Today we finish up the front four on defense with a look at the top defensive tackles in the ACC.
5. Derrick Mitchell, Jr., Florida State
Mitchell started only 10 games in 2014 but still managed to put together a nice season with 20 tackles, two pass break-ups, one sack and a fumble recovery. He’s been limited so far in his FSU career with injuries including a back problem that forced him to sit out the entire 2012 season. He’s got great speed and if he can stay healthy, has the ability to be a standout on a defense loaded with them.
4. Connor Wujciak, Boston College
The Eagles have a stout defensive line that flies under the radar while still being very productive. Wujciak finished 2014 with 33 tackles, 7.5 for loss and three sacks in his breakout junior season. His stout play coupled with an impressive group of lineman helped BC finish second in the nation defending the run (94.5 YPG). In addition to his skillset, Connor has great football lineage. His father Alan played for pseudo-ACC member Notre Dame’s 1973 national title team and his brother Alex was a three-time All-ACC selection at linebacker for former ACC member Maryland (2008-10).
— BC Football Video (@BCFootballVideo) July 10, 2015
3. Corey Marshall, Virginia Tech
Marshall is a versatile player who has lined up at both defensive end and tackle in Bud Foster’s scheme. His niche however is clearly at tackle where he made 41 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks plus an interception despite making only nine starts. Marshall’s production may well increase with the attention paid to Tech’s other three standout linemen. The play below shows his unique speed for a defensive tackle after making a nifty spin move to free himself from contact at the line.
2. Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech
Expect Gotsis to have a strong senior season coming off a 2014 campaign that saw him post 36 total tackles (including 23 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one interception and two blocked kicks (one field goal and a PAT). The massive Australian is a very disruptive force, and could prove to be the anchor of a championship caliber defense. Georgia Tech isn’t sneaking up on anyone this season and neither will Gotsis as he was a big part of the defense forcing 29 turnovers last season which led to the Yellow Jackets ranking 14th in the nation in turnover margin. If they can fill a few vacated spots on defense with Gotsis as the unit’s anchor, Georgia Tech may well repeat as Coastal Division champions.
1. Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
I hesitated slightly to put Maddy at the top only because he’s coming off an injury. When healthy, Maddy has proved to be a versatile tackle who exhibits nifty athleticism. He’s consistently been a dominant force and looks to re-emerge as one of the key pieces of a great defensive line for the Hokies. In the video below, he puts his full skill set on display spinning away from a defender and using his speed in the open field to track down the ballcarrier.