The Hokies were without their top three defensive ends for spring football. After productive 2016 campaigns as a starter and backup respectively, Vinny Mihota (43 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and Trevon Hill (37 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks) were sidelined after offseason shoulder surgeries. Expected top backup Houshun Gaines served an academic suspension. In their absence, Bud Foster used the spring game to try to identify depth at the position and give the young Hokies quarterbacks a credible look at a pass rush. Xavier Burke, Ray Minor, Emmanuel Belmar, and Jimmie Taylor all had opportunities to establish themselves as top candidates to backup the pairing of Mihota and Hill.
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