Virginia Tech’s Xavier Burke celebrates with fans following the team’s win over West Virginia at FedEx Field in September 2017.

BLACKSBURG—Virginia Tech defensive tackles Xavier Burke is leaving the program as a graduate transfer while Jimmie Taylor has taken a medical retirement due to extended abdominal issues.

Both defenders missed spring camp with injuries.

Burke suffered a torn Achilles in a late season loss to Pittsburgh after playing in six games. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder converted from tight end to the defensive side of the ball after his second year.

Taylor played in five games last season.

Virginia Tech was already thin at defensive tackle before their departure. The Hokies are counting on a pair of junior college transfers—Dashawn Crawford and Jaden Cunningham—to help give them depth in 2019. Crawford, who enrolled at mid-year, had a strong spring repping with the first-team defense alongside Jarrod Hewitt.

“I’ve been extremely pleased,” defensive coordinator Bud Foster said, after the spring game. “From a football IQ stand point, I’ve been real pleased. From his technique and fundamentals, I’ve been real pleased. From his ability to be good at the point of attack, I’ve been pleased.”

Freshman signees Mario Kendricks, Norell Pollard and Joshua Fuga will compete for a spot on the two-deep alongside returners Rob Porcher, Eli Adams, Jaevon Becton.

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Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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