News With Commentary by HC Staff
Thursday, August 3, 2000
True Freshmen Begin Practice
Tech's true freshmen football players started practice Wednesday. Every year, the freshmen arrive early and get a few days worth of drills in before the upperclassmen show up. It gives the coaches a chance to run the freshmen through some basic drills, get to know them a little better, and evaluate which ones will be redshirted (answer: nearly all of them) and which are candidates to play.
In a quote aired on Channel 10 Tuesday night, Coach Beamer indicated that 2-4 of the freshmen could find playing time, and he also said that if a freshman plays at Tech, they will play "a lot." Beamer and his staff don't want to waste a potential redshirt year on just a few plays here and there.
A source at Tech tells me that of all the incoming freshmen, two of the most impressive are offensive lineman Jon Dunn and incoming wide receiver/defensive back Richard Johnson. At this early stage, the coaches feel that Dunn will be making big money in the NFL in four or five years, and that he's good enough to merit playing time this year.
The thing is, the Tech offensive line is deeper than a book full of Jack Handy quotes, so as good as he is, Dunn will spend a year as a redshirt, getting stronger and faster, working on his academics, and acclimating himself to college football. But he appears to be a true star in the making.
The other player that my source called out as a possibility for playing time is Johnson. It appears at this point that Johnson's most likely destination is the wide receiver position. The coaches are going to take a good hard look at him to determine if they think he can contribute, or if a redshirt year is in order.
Other than that, no other true freshmen were called out to me as being candidates for playing time in 2000, but that doesn't mean that the coaches don't have other freshmen that are high on their list. I'm sure we'll hear more on that later from official and unofficial channels.
The freshmen worked out in Rector Field House (it has been raining every single day here in the NRV since about March), and Channel 10 out of Roanoke had video and a few interviews. They showed the freshmen going through some basic receiving drills and sprints, among other things.
One thing I've noticed about the true freshmen at Tech over the last few years is how more of them come in every year looking as if they could physically play at this level in their first year. In 1993, Cornell Brown was a bit of an oddity at Tech, arriving with a chiseled body and a washboard stomach, looking as if he had already spent four years in Mike Gentry's system. The Hokies immediately penned him into the starting lineup and never looked back. But as I said, back then, Tech didn't land many players of Brown's caliber, who looked like a total stud at the age of 18.
In 1994, I attended the Outback Steakhouse Welcome Back Picnic, back when it was just me and 50 of my closest friends who used to go to those things. One of the main purposes of those picnics is to introduce the true freshmen to the fans (the picnic still serves that purpose, although now it is also used to auction off old jerseys and signed football helmets, a practice that I'm finding increasingly annoying as time goes by -- this year, when the grab for cash starts, I'm getting up and leaving).
One of the things that struck me at the 1994 picnic is how few of the kids looked like college football players. Most of them looked like big young kids who were a bit soft and had some conditioning to do before they'd be ready for prime time. The one notable exception I remember from that year is Ken Oxendine, who drew thunderous applause and looked as if he could step on the field right away.
But as each year goes by, more and more kids remind me of Brown and Oxendine. Last year, Nathaniel Adibi and Chris Buie really stood out as being muscular kids who physically looked as if they could contribute as true freshmen.
With practices being closed these days, it's hard to get a look at the kids, and the video that Channel 10 showed didn't give me a good read on any kids in particular, although they did show a shot of Johnson running a pattern, crossing into the middle, and snagging a pass cleanly.
They also interviewed Josh Spence from Floyd County (who, Tom Booth reported, was working out at tailback … hmm) and linebacker Chad Cooper. Spence and Cooper both were fresh off of a running drill, gasping for breath as they talked about the group of players they were practicing with being on a whole different level than what they had seen in high school.
Hey, fellas, wait until the upperclassmen arrive in a day or two. You ain't seen nothin' yet.
For those of you waiting on your parking pass and season tickets, I can't help you out with your seating locations, but I can give you a good idea of where your parking pass is going to wind up.
The following info is from a very good source in the Tech athletic department, who believes that it is all complete and correct with regards to the number of parking spaces in each lot and the Hokie Club levels that will park in each lot. Take a look and try to figure out where you'll be (for a parking lot map, see this HokieCentral.com map)
By my count, at $30 per season parking pass, that's a cool $188,400 in parking revenue.