Most of the focus this preseason has been on the offense for Virginia Tech due to the large quantity of open competitions with the starting defense being mostly set. However, there is one competition on the defense for the starting rover spot with Justin Fuente knowing who would start for the Hokies if VT “played tomorrow.”
“If we played tomorrow, Reggie (Floyd) would go out there. He’s done a good job.” – Fuente on rover competition (August 18th)
Fuente said that sophomore Reggie Floyd would be the Hokies’ starting rover over Devon Hunter and Khalil Ladler if Virginia Tech played tomorrow. Fuente did also mention that Hunter will have a role at least on special teams while it also appears likely that Bud Foster could use Hunter in a few defensive packages.
While the competition for this starting job isn’t over yet, it’s very likely at this point that Floyd will be starting for the Hokies against West Virginia which shouldn’t be a surprise to really anyone. Floyd has the most experience working at rover among this trio while also gaining lots of valuable experience last season working on special teams with Hunter appearing to be likely to follow in Floyd’s footsteps in that regard.
The advantage of having been in the system for a year longer than Hunter likely is a big factor as Bud Foster has had much more time to develop Floyd, who was a highly-regarded recruit in his own right, with Floyd only working at rover for over a year now, giving Floyd the chance to learn the ins and outs of the rover spot well.
Coming out of high school, Floyd was seen as a better running back prospect by many schools and analysts (including myself), but Bud Foster saw Floyd as a great fit at rover and has developed him over the past year to be ready to take this job and though Hunter has definitely pushed Floyd, the Northern Virginia native has proven that he is ready to start over Hunter.
Probably the most significant reason why Floyd being at the top of the Hokies’ rover depth chart shouldn’t be a surprise is the fact that Floyd has received lots of praise this fall along with no coaches stating anything concrete on Hunter’s role this fall beyond working on special teams and being used in some defensive packages. Justin Fuente also showed lots of confidence in Floyd’s abilities in comments he made at a press conference last week.
“I just think he is a pretty good fit in that boundary spot. His knowledge level, his comfort level. Probably day one of fall camp versus day one of spring ball, its tangible the improvement that he’s made starting out. Now I think its more about refining the little things, getting into gameplan or special situations for him not just making sure you know what the coverages mean. And what your responsibility is.” – Fuente on Reggie Floyd (August 9th)
Reggie Floyd has not only impressed the coaches with his athleticism but also with his knowledge of the rover position, his toughness, his physical style of play, and his great work ethic that has shown in his development over the past year and helped earn him a spot on special teams last season.
If you’ve kept up with the Snapchats and Instagram clips released by Virginia Tech, you’ve probably seen those things to be true about Floyd along with how those tapes show that he can definitely put a big hit on any opponent. The fact that Floyd has been heavily featured on those released clips is another sign that VT is quite high on him as a starting rover this fall.
While the coaches clearly have plenty of confidence in Reggie Floyd, the one person who may have confidence in Floyd’s talent more than the coaches is Floyd himself who has said in the past that he feels he has the skill set to be the Hokies’ starting rover. This type of confidence may seem like overconfidence to some, but it’s clear that Floyd is confident in his abilities and won’t be afraid to play aggressive, something that you have to be when playing in Bud Foster’s defense.
Floyd’s lead for the rover job also shows how it can be beneficial for a player to play special teams instead of being redshirted with Floyd’s experience likely helping him in this competition and likely to be of benefit to him in the opener given how he has live game experience.
Virginia Tech appears likely to follow Floyd’s template to an extent with Devon Hunter this fall as Hunter is poised to have a large role on special teams, though Hunter likely will work into some first team defensive packages unlike Floyd who did play some defense, but usually towards the ends of games that were in garbage time.
Most fans expected Devon Hunter to win the starting rover job and while Hunter has elite talent and will be a future star in Blacksburg, Justin Fuente and his staff know that Hunter isn’t the only talented safety competing for that job with Reggie Floyd proving so far that he is the best fit for the job at rover. While the Hokies haven’t officially declared a starter yet at rover, it seems quite likely now that Reggie Floyd will be the man for the job against West Virginia thanks to a great spring and fall camp.