Dax Hollifield finally moves to his natural middle linebacker post after Rayshard Ashby piled up triple-digit tackle numbers at that spot two of the past three seasons.
In 36 games (25 starts) with the Hokies, Hollifield has amassed 181 tackles (69 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. The Shelby, N.C., native posted a season-high 13 tackles and sacks last season vs. Miami.
The high-energy Hollifield should feel right at home playing the Mike position previously mastered by his position coach Jack Tyler, who led Tech in tackles in 2012 and 2013.
Others in the mix
Hollifield’s move inside should bode well for Alan Tisdale, who is expected to anchor the outside linebacker post. Tisdale finished third on the squad with 59 tackles (21 solo) after splitting time at the position with Hollifield in 2020.
The Greensboro, N.C., product has played in 22 games (five starts) the past two seasons, racking up 111 tackles with three sacks. Long and athletic, Tisdale is able to drop into coverage or pick up backs out of the backfield.
Dean Ferguson, Keshon Artis, and Lakeem Rudolph are also players to keep an eye on during camp.
Hollifield and Tisdale combined for 111 total tackles in 2020 and 6.0 TFL.
Hollifield’s career-high 13 tackles vs. Miami were the top single-game total of any Tech defensive player in 2020.
Tisdale has racked up at least 50 tackles and four tackles for loss in each of his first two seasons for the Hokies.
Hollifield and Tisdale give the Hokies an experienced duo in the linebacker corps while Artis, Ferguson and Rudolph have played primarily on special teams and have relatively small bodies of work on defense. No doubt, 15 full practices during the spring were beneficial for that trio. A wild card could be C.J. McCray, who joined Tech after originally signing with Marshall. A former walk-on himself, don’t be surprised if Coach Tyler develops a player not on this list who is able to contribute for Tech in 2021.