Virginia Tech's defense was loaded with elite talent that helped transform it into one of America's elite defenses. Two players stood out above the rest in Tremaine Edmunds and Greg Stroman, both of whom received votes to be the Defensive Hokie of the Year.
In the end, only one of these All-ACC First Team members could be named Defensive Hokie of the Year.
Tremaine Edmunds was selected by the Defensive Hokie of the Year by The Tech Lunch Pail staff. The junior linebacker was an All-ACC First Team selection this past season, and also received multiple All-American honors from major publications. Edmunds declared for the 2018 NFL Draft earlier this week.
Edmunds put up some impressive numbers this past season leading Virginia Tech in tackles (109), tackles for loss (14), sacks (5.5), and forced fumbles (3). Throughout the season, Edmunds was a playmaker who made some spectacular players due largely to his unique blend of size, athleticism, and football IQ that has NFL scouts excited.
One of the most notable things with Edmunds was his consistency especially down the stretch of the regular season. In all 13 games, Edmunds had at least 6 tackles while also having at least 1 tackle for loss in six-straight games this season, all six of which came against Coastal opponents.
Edmunds shines the most as a run defender as shown by his 14 tackles for loss. Edmunds was an expert at finding the holes opposing running backs were looking for and blowing through them to shut down lots of potential big runs. His athleticism shined plenty of time with the closing speed to shut down an opposing RB very quickly for limited gains at most.
Edmunds was all over the field not only as a run defender but also on blitzes and even in pass coverage. Edmunds was able to be effective in those aspects with a career high 5.5 sacks that shows how skilled of a blitzer he was while also making plenty of quality open-field tackles including a significant one against Oklahoma State that slowed down a second quarter drive.
Tremaine Edmunds put up some incredible numbers but Edmunds wasn't just a stat stuffer, he was a playmaker who will definitely go down as one of the best linebackers in program history alongside guys like Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi.
Greg Stroman deserves plenty of praise for his impressive senior season as one of the best cornerbacks in the country. The senior was dominant in coverage with 4 interceptions, 11 pass breakups, and 20 tackles. That number of tackles may seem low, but that was due in part to the fact that opposing QBs simply tried to avoid Stroman and when they did throw his way, Stroman consistently broke those passes up or even had a few interceptions.
Tim Settle and Ricky Walker were one of the best defensive tackle pairings in the country with each DT having 12.5 tackles for loss and a combined 8.5 sacks (Walker-4.5, Settle-4). Walker is the highest-ranked player on this that is returning next year, and is an early frontrunner to be next year's Defensive Hokie of the Year. If Walker were able to do so next year, he would be the second defensive tackle in three years to win this award, joining Woody Baron.
Stay up with our top 10 Hokies countdown and our TLP Awards here.
Photo Credit: Jake Roth
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