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   Welcome to TSLMail #221 - Friday, April 7, 2006    
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A Closer Look at "Game of My Life"
by Chris Coleman,

Mike Harris of the Richmond Times-Dispatch recently completed his book entitled “Game of My Life: Memorable Stories of Virginia Tech Football.” The book centers around some of the biggest names in the history of Virginia Tech athletics and the games that they most remember. It also includes basketball stories as well.

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(ships in early August)

Harris’ book, which will be released in early August, covers the biggest games of 27 famous Hokies. Here is a look at each player that is included and a brief rundown of their fondest memories.

Dickie Beard - 10/2/1954, 18-7 victory over Clemson
“The Cumberland Flash” helped keep the Hokies undefeated with a big game on the road. But it wasn’t the only big win over an ACC team that season. Just a year after the ACC rejected Tech’s bid for entrance, the Hokies beat three ACC teams to open the season. Besides their victory over Clemson, VT beat NC State 30-21 and Wake Forest 32-0.

Carroll Dale - 11/8/1958, 27-24 victory over Richmond
The receiver didn’t catch too many passes, but two touchdown receptions helped him tie a Southern Conference record and helped Tech drop Richmond at home. He played on both sides of the ball for the Hokies, but played his best as a receiver. Dale led Virginia Tech in receiving for four consecutive seasons.

Chris Smith - 1/12/1959, 93-80 victory over Marshall
Just three days after getting 36 rebounds in a game, Smith had 31 rebounds and 30 points in a revenge victory over Marshall. Smith remains at the top of Tech’s record book in virtually all rebounding categories.

Bob Schweickert – 11/3/1962, 24-22 victory over Tulane
Schweickert’s injury-riddled season took a positive turn with a strong showing in New Orleans. It was Tech’s eighth game of the season, and he was finally able to play effectively. He ran and passed for 234 yards against the Green Wave. His 74 yard touchdown run propelled the Hokies to a narrow victory.

Tommy Francisco – 11/24/1966, 70-12 victory over VMI
For a day, Francisco was Touchdown Tommy with six against VMI. He scored a total of 13 touchdowns that season, with almost half of them coming in one game. He led the Hokies in rushing that season with 753 yards.

Glen Combs – 3/17/1967, 79-70 victory over Indiana
Tech was once a game away from the Final Four, thanks to Combs’ 29 points against Indiana in the NCAA regionals. The Hokies advanced to the Elite Eight, where they faced the Dayton Flyers. Unfortunately Tech came up a little short, falling to Dayton 71-66 in overtime.

Frank Beamer – 11/9/1968, 31-18 victory over Richmond
Beamer, Tech’s current head coach, scored a touchdown, completed a pass and met his wife on the same day. That was quite an accomplishment for a player who wasn’t big, but “made up for it by being slow.”

Mike Widger – 11/16/1968, 17-6 victory over South Carolina
Sports Illustrated took notice of Widger’s effort against South Carolina by naming him its national lineman of the week. He made an amazing 29 tackles against the Gamecocks that day, 15 solo and 14 assisted. He was named a First-Team All-American by the Associated Press and the Football Writers Association.

Don Strock – 10/7/1972, 27-27 tie with Houston
The future Miami Dolphin threw for a still-standing record 527 yards, yet zero touchdowns, in a shootout against Houston.

Bobby Stevens – 3/25/1973, 92-91 OT victory over Notre Dame
Stevens missed his first attempt at a game-winner but not his second, as the Hokies captured the NIT championship. This is perhaps the most famous shot in Virginia Tech basketball history. It gave the Hokies a victory over Digger Phelps’ Notre Dame Fighting Irish back when the NIT was a big deal.

Rick Razzano – 10/4/1975
A season turned with a victory at Auburn that was secured with a Razzano-led goal line stand in the closing minutes. The greatest tackler in Tech history, Razzano finished his career with a school-record 634 tackles. He holds the Tech record for tackles in a game (30) and is tied for the lead in single season tackles (177).

Les Henson –1/21/1980, 79-77 victory over Florida State
A left-handed Henson sank a right-handed shot from 89 feet to give the Hokies a victory. If you think Sean Dockery’s half court prayer against Tech was a miracle this past season, then you would be amazed by Henson’s heave.

Cyrus Lawrence – 11/28/81, a 20-3 victory over Virginia
The Hokies’ all-time rushing leader capped his junior season with the only 200-yard game of his career. Lawrence led the Hokies in rushing for three straight seasons from 1979-81. His 1,403 yards in 1981 was a Virginia Tech record until Kevin Jones rushed for 1,647 in 2003.

Bruce Smith – 10/8/1983, 27-14 victory over Duke
The NFL’s all-time sacks leader had his share of sacks in college, too, as Duke’s Ben Bennett will attest. Smith sacked Bennett four times that afternoon. Bennett discussed his day with Smith after the game: “Smith and I talked about my family, his family, world affairs, just about everything. We had plenty of time to get to know each other. He spent the afternoon with me. I’ve played against a lot of great defensive players and Smith has got to be one of the best, if not the best.”

Dell Curry 2/1/1986, a 76-72 victory over Memphis State.
Memphis State’s chance of rising to the top of the rankings ended with a Curry-led four-point loss at Virginia Tech. With a victory over the Hokies, Memphis State would have moved to #1 in the nation thanks to a UNC loss to UVA earlier in the week. But it was not to be. The top two teams in the nation were knocked off by both Virginia schools in the same week.

Jim Pyne, 11/13/1993, 45-24 victory over Syracuse
A 45-24 victory over Syracuse helped Tech start a bowl game streak that is still alive, and Pyne’s work against the Orangemen’s Kevin Mitchell was crucial. Pyne went on to become Virginia Tech’s first Unanimous All-American. He was later drafted by Tampa Bay in the 1994 NFL Draft.

Bryan Still, 12/31/1995, a 28-10 victory over Texas
A 28-10 victory over Texas. Still’s dream that he’d be Most Valuable Player in the Sugar Bowl came true. Still used the game as a springboard into the NFL Draft. He was picked in the 2nd round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Although his NFL career never panned out, his Sugar Bowl performance against the Longhorns will never be forgotten.

Corey Moore – 9/23/1999, 31-11 victory over Clemson
The man Frank Beamer called “the disruptor” disrupted Clemson in a nationally televised Thursday night game. As he sacked Clemson quarterback Brandon Streeter, picked up the ball and rumbled in for a touchdown, ESPN color analyst Lee Corso exclaimed, “Give him the Lombardi Trophy right now!” Moore didn’t get the Lombardi that night, but he got it, as well as the Nagurski Award, at the end of the season after amassing 17 sacks.

Shayne Graham – 11/6/1999, 22-20 victory over West Virginia
Eager to atone for a miss against Miami the previous season, Graham made good with the unbeaten season on the line. His 44-yard field goal lifted the Hokies to the “Miracle in Morgantown”, preserved an undefeated season and propelled Tech to the National Championship Game against Florida State.

Michael Vick – 1/4/2000, 46-29 loss to Florida State
Though Tech lost in a game for the national championship, Vick showed what all the fuss was about with a scintillating show. Vick rushed for 97 yards during the game. He also passed for 225 yards and had a touchdown through the air and on the ground. Despite Tech’s loss, Vick stole the show.

Andre Davis – 10/12/2000, 48-20 victory over West Virginia
In six minutes, Davis scored three touchdowns three different ways to lead the Hokies. The Hokies were trailing 14-7 at halftime, but Davis exploded in the second half. He caught a 64-yard bomb from Michael Vick, scored on a 30-yard reverse and returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.

David Pugh – 1/1/2001, 41-20 victory over Clemson
Pugh was an unassuming guy and, on this day against Clemson in the Gator Bowl, he was unblockable as well. Pugh blew up the Tiger offensive line on two of the first three plays of the game, and spent most of his day in the Clemson backfield.

Ernest Wilford – 12/1/2001, 26-24 loss to Miami
The two-point conversion would have tied the game at 26, but Wilford dropped the pass and Miami escaped with the victory. Though Wilford didn’t catch the conversion, handling the disappointment so well helped turned him into a pro. Wilford went on to become Virginia Tech’s all-time leading receiver.

Lee Suggs – 9/12/2002, 47-21 victory over Marshall
Even when he had to share the ball “TD Lee” was the man. He and Kevin Jones combined for 324 yards in a victory over Marshall and Byron Leftwich. Suggs currently plays for the Cleveland Browns.

Bryan Randall – 10/28/2004, 34-20 victory over Georgia Tech
Down eight points with five minutes to play, Randall led the Hokies to a victory – his first “Elway” moment at Tech. The comeback was one of the shining moments of Tech’s 2004 season, which saw them win their last eight regular season games en route to the ACC Championship.

Mike Imoh – 11/6/2004, 27-24 victory over North Carolina
Imoh set a single-game rushing record with 243 yards, but didn’t find out about it until the next day. A seven yard run by Imoh was accidentally given to Justin Hamilton, and the mistake wasn’t corrected until the day after the game, giving Imoh the single-game record. The Hokies won 27-24 and went on to win the ACC in their first season in the conference.

Carlos Dixon – 2/17/2005, 67-65 victory over Duke
Dixon had 18 points, 9 rebounds and three assists as the Hokies avenged an earlier 35-point loss to Duke. Arguably the biggest victory in Virginia Tech basketball history, the Hokies went on to finish fourth in the ACC in their inaugural season and earn a bid to the NIT. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week
Fleming Has Plenty of Options
April 6, 2006
C.J. Fleming had an excellent junior season for Highland Springs and was no doubt one of the most important pieces in the Springers’ district title run and subsequent playoff berth. A Richmond Times-Dispatch first-team all-metro performer at cornerback, the 5-11, 175-pound standout finished with 39 tackles, had 8 pass break-ups and 6 interceptions. And, according to head coach Scott Burton, Fleming is “probably the hungriest kid that we’ve ever coached here in terms of that he wants success.”

Scrimmage Report: Offense Has a Good Day
April 5, 2006
Just when you wondered if the Hokie offense was ever going to get a chance to show its stuff, the word out of Wednesday's scrimmage in Lane Stadium is that the offensive line finally gave the quarterbacks time to work, and all four QBs stepped up and had good days. We've got good news on the offense and more in this scrimmage report.

Brands Leaving for Iowa
April 5, 2006
According to the Roanoke Times, VT wrestling coach Tom Brands will end all speculation this afternoon about whether he will leave for Iowa when he is introduced as the new coach of the Hawkeyes at a 4 pm press conference. He is expected to take many of his prized recruits with him to Iowa City, and Virginia Tech's dreams of a national championship in wrestling are severely damaged.

TSL Audio: Interview With Mike Harris, Part 2
April 5, 2006
In part 2 of our interview with Mike Harris of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Mike talks with Will Stewart about his recently-completed book (available in August), "The Game of My Life: Stories of Virginia Tech Football." Mike shares some of the more interesting insights behind writing the book, as well as some of the details on the 27 chapters/stories included in the book. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 5.6 MB, 23:13).

TSL Audio: Interview With Mike Harris, Part 1
April 5, 2006
Mike Harris of the Richmond Times-Dispatch joins us to discuss a couple of topics. In part 1 of this two-part audio presentation, Mike and Will Stewart talk about developments in Virginia Tech spring football, including Mike's take on the quarterbacks, tight ends, and defense (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 4.2 MB, 17:26).

Burd Eyeing an Early Decision
April 5, 2006
Two local programs are starting to turn up the heat with Matoaca (Chesterfield, VA) WR/DB Kris Burd. The 6-1, 180-pound Burd, who now says he could have a decision as early as this spring, is hoping to line up April visits to those two programs as well as another.

Nuss Adds Two New Offers
April 5, 2006
6-6, 285-pound Stone Bridge (Ashburn, VA) offensive line recruit Andrew Nuss has had a busy spring off the field in efforts to have a decision made before the start of his senior season. With his scholarship offer number continuing to grow, it’s a decision that seems to be getting tougher and tougher.

Worthington Has Three Offers
April 5, 2006
One of the fastest rising prospects in the state of North Carolina this year is RB Tyrell Worthington from South Central High School in Winterville. Worthington recently checked in at 6-0, 183 pounds and ran a solid 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the combine held at Duke University. He also logged a blistering 4.06-second 20-yard shuttle and 28-inch vertical leap.

Hokie Offense Still Lags Behind Foster's Defense
April 4, 2006
We all know that Virginia Tech is known for Bud Foster’s defense. The offense has had plenty of playmakers in the past, but the Hokies have always employed a conservative offense that focuses on not turning the ball over and not losing the game. This conservative nature on offense shows up in the stats sheet, as does their reliance on Foster’s defense. And in the end it's clear that the defense is doing more than its share, while the offense is struggling to catch up.

DeMatha's Munson Has Outstanding Season
April 4, 2006
Virginia Tech 2006 signee Nigel Munson enjoyed a tremendous senior season individually and for his team, saying “I went out the way I was supposed to go out as a senior. I did all I could do to better my team and myself as a player, on and off the court. I think my stepping up this year scoring-wise helped us out a lot this year.” The 6-0, 175-pound point guard led DeMatha Catholic, one of the nation’s top high school basketball programs, to a 34-1 overall record including a WCAC Championship title.

Whitaker Reinstated; Hokies Announce OOC Game Times
April 3, 2006
The Virginia Tech athletic department reinstated redshirt freshman quarterback Ike Whitaker to the football team Monday afternoon, and game times for Tech's out of conference football games were announced, as well.

Spring Football Update: Noland Burchette, Josh Hyman Out
April 3, 2006
Virginia Tech suffered a serious setback on the defensive line over the weekend. Senior defensive end Noland Burchette fractured his left forearm in Saturday's scrimmage and will miss the remainder of spring practice. He will have surgery to insert a plate and screws into his arm. Burchette's injury is very similar to the injury sustained by Cedric Humes last season. Humes missed just one game as a result of the injury. Burchette will be ready for practice in August.
Also: Quarterback race still tight; Depth developing at defensive tackle; Offensive line still a work in progress; Tom Brands to interview at Iowa.

South Carolina's Top Prospect?
April 3, 2006
With 14 Division 1A offers including Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others, 6-2, 205-pound Conway (S.C.) wide receiver Junior Hemingway is certainly looking like one of the top prospects in his state and even the region. What makes this talented athlete such a hot commodity?

Scrimmage Report: Defense Strong, Tailbacks Take Their Licks
April 1, 2006
The Hokies held a scrimmage in Lane Stadium Saturday afternoon, and TSL had a man on the spot. Our report includes a glowing appraisal of the defense, and a description of how the tailbacks did -- including Elan Lewis taking a whacking on one play that led to him being helped off the field.

The Road to Signing Day 2007: Getting Started
March 31, 2006
In the past, I haven't taken much interest in football recruiting until, say, December or January, which is when the Hokies and every other college football team in the country start their sprint towards signing day in early February. It's my dirty little secret as TSL's managing editor: I don't follow recruiting closely until I have to. But this year, I am determined to get in on the ground floor of the 2007 recruiting class, to get to know the names early, and to follow all the twists and turns that make up the drama of recruiting. Call my journey "The Road to Signing Day 2007."

VT, UVa Serious About Matthews
March 31, 2006
Following two very productive seasons – including a 96-tackle, 4-sack sophomore season and an 82-tackle, 5-fumble recovery and 5-sack junior season - Tolbert Matthews is one of the top linebackers in the 2007 class in the state of Virginia. And he is drawing heavy interest from both 1A state programs as well as a handful of out-of-state schools.
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