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Virginia Tech tries to replace Cody Grimm

How do you replace an irreplaceable contributor? That is the riddle Virginia Tech will try to solve in filling in for linebacker Cody Grimm.

Grimm originally came to Blacksburg as a walk-on, but left fondly remembered by Hokies fans. Despite being undersize at 5 feet 11, he was a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer and led the team in tackles as a senior in 2009.

"Cody was a special guy," defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. "I don't know if you can replace that guy right away. Just had a lot to football IQ, and had a lot of snaps in a variety of ways, in special teams and on defense and things of that nature."

Indeed, what made Grimm so rare was his uncanny football sense. He was a playmaker who was instinctive on blitzes and could jump a snap count. On a week-to-week basis, he made eye-catching plays that would not show up in a box score, but that underscored his unique knack for the game.

In a win over Miami on Sept. 26, Grimm punched the ball loose from Hurricanes tight end Dedrick Epps as he tried to corral a pass in the end zone. Even though Grimm had his back to the ball, he could tell the pass was coming by looking in Epps's eyes and reacting quickly.

"Cody Grimm, those guys come around every so often," Foster said.

While Virginia Tech relied on Grimm as its primary playmaker, it will have to turn to the reality that he will not be in Blacksburg next fall. Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and Alonzo Tweedy are two of the players competing for Grimm's spot.

Aside from Tweedy's work as a headhunter on the coverage units (in which he was counted upon to get quickly downfield and attack the ball carrier), neither player has much game experience.

Gouveia-Winslow said last week that he learned from watching Grimm, although he has not solicited advice from the former Hokie standout. His goal was to prove to Virginia Tech's coaches that he was ready to take on the larger role.

"Show them I know what I'm doing, try to play fast, make reads and learn quickly," Gouveia-Winslow said.

As Virginia Tech tries to replace a nearly irreplaceable component in Grimm, Gouveia-Winslow or Tweedy will need to do all of the above in order to help fortify the Hokies' depleted defense.

By Mark Viera  |  April 6, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
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