Hokies Football: Ricky Walker Will Be a Starting Defensive Tackle in 2016


Dec 27, 2014; Annapolis, MD, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Kendall Fuller (11) celebrates with Hokies defensive tackle Ricky Walker (98) after intercepting a pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first quarter of the 2014 Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies will have arguably the best defensive line in college football next season with all four regular starters returning plus a healthy Luther Maddy. Most likely, it will be Maddy and Corey Marshall at defensive tackle with Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem at defensive end. That means Nigel Williams will become college football’s best backup defensive tackle in 2015.

However, Maddy, Marshall, and Nicolas will all be gone after 2015 with Ekanem being the only projected 2015 starter to return in 2016. Of course, Nigel Williams will be able to move back into the starting lineup, but there will definitely be one starting spot available next to Williams at defensive tackle along with an opening at defensive end.

While the battle to be the replacement for Nicolas after 2015 is very open, it seems very likely that Ricky Walker will be the starting defensive tackle opposite of Williams.

When Luther Maddy went down with an injury, Williams moved into the starting lineup and Walker became one of the two backup defensive tackles alongside Woody Baron.

Walker did some damage on defense and special teams for the Hokies as he had 9 tackles and 1 tackle for loss in his first season in Blacksburg. Walker’s 9 tackles were the highest number of tackles by a defensive Virginia Tech player that did not start a single game during the 2014 season. Also, Walker was not an early enrollee which makes his quick rise at a loaded position impressive.

More from Virginia Tech Football

Walker has quickly risen up the depth chart, and is definitely challenging Baron for some playing time. The battle between Walker and Baron will likely be more intense this spring though Baron would be better off moving to defensive end in the spring as Walker definitely looks like the better player at defensive tackle.

Walker did not play too much this past season, but he was a solid player when he did touch the field for the Hokies. Walker already has fairly good strength for a defensive tackle as proven by his size at 6’3” and 286 pounds though it wouldn’t surprise me if he adds another 5 or 10 pounds of muscle. Walker also does not look like someone that has a lot of bad weight which is a good thing.

Walker has tons of upside and will be an exciting player to watch this spring. Walker will get a fairly high amount of reps this spring with some of them coming with Nigel Williams which will give up a picture of how dangerous that duo could be in 2016.

Defensive tackle is going to continue be a position of strength for the Hokies for years to come and Ricky Walker will be a reason for that especially when he becomes a starter in 2016.

Next: VT Should Move Woody Baron to DE

More from Fighting Gobbler