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   Welcome to TSLMail #331- Friday, May 23, 2008    
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   Tech Sports News

ACC Backs Need Help From Teammates
by Chris Coleman,

If the ACC wants to get better as a football conference, the quickest way to do that is by getting better offensively. Although the numbers don't necessarily show it, the conference does return some very good tailbacks this year. If they can get some better blocking, they can improve the offensive production of their teams and conference.

Here's is a look at the top returning rusher for each team.

The ACC's Leading Returning Rushers, 2007 Statistics
Team Player Yards YPC
Boston College Billy Flutie/Chris Crane -4 -4
Clemson James Davis 1064 5.0
Duke Re'Quan Boyette 432 4.2
Florida State Antone Smith 819 4.3
Georgia Tech Jonathan Dwyer 436 5.3
Maryland Da'Rel Scott 135 9.6
Miami Graig Cooper 682 5.5
North Carolina Johnny White 399 4.2
NC State Jamelle Eugene 667 3.9
Virginia Cedric Peerman 585 5.2
Virginia Tech Tyrod Taylor 429 4.2
Wake Forest Josh Adams 953 4.4

Yes, you read that right. Boston College lost seniors Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth, while A.J. Brooks left the program. Fullback James McCloskey has moved to linebacker, and Matt Ryan is off to the NFL. That means wide receiver Billy Flutie and quarterback Chris Crane are the leading returning rushers. Both finished with a whopping -4 yards on one carry each.

True freshman tailback Josh Haden is the best bet to start at tailback for the Eagles this year. He enrolled early and went through spring practice, giving him more experience than the other four recruits that will be arriving in August.

Clemson has the top duo of running backs in the conference in James Davis and C.J. Spiller. Davis is an every down back, and Spiller is the type who can take it the distance from anywhere on the field. The only question is what kind of blocking they'll get. The Tigers have had serious offensive line turnover in the past two offseasons. They'll be playing linemen their fans have never heard of this year.

Duke has a solid running back in Re'Quan Boyette. Unfortunately for Boyette, he won't stand a chance if the Blue Devils put another 1-AA caliber offensive line on the field this year. Duke will probably have to rely on their passing game again.

Antone Smith of Florida State is a good back playing behind a rebuilding offensive line. Things were set up for improvement this year, but the �Noles recently lost starting tackle Daron Rose to academics. FSU doesn't have much depth up front, and Virginia Tech fans know all too well what happens when you lose a starting lineman and you have no depth behind him.

Georgia Tech lost a very good tailback in Tashard Choice to the NFL, but they'll replace him with Jonathan Dwyer, who might be even better. Dwyer was very good as a true freshman last year. He has good size, and a great skillset as a runner. He's not an easy guy to tackle. Just ask D.J. Parker, who was run over by Dwyer in last year's game in Atlanta. The only question about Dwyer is how he'll adjust to running the option.

Maryland lost their top two tailbacks in Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball. They'll replace them with Da'Rel Scott, who is very much under the radar. He averaged a high yards per carry last year in limited work. Maryland's postseason hopes could depend on how well he produces.

Miami has two excellent backs, though you wouldn't know it from their stats. Javarris James and Graig Cooper are a very talented duo, and they complement each other very well. They were shut down last year for a number of reasons, none of which was their fault. Miami had a bad offensive line and not much of a passing game. The 'Canes must get better up front this year, or else it will be another very long season.

North Carolina's weakness on offense last year was the lack of a tailback. They tried several, including converted wide receiver Greg Little towards the end of the season. The Little experiment worked out very well, and it will be interesting to see which direction they go when the season begins.

NC State has three good backs. Andre Brown and Toney Baker missed most of the year with injuries, and the Wolfpack turned to Jamelle Eugene, the third string back. Eugene played very well. All three backs return for the 2008 season, and they should have quite a battle for playing time.

Perhaps the lone bright spot for Virginia heading into 2008 is at tailback. Cedric Peerman was leading the ACC in rushing before he was lost for the season in 2007. Mikell Simpson stepped in and never missed a beat. Like most other ACC schools, offensive line and quarterback issues could plague the Cavs in 2008.

Virginia Tech was set to return one of the conference's top backs in Branden Ore, but he was dismissed from the team before spring practice began. Tyrod Taylor is the leading returning rusher. Kenny Lewis could miss the first part of the season with a shoulder injury, and Jahre Cheeseman is injured as well. The next two backs, Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby, have never played a down of college football.

Josh Adams became Wake Forest's top runner last year as a r-freshman. He easily would have been a 1,000 yard rusher had he been the top back all season. This year he should carry more of the load, and he'll be a name you'll hear quite a bit over the next few years. He appears to be a bigger, more physical back that what we're used to from the Demon Deacons, yet he still has the speed and cutting ability to be a great fit for their offense. Watch out for Adams. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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  • Feature Articles
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For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. Updates From the Past Week
Friday Football Q&A: May 23, 2008
May 23, 2008
We are back with another session of Friday Q&A! Raleigh Hokie takes on a question about recruiting, as well as questions about Tech's personnel at free safety and offensive line.

2008 NCAA Softball Super Regional Preview
May 23, 2008
Softball expert Craig Fain returns with a preview of this weekend's best-of-three Super Regional matchup between the Hokies, led by Angela Tincher, and powerful Michigan, the overall #4 seed in the tournament. All games of the Super Regional will be televised on ESPN.

TSL Audio: Interview With Angela Tincher
May 23, 2008
Free audio feature: Wednesday evening on "The Final Word," George Hunsicker of ESPN Radio 1430AM in Blacksburg interviewed shooting star Angela Tincher about Tech's win in the Regionals last weekend, preparations for Super Regionals this weekend, the big win over the US National Team, and other topics. Said George after the interview, "What a nice person." We agree (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 2.4 MB, 10:09).

TSL Audio: The Final Word, 5/21/08
May 23, 2008
Free Audio Feature: On Wednesday's "Catching Up With Coleman" segment of "The Final Word With George Hunsicker," George and Chris covered a number of Tech sports topics: The withdrawal of Peter Rose's scholarship, whether or not coaches can truly know everything about a recruit, how this year's football team compares to the 2004 team, what's going on in recruiting, and the key criteria in evaluating a recruit. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 3.4 MB, 14:32).

Roberts Accepts Challenge of Early Expectations
May 22, 2008
One of the most highly touted prospects in Virginia Tech's 2008 recruiting class, Dyrell Roberts, a 4-star recruit who was rated the #2 overall prospect in the state in TSL's Postseason Top 30, knows there are a lot of expectations of him as his Tech career is about to begin. Though Roberts excelled at running back at Smithfield High School - the first-team all-state performer rushed for 2,235 yards as a senior and 1,000 yards as a junior - he is coming in to Tech projected as a wide receiver and the opportunity for early playing time is there.

Is Top OL Nixon Close to Narrowing List?
May 21, 2008
Jack Britt (Fayetteville, N.C.) boasts two Division 1A recruits in the 2009 class, including top offensive tackle recruit Xavier Nixon and standout athlete Everett Proctor. Virginia Tech is one of 40 Division 1A programs that have offered Nixon, and the staff is showing some interest Proctor as well.

Inside the Numbers: Rating the 2000 Recruiting Class
May 21, 2008
Since the offseason is in full-swing, it's time to pick up where we left off last summer with another edition of Rating the Recruiting Class. Last summer we looked at the 1999 class, and this year we'll pick up with the 2000 recruits. This class was signed just a month after Virginia Tech played for the National Championship. Like the 1999 class, the 2000 class wasn't flashy. It was also a pretty poor year for the Hokies in-state, as you'll see.

Powell Scores First Two Offers
May 21, 2008
6-3, 200-pound Great Bridge (Chesapeake, VA) athlete Carvin Powell has picked up two official offers, head coach Pete Gale reported yesterday. And more offers could be on the way soon, possibly as early as the end of the May Evaluation Period.

Thomas has Become a Big-Time Target
May 20, 2008
Brookville (Lynchburg, VA) athlete Logan Thomas has quickly become one of the most highly sought after recruits in the East, having now received 16 Division 1A scholarship offers. The 6-6, 220-pound junior admits that it is "real nice" to have so many opportunities, but, with so many options, he is only focused on narrowing his list before the start of his senior year as opposed to making a summer decision.

Hokie Softball to Compete in Super Regionals on ESPN
May 19, 2008
As a result of their victory in the Knoxville Regional over the weekend, the Virginia Tech softball team is heading to Super Regionals in Ann Arbor, Michigan against the Michigan Wolverines. Tech is one of just 16 teams still playing, and beating Michigan would send the Hokies to the eight-team Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Also: Hokies Pull Peter Rose's Scholarship

Mackey Addresses Qualification Status
May 19, 2008
One of Virginia Tech's prized recruits in the 2008 recruiting class, Hargrave Military Academy defensive end prospect Leon Mackey, a true senior, will graduate from the Chatham (VA) school on May 31st. The biggest question facing the 6-6, 257-pound prospect these days is whether or not he will be able to enroll at Virginia Tech later this year, and this question was posed to him yesterday.

Hill Awaits More Offers
May 19, 2008
Lafayette (Williamsburg, VA) defensive end Will Hill expected more than two Division 1A scholarship offers by this time, but the new offers have not come to fruition. Maryland and Virginia remain Hill's only two Division 1A offers, but the interest from other schools certainly has been there in the month of May.

Softball Wins Knoxville Regional
May 18, 2008
It took them one game longer than they would have liked, but the Hokies have won the Knoxville Regional. Tech needed to win one game today against Tennessee to advance. They couldn't get it done in the first game, falling 7-1. With both teams facing elimination in the deciding game, it was the Hokies who came through, beating the Vols 4-2 and advancing to face 4th-seeded Michigan.

Stolle's Grand Slam Sends Tech to Regional Championship Game
May 17, 2008
Another great performance from Angela Tincher and a grand slam from Virginia Tech's #9 hitter propelled the Hokies to a 4-0 win over Tennessee on Saturday. Tech advances to the Regional Championship on Sunday. With one more win, they'll advance to the Super Regionals.
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