Monday, July 31, 2006

Hokie Football: Familiar Faces, New Places

Just a few snapshots of former Hokie standouts Marcus Vick, Jimmy Williams, and Daryl Tapp in their respective NFL training camps over the past weekend.
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DAVIE, FL - JULY 30: Wide receiver Marcus Vick #16 of the Miami Dolphins reaches up to catch a pass during training camp at Nova Southeastern University on July 30, 2006 in Davie, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

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FLOWERY BRANCH, GA - JULY 27: Cornerback Jimmy Williams #4 (Left) and wide receiver Michael Jenkins #12 of the Altanta Falcons go for the ball during the Atlanta Falcons training camp on July 27, 2006 in Flowery Branch, Georgia. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images)
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CHENEY, WA - JULY 29: Defensive end Darryl Tapp #55 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to tackle running back Josh Scobey #33 as fullback David Kirtman #34 blocks during training camp on July 29, 2006 at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hokie Football: 2007 Recruit - Jaymes Brooks

Ever since last week's signing of Tidewater QB Tyrod Taylor, the recruits for VT keep rolling in, and there doesn't seem to be a dropoff in the immediate future. That's what five-star prospects can do for a program.

That being said, here's the latest on Tech's newest recruit, Jaymes Brooks, a rising senior offensive lineman with some size at Denbigh High in Newport News, courtesy of The Virginian-Pilot sportswriter Kyle Tucker:
Denbigh lineman commits to Virginia Tech

Momentum is barreling in Virginia Tech's favor these days.

On Friday, the Hokies picked up their 15th football commitment in July and 17th overall when Newport News offensive lineman Jaymes Brooks picked Tech at a news conference.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound guard from Denbigh High chose the Hokies over offers from Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina and Tennessee. Offensive line was Tech's biggest area of need in its 2007 recruiting class, and the Hokies have received verbal commitments from four offensive linemen. A fifth, Khalil Latif from Midlothian, visited Blacksburg on Friday and could make a decision before the end of the weekend.

Latif is rated the No. 13 player in the state by techsideline.com, while Brooks is No. 11. Rivals.com rates Latif No. 18 in Virginia and Brooks No. 23. So far, the average size of Tech's offensive line prospects is 6-4-1/2 and 291 pounds.

The Hokies also got a commitment this week from Kellam tight end Greg Nosal - who at 6-7, 255 pounds projects favorably as a future lineman. The depth of blockers piling up bodes well for the jewel of Tech's class, five-star quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hokie Football: 2006 Schedule

Virginia Tech 2006 Schedule
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 12-0
Barring total disaster worst case record: 8-4Realistic record: 10-2
It'll be a major shocker if the Hokies aren't 5-0 going into a nationally televised road trip to Boston College. This is a tailor-made national title schedule with only one game, at Miami, that Tech is likely to be the underdog, and there isn't another killer to be found. Outside of the trip to Miami, the road schedule is a light breeze playing at North Carolina, BC and Wake Forest.
Sept. 2 - NortheasternOct. 21 - Southern Mississippi
Sept. 9 - @ North CarolinaOct. 26 - (Thurs.) Clemson
Sept. 16 - DukeNov. 4 - @ Miami
Sept. 23 - CincinnatiNov. 11 - Kent State
Sept. 30 - Georgia TechNov. 16 - @ Wake Forest
Oct. 12 - (Thurs.) @ Boston CollegeNov. 25 - Virginia
Almost certain winLikely lossCould go either way

I've been all over CollegeFootballNews.com this week, as lately they've been unleashing preview after preview regarding practically every football team worth a damn, and while taking a glance at several ACC schedules, I stumbled upon their brief outlook on Virginia Tech's upcoming season. I decided to take it a little further, putting the schedule into a easy-to-read table and put in my two cents worth.

For the most part, this simply is a schedule for Virginia Tech with national title implications. In fact, the idea of a perfect season in 2006 for the Hokies is not at all far-fetched. All four out-of-conference matchups are a joke and will undoubtedly serve as a breeze for head coach Frank Beamer and his crew. The only obvious test for the Hokies will be their mid-season trip down to the sunny beaches in Miami, where VT has, in fact played better over the past few years. Other conference matchups such as hosting North Carolina and a trip to take on BC shouldn't be too much of a cause of concern for Hokie fans, as CFN summed it up best in their preview by stating:
If the Tar Heels and the Eagles are two of your biggest road obstacles to playing in the national title game, you're going to be in the hunt.
Virginia and Georgia Tech could also be deemed as big-time threats to dethrone any Hokie hopes at an unblemished record, but I just don't see these teams causing much of a ruckus against Bud Foster's stellar returning defensive unit led by the Big Three -- Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall and Aaron Rouse. Coming off career seasons, their individual performances will ultimately compromise much of the team's success or failures, so don't be surprised for them to surpass last year's numbers with ease.

Hokie Football: Don't Believe the Preseason Hype

With the AP Preseason Polls just weeks away from being released, I couldn't help but indulge in a piece written over at CollegeFootballNews.com by columnist Richard Cirminiello, who in his article entitled, "Don't Believe the (Preseason) Hype", offers insight into which programs around the country in recent years have been over- or under-hyped based on their placement in the AP Preseason poll heading into the season. The main premise surrouding Ciriminiello's article revolves around the big question:
Which teams are the most consistently overrated (and underrated) by the preseason polls?
When actually addressing the question, however, one may find it a bit harder than usual to put aside any biases against a certain program, select a list of teams, and then back up their answer with a significant amount of research and analysis to further their claim.

That's where Cirminiello comes in, addressing the issue using a strict formula and composite score to judge each program without a tainted eye. In fact, here is what he describes as the main criteria to base his formula upon:
For this exercise, we’ve sampled AP rankings from the last 35 years and are only evaluating schools that have been recognized in 10 or more preseason polls. Trying to cull some meaning out of, say, Kansas, Indiana or any other school that makes a once-every-decade cameo in summer rankings would prove fruitless.
And Ciriminiello's individual composite score for each school is as follows:
Composite score represents the average annual number of spots a school's final ranking fell below its preseason ranking since 1971.
Now of the 31 teams Ciriminiello analyzed, Virginia Tech ranked 29th on the list of the teams considered to be the most overrated in college football over the past 35 years, meaning over the studied time-period, the average post-season ranking to pre-season ranking was lower in difference for Virginia Tech than 28 of the other programs. This ranking for the Hokies was just two spots behind the overall leader considered by Ciriminiello's formula as the must underrated team in college football history -- the Miami Hurricanes, whose program posted a composite score of -2.41, as opposed to Tech's score of -2.70.

Moving along the topic however, in looking back on last year, several teams entered the preseason polls being considered 'underrated', as they weren't making too much of a splash on the college scene -- with the main exception being USC at #1. No matter how you looked at it, aside from USC fans, many football followers in general put the Trojans in that 'overrated' category from the season's beginning to end, especially after seeing the Trojans show signs of weakness against conference opponents Oregon, Arizona State, and Washington, as well as seeing them literally push their way to a controversial overtime victory in South Bend.

The ultimate fact of the matter was despite the majority of college football fans recognizing USC's tandem of Reggie Bush and LenDale White as an unstoppable duo on the ground, other aspects of the team (primarily their defense), weren't thought of as highly, and the college football world watched in January as their respective flaws were exploited by the Texas Longhorns in the national title game.

Contrary to programs like USC, however, as the season progressed, several teams saw their underrated preseason status change for the better, grabbing the attention of college football fans by storm, with one clear-cut example of this being the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Entering the 2005 season ranked eighth in the AP Preseason Polls, Virginia Tech raced to an 8-0 start, earning a ranking as high as third in the nation, unfortunately however, everything for Virginia Tech came to a screeching halt following the university's 20-point loss to longtime rival Miami in a defeat that would go down as one of, if not the most devastating of all Hokie setbacks.

With that being said however, writing about the event caused me to reminisce. It takes great pains every time to take a minute and think about such a promising season and ask the question, "What could have been?"
- Had Virginia Tech won, would they have played better against Florida State, and gone into Bowl Season with a perfect record?
- Had Virginia Tech won, could Texas or USC have crumbled under the pressure of maintaining perfection and done the unthinkable -- actually drop a game?
The boundaries for queries are limitless, and though those questions pertain to a scenario that has no significance now, I still look back and try not to remember the season that ‘Could Have Been’ for VT, as well as the events that led to the downfall. Unfortunately though, I remember it a bit too well…

Virginia Tech’s success all began by the resurgence of a humble-mannered, well-behaved (aside from the Morgantown flip) Marcus Vick, who returning off a one-year suspension, got the ball rolling early for the Hokies with a crucial win over N.C. State and their star-studded defensive line. This victory was followed by a handful of dominant victories that came off as no surprise, unlike Vick’s success under center, whose flashes of brilliance on the field seemed reminiscent of his older brother. With everything going well heading into the later half of the season, the Hokies saw their winning streak unfold to eight consecutive games, causing many to take notice.

Perhaps no rise in the amount of publicity towards a program compared to that of VT’s in '05, and this was all arranged with a mid-season climax in mind when Larry Coker and company would be making a certain trip to Blacksburg. Looking back, if any attempt to limit school publicity was ever made (a highly unimaginable and extremely ludicrous feat in its own right), it sure didn't help that throughout the fall, the heralded and ever-popular ESPN Gameday crew came to Blacksburg for the first time in five years, twice. Hokie Hype was going through the roof, and there were no signs of it stopping anytime soon.

Meanwhile in the BCS, with the end of the season within sight, controversy was brewing on the thought regarding USC, Texas, and Virginia Tech all finishing the year with untainted records. The difference in strength of schedule between VT and Texas was razor thin, and talks arose as to who would play for a title, had the three-way tie been played out. Statistics and probability aside however, priority number one for the Hokies was, if they were to make any case at deserving a stab at a national championship, to make a strong showing come November 5 against ‘The U’.

Going into the highly publicized meeting with Miami, the Hokies were undefeated at 8-0, and the Hurricanes, under rookie quarterback Kyle Wright, were riding high as well, standing at 6-1 -- their only defeat being a three-point loss to in-state rival Florida State. On top of the impressive records, both Tech and Miami boasted the right as the top two defenses in the nation, respectively.

Though Tech had the better record going in, they were simply overwhelmed by the Hurricane defensive line, as they tore Vick and the Hokie offense to pieces, causing six turnovers from the Hokie playmaker, alone. From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, Miami dominated all 60 minutes, and had pulled out a much-more-lopsided victory than the final score of 27-7 indicated.

Immediately following that first loss for the Hokies, as expected, Tech went straight to being thrown in that pool of overrated programs in college football, and deservingly so -- their inability to win the big game came back to haunt the Hokies, and in regards to the BCS picture left them on the outside looking in.

When I look back at this time and moment of the 2005 season, as cliché as it sounds, that specific loss to Miami truly hurt my heart, and let me be the first to admit that I am not one to totally preoccupy my life so much with sports to the point where a loss during the regular season gets to me personally. To some that may come off as not being the diehard fan, but I see it as not getting too caught up in the physical endeavors of 11 grown men on a stretch of grass. On that note, however, that defeat was an extreme low-point during my tenure as a Virginia Tech student. It hit hard. Perhaps a simple explanation of the events leading up to the game would highlight what this game meant to not only myself, but the university as well.

In the week leading up to that game, all throughout campus there was that certain indescribable atmosphere -- the city of Blacksburg was literally booming and bustling with excitement towards the Saturday night matchup. Not only was the increased interest towards the two teams' meeting found amongst the students, but between the faculty and staff as well. Many professors, who usually made it a point to keep class lectures 'strictly business', were in this case, constantly talking amongst students in class about all things related to the approaching Saturday Night Showdown. Even at the dining halls, employees serving meals or working the cash register always seemed to work in a line or two regarding the game to the students as they came and went. All anyone seemed to be concerned with was the upcoming Miami game itself -- nothing more, nothing less.

With so much hype surrounding this one game with monumental consequences and ramifications to the rankings of each program, if you were hoping to attend, yet were not a season ticket holder or a student fortunate enough to land a ticket, then basically you were SOL in finding a seat in Lane without having to pay an arm and a leg. In fact, friends of mine amongst the stadium at kickoff said scalpers were, no joke, charging a full $1,000 for individual tickets spread throughout the upper to nosebleed sections, and people were paying. The public's desire to see this game in person was ridiculous.

Unfortunately for every ticket holder in attendance, there wasn't much of a game to be played, as all 65,000+ in attendance at Lane and millions nationwide watching on Primetime ESPN witnessed Frank Beamer's lineup get completely worked by a better, more determined Miami team from start to finish, erasing all hopes of a undefeated season and any remote chance at playing for a national title.

What ensued amongst the Virginia Tech campus following that loss was a complete and utter reversal in the overall demeanor of every single Blacksburg student and resident alike to the point where crowd-chant starters, notoriously known as the loudest and rowdiest of the diehard Hokie fans, were walking back to their cars, dorms, or buses with their heads hung low, in silence amongst throngs of depressed crowds everywhere. There would be no post-game rally, parties or celebrations, and rightfully so -- for all there was for the majority was just a dismal, disappointing ending to a dismal, disappointing showing by the home team on a night where they couldn't have played any worse.

Campus the following morning was a ghost town from dawn until dusk, compromising what arguably could have been considered the gloomiest day ever at Virginia Tech, period. The streets were pure silence. There were no cars, no students, no nothing -- hardly the case on the weekends. I specifically took note of this when I strolled through to get a quick bite at one of the on-campus dining halls. I never spent less time finding a parking spot or waiting to get my meal -- it seemed everyone was spending the day sulking up the loss in their room, depressed beyond any immediate types of consolement following such a devastating event.

The university would eventually return to normalcy two weeks later following a bye week with a 52-14 drubbing of bitter rival Virginia for the Commonwealth Cup and in-state bragging rights. Reflecting back on the Miami loss though, it seems unfathomable how the effects of just one game made such an impact on the university, and unfortunately, things would only get worse. Only a month later Hokie fans would have to witness the team's defeat at the hands of Florida State in the Conference Championship, in addition to having to experience the eventual dismissal of quarterback Marcus Vick from the program once again.

Skipping ahead to present day, foregoing a few minor developments for the Hokies during the off-season, the Hokies' ranking will be heavily affected by the loss of several key starters and a lack of experience all throughout the offensive depth chart. Despite that, however, led by a strong defensive rating, the Hokies should land a spot in the preseason rankings ranging in the mid-twenties, and with their relatively easy schedule this year, could go as well as 12-0, that's right, 12-0.

With that being said though, we'll save the reasoning behind that claim for another time, for as for right now, let's shift gears back to Ciriminiello and his article -- do have a peak at it.
Since 1971, 31 college football programs have graced the AP’s preseason Top 20—Top 25 beginning in 1989—at least 10 different years. Some have routinely lived up to their expectations, rewarding voters by either meeting or exceeding summer expectations with a solid season. Many others over the last 35 years, however, have not been as kind to the pollsters, often fading quickly and failing to meet their advanced billing.

Beyond being just interesting factoids and fodder for message boards, it’s relevant to understand which programs have historically received the benefit of the doubt in August, only to tank once the one meaningful barometer of success—live action—begins in September.

Preseason polls are vital because they establish expectations and give those chosen schools a decided head start in the race for a national championship. And if Behemoth U. is getting a perennial lofty ranking because of its reputation and national notoriety, well, that’s cause for a closer look. There’s little debate that biases exist in the rankings, but until preseason and postseason polls are compared side-by-side, it’s difficult to truly and tangibly know which schools have been overrated and which have earned their station on the charts.

For this exercise, we’ve sampled AP rankings from the last 35 years and are only evaluating schools that have been recognized in 10 or more preseason polls. Trying to cull some meaning out of, say, Kansas, Indiana or any other school that makes a once-every-decade cameo in summer rankings would prove fruitless.

Composite score represents the average annual number of spots a school's final ranking fell below its preseason ranking since 1971.

The 31 teams that have been in at least ten preseason AP polls

The Most Underrated Team Has Been...

31. Miami – The ‘Canes were a little late getting to this party, but once they arrived in the early 1980s, they were here to stay. The 1983 team traveled from No. 20 to No. 1, and kicked off a 10-year stretch in which Miami finished in the Top 10 eight times. Since that championship season, they’ve also crashed and burned just once. That was the one-year rebuilding period of 1997, when the ‘Canes went 5-6, lost by 47 to Florida State and had a rare postseason without a bowl game.

*Composite Score: -2.41

29. Virginia Tech – The Hokies’ first preseason AP ranking didn’t occur until 1994, but they’ve attracted enough attention to pick up the requisite 10 mentions to qualify for this debate. They’ve replaced spectacular with steady, notching at least seven wins and a bowl berth in each of the last 13 seasons. The bottom has yet to fall out since they started getting respect in the polls, and they’ve had just enough double-digit jumps in the polls to manufacture a very respectable composite score.

*Composite Score: -2.70

The Most Overrated Team Has Been...

1. Michigan State – No matter how good they look or how many starters are back, do not do it. Do not champion the Spartans, America’s most overrated college football program. Resist that temptation and you’ll prove wiser than your peers in the end. Ten times since 1971, Michigan State has been ranked in the preseason. In nine of those years, they ended the season unranked. And there are some real clunkers in the school vault, including Bobby Williams’ last team, which opened 2002 at No. 17, yet could only manage four victories and a host of off-field missteps.

*Composite Score: -19.80

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hokie Football: Virginia Tech Lands QB Tyrod Taylor

Last night amongst a crowded press conference with much of the Tidewater area tuning in, Hampton High quarterback Tyrod Taylor announced his decision to play next year for Frank Beamer and 'The University of Virginia Tech', kicking his other prime choice of Florida University to the curb. Though it's no official letter-of-intent towards VT, this is still big, big news not only for the Hokies, but for many colleges around the nation as well, as the rising senior admitted to having been offered a total of over 50 scholarships altogether during his recruitment.

Hokie followers everywhere should be ecstatic upon hearing the newest of Hokies' commitment to come to Blacksburg, especially with the aftermath of the Marcus Vick controversy still looming as well as having to witness Tech's troubles at quarterback throughout the training sessions this past spring. Though Virginia Tech has been praised for their tremendous job towards in-state recruiting, it's been several years since the program landed a five-star quarterback, and this one is shaped exactly in the on-field mold of Marcus and his older brother, Michael.

As you may have already read in my earlier posts not more than a few days ago, this young man from Hampton Roads is the real deal, and to illustrate the effect his decision has already made in the area, here are several full articles from the local paper, the Daily Press, that have been all over this story since it unfolded last night:

Taylor's choice: Virginia Tech
Hampton High quarterback Tyrod Taylor picks Virginia Tech, saying he wants the chance to play close to his home and his family.

July 22, 2006
By Melinda Waldrop

In the end, Tyrod Taylor wanted to be close to his family.

Taylor, Hampton High School's highly sought-after quarterback, ended months of suspense Friday, announcing that he will stay in state and attend Virginia Tech next season.

His family - both immediate, including his two great-grandmothers, and extended, totaling about 200 people - was mighty glad to hear it.

The crowd, gathered at Crabbers Restaurant in Hampton, broke into a loud, lengthy cheer when Taylor made his choice live on WAVY News 10 TV. "I wanted to be around my family where they could come see me play, (and) I fit in well with the coaches and the players," Taylor said.

Taylor, who his dad said had been offered more than 50 scholarships, narrowed his choices to Florida and Virginia Tech. But after attending a camp for rising high school seniors at Tech on July 8, Taylor became more certain of his decision, and he canceled a visit to Florida he'd scheduled for last week.

"I had a real good feeling," after the camp, said Taylor, who said he also took into account the Hokies' pledge not to recruit any other quarterbacks from the class of 2007.

After he announced his choice - by saying "the University of Virginia Tech," which caused a few heads in the audience to snap around before he finished his unconventional phrasing - Taylor donned a maroon hat emblazoned with the letters VT that his mother, Trina Taylor, pulled from a gold bag. His dad, Rodney Taylor, soon sported similar headgear.

Rodney Taylor said his son liked Tech's academics, and the fact that he'll be competing on a national stage for the perennial ACC title contender.

"You know they're gonna be in some big games," Rodney Taylor said.

"Playing at Hampton High School, all the games are big over there. You can't lose any of them. We expect that same thing at Virginia Tech."

Rodney said his son visited Penn State, N.C. State, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.

Tyrod Taylor wanted to make his decision public before attending the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Los Angeles this weekend, and before beginning practice with the Crabbers, whom he led to the Division 5 state championship last season.

Several members of the championship team were on hand for the announcement, as was Elton Brown of the Arizona Cardinals, who played at Heritage and Hampton.

Taylor accounted for 2,588 total yards - 1,544 through the air and 1,044 on the ground - in 2005. Hampton coach Mike Smith said the process of choosing a college hasn't deterred Taylor from focusing on duplicating, if not bettering, those numbers this year.

"He hasn't quit working. I'll tell you that," Smith said. "I don't know that there's anybody that's worked any harder than he has. He's really put some time in in the offseason on his own. I think he's gonna go out and have a good showing at the Elite 11, come back, and be ready to roll."

Taylor's announcement came as no surprise to Smith, who gave Hampton native Curt Newsome credit for sealing Taylor's choice. Newsome, Tech's offensive line coach, who recruits the Southside and Hampton High, is a former coach at Kecoughtan and Heritage high schools and has enjoyed a long relationship with Smith and his players.

"He's just a really well-established name here in the community and in the state of Virginia," Smith said.

Smith also thinks the Hokies' offensive scheme will appeal to Taylor.

"He can play under center or in the shotgun, either one, and they utilize both aspects," Smith said. "They throw a lot of play-action, and the things that we do are similar in that respect. So I think he's gonna fit in extremely well."

Taylor isn't worried about any potential comparisons to former area standouts-turned-star Hokie QBs, such as Michael Vick, with whom he spoke before making his decision.

He's just eager to get to Blacksburg and begin competing for the starting job, currently being contested between Sean Glennon and Cory Holt.

Taylor said he's eligible to graduate from Hampton in December and enroll in Tech in January. He'll make that decision, he said, before the Crabbers' season starts in September.

"I just want to get there and play," Taylor said.
Taylor decision sparks Tech
With Tyrod Taylor's recruitment behind him, he's in the process of doing some recruiting of his own for Virginia Tech.
July 22, 2006
By Norm Wood

HAMPTON -- Tyrod Taylor looked comfortable early Friday evening with the Virginia Tech baseball cap pulled down over his eyes. He was ready to get back to his part-time job as one of Tech's biggest unofficial recruiters.

There will be time in the future to worry about Tech's depth chart at the quarterback position. That situation wasn't his most pressing concern Friday after he committed to Tech at a Hampton restaurant. Forget about Jim Cavanaugh, Bryan Stinespring and Curt Newsome, all Tech assistant coaches and the football program's primary recruiters. For the next few months, Taylor will be Tech's most influential recruiter.

"I'm going to try to bring in as many players as I can," Taylor said. "If I can't bring in any, I'll just work with what's there."

Taylor, who will be a senior at Hampton High this fall, has already started stumping for Tech with some of the nation's top wide receiver recruits. Numbers for receivers Jay Smith from Virginia Beach, Mark Barnes from South Carolina and Arrelious Benn from Washington, D.C., are all in his Taylor's cell phone.

Smith had 17 catches for 276 yards and six touchdowns last season at Kempsville, and will attend Lake Taylor High in Norfolk this fall. Taylor said he and Smith have had many conversations about college plans.

Smith is considering scholarship offers from Clemson, Michigan State, Miami, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech. After hearing about Taylor's commitment to Tech, Smith's father, Mordecai, admitted it's bound to affect his son's decision.

"I thought it was a great decision to go to Tech," said Mordecai, who added Jay plans to announce his intentions after this coming football season. "In my opinion, and my son's opinion, he's one of the best players in the nation. My son would love to have the opportunity to play with him. It's definitely in our thought pattern (to go to Tech)."

Mordecai said Jay has official visits scheduled for both U.Va. and Tech. U.Va. picked up a commitment in April from Peter Lalich, a top-rated quarterback from West Springfield High in Northern Virginia. Despite Lalich's commitment, Mordecai said if Jay had to narrow his list down today, U.Va. would get cut before Tech.

It's all because of Taylor.

"Not taking anything away from Pete Lalich and Virginia, because the Virginia assistant coaches are great people, but this decision (by Taylor) does play a major factor," Mordecai said. "It's a new era at Virginia Tech. It's the Tyrod Taylor era. We saw the Michael Vick era. Now, we have to brace ourselves for this Tyrod Taylor era."

Taylor said he has spoken with Barnes, and has gotten a positive response regarding Tech, but hasn't had the opportunity to talk with Benn. Benn said he's looking forward to listening to what Taylor has to say.

"I've never really seen him play, so I don't really know much about him, but I definitely want to talk to him," said Benn, who added that Tech is currently behind Notre Dame, Florida State, Illinois and Maryland on his list. "I know who he is. I'm going to go check out some video and things (on Taylor) right now."

Though Taylor just made public one of the worst-kept secrets in recruiting circles, his college future hasn't been any mystery to Tech recruits. At a July 8 camp at Tech for rising high school senior football players, Taylor said he told a few recruits he was going to commit to Tech.

He said he spoke with offensive linemen William Alvarez and Blake DeChristopher and receiver Patrick Terry. DeChristopher had committed to Tech two days earlier. Terry committed on the day of the camp, and Alvarez committed July 15. They were three of Tech's 10 commitments during a torrid 11-day span.

After he's done making his phone calls to recruits, Taylor said he will make a decision on whether to enroll at Tech in January or wait until fall 2007. With sophomores Sean Glennon and Cory Holt fighting for Tech's starting quarterback job this fall, and redshirt freshman Ike Whitaker waiting in the wings, the sooner Taylor gets to Tech may be the better.

Considering Tech has had its share of success with mobile quarterbacks in recent history (see Michael Vick, Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick), it might not take long for Taylor to move ahead of Glennon, Holt and Whitaker.

"They're all good players," Taylor said. "I love to compete. There's competition wherever you go. I want to compete for that job as long as it's fair.
LET'S GO HOKIES!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hokie Football: Taylor: 'It's Virginia Tech'

This is BIG. More tomorrow.

TYROD TAYLOR: IT'S VIRGINIA TECH
Highly regarded Hampton quarterback picks Hokies over the University of Florida.
MELINDA WALDROP and LYNN BURKE
Daily Press
July 21, 2006, 6:29 PM EDT

HAMPTON -- Tyrod Taylor, Hampton High School's highly touted and heavily recruited quarterback, will play his college football at Virginia Tech.

Taylor picked Virginia Tech over traditional SEC title contender Florida during a televised press conference Friday night. He becomes the fourth high-profile Peninsula quarterback in the last decade to pick Virginia Tech, following Michael Vick and Marcus Vick, both from Warwick, and Bruton's Bryan Randall.

Taylor also considered Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina State.

The crowd gathered at Crabbers Restaurant in Hampton broke into a loud, lengthy cheer when Taylor made his choice live on WAVY News 10.

"I wanted to be around my family where they could come see me play, (and) I fit in well with the coaches and the players," Taylor said.

Taylor, who his dad said had been offered upwards of 50 total scholarships, narrowed his choices to Florida and Virginia Tech in late spring. But after attending a camp for rising high school seniors at Tech on July 8, Taylor became more certain of his decision, and he canceled a visit to Florida he'd scheduled for last week.

"I had a real good feeling" after the camp, said Taylor, who said he also took into account the Hokies' pledge not to recruit any other quarterbacks from the class of 2007.

Taylor amassed 2,588 yards -- 1,544 passing and 1,044 rushing - as he led the Crabbers to the Division 5 state championship last season as a junior. Rivals.com, a website that tracks high school recruits, ranks Taylor as the fourth-best quarterback prospect in the country and the No. 18 prospect overall. Scout.com ranks Taylor as the No. 7 quarterback prospect nationally.

Taylor has said he wanted to announce his decision before attending the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Southern California this weekend. Nike selected 12 top rising senior quarterbacks from a pool of more than 1,000 candidates to attend the camp.

Hampton coach Mike Smith said he and Taylor discussed several different schools, taking into account things such as whether Taylor's family would be able to see him play.

Smith's program also has produced such high school quarterbacks as Ronald Curry, now a wide reciever with the Oakland Raiders, and Marques Hagans, who was drafted by St. Louis out of Virginia in May.

Smith said Taylor reminds him of those two in several key ways.

"I think all three of those guys had the same God-given ability," Smith said. "They're talented, and they don't let things bother them. If they make a mistake or somebody on their team makes a mistake, they don't dwell on it. They're all confident. They all take command in the huddle, but they don't let things bother them, and I think that's really, really important as a quarterback, that you don't dwell on what's happened."

Smith said the hype surrounding Taylor's decision is probably the greatest of the three because of the national exposure he's gotten through camps and combines.

Hagans went on to a successful four-year career at Virginia, becoming the school's second-most accurate passer, and is expected to contribute to the Rams on special teams. Curry's collegiate career at North Carolina was injury-plagued, and he's currently trying to recover from a torn Achilles' tendon.

Taylor, Smith thinks, has the potential to achieve great success at the next level.

"He's played against a lot of speed," Smith said. "He's played against a lot of great athletes. He's a very disciplined kid. He's got all the characteristics that he would need. … Barring injury, he's gonna be a good one."

For more details, read the Saturday editions of the Daily Press.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hokie Football: NCAA 07 Player Ratings

As I write this, I'm fairly confident that the majority of people reading this already hopped over yesterday to their local Wal-Mart or video game retailer and picked up a copy of this year's NCAA Football title, so on that note, many of you are probably already aware of the ratings of the players posted in this piece. But for any of you Hokie fans out there who haven't bought the game yet or perhaps were just curious as to see how the guys over at EA Sports made Beamer's Boys for this upcoming season, this post is for you.

*Disclaimer: Before posting, I briefly browsed for other sites around the web for a simple player rating database for this year's roster, but to my dismay I found only one, and as of today it was not updated with the new ratings.*

NCAA Football 07 Virginia Tech Hokies Player Ratings
NumberLastFirstPositionYearOverall Rating
1HarrisVictorCBSo.80
2MorganJoshWRJr.87
4RoyalEddieWRJr.87
6BowmanAndrewLBr-So.72
7GlennonSeanQBr-So.82
8BooneGregQBr-Fr.71
9HallVinceLBr-Jr.93
11AdibiXavierLBr-Jr.96
12HoltCoryQBr-So.80
13GordonCoreyLBr-Jr.75
15MinorRolandCBr-Jr.87
18FlowersBrandonCBr-So.82
19HymanJoshWRr-Jr.83
20Lewis Jr.KennyRBFr.77
23SchmittNicPr-Sr.93
25ParkerD.J.FSJr.87
26HicksKentCBr-So.75
27CheesemanJahreCBr-Fr.76
28OreBrandenRBr-So.76
30WadeCaryROVr-Sr.85
31HillBrendenLBr-Sr.86
33WarrenBrettLBJr.80
34BellGeorgeRBr-So.86
36RouseAaronROVr-Sr.94
37AllenJesseFBr-Sr.92
38LewisElanRBr-Fr.81
39WeatherfordCarltonFBr-Jr.75
40WallWilliamDEr-Fr.82
41MartinCamFSr-Fr.80
43VirgilStephenCBFr.74
45SturdivantPurnellLBr-So.76
46PaceBrandonKr-Sr.94
49EllisChrisDEr-Jr.93
51WelshMattGr-So.75
58ShumanRyanC/Gr-So.80
59BookerBarryDTr-Jr.85
60BurnettChrisDTr-Sr.77
63NorrisRobertGr-Fr.70
67MarshmanNickGr-So.74
69McGrathDannyCr-Sr.88
70RenderSergioGFr.76
71BrownAaronTFr.77
74FryeBrandonTr-Sr.86
75RobertsonKoryDTr-Jr.86
76BrownDuaneTr-Jr.85
77GoreBrandonGr-Sr.82
79DavisEricGr-Fr.72
80DillardBrandonWRr-Fr.67
81HarperJustinWRJr.83
82FridayJustinDEFr.77
83WheelerSamTEFr.83
85WangEdTEr-Fr.75
87ClowneyDavidWRSr.86
90MartinOrionDEr-So.78
92DunlevyJudPKr-Jr.80
93GreenHiveraDTr-Fr.73
95ThompsonCordarrowDTr-Fr.71
96BurchetteNolandDEr-Sr.92
98DevelliJaredPKJr.82
99PowellCarltonDTr-Jr.88

Hokie Football: Individual Game Tickets Now On Sale

Courtesy of Hokiesports.com
BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech Athletics Department announced today that a limited number of football tickets are now on sale for three of the eight home games scheduled in 2006. Tickets are available for Tech's home opener vs. Northeastern on Saturday, Sept. 2; Tech's ACC home opener vs. Duke on Saturday, Sept. 16; and the Hokies' Nov. 11 contest with Kent State. The available tickets are due in part to each of the visiting teams returning a portion of their ticket allotments.
To purchase tickets call the Virginia Tech Athletic Ticket Office at (540) 231-6731 or toll-free at 1-800 VA TECH4 (1-800-828-3244), or log on to Hokietickets.com.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hokie Football: Four New Commitments

Courtesy of Staff Wire Reports from the Daily Press
Hokies get four more commitments
July 17, 2006

Though the pace is sure to slow down, Virginia Tech might fill all available spots for its 2007 football recruiting class by the end of July if commitments continue to roll in at this rate.

Tech added four more commitments this past weekend, all from offensive players: tackle William Alvarez, wide receiver Danny Coale and running backs Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby. They bring Tech's commitment total to 11. Tech picked up nine of those players in nine days (July 6-15). Feb. 7 is the first day recruits can sign a letter of intent with a university.

Alvarez, a 6-foot-6, 305-pounder from C.D. Hylton High in Woodbridge, got scholarship offers from Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Penn State, Miami, North Carolina and others.

Coale, a 6-foot, 195-pound student at Episcopal High in Alexandria, had an offer from Virginia Military Institute in his hometown of Lexington. He had 14 touchdown receptions last season.

Evans, a 6-foot, 215-pounder from Warren Central High in Indianapolis, considered offers from Purdue, Colorado, Washington, Louisville and others. He has more than 4,300 rushing yards and has scored 66 TDs in the last two seasons combined.

Oglesby, a 6-foot, 210-pound recruit from Garner High in Garner, N.C., turned down offers from Wake Forest, N.C. State, East Carolina and UNC.
As mentioned, with the added recruits, our current total of commitments increased to 11. Here's a look at who has verbally committed to becoming a Hokie.
NamePositionStarsHeightWeight40HometownStateStatus
Alvarez, WilliamOL* * *6-5305N/AWoodbridgeVAVT Commit
Barden, BrandonTE* * *6-52204.57LincolntonGAVT Commit
Battle, KwamaineDT* *6-12604.8BaileyNCVT Commit
Coale, DannyWR* *6-01954.42LexingtonVAVT Commit
DeChristopher, BlakeOL* * *6-52905.0MidlothianVAVT Commit
Drager, ChrisTE* * *6-42354.8Jefferson HillsPAVT Commit
Evans, DarrenRB* * *6-02054.55IndianapolisINVT Commit
Lanier, AndrewTE* *6-53054.75RoebuckSCVT Commit
Odom, QuillieLB* * *6-12004.6ManassasVAVT Commit
Oglesby, JoshRB* * *6-52204.57LincolntonGAVT Commit
Terry, PatrickWR* *6-01824.39South BostonVAVT Commit

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hokie Football: Tyrod Taylor Update

Just following my article yesterday on the Hampton High football standout and possible future Hokie quarterback Tyrod Taylor, today the local Hampton Roads newspaper, the Daily Press, released this article into print about the prospect, basically reaffirming many of the things I wrote yesterday, and going further into depth.

Kudos to DP sportswriter Melinda Waldrop for putting together this detailed article that features insight from not only Taylor's head coach, the local legend in Mike Smith, but from Taylor himself, on the main issue of who will be his college of choice come 2007.

To check it out, you can read the quoted article in full below or click here for the original link.
Hampton High's Taylor to make college pick
Tyrod Taylor inches closer to announcing his decision, but his coach says he's already made up his mind.

BY MELINDA WALDROP
July 15, 2006

HAMPTON -- One of the players drawing the most attention at Friday night's VHSCA East-West all-star football clash wasn't even in the game.

Hampton High quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who will be a senior this fall, roamed the sidelines as Virginia's best graduating seniors competed in front of him. Dressed in baggy denim pants cinched just above the ankle with a snappy drawstring, Taylor exchanged handshakes with players, greeted friends and often pressed his cell phone to his ear.

A lot of eyes have been on Taylor for a long time. Having narrowed a laundry list of interested Division I suitors down to Virginia Tech and Florida, Taylor is set to announce a public decision in a week, Crabbers coach Mike Smith said. But Smith also said Taylor's choice has already been made.

"He knows where he's going," Smith said Friday night. "I know where he's going."

Taylor himself didn't have much to offer on the subject. "I'm trying to get to Florida next week," he said in between critiquing the East coaches' playcalling from the sideline.

Taylor said he still wants to announce his choice before he attends the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Los Angeles, slated for July 24-27. The camp is designed to highlight the country's top 12 rising senior quarterbacks, selected by Nike from a field of more than 1,000 candidates.

Taylor accounted for 2,588 total yards - 1,544 through the air and 1,044 on the ground - and 30 touchdowns as Hampton won the Division 5 state championship last season. He also showed off his ability as a cornerback, causing the title-clinching fumble as the Crabbers defeated Stone Bridge to claim the state crown.

Taylor's stat-studded year has led to much interest in Smith's storied program, which has also produced current Oakland Raider Ronald Curry and Marques Hagans, drafted by St. Louis in May after a four-year career at Virginia.

"We've been through a lot of them," Smith said. "We just kind of let them go through it, but (Taylor) has handled it well."

Smith said Taylor has talked to him about the recruiting process, but didn't go into great detail about how he culled the teams he was considering, including Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina State, to the Hokies and the Gators.

"We talked about things, just like all the guys," Smith said. "Things you want to look for, and where you're comfortable. ... Are your parents gonna be able to see you on Saturday? ... He's thought a lot about it."

Smith said Taylor has tentative plans to reveal his choice next Friday at Crabbers Restaurant in Hampton. A few weeks later, on Aug. 14, the Crabbers begin practice and pursuit of a second consecutive state championship.

"I think that it's important that he does it before the season starts," Smith said. "Whoever gets him, they're gonna get a good one. (But) they can't have him till we're through with him."

Friday, July 14, 2006

Hokie Football: The Second Coming of (Michael) Vick?

recruit_e_clausen_412

Virginia's very own Tyrod Taylor is on the verge of entering the national spotlight, joining the likes of California standout Jimmy Clausen (above), who has already commited to joining the Fighting Irish.

While strolling through ESPN.com this morning, I came across their recent high school football recruit list they had updated, entitled "The ESPN 150", featuring their choice of 150 of the nation's best high school and prep school seniors.

Just upon glancing at the large collection of names already full of prestige, yet still booming with potential, perhaps the only name that caught my eye, aside from the top overall ranked player, Jimmy Clausen, was that of a Hampton, Va. quarterback whom critics and fans alike have already begun to compare to the likes of Virginia high school football legends Michael Vick and Ronald Curry.

That being said however, being compared at such a young age to players with incredible football pedigrees might come off to some players as not that flattering compliment, but as an intimidating assumption, for a comparison like that leaves one with extremely big shoes to fill, and Taylor, of all people, knows this. Fortunately for him, filling those shoes with another impressive season will be that much easier this year, as he will not have to play with the added pressure of his senior performance making-or-breaking his chance at a college offer. The Hampton Crabber has recently stated that his list of over 50 college offers was narrowed down to two, with Florida University being one, and Virginia Tech being the other.

Yes, I know. Your interest in this article just increased dramatically. And it should have, for the chance of this young prospect with all kinds of talent and heaps of potential coming to Blacksburg is a reality -- something that has coaches at Blacksburg salivating over the thought of him playing at Lane.

So with that being said, still in the dark as to who I've been referring to? None of this sound familiar at all? Then I guess you haven't been paying that much attention to the the recruiting sites lately, but not to worry, because without further ado, let me take the time to introduce to you the name of a football phenom that you will undoubtedly be hearing in the many years to come:

Tyrod Taylor.

Come a few years time on the college level, he will be all the rage. Best believe it.

I first became aware of this talent in early January over the Winter break in, when during my time back home from Tech (in Yorktown -- you know, where we beat the British), my parents received the sudden urge to witness a game featuring two of the area's top high school basketball programs, the Hampton Crabbers and the Bethel Bruins (where he went), after reading about the matchup in the local paper.

Upon making their decision, I was asked to come along and agreed to do so, giving into the hype, knowing that these two bitter rivals were pitted off against one another in not just any old, regular matchup -- this game was going to be for the championship of Bethel's esteemed Christmas tournament.

After making about a ten minute drive down the street to the nearby venue, we arrived to the ticket booth surrounding the school gym with loads of time to spare before tip-off, but despite that, the facility was already approaching its sold-out status and we had to scrunch our way into the back of the crowded stands, slightly scattered between other families and fans awaiting the start of the game.

As tip-off time slowly started to approach, both teams entered the gym for warmups, when I casually first catch a glimpse of the Hampton standout in Taylor with whom his reputation I was only slightly familiar with, and the only reason I remember noticing him was because of how he stood out with a puffy afro that rivaled that of Mr. Ben Wallace himself.

In my forgetful mind, the game came and went -- my only true memories being Bethel winning the game on a shot with a second remaining on the clock, as well as the crowd around me seeming obviously impressed by the talent of Taylor as he wowed everyone watching with an array of athletic moves and finishes at the basket. Though I forget the exact amount of double-digit points he finished with (which was not available online for internet confirmation), I do remember Taylor earning MVP honors of the entire tournament (which was available online for internet confirmation),a respectable feat to accomplish in one of the state's better, if not best, Christmas tournaments.

All in all for Taylor, though an impressive athlete on the basketball court, word is Taylor's skills on the hardwood don't even compare to the insane amount of talent he posseses on the gridiron. In fact, as a junior last year, not only did the junior throw for nine touchdowns and more than 1,500 yards, but he also showed he had the coveted ability to create plays on the run, as he racked up a total of 21 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards on the ground. Time and time again, Taylor was able to find the end zone, and his success as a complete all-around threat under center was all the reason why the Crabbers finished with a 14-1 record.

(Highlights of the team's season included a 66-20 romping over the Vick's former high school in Warwick, followed by the avenging of the Crabber's only loss on the season -- a 6-12 defeat at the hands of the Adibi's former high school in Phoebus, by defeating the Phantoms a month later by a final score of 29-7).

Bringing a pass-first but "run when necessary" mentality to the quarterback position similar to the Vicks, Taylor (left) finished last season with a total of 30 scores in addition to more than 2,500 all-purpose yards -- as a junior. Come next year, the reality of the Hampton Roads dual-threat QB coming to Blacksburg is surprisingly much closer than you'd be inclined to think.


Following the team's remarkable season which included a run all the way to the state finals, Taylor capped off the successful season the only way he knew how -- leading the Crabbers a 15-8 victory, and its 17th AAA state football championship, finishing the game with a total of 106 yards on 15 carries and a score.

Ever since his success during his junior year, Taylor has been the recipient of consistent praise and accolades, as even the area's paper, the Daily Press had him crowned as the area's Athlete of the Year. ESPN's Top 150, which lists the young Taylor as the 13th best player in the entire nation, also has him as one of the top three quarterbacks in America to keep an eye on. Even the highly respected (and worshipped) Rivals.com gave the Virginia Prospect a five-star rating, in addition to his ranking as the second best dual-threat quarterback and the 18th best player in the entire country.

Still not impressed?

Perhaps the fact that the kid runs a 4.5 40-yd dash, or that he has a 32-inch vertical, or that he has some size as a 6'1, 200 pound 16-year-old does it for you. Perhaps it doesn't, I agree -- he's not some giant physical specimen under center. But looking back, our greatest playcaller to date didn't possess the biggest of all statures -- in fact he was smaller at that same phase of his career.

In the end, what it all boils down to catching my eye about Taylor is the fact that the kid honestly (and I don't have never said this) reminds me of that former quarterback who wore that sacred Hokie number seven, and come 2007, the possibility of him coming to the 'Burg is a strong possibility, as Rivals.com reports:

It's down to an either/or situation for Hampton (Va.) dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor. After narrowing his list of over fifty offers down to a final two of Virginia Tech and Florida, the nation's No. 18 rated player will make his final decision in a couple of weeks while out in California participating in the EA SPORTS Elite 11 Camp.
50/50? When it comes to a quarterback this good joining your program, I'm not complaining.

And when it's all said and done, I'm pretty sure this guy isn't either.

2Tyrod Taylor
School:Hampton High
Height:6-foot-1
Weight200 Pounds
Jersey Number:5
Position:Quarterback
40-yard dash:4.55 secs
Vertical32 Inches
Shuttle3.93 secs
College ChoicesVirginia Tech / Florida

Scout.com Player Evaluation: Tyrod Taylor
STRENGTHS
 + Accuracy / Consistency
 + Running Ability / Mobility
 + Touch
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
 - Size

Biography:
As a passer Taylor has all the throws in his arsenal. He can throw with zip or touch, is very accurate and throws a great deep ball. When forced out of the pocket Taylor shows excellent accuracy when throwing on the run, even against his body. While in the pocket he is very tough to bring down because of his exceptional quickness, hips and footwork.
Last season, Taylor led Hampton to the Group AAA Division 5 State Championship and earned Associate Press All-State honors after passing for 1,544 yards and nine touchdowns, and rushing for 1,044 yards and 21 touchdowns.