It Makes Your Hair Stand on End
By Joel Thompson, 1/25/01

Lightning has been sort of a trademark for VT this past football season. ESPN the Magazine had Vick on its cover and a lighting bolt striking at his feet. The BCA preseason game between Ga. Tech and VT will forever be remembered in Tech lore as the game that showed that only Mother Nature can stop the Hokies as a ferocious lightning storm rocked Lane Stadium and canceled the game. Vick, after months of reassurance that he would return for his junior season, bolted to the NFL early, possible for the Lightning Bolts of San Diego. And today, lightning struck again.

The Vick departure while disappointing, was inevitable. The football gods have smiled on VT in recent years. They smiled once again with a vengeance this season as we kept our football program in tact as Beamer stayed to rule the roost. Even with major injuries to Vick and our secondary, we won 11 games for the second season running and played ball on New Year's Day. Not to shabby considering our defense was left mighty lean by graduation, and our starting junior tailback bolted for the NFL. Vick would have left after next year anyway. We can still take advantage of having a top notch coaching staff, eight consecutive bowl years, two back-to-back eleven win seasons, continued media exposure, and an $83 million dollar stadium and facilities expansion to lure recruits not only from Virginia, but nationwide.

Many fans have wrung their hands at his departure fearing the worst for Tech football. Most pundits have dropped us out of National Championship contention and back into the "also-rans," ranking us pre-pre-season somewhere between 13th and 18th. Many critics point to the loss of our star player as a return to Independence Bowls and 7-4 seasons. However, January 24th, 2001 is a day that the Hokies took another step towards the altar as the betrothed and not the yearly role of bridesmaid.

Frank Beamer is known for polishing raw, ordinary talent and bringing out the best that a player has to offer. However, today, he took a gem from one of college coaching's greats, and brought it home wrapped in an Orange and Maroon box. Kevin Jones, the number one running back in the country, is passing up Joe Paterno and Penn State in favor of Frank Beamer and the Hokies of Virginia Tech. Even Vick, who was an unbelievable talent, was relatively unknown. But Jones is a different story. He was recruited by most of the big schools and is lauded for his ability to run track as well. At a Florida State football camp, he blistered the field with a 4.26 time in the 40. Only Randy Moss has matched that speed at this venerable camp. His father claims he clocked him at 4.21.

Why Virginia Tech? He pointed to Tech's strength training program as a deciding factor and stated that, "It just feels right."

So the Hokies have had lightning strike more than once or twice over the past several years. Some folks claim lightning never strikes more than twice. It seems at Virginia Tech, there is a lightning rod firmly in place to allow it to strike for years to come.


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