Secondary: The Next Generation, Virginia Tech Spring Game Review Part 3

Breaking down 8 plays among three inexperienced defensive backs who stood out in the Hokies spring game.

TE Zeke Wimbush (orange) is tackled in the harsh afternoon shadows by CB Joshua Clarke (maroon). [Mark Umansky]

Transfers and graduation created opportunities for young Virginia Tech defensive backs this upcoming season. While the Hokies added Miami transfer Kaleb Spencer to perhaps play a role, and could move Keonta Jenkins back to boundary safety if needed, Virginia Tech needs the next wave of young defensive backs to find their footing. Jalen Stroman, Dorian Strong, and Mansoor Delane will either exhaust their eligibility or potentially hear the call of the NFL next season. Dante Lovett and Braylon Johnson received much needed experience with spot duty last season, but after confident performances in the spring game, new names entered the conversation.

New Faces at Corner

Of the returning redshirt freshmen, Thomas Williams looked the most ready to immediately contribute this fall. At 5-11, 177, Williams looked a little bit bigger than his listed weight and he played a variety of techniques, showing comfort in the scheme.

On Kemari Copeland's (No. 13) interception, Williams (No. 23), the field-side corner, disguised his technique to confuse quarterback Pop Watson. Before the snap, Williams lined up in press coverage, showing inside leverage technique. As a key, press is easier for the receiver block, so the quarterback will often check to the screen.

However, after Watson completed his pre-snap read, Williams shifted back into a soft cushion to play an outside leverage technique. This makes the receiver block more difficult and allows the corner to force the receiver to cut back into the defensive pursuit. This also placed Williams in a better position to read the screen, looking back to the quarterback. He backpedaled, planted when receiver Ali Jennings (No. 0) committed to the block, and used the space and angle to blow past him and get into ideal force position. This was a confident play typical of more experienced defensive backs.

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