Just a week and a half into fall camp and already, Virginia Tech has plenty of question marks on the defensive line.
Sure, there's automatics like senior Luther Maddy and junior Dadi Nicolas, but it's filling out the group that's proving to be an issue. Now, assistant coach Charley Wiles is looking for bodies to build depth, both inside and out.
So far, Wiles and the Hokies have answered by moving freshman Melvin Keihn from linebacker to defensive end. Freshmen Ricky Walker and Vinny Mihota have also stepped up inside, while junior Wade Hansen could find himself on the offensive line to be able to make an impact.
Wiles said Keihn has a strong potential of playing this fall. But over the past few days, it's been a matter of meeting with Keihn and getting him up to speed on what the position is doing at this point.
"That was a good move for us," Wiles said. "He's athletic, he's quick, I think he'll be a quick learner. Just the fact that we have four kids, four scholarship guys going into camp, Dewayne got hurt and now we're repping guys who aren't gonna play. It was a good move for Melvin and he had more experience as a defensive end in high school than he did as a linebacker. He played three and a half seasons as a defensive end."
Walker and Mihota have seen the likelihood that they play immediately at defensive tackle shoot up. Sophomore Woody Baron has been hobbled by injury so far in fall camp and hasn't been full-go, though Wiles hopes that changes soon. Sophomore Dewayne Alford has also been injured since the first day of fall camp, while Hansen has struggled to get going.
"I anticipate playing Ricky and if Woody doesn't make it back, we'll probably end up playing Vinny," Wiles said. "We've gotta have five. Right now, it would be Nigel and Corey, Luther, Ricky and potentially Vinny or I don't know. We may end up moving Wade back in if somebody got hurt or get Vinny going. But there's no way you go through the season with four defensive tackles, no way."
Below is Wiles' full interview with the media yesterday morning:
Click Here to view this video.