting a true freshman or someone without starting experience at free safety can be a somewhat risky move especially with the Hokies facing some talented offenses early in the season. Even with Virginia Tech having plenty of defensive back experience, having a veteran leader like Edmunds in the heart of secondary should definitely be beneficial for the Hokies’ defense.
While Edmunds is great around the line of scrimmage, Edmunds also showed he’s plenty capable in coverage while also having good awareness and ball skills to play that “center field” type of role to help the Hokies’ secondary over the top. Foster also has liked using safeties in man coverage in the past and Edmunds is definitely a capable man coverage player.
However, the move for Edmunds to free safety opens the door for Devon Hunter to come in and compete for the starting rover job which is fitting for a guy who Bud Foster says reminds him some of Kam Chancellor as a junior.
It’s well-known that Hunter is one of the best recruits that the Hokies have signed over the past several years, but Hunter doesn’t only have a high ceiling but also has the talent to already play early.
When looking at the tape, you see a player in Hunter who is very comfortable around the line of scrimmage and in coverage as someone who has great field awareness, does a good job of keeping his eyes on the backfield, and has the athleticism to make some plays that not a lot of other guys can make.
Physically speaking, Hunter already has the type of size that you want at rover at around 6’2” and 215 pounds while having the potential to get up to around 220 to 225 pounds which would be great size for a rover especially with a guy like Reggie Floyd, one of Hunter’s top competitors, being just over 210 pounds.
Hunter will have a learning curve given the fact that he has a new defensive playbook to learn along with having adjust to the collegiate level with a summer arrival shortening the amount of time he has to learn and adjust, but Hunter definitely has a great opportunity with the rover spot not being as big of a leadership role on the Hokies’ defense and being more of an around the line of scrimmage type of role that should help give Hunter a better opportunity to earn the job.
Hunter will face a big challenge with Reggie Floyd and Khalil Ladler both getting plenty of reps this spring at rover and Floyd having been a backup at rover last year along with getting some special teams time. In particular, Floyd is a former four-star athlete that came in to play rover and definitely projects as a starter of the future whether that comes starting this season or whether it comes in the future with Hunter being someone who could definitely move to free safety in the future after Terrell Edmunds graduates.
Devon Hunter has a bright future in Blacksburg and while Hunter would definitely be able to capably play free safety, Hunter definitely has a better opportunity to win the starting job now that the open secondary position comes at a place where needing veteran leadership isn’t as needed as the free safety spot.