In a season where the Virginia Tech defense has struggled to live up to its reputation, sophomore cornerback Jayron Hosley has continued to impress.
Despite being a first year starter, Hosley has been one of the bright spots in the Hokies secondary – something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
“He is one guy right now that takes to coaching, takes to what he’s being taught, and practices it and carries it onto the field,” Foster said. “He’s probably, right now, one of our more consistent players in his technique and fundamentals of anyone on the football field.”
Though it took him a few weeks to handle his new responsibilities, Hosley has picked up his play on defense each week he’s stepped out on the gridiron.
After missing the game against East Carolina, Hosley came back and had his first career interception against Boston College.
Just seven days later, the North Carolina State offense decided to target Hosley in the secondary, which turned out to be a bad idea for the Wolfpack. The result was Hosley registering six tackles, seven pass deflections and three interceptions – all career highs.
While Hosley certainly looks to be a staple in the Tech defense for the rest of his time here, his future wasn’t always a sure thing.
At 5-foot-11-inches, 170 pounds, Hosley’s frame has left him susceptible to injuries which have forced him to miss significant time while trying to learn the defense.
“It’s frustrating as a coach because you can’t see where he needs to grow and he can’t play long enough so he can be consistent in everything,” said Torrian Gray, defensive backs coach. “The one thing that he’s going to have to do is make sure he gets in the weight room and builds up his strength.”
In order to compete for the starting position, Hosley played through an injury during spring ball and was forced to miss much of summer practice because of another.
With the inability to get actual reps on the field, Hosley has diligently studied film to perfect his technique, and that time in the film room has been paying dividends.
One area where Hosley has always been an important contributor is special teams. From his first game as a Hokie last season, Hosley has been in charge of returning punts for the Hokies and has been successful in the role.
His average of 11.2 yards per return ranked fourth in the ACC last season, and against Marshall, he became the first freshman to return a punt for a touchdown in the Frank Beamer era.
Just like on defense, Hosley has seen improved production this season as a punt returner. In the last two weeks, Hosley has sprung returns of 58 and 80 yards, the latter of which went for a touchdown against Central Michigan.
Yet again, the improvement can be attributed to his film study, which along with his instincts, has him making more of every return he gets.
“I’ll watch one punt return like 30 times just to see what else I could’ve done,” Hosley said. “What other moves I could’ve made, where my blocks were coming from and what angle I should have taken. I’m always figuring out a way that I can better my return game.”
Though the defense may not be as dominant as usual, being named a starter in the Hokies secondary as a sophomore shows the kind of talent Hosley possesses.
Out of all the players that Tech is represented by in the NFL, the bulk of them are either a cornerbacks or safeties. Hosley still has two more years to perfect his craft, but he is in prime position to be put in that category in the near future.
“If he continues to play at the level that he’s playing with the consistency that he can play with, I think that you’ll eventually put him in the same stratosphere as Brandon Flowers, Macho Harris and that category,” Gray said. “I think that is a huge compliment.”