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   Welcome to TSLMail #80 - Friday, May 23, 2003    
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   Tech Sports News

Updated TSL Top 30 Rankings
by Will Stewart,

Talk of ACC expansion has dominated the last month or so (with no end in sight), but it's time to switch gears to recruiting.

TSL's list of the top 30 juniors (2004 prospects) has just been updated into its final pre-summer form. The list can be viewed here:'s Pre-summer Top 30, by Chris Horne

The same list, created and maintained by Chris Horne, is now being used by and The TSL recruiting database has been updated to reflect this -- in each player's profile, his Roanoke Times ranking and his ranking are listed, for junior/pre-summer, preseason, and postseason. Preseason rankings will be done in August 2003, and postseason rankings will be done in January  2004.

Head to the Football Recruiting Page, and you'll see a new area in the left-hand column for "TSL's Rankings":

TSL Football Recruiting Page

Nike Camp Notes

The weather at last Saturday's Nike camp in Blacksburg was miserable -- cold and rainy -- but it was interesting to see the camp, nonetheless. Chris Horne detailed the events of the day in his TSL Pass Nike Camp recruiting update, but I wanted to throw in some personal observations, about both the players and the camp itself.

The VT football complex is set up perfectly to host an event like the Nike camp. Campers parked in the Cassell Coliseum parking lot, entered through the Merryman Center's front door, and went into Legends Hall to register.

The campers registered in Michael Vick Hall just off Legends Hall, received their Nike camp T-shirts, and got a piece of tape stuck to their chests with their name and Nike camp number.

From there, the players went down into VT's weight room, where they bench-pressed 185 as many times as possible (amazing stat of the day: Josh Ward of Sevier County, TN, benched 185 pounds an incredible 60 times, and the next closest competitor, Tim Bess out of Parkland, NC, only did it 32 times).

The players then stepped over into VT's small indoor speed facility, next to the weight room, where they were measured for 20-yard shuttle and vertical jump.

After that, players changed from tennis shoes to football cleats and went outside onto the VT football practice fields. After some general warm-ups, they were tested on the far side of the practice fields, far away from spectators, for 40 times.

A drizzling rain started at some point -- I didn't notice if some players were able to run the 40 before the grass got wet, but Eddie Royal's (Westfield, VA) camp-best time of 4.37 would suggest that yes, some players got to run on dry grass.

So the 40 times you will see quoted from the camp were run hand-timed, with football cleats, and mostly on wet grass.

As the 40 times were being taken, various other drills were going on, such as a ladder drill (stepping through a rope ladder that was laid on the ground) and such things. After that, it was on to individual position drills and instruction.

I can report from having watched the camp that the field was packed with some great talent. Someone asked me what I thought, and to be honest, all these kids were good athletes. There were no duds in the bunch. Despite that, a few stood out. One receiver, whose name I didn't get because he was too far away to read it on his chest, had NFL written all over him. Big, fast, with great body control and great hands. And one QB, Chip English, was only middle-of-the-pack sizewise, but had the strongest and most accurate arm in the group. He could really rifle it. Other observers might have noticed other prospects, but English really stood out to me.

The whole camp took about four hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It wasn't until afterwards, as the players were coming off the practice fields, that fans and media were allowed to mingle with them (although some media did interview the kids earlier, as they were exiting the Merryman Center and heading to the practice fields).

At that point, I started to have fun. The interesting thing about high school football players in a setting like that is that they are (understandably) putting on a macho face and trying to impress each other and the coaches, so it's all very serious, with little smiling or playing around.

But once they were off the field, if you approached them, they loosened up and were, for the most part, quite friendly. The first player I grabbed was monster DT A.Q. Shipley, from Coraopolis, PA. At 6-3, 275 (and I think that 275 is conservative), A.Q. towers over my 5-8, 160-pound frame.

A.Q. was very accommodating (we snapped a photo that I'll add into his player profile soon), very polite, and thanked us for the interview afterwards. He was complimentary of Tech's campus and told us that he spent both Friday and Saturday nights in Blacksburg. For the record, A.Q. has a list of ten schools he's looking at now, mostly Big East and Big Ten schools, including VT and UVa.

Also outgoing were William Walls, a DE from H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) and former teammate of 2003 VT signee Roland Minor. I also enjoyed talking with monster DE Brandon Holland of Northside HS (Roanoke, VA). Brandon, listed at 6-5, 289, was befuddled that the Nike officials had only measured him at 6-3.

Holland pointed at a nearby Northside teammate who had attended the camp with him. "He's 6-2," Holland said, "and I'm at least two or three inches taller than him."

"I know, man," his teammate agreed. "I don't get it [that Holland was only measured at 6-3]." Both players were good-natured about it.

Holland is smart, articulate, and has one offer thus far, from VT. He was very accommodating in the interview, despite the fact that we interrupted his boxed lunch of friend chicken.

As always, getting a chance to get up close to the players reminded us that they're regular people, even though they are often bandied about as statistics, rankings, and star ratings. Later on, many of these top players will grow tired of the constant media attention and the hassle of recruiting, but at this point, they seem to enjoy the attention.

Nike camp executive director Andy Bark told that he was "blown away" by Virginia Tech. He said that Nike camps are not done at the same school two years in a row, but he would like to come back two years from now.

To follow VT recruiting through signing day 2004, subscribe to TSL Pass. Keep reading to learn more and to subscribe.

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

Wide Right: "Wall Street" Meets ACC Expansion
by Jeff Cockey, 5/22/03, 11:50 pm
Recently I sat down with my wife to enjoy a truly classic movie of greed, betrayal, violence, backstabbing, and revenge. No, we didnít rent the video copy of the Big East meetings at Ponte Vedra Beach Florida. We sat down to Gordon Gekko and Bud Fox in the movie which eerily parallels this entire ACC expansion fiasco: "Wall Street."
in Voice of the Fan

Readers Respond to "The Villain"
by Will Stewart,, 5/22/03, 12:10 am
My recent column "The Villain" touched off more responses than most columns do -- probably because it was free, ha-ha -- and here we represent some of the better, more reasoned responses.
in TSL Columnists

The Villain
by Will Stewart,, 5/20/03, 2:40 pm
How unfortunate and sad, that the fate of the Big East Conference lies in the hands of someone with no appreciation for its history and no qualms about its destruction: University of Miami President Donna Shalala.
in TSL Columnists

Transcript of Mike Tranghese's Press Conference
by Will Stewart,, 5/20/03, 12:25 am
Yesterday, Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese addressed the media for 25 minutes. Here is a transcript of the entire press conference, which was short on solutions and encouragement, but long on rhetoric.
in TSL Pass

Outwitted, Outplayed, and Outlasted
by Jim Alderson, 5/19/03, 11:15 am
My peripheral role in the TSL shop is to provide some sort of insight, no matter how feeble and ill-informed it might be, and hopefully to inject a little humor into things. That has proven to be a very difficult task this time around, as I can find nothing funny about these grim proceedings. These days it is not easy being a Hokie.
in TSL Pass

ACC Settles on Miami, BC, and SU; VT Fans Wait and Hope
by Will Stewart,, 5/18/03, 12:15 am
Late Friday, three days after approving expansion to 12 teams, the ACC settled on which three teams from the Big East they wish to start expansion discussions with: Miami, Syracuse and Boston College. To no one's surprise, Virginia Tech was shut out of ACC expansion.
in News and Notes

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