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March 7, 2013

Comparison: VT's DE Classes

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The defensive line has been a strength for Virginia Tech for years.

It goes back to Bruce Smith, the number one pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills and four-time AFC champion and continued with Darryl Tapp, a second round pick in 2006 who still plays with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last month, the Hokies signed another defensive end who could continue in that line of succession, Liberty (Va.) four-star Wyatt Teller.

Tapp signed with Virginia Tech in 2002, the first year of the Rivals.com Rankings. Though he was a modest three-star prospect, Tapp blossomed with the Hokies and was an all-American in 2005.

Unlike Tapp, Teller joins Virginia Tech with impressive accolades already. Teller was an Army all-American and played on the U-19 Team USA team last month.

All season, Teller has drawn praise for his college-ready body (at 6'5" 265 pounds) and his aggressive, high-motor style. He's been on the national radar since his junior season.

"He's a big, physical end and extends his arms well off the line of scrimmage and just rides defenders into the path of the football," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said. "He's also very instinctual, when to drop, when to get his hands up. He reads plays well, he's very strong against the run, just a big, physical kid with raw skills. A lot of people think he's a big end who can just bull-rush but he can do so many different things."

At the Army all-American game, Teller might have seemed a bit overshadowed by players like LSU signee Frank Herron, but that's not the way Rivals.com Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt saw it.


Wyatt Teller, Liberty (Va.) 2013:
No. 59 in the Rivals100, No. 6 strongside DE, No. 5 in Virginia

Corey Marshall, Dinwiddie (Va.), 2011: No. 21 strongside DE, No. 7 in Virginia

Zack McCray Brookville (Va.), 2010:
No. 125 in the Rivals250, No. 8 weakside DE, No. 5 in Virginia

Jason Adjepong, Carteret (NJ), 2006: Member of Rivals250, No. 7 strongside DE, No. 4 in New Jersey

John Graves, Meadowbrook (Va.), 2006: No. 21 strongside DE, No. 11 in Virginia

Stephen Friday, Phoebus (Va.), 2005:
No. 10 weakside DE, No. 7 in Virginia

Chris Ellis, Bethel (Va.), 2003:
No. 8 weakside DE, No. 2 in Virginia

"The East team at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was loaded with big combo defensive end/defensive tackle types, and Teller was one of the best," Helmholdt said. "He could project anywhere from a three-technique to a seven-technique on the next level because he has the strength to battle on the interior, but also the athleticism to make plays on the edge.

"What really stood out to me down in San Antonio was his football IQ. One of the best plays I saw all week during practices was Teller sniffing out a screen and intercepting the pass."

It's tough to say where Teller would compare to Smith at the same point in their careers. Smith began his career with the Hokies in 1981. Tapp was an underrated lineman out of high school who took off in college.

Before Teller this year, Virginia Tech's previous highest-rated defensive end signee was Zack McCray, No. 125 in the Rivals250 in 2010. McCray will be a junior this fall, after playing on the defensive line as a redshirt freshman and moving to tight end last season, while also playing on special teams.

Teller has also drawn praise for his low-key, blue-collar attitude that should make him a good fit for the Hokies' lunchpail mentality. Teller declined to make a big presentation when he committed in August, instead calling assistant coach Bud Foster just after lunch to inform him of the news and taking part in a pre-season scrimmage that night.

While coaches can't comment on recruits until they've received their letter of intent, Foster showed his thoughts on Teller by doing a Cartwheel in a video that's been released online.

Smith and Tapp paved the way before Teller. Now, he's poised to join them in reaching the NFL in a few years, after Teller does his work at Virginia Tech.


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