Coming into the 2019 season, the Virginia Tech defense was the a concern due to the youth that defensive coordinator Bud Foster was working with for the second-straight season. Even with youth, the Hokies have needed this defense to step up and start to get back to the level of play that is expected for a VT defense.
Whether that’s been Rayshard Ashby, Divine Debalo or Chamarri Conner, the defense has improved every week and have started to get the respect they deserve.
But one player that has really seen growth in his play and team leadership is Caleb Farley.
Looking back on his career before playing a snap with the Hokies, Farley was a successful quarterback at Maiden High School; setting a school record in career rushing yards (2574), he also recorded 37 rushing touchdowns and 21 passing touchdowns. During his senior season, he finished Second Team All-State in North Carolina, falling behind no other then... Hendon Hooker.
During his recruiting process, Farley was recruited as an athlete with Virginia Tech seeing him as a wide receiver or cornerback with Farley going back and forth early in his VT career.
When Farley enrolled early in 2017, he started out at cornerback but after receiving reps at wide receiver in the spring, he was moved to offense. However, things changed when Farley suffered a knee injury during preseason camp prior to the 2017 season.
During his time out, Farley was moved back to cornerback with expectations still being high for the talented athlete from North Carolina.
In 2018, Farley finally got the opportunity to make his debut for the Hokies and against Florida State; he did not disappoint. In his debut, he recorded two interceptions and one sack against the Seminoles in Tallahassee. From there on out, Farley recorded 36 tackles (29 solo) in the thirteen appearances during his redshirt freshman season. Despite the strong start in the season, Farley showed signs of inexperience at the cornerback position, but showed signs that there was room to grow.
In the following offseason, Farley made it a priority to work at becoming a master of his position.
“Our emphasis heading into the spring was (Caleb) being the master at his position,” said Cornerbacks Coach Brian Mitchell. “Caleb has embraced that not just on the field, but getting in there and looking at extra film. The kid wants to be good.”
Flash forward to the 2019 season and the emergence of Caleb Farley is in full bloom, and strides in his pass defense have put his name into conversations for postseason honors.
"He just continues to work on his craft,” said Justin Fuente. “He’s taken coaching and focused on details of playing the position and it’s nice to see him reap the benefits of hard work.”
Through the first ten games of this season, Farley has recorded four interceptions (double to what he had in 2018) and 11 breakups. Bud Foster credits Farley's fundamental development at the cornerback position for helping take his play to the next level.
“He can run like a deer, and that’s a big time asset,” said Bud Foster. “There’s a lot of technique and fundamental involved and that’s where I really think he’s worked to improve these areas.”
Farley’s development has not gone unnoticed as he has put himself into a strong position to receive All-ACC First Team honors at cornerback.
He also is coming off an impressive week against Georgia Tech. That game included his fourth interception of the season which he returned for a touchdown to give the Hokies a 28-0 lead at the time on their way to a 45-0 victory. His performance undoubtedly stood out and earned him a spot on the Pro Football Focus National Team of the Week.
Caleb Farley has dealt with plenty of challenges and criticism during time at Virginia Tech, but his focus on fundamental improvement has helped him become one of the ACC's best cornerbacks in his second on-field season for the Hokies.