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Rodney McLeod, Cam Johnson excel during spring football practice

I had the opportunity to catch up with Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid at Tuesday's VAF spring social in Arlington. Reid, a longtime college head coach and former Miami Dolphins linebackers coach, is overseeing Virginia's transition from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. It's still early in the process, but two players I was particularly curious to ask about were Washington area natives Rodney McLeod (DeMatha) and Cam Johnson (Gonzaga).

Former coach Al Groh believed both were among the most promising players on the defense, and it's clear that hasn't changed in the defensive transition.

"If you were to pin me down and said who's the best player you had on defense in the spring, I would say Rodney McLeod with no doubt," Reid said. "And then if you were to say who's the one guy who made the switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3 the smoothest, the most effective -- and you pinned me down -- I'd have to say Cam Johnson. He really had a heck of a spring."

McLeod, a safety, was a starter last season and will be critical in fortifying the secondary -- the strength of the current roster. Johnson made the transition from a 3-4 outside linebacker to a 4-3 defense end.

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By Zach Berman  |  April 21, 2010; 11:54 AM ET
 | Tags: Cam Johnson, Jim Reid, Rodney McLeod  
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