Yesterday, Tim Settle
announced that he would be leaving Virginia Tech early to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. With the news on Settle, every Hokie fan was hoping Ricky Walker would stay at Virginia Tech.
Unsurprisingly, Hokie fans received some great news today.
Ricky Walker announced that he will return for his senior season. Walker has become a leader on the Virginia Tech defense and was named the Hokies' Outstanding Defensive Lineman
by the team this past season.
The 757 native shined in his first full season as a starter with 41 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 6 QB hurries, and 1 fumble recovery. Walker's big season earned him the second most points for an All-ACC Honorable Mention selection. Walker could end up being a Preseason All-ACC selection with no more than 2 of the DTs named to the 2017 All-ACC teams returning next season.
Though Walker's return isn't a surprise, it is a big relief for Hokie fans. With Walker coming back, Virginia Tech won't have to have an unproven defensive tackle in their starting lineup with Vinny Mihota having the size and versatility to move inside. Houshun Gaines's strong finish to the season has blown the door wide open for Mihota to move inside and even if Mihota didn't, Gaines would be pushing Mihota for his starting job and having a real chance at taking it.
Walker's return will also give the Hokies a veteran DT for their younger guys to learn from. VT has plenty of promising guys who are ready to make an impact headlined by sophomore Jarrod Hewitt. With VT likely to have a pair of open spots anyway, this situation will give those younger guys someone to learn behind while getting to compete with one of the ACC's best DTs.
Beyond that, Walker's return means the Hokies will have some veteran leadership back on defense. With guys like Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman, and Andrew Motuapuaka graduating; Walker's leadership will be even more valuable.
Ricky Walker also has a great chance to improve his draft stock as many scouts will be focused on Walker. Tim Settle received lots of well-deserved attention for his strong play that Walker will now receive with Settle heading to the NFL. With a big senior season, Walker could end up being a mid-round pick or even higher.
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