August 11, 2008
Last season, few defensive lines were better in the nation than Virginia. The 3-4 scheme featured talent up front in Chris Long, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, and Allen Billyk, as they helped make Virginia one of the best defenses in Division I football. Now all three are gone, as they have paved way for a new group of Cavaliers.
Long was drafted second overall by the Rams in April, and is currently their starting right defensive end. Billyk graduated, and Fitzgerald announced in January that he would not be returning to the team, after playing just two seasons in the orange and blue. As the off-season progressed, the team began to fill the holes left on the line.
Nate Collins will fill Billyk's shoes as the starting nose tackle. Collins had a solid season as his back up a year ago, and capped it off by tallying a safety in the Gator Bowl, one of two sacks he compiled on the day. Alex Field and Sean Gottschalk will bookend Collins as the two defensive ends.
Despite the loss, the players feel that the departed lineman have set the bar for them, and they are not about to disappoint. Click on the above video link to hear thoughts from Collins, as well as defensive coordinator Bob Pruett.