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   Welcome to TSLMail #324- Friday, April 4, 2008    
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   Tech Sports News

Wide Receivers and Defensive Tackles Are Key in 2008
by Chris Coleman,

Virginia Tech is very young and inexperienced at a couple of key positions this year.  The Hokies lost four seniors at wide receiver, and three seniors at defensive tackle.  They have had big turnover and played a lot of youth at those positions in the past, and the results have been mixed.

Tech lost five senior defensive tackles from the 2001 team.  They were David Pugh, Chad Beasley, Derrius Monroe, Dan Wilkinson and Channing Reed.  Those players combined for 210 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks during the 2001 season.  Virginia Tech's defense up the middle was the heart and soul of that 2001 team, and those defensive tackles played a critical role

The same can be said for the 2007 defensive tackles.  Barry Booker, Carlton Powell and Kory Robertson played a huge role in Tech's 2007 ACC Championship.  They dominated all ACC foes, and Booker was a 2nd Team All-ACC Player.  They combined for 94 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

Just like the 2002 season, the 2008 season will feature a very young and inexperienced group of defensive tackles.  That 2002 group played pretty well to begin the season, even against LSU, but they lacked depth.  With a couple of key injuries, they faded down the stretch.

However, the 2002 group of defensive tackles had some serious question marks, even when they were healthy.  Junior walk-on Mark Costen started the first game of the season at defensive tackle.  He only played one more game the rest of the season.  Jason Lallis was an undersized r-sophomore who was listed at just 250 pounds.  Tim Sandidge was a r-freshman.  Jonathan Lewis was a true freshman.  There was little experience.

Still, even though they lacked experience at defensive tackle, as well as healthy players by the end of the season, the 2002 Hokies finished #29 in the nation against the run.  That's not bad, considering Tech was starting two freshman defensive tackles by the end of the season.

This season, the Hokies return John Graves and Cordarrow Thompson, who have some experience, but not a lot.  They also return former linebacker/defensive end Demetrius Taylor, who is being tried at defensive tackle.  Taylor is undersized (6-0, 254), but he's in the 2-deep right now.

Overall, it sounds a lot like the 2002 unit in terms of size, experience and depth.  Let's hope they can stay healthy, because if they can't, it could be a long year defensively.  Even with a defensive coordinator like Bud Foster.

Following the 2003 season, the Hokies lost their top two wide receivers.  Ernest Wilford departed for the NFL, and Justin Hamilton moved to running back. The third leading receiver, fullback Doug Easlick, was also gone.  Kevin Jones was fourth, and he left for the NFL. Chris Shreve was sixth, and he graduated.  There were no proven receivers to throw the ball to in 2004.

Those players had combined for 119 receptions for 1,687 yards and seven touchdowns.  That was a lot of production to replace, including the leading receiver in Virginia Tech history in Ernest Wilford.

The Hokies had a very young group of wide receivers in 2004.  True freshmen Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan and Justin Harper were joined by r-freshman Josh Hyman and true sophomore David Clowney.  It was a slow start to the year, but by the end of the season this group proved they would be a force to contend with in the future.

Those five players combined for 95 catches for 1,654 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2004.  They stepped up, and by the end of the season Royal and Hyman were in the starting lineup as freshmen.

This year, Virginia Tech loses their top five pass catchers from last season.  Josh Morgan, Justin Harper, Eddie Royal, Josh Hyman and Branden Ore combined for 166 receptions, 2,175 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.  That's as productive a group as you'll see at Virginia Tech.

Not only did the Hokies lose their top five receivers, but their sixth leading receiver was Sam Wheeler, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury suffered against Georgia Tech last season.  Right now in spring practice, Virginia Tech's most proven receiving threat is tight end Greg Boone (11 catches for 167 yards).

Even if those two positions improve this spring, there will still be plenty of question marks at wide receiver and defensive tackle this fall for the Hokies.  The Hokies will need to get some production from both units to have a chance to successfully defend their ACC Championship.

2008 Spring Game Tailgate Plans

The annual Spring Game Tailgate returns for another year, packed with more food, fun and excitement than ever!

This year's tailgate will be co-hosted by The Colosseum of Blacksburg, A Luxury Sports Condominium and Hotel, and proud sponsor of and Virginia Tech athletics.

We'll have our usual pulled pork barbecue and massive pot luck tailgate, and thanks to The Colosseum, we'll have a few new wrinkles: a morning omelet bar, a hot dog bar, and even a special guest: Virginia Tech radio color analyst and "Buffet Buddy" Mike Burnop will be making an appearance.

The festivities will get underway at 9:00 a.m. -- an hour earlier than past years, thanks to The Colosseum's omelet bar -- under a huge Colosseum tent near the entrance to Lot 4. For complete details, including a location map, click the link below:

2008 Spring Game Tailgate Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

TechSideline Pass - Only $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year!

  • Feature Articles
  • Interviews with recruits
  • Editorials
  • Recruiting updates from Chris Horne, our in-house specialist
  • Recruiting prospect and class evaluations
  • A subscribers-only Recruiting message board (only accessible to subscribers)
  • A subscribers-only message board for general discussion

For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. Updates From the Past Week

TSL's Recruiting Roundtable

April 4, 2008
In the latest edition of TSL's Recruiting Roundtable, Chris Coleman, CFA Hokie, Hokie Phil and I reflect on Virginia Tech's outstanding 2008 recruiting class, analyze the key areas and needs for the 2009 recruiting class and discuss general recruiting issues such as important trends in Tech recruiting and whether or not there should be an early signing period.

Photo Gallery: Deron Washington
April 3, 2008
In honor of Deron Washington, who competes in tonight's collegiate dunk contest (ESPN, 9:00 p.m.), we present a photo gallery of 30 pics from Deron's Tech career. We've got Deron dunking, we've got Deron blocking shots, we've even got Deron flopping. And, yes ... we've got THAT picture. (Don't miss our clever captions, too.)

'09 Profile: Marlboro County High School (S.C.)
April 3, 2008
Marlboro County (Bennettsville, S.C.) finished the 2007 season with a 9-3 record, a region championship and an appearance in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs. Head coach Dean Boyd returns a good group of talent next season, headlined by at least three rising seniors who could end up playing Division 1A football.

Dinwiddie LB Boasts Four Offers
April 3, 2008
Dinwiddie (VA) junior Bradley Johnson racked up 113 tackles including 74 solo efforts and six tackles-for-loss in the 2007 season, earning first-team all-Central district and first-team all-Tri-cities honors for his play at the linebacker position. The 6-1, 210-pound prospect impressed college coaches with his performance and currently boasts four official college scholarship offers to date.

Deron Washington Participating in Dunk Contest Tonight
April 3, 2008
Want to see Deron Washington in a Virginia Tech uniform one more time? You'll have that chance tonight when Washington takes part in the annual State Farm College Slam Dunk Competition. It will be televised at 9pm on ESPN.
Also: 2008 Spring Game Tailgate Announced

Spring Football Update: Harris Top Receiver
April 2, 2008
Virginia Tech has completed four practices since last Wednesday, and the news has been pretty quiet out of Blacksburg. There haven't been very many moves on the depth chart, though by this time next week there should be plenty. This is the first of our Wednesday reports during spring practice, and though there hasn't been much reported, we were able to pick up a few things.

'09 Profile: Lafayette DE William Hill
April 2, 2008
Lafayette (Williamsburg, VA) defensive end William Hill impressed at the University of Virginia's camp last summer, and the performance later resulted in a written scholarship offer from Al Groh and company. About a month ago, the standout junior scored an offer from the University of Maryland while attending a junior day in College Park. Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois and Virginia Tech are among the other programs showing interest in Hill, who hopes to add more offers by the end of spring.

Davila a Promising Prospect
April 1, 2008
Freshman Jeff Allen certainly impressed this past season, providing the Virginia Tech Hokies with a valuable inside presence. Next year, he'll be joined by another promising inside prospect in Starmount High School's (Boonville, N.C.) Victor Davila, a 6-9, 245-pound power forward who was just named a Class 2-A all-state selection by the AP for the second consecutive season.

Catching up with 2008 CB Recruit Eddie Whitley
March 31, 2008
Former Butler High School (Matthews, N.C.) standout defensive back Eddie Whitley looks forward to the challenges that await him at Virginia Tech. There are several, including how he will rebound from a knee injury that kept him out of his senior season as well as how he'll deal with playing cornerback at Virginia Tech.

Hokie Hoops: A Look Ahead
March 31, 2008
The 2007-08 basketball season is over, and although it ended in a disappointing home loss to Ole Miss in the NIT, it was an overall success for Virginia Tech's basketball program. A team featuring six freshmen in the regular rotation won 21 games, finished fourth in the ACC, nearly made the NCAA tournament, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT.
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