Justin Fuente and the Virginia Tech Hokies put together an impressive 2017 recruiting class with plenty of talented recruits including many players who have the chance to play as true freshman for the Hokies. Yesterday, we took a look at the top offensive true freshmen to watch and we continue today with a look at the top defensive true freshmen to watch.
Honorable Mention: CB Bryce Watts, LB Dylan Rivers
Bryce Watts nearly made the cut due to the fact that he is the only cornerback the Hokies have added with there being plenty of opportunity for Watts to compete to earn the fourth cornerback spot on the two-deep. Tyree Rodgers and Jovonn Quillen should provide some competition but the chance is there for Watts and that could give him a chance at avoiding a redshirt.
Dylan Rivers also came close as the freshman from Stephens City, VA definitely has the talent to push for a spot in the two-deep and be the future replacement for Tremaine Edmunds at backer. Rivers is a smart football player that could be a guy to watch to not only break the two-deep but get some playing time in blowouts if he can earn a spot on special teams as well.
3. DEs Zion DeBose, Tyjuan Garbutt, Nathan Proctor
This spring saw the Hokies move a few fresh faces to defensive end including Emmanuel Belmar and Xavier Burke with starters Trevon Hill and Vinny Mihota out due to injury, and backup Houshun Gaines out due to academics. However, all three are expected to be back, but there is definitely an opportunity to beat out guys like Belmar and Burke for the fourth defensive end spot.
Tyjuan Garbutt will have some bulking up to do at his 220-pound frame, but his tremendous athleticism makes him someone who can't be ruled out even if a redshirt seems likely for him. Nathan Proctor is making the move from linebacker to defensive end and likely needs to add a little more weight but at 230 pounds, he already has decent size and could be a name to watch depending on how smooth the transition is.
Zion DeBose was a later addition to the Hokies' class and while he wasn't nearly as well-rated as Garbutt or Proctor, DeBose could also be a name to watch in this battle as someone who played defensive end in high school and already has the type of size that can handle some of the toll of getting reps as a backup DE.
2. DL Robert Porcher IV
While Jarrod Hewitt and Darius Fullwood weren't too bad this spring at defensive tackle, there is definitely opportunity for a true freshman to push their way into the two-deep at defensive tackle and Robert Porcher IV definitely could be the guy to keep an eye on. Porcher could still end up at defensive end, but his size and frame make him project more as a defensive tackle for the Hokies especially if he continues to add some more weight onto his 6'3'', 255-pound frame.
Porcher is an intriguing player as he had good speed for an interior lineman while also showing the strength previously to be a threat at DT. Porcher also has seemed comfortable working inside on some plays which is a good sign if the Hokies do decide to move the Orlando native inside as most expect the Hokies to do.
Porcher has a lot of talent and is definitely an intriguing name to watch to push for playing time behind the Hokies' very talented starting pair of DTs, Ricky Walker and Tim Settle.
1. S Devon Hunter
Number 1 was pretty easy as Devon Hunter not only was the Hokies' top recruit in the 2017 class but also has arguably the best chance at being a starter for the Hokies this fall. Hunter is expected to come in and compete for the starting rover spot against Reggie Floyd and Khalil Ladler and while both of those guys are talented, Hunter has shown that he is the real deal and likely will be a starter by some point this upcoming season if not for the season opener against West Virginia.
Hunter is not only a great athlete but he is also already a very good football player who has great awareness and a very good football IQ. Hunter's tape shows him doing a great job in coverage of keeping his eyes in the backfield while he also shows that not only can he make plays in coverage but he can also get the job done around the line of scrimmage.
Hunter is going to be a star in Blacksburg and has the potential to be a Freshman All-American if he can earn the starting job within the first game or two of the season. While that may not be an easy task especially going against talented guys like Reggie Floyd and Khalil Ladler, Devon Hunter is plenty capable and by mid-season at the latest, he should be the Hokies' starting rover.
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