Edmunds, Hokies ready to find out bowl game, opponent

Quotes from Thursday's news conference
Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds quotes

By Jimmy Robertson

BLACKSBURG – Tremaine Edmunds smiled after being asked if he remembered the days when many expected him to be moved to defensive end not long after he arrived on campus in 2015.

Two years later and firmly entrenched as a linebacker, he finds himself with the possibility of winning the most prestigious national award for his position – the Butkus Award, which goes annually to the top linebacker in college football. The Danville, Virginia product is one of the finalists for the award.

“Linebacker was always the position I wanted to play,” Edmunds said. “I was going to make the most out of my opportunity regardless. Whatever helped the team the most, I would be willing to do that. I’m just glad everything worked out well.”

Edmunds and several of the Hokies’ All-ACC honorees met with media members Thursday at a post-regular season news conference and addressed an array of topics, with Edmunds fielding several questions about the Butkus Award and his future, as his name continues to pop up on NFL Draft watch lists. He said he was blocking out any and all talk about the NFL.

Mostly, the players said they are gearing up for their bowl game. Tech’s staff only scheduled lifting sessions and conditioning runs for this week to give the players time to heal their various injuries after a grueling season.

Tech finds out its bowl destination Sunday, with much of the speculating being done several of the ACC’s Tier I bowls – the TaxSlayer, the Pinstripe, the Camping World and the Music City Bowls. The players are eager to find out.

“We do a little research,” defensive tackle Ricky Walker said. “We’re anxious. We want to know. Today, I asked Pete [Moris, associate AD for strategic communications], ‘You got any idea where we’re going to go?’ But anywhere is going to be great. Like Coach [Bud] Foster said, he’d never been to a bad bowl, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Some players don’t care so much about the location, but instead about the opponent. The TaxSlayer and Music City Bowls offer an SEC opponent, which is appealing to some.

“I’ve heard a lot of SEC teams, and that’s kind of where I want to go,” mike linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka said. “I just want to play an SEC team. Kind of show those guys that the ACC is tough, too, and that we can play with those guys as well.”

Tech athletics department officials expect to hear the location and opponent by Sunday afternoon.

Here are some other notes from Thursday’s news conference:

• Six Tech players on defense earned some form of All-ACC recognition earlier in the week, which goes to show the appreciation of the work done by coordinator Bud Foster, his staff, and the players in the regular season. The contingent included first-teamers Edmunds and Greg Stroman, second-teamer Tim Settle and third-teamer Motuapuaka. Walker received honorable mention recognition – which many felt was a slight to Walker’s season.

“I think Rick definitely should have gotten higher,” Motuapuaka said. “I’m surprised B-Face [Brandon Facyson], his name wasn’t anywhere. I think Rell [Terrell Edmunds] should have been higher as well. Trevon Hill, I’m surprised his name didn’t come up.

“But it’s all good. I feel like us, as a group, are used to being slept on, but that kind of fuels all of us as a defense and individually.”

• Edmunds continues to get the attention by virtue of his Butkus Award finalist news, but many of the players credit Stroman with being the difference on defense this season. The cornerback from Bristow, Virginia finished with a team-best four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and he led the team in pass breakups as well (11). Behind Stroman, Tech’s secondary has allowed an FBS-low 46.9 completion percentage this season.

“I feel like, if we didn’t have Greg Stroman, we wouldn’t have won as many games as we did,” defensive tackle Tim Settle said. “Greg’s just a different player. Special.”

• Backup offensive lineman D’Andre Plantin surprisingly received some reps in the Hokies’ 10-0 win at UVA this past Saturday, and the redshirt sophomore held up well at the left tackle spot, according to his teammates. Plantin had played in just five games this season before the UVA game.

“He played well,” senior center Eric Gallo said. “He played surprisingly well based on his experience leading up to that point. I’m thankful for a guy like Plant.

“This whole season, we’ve had an amazing number of guys who haven’t played before step into a role and play very well. Plant’s just one of those guys. As a senior, I’m very appreciative of that, and I hope when those guys are seniors, they get younger guys that accomplish that role for them also.”

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