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Virginia Tech Defense Will Intensify In 2014

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A number of impact players on Virginia Tech's Lunch Pail Unit, the nation's No. 4 overall defense last season, have graduated. Don't lose any sleep over that reality. The Hokies have more where they came from. Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images.
A number of impact players on Virginia Tech's Lunch Pail Unit, the nation's No. 4 overall defense last season, have graduated. Don't lose any sleep over that reality. The Hokies have more where they came from. Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images.

It happens every year. Virginia Tech graduates a number of student athletes on its football roster that saw significant playing time in Lane Stadium and were key contributors to the team's success the previous season. The end of the 2013 season was no exception as the Hokies saw a significant number of impact players on the Lunch Pail Unit engage in commencement ceremonies and depart from the "Best College Town in the South."

Virginia Tech's defense has henceforth suffered a provisional setback in key personnel that made the 2013 Lunch Pail Unit finish the season No. 4 in the nation in total defense. The Hokies lost indispensable players to the Class of 2013. Among those participating in commencement were DE J.R. Collins, LB Tariq Edwards, DE Tyrel Wilson, DE James Gayle, CB Antone Exum and DE Derrick Hopkins.

While those losses will smart for a time, should Virginia Tech's staff and fans be concerned? Not hardly. Despite the loss of key defensive personnel, Virginia Tech has a cast of budding starters returning from last year's defense, which relentlessly assaulted opposing quarterbacks and haunted even the foremost of rival receiving corps.