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August 21, 2012

Tyler gives Hokies tested depth at mike linebacker

By: Jimmy Robertson

Jack Tyler spent the first summer session working an internship with a real estate company in Northern Virginia, learning how to manage properties as part of the requirements for a degree in residential property management.

Tyler has experience in managing things. In the last five games of last season, he managed Tech’s defense from his mike linebacker position, and he managed that defense this spring, too, while Bruce Taylor continued to rehab from a Lisfranc injury suffered in the BC game last fall.

Taylor will be playing backer until Tariq Edwards returns from a leg injury, leaving mike linebacker to Tyler, who recorded 37 tackles in the Hokies’ final six games. That included 12 against Georgia Tech, eight against Clemson and seven against Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. This spring, he earned the Frank O. Moseley Award as the defensive player who exhibited the most hustle during offseason and spring workouts.

“For me, personally, I thought spring went great,” Tyler said. “I felt more comfortable, and I thought I improved on some of the aspects I needed to improve. The biggest thing is that I think I instilled confidence in everybody else – coaches and other players – that they could trust me if I do have to play.”

Taylor was having a great season before going down with the injury. In eight games, he recorded 53 tackles, including seven for a loss, and five sacks. He still earned honorable mention All-ACC honors.

Lisfranc injuries – an injury to the bottom of the foot – can be difficult on players. But Taylor looked good in the first few practices of the fall, and now Edwards’ injury makes it imperative that Tyler continue to be ready.

“There is only one thing I can control and that’s how I prepare,” Tyler said. “I’ve got to come to work every day and prepare as if I’m going to be the starter. I’ve got to work hard every day. But I wouldn’t say that changes anything. As a backup, I came in with the mindset of getting better, and that doesn’t change.”

Edwards, who started 14 games and recorded 71 tackles, including 11.5 for a loss, sat out spring practice after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his left shin. Tech’s sports medicine staff expects him back, but there is no timetable. Thus, linebackers coach Bud Foster has moved Taylor to backer and Chase Williams back to mike linebacker. Williams, who can play both spots, played well this spring next to Tyler.

“We come from similar backgrounds and enjoy similar things, so the chemistry was already there,” Tyler said. “Then on top of that, we’re playing together and always together in meetings and doing things together. When you have that relationship, it’s just easier to play alongside of someone like that.”

Tyler’s and Williams’ development has created depth at the linebacker positions. That depth has been tested in the past and may get tested again in 2012.


Mike linebackers

58 Jack Tyler (6-1, 236, r-Jr.)
36 Chase Williams (6-2, 235, r-Soph.)
47 Brian Laiti (6-3, 220, r-Soph.)


51 Bruce Taylor (6-2, 244, r-Sr.)

24 Tariq Edwards (6-2, 237, r-Jr.)

44 Josh Trimble (5-11, 200, r-Fr.)
41 Derek DiNardo (6-0, 210, r-Soph.)


Returning starters: Bruce Taylor (22 career starts), Tariq Edwards (14)

Starters lost: none

Projected new starters: none

Top reserves: Jack Tyler (5 career starts), Chase Williams

Newcomers: Deon Clarke, Devin Vandyke

Breakout candidate: Tyler

Notes: Edwards ranked third on the team last season with 71 tackles … Edwards and Taylor combined for 124 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, and 8.5 sacks … Tyler finished with 42 tackles despite starting just four games … Thirty-seven of Tyler’s 42 tackles came after Taylor went down for the season with a Lisfranc injury … Tyler averaged 6.2 tackles per game after Taylor’s injury.