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By Tammy Bruce
Topic - James Gayle
The NFL Combine wrapped up on Tuesday, but not before several Virginia Tech and UVa players could leave their mark.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller is one of four Virginia Tech players who were invited to the league's annual scouting showcase, and each arrived with different goals.
Redskins scouts at the Sun Bowl could be taking a close look at Virginia Tech defensive end James Gayle, whose on-field production hasn't matched his freakish physical ability.
Virginia Tech has relied on its deep and talented defensive front to turn opposing offensive lines from dams to spillways. It has been the vanguard for a defense that ranks second nationally in total yards allowed (190.7 per game), tackles for loss (29), passing yards allowed (106.3 per game) and interceptions (seven).
The Hokies beat East Carolina 15-10 on Saturday with a defense that sacked Shane Carden seven times and never let the Pirates' pass-heavy spread offense run at full speed.
Players on the Rutgers football team know Virginia Tech for a number of things, from its onetime special teams prowess to the Hokies' current run of 20 straight bowl appearances. But Tech's players are fearful they've developed a new, less flattering reputation.
E.J. Manuel hit Rashad Greene with a slant pass that Greene took 39 yards for a touchdown with 40 seconds to play and No. 8 Florida State survived a scare to beat Virginia Tech 28-22 on Thursday night.
Disappointing non-conference losses in the first month of the football season are nothing new for Virginia Tech. A Hokies' defense getting pushed around, however, isn't something that's a regular occurrence.
Virginia Tech believes its defensive linemen can be giants. Or at least play like them.
Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller was not always the excellent open-field tackler he is now. He admitted after Saturday's 14-10 win at Duke that what everyone just saw took hours of practice, and that great tacklers make themselves great.
Derrick Hopkins is not one to make bold proclamations. Virginia Tech's sophomore defensive tackle from Highland Springs High is a soft-spoken young man who rarely talks at length when asked questions during media interviews.
Virginia Tech secondary coach Torrian Gray watches games from a booth high above the field. He could see exactly what redshirt freshman cornerback Detrick Bonner did wrong during the third quarter of last week's game at Wake Forest.
"I feel I can do both," Gayle said, referring to playing the two positions. "Obviously, I probably need to gain a couple pounds to play defensive end, but I can easily do that. I played at 270 in college. I feel like right now I can play outside linebacker. I feel comfortable."
"It's not shocking (we lost) because we've lost to Duke. We've lost to Boston College," he said. "It's just things we have to work on as a team, but I'm not going to sit here and cry about it. I'm going to move on. I'd rather lose with Coach Beamer than win with their team at the end of the day."