CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia football team ranked fifth in the ACC in Total Defense last season.
They were Third in sacks, with 46.
That number was also tied for the sixth-most in the nation.
Eli Hanback led the defensive line with 4.5 sacks, and he also had 8.5 tackles for a loss.
But Hanback has graduated.
Sophomore Jowon Briggs is one of the players expected to fill his shoes at defensive tackle.
Briggs played in 13-games as a true freshman, making seven-starts.
He had 19 tackles, including three tackles for a loss, and one sack.
The former 4-star recruit is listed at 6-foot-1, 295-pounds, but that may no longer be accurate.
Co-Defensive Coordinator Kelly Poppinga says, “Holy smokes, this guy is looking ginormous. He’s like 310 right now. On a video screen, he looks massive. He fills that thing up. The kid is very talented. He’s very strong. Very cerebral. Very smart kid, and that game-experience as a true freshman, is very valuable going into this season.”
“He’s got a lot of potential,” says Hanback. “He’s very strong. Very athletic, and he’s a real smart kid, too. I think his upside, his ceiling, is very, very high. I’m looking forward to see what he can do, because even as a true freshman he was manhandling some dudes, at practice, and in games.”
Virginia is scheduled to kickoff the season on September 7th against Georgia in Atlanta.