BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech made a small, but necessary change in the secondary to shore up the team’s depth at defensive back in recent weeks.
The Hokies suffered multiple injuries at the position during to start 2019 with Jovonn Quillen (lower body) and Nadir Thompson (undisclosed) both sidelined for portions of the first three weeks of the season.
With fellow defensive back Jeremy Webb working his way back from multiple Achilles injuries, defensive coordinator Bud Foster didn’t want to risk being left short-handed at the position.
“We just felt like we needed a security blanket there a little bit,” Foster said.
That security blanket is junior college transfer Brion Murray, an All-KJCCC Honorable Mention at Coffeyville Community College last season. Murray, who enrolled early, played at whip during spring practice and fall camp, but was behind Chamarri Conner and Khalil Ladler on the depth chart.
“We feel like he did a nice job for us at nickel,” Foster said. “Not that that’s not where he can play. Probably not as physical of a guy as we like there, but he’s got some really good quality skill set at that spot. It’s a good spot for us and for him.”
Murray got high marks for his work ethic throughout the team’s offseason program. He played in Tech’s first two games, but didn’t record any statistics.
“Brion Murray has done really, really well,” Fuente said during the spring. “Can really run. He hasn’t played a tremendous amount of football and so it’s going to be a learning experience for him. He’s got a great attitude and he’s been working his tail off.”
The game reps for Murray will be limited if Tech doesn’t suffer any more injuries at the position, but the change gets him ready in case something happens.
With the exception of a rocky start against Boston College, Tech’s starters at defensive back Caleb Farley and Jermaine Waller have played well. The Hokies haven’t allowed a passing touchdown since the first half against the Eagles.
Farley has 10 tackles (three solo) with four pass breakups (ranked No. 2 in the ACC) and picked off his first pass of the season against Furman.
“Caleb is a guy that had a great spring, had a great summer, started out had a great camp,” Foster said. “Had some tendinitis, really affected him and missed about a week of practice. And really was slow coming back. And I think the last couple weeks has kind of gotten back more into form, in my opinion.”
Waller has 15 tackles with a sack and an interception. He’s shut down opposing receivers the last two weeks including former teammate Eric Kumah during Tech’s 31-17 win over Old Dominion.
“Kumah is very competitive, so it was helping we studied film all week, knowing that he was going to come out and try to do what he can do and play to his fullest potential,” Waller said last week. “So it was fun and competitive.”
With Murray providing additional depth, Foster likes the state of the defensive back room at the bye week.
“With Quillen being back and we know how hard he plays,” Foster said. “And then the development of Armani Chatman. We need to get Brion Murray to come along. We’d still like to get Jeremy Webb. I think he’s getting closer and closer all the time. But I feel really good about their progress right now.”