Hokie Football Outlook, Part V
Defensive Line
July 27, 2007

Outlook Schedule on hokiesports.comGeneral Outlook: Tuesday, July 17
Offensive Line: Thursday, July 19
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: Monday, July 23
Wednesday, July 25
Defensive Line: Friday, July 27
Linebackers: Monday, July 30
Secondary: Wednesday, August 1
Specialists: Friday, August 3

  • Key loss: Defensive end Noland Burchette

  • Key returnees: Chris Ellis, Carlton Powell and Barry Booker - Other than maybe the receiving corps, the defensive line is the most experienced group on the team. This trio of redshirt seniors has combined for a total of 247 tackles, 49.5 tackles for loss, and 18 sacks throughout their careers.

  • Battle to watch: End - Orion Martin, Nekos Brown and Jason Worilds (formerly Adjepong) will all compete for Burchette's old role. Each of them will play, but the starter will be determined by how they are working and performing on a week-to-week basis.

  • Spring Standout: The coaches thought Orion Martin showed a lot of character, and he's hungry to start at the end position. They say his work ethic is unmatched, and they were impressed with his consistency and the way he approached the spring.

Defensive LineReturners
43Jason Worildsr-Fr.DE
59Barry Bookerr-Sr.DT
47Nekos BrownSo.DE
49Chris Ellisr-Sr.DE
91John Gravesr-Fr.DT/DE
90Orion Martinr-Jr.DE
99Carlton Powellr-Sr.DT
55Daryl Robertsonr-Fr.DT
75Kory Robertsonr-Sr.DT
56Demetrius Taylorr-So.DE
95Cordarrow Thompsonr-So.DT

Kwamaine BattleFr.DT
Courtney PrinceFr.DT
Justin YoungFr.DE

The Players
Defensive End
CHRIS ELLIS (R-Sr.) - Did not participate in spring practice following off-season shoulder surgery, but is anxious to get back on the field and is working hard ... Is the most experienced player coming back ... A highly motivated guy who will be leaned on for leadership and playmaking ability ... Should be an impact player in the ACC.

ORION MARTIN (R-Jr.) - His playing experience gives him an advantage in the starting end spot vacated by Noland Burchette ... Has playmaking ability and plays extremely hard ... A player who is trusted and looks very solid on film ... Repped in Ellis' spot during the spring and continues to prove himself.

NEKOS BROWN (So.) - Plays extremely hard and had a fantastic spring ... Was moved from linebacker early last season, and wound up playing almost 20 plays in the bowl game ... Effort is never an issue with him, just needs to get more reps and to learn techniques of the position.

JASON Worilds (R-Fr.) - Had shoulder surgery after the UNC game last year and used a medical redshirt ... Is 100 percent now ... An explosive, powerful prospect who needs to play fast all of the time ... Can be a little bit tentative when making decisions, but can really go once everything gets processed.

DEMETRIUS TAYLOR (R-So.) - Was moved from linebacker to add depth ... Isn't quite where he needs to be yet, but has good enough abilities to get there, and the spring showed it was a good move.

Defensive Tackle
CARLTON POWELL (R-Sr.) - A physical guy at the point of attack who always plays hard ... Is a lot more athletic than is sometimes given credit for, and is always running to the football ... Could increase his pass rush ability ... Will be leaned on as a senior, and coaches were pleased with his effort and leadership in the spring.

BARRY BOOKER (R-Sr.) - Surprised coaches with his stellar junior year ... Won the starting job in the spring a year ago ... Can use an athletic, finesse approach, but has gotten a lot stronger at the point of attack ... Coaches like his work ethic and his day-to-day approach ... Is great in space and can rush the passer.

KORY ROBERTSON (R-Sr.) - Has the capability to be a starter, but needs to consistently step up and beat somebody out instead of being content as a backup ... A gifted athlete with great explosiveness, footwork, quickness and power ... Excites coaches because he keeps taking steps and improving, and has the ability to be a nationally known guy if he plays up to his potential.

JOHN GRAVES (R-Fr.) - Proved in the spring that he's athletic enough to be a backup defensive end, but is in the mix at defensive tackle ... Has the ability to play at both positions, and likely will ... Can be a force inside, but needs to get to the point where he is instinctive and turning it loose.

CORDARROW THOMPSON (R-So.) - Had a pretty good spring and will battle with Graves as the fourth tackle ... Saw regular action last season, playing in every game and recording 14 tackles and two sacks.

Coach Wiles on the Defensive Line
"Anytime you've got experience coming back, that's a positive. I think we've got a really competitive situation going on. We've got plenty of guys who can develop into big-time football players, and we're going to play eight or nine defensive linemen. I'm very excited about the steps we made during the spring, and how hungry we are. Everybody's ready to play on Saturdays, but it's during the winter, spring and summer that the work goes into being competitive at this level. If we can stay healthy, we've got a chance to be really good up front."