Virginia Tech is headed for their fourth practice of the spring tonight after having a slightly delayed start to the spring due in part to snow. Before today's practice, Justin Fuente and some of the players spoke to the media about the early portion of spring practice and more.
Virginia Tech Still in the Early Stages of Spring Practice
If there was one common theme from when Justin Fuente spoke to the media today, it's that it's still early in spring practice.
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone and honestly, this is almost the exact same thing Fuente has said for a couple of years now. Fuente has a regimented plan that Virginia Tech has used the past three springs with the early spring focus being on implementation of the basics on offense, defense, and special teams.
As that implementation stage nears its conclusion, scrimmages and other offense vs. defense work should begin to increase, giving the coaching staff more insight into which guys are making the strongest cases to push for open starting jobs. In the meantime, don't expect to hear much about how some of the position battles are sorting out or much about specific players standing out.
Ricky Walker Talks About Virginia Tech's Young Defensive Tackles
Ricky Walker returns this season as Virginia Tech's biggest star on defense and as a veteran leader. With Vinny Mihota out this spring despite moving to DT, Walker is the only healthy veteran at DT. Depth at defensive tackle is seen as a question mark by many yet Walker has seen some good improvement from some of the backups looking to be in the two-deep behind Walker and Mihota including Jarrod Hewitt.
Jarrod Hewitt did receive some playing time last season as the only one of the younger DTs who was in last season's two-deep. Hewitt improved as the season went along and started to receive more reps later in the season before finishing that season with 13 tackles including 2 for loss. With Vinny Mihota now starting at DT, the Hokies will need Hewitt to step up as that third DT.
However, it goes beyond that as the Hokies are looking for someone to step up and be the fourth DT. Xavier Burke, Darius Fullwood, and Jimmie Taylor have all been mentioned as guys who have been on the roster for a few years who are among the most likely to push for that fourth DT spot. Walker has also been encouraged by the development of those guys.
While all three of these guys are factoring in, Xavier Burke has received the most talk from the coaches after moving to DT from TE last spring. The fact that Burke's technique has improved to the point that it is noticeably standing out to a veteran guy like Ricky Walker is a great sign of his development track.
Of course, these guys all have a lot of work with Cam Goode arriving in the summer and receiving praise like a guy who could push for a spot on the two-deep in 2018.
Who does Ricky Walker Model His Game After?
One of the more interesting insights from today's press conference came from when Ricky Walker was asked if he modeled his game after any other defensive tackle in particular? This is what he had to say.
There may not be a better defensive tackle for any DT to model their game and how they work than Aaron Donald. Despite being seen as "undersized", Donald has had 39 sacks in his first four NFL seasons with a minimum of 8 per season in each of those years.
Now no one is going to say that Ricky Walker is undersized at all but if there's any player's example to follow at DT, it's Donald.
Kyle Chung Enjoys Super Bowl Experience
In case you didn't know, Kyle Chung's father is former VT offensive lineman and Philadelphia Eagles/Super Bowl champion assistant Eugene Chung. Chung set a Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles hat on the podium before speaking to the media as well. When asked about being at the Super Bowl, this is what he said.
While he may not have been able to be at the parade, getting to take in and see your father win a Super Bowl has to be one of the coolest experiences imaginable for someone not playing or coaching in the Super Bowl. Chung also apparently got to see Kevin Hart's interaction with security after the game and got a good laugh out of it.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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