A defense that is already one of the best in the nation will soon get even stronger as Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum has been cleared to play following eight months of rehab for a torn ACL in his right knee.
In a statement Tuesday, Hokies head athletic trainer Mike Goforth said Dr. James Andrews cleared Exum to return to practice without any restrictions. He will continue to rehab the knee throughout the rest of the season.
"His playing time for North Carolina and all future games will be determined by how well the right knee tolerates practices this week and how quickly he re-establishes pre-injury cardiovascular endurance and pre-injury skill levels," Goforth said.
Exum was named a second-team All-ACC performer in 2012 when he started all 13 games at cornerback, but the Hokies have been able to withstand his absence this fall because of the overall sound play of freshmen Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller. Facyson leads the ACC with four interceptions and is tied for the conference lead with seven passes defended. Meanwhile, Fuller has two interceptions and five passes defended.
Because Exum has started at safety before, he could return to that spot with the pair of freshmen playing very well. In any case, the Hokies have options when he comes back, which will likely be at corner.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.