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Welcome to TSLMail #342- Friday, August 8, 2008
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Hokie Wideouts Thriving in the NFL
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com

NFL preseason camps are in full swing, and all teams will have played their first exhibition game by the end of this weekend. The Hokies have a total of 32 players in NFL camps. Believe it or not, Tech has more wide receivers in the NFL than any other position, except for defensive back, of course. For a program that is known for its toughness and talent in the trenches, that's somewhat surprising.

We already knew that the Hokies put out great defensive backs in the NFL, but the Hokies aren't exactly known for their passing game. However, there are currently six former Hokie receivers on NFL rosters, and each one has either already made a name for himself, or he has a chance to do so this year.

Hokie Wideouts in the NFL
Player Team Year
Ernest Wilford Miami Dolphins 5
Andre Davis Houston Texans 7
David Clowney New York Jets 2
Eddie Royal Denver Broncos R
Josh Morgan San Francisco 49ers R
Justin Harper Baltimore Ravens R


First let's talk about the guys who are already in the NFL. We'll start with Ernest Wilford.

Wilford has played his entire career in Jacksonville, but now moves south to play for the Miami Dolphins. He had 37 career starts as a Jaguar, with 121 career receptions. He was brought to Miami to start at one of the wide receiver positions, probably opposite Ted Ginn. He should be one of Miami's top targets this season.

Andre Davis began his career in Cleveland, and he always showed potential. However, he could never shake free of the injury bug. After three years in Cleveland, he went to New England, where he caught just nine passes in 2005. He then moved on to Buffalo in 2006, where he had just two receptions.

For most guys, that would probably be the end of their NFL career. Davis got one more shot, this time in Houston. He was able to stay healthy and take advantage of it. When Texan star receiver Andre Johnson went down with an injury, Davis moved into the starting lineup. He responded by catching 33 passes for 583 yards. He also became the primary kickoff returner, and took three kickoffs back for touchdowns, including two in one game.

His reward was a 4-year, $16 million contract in the offseason. Sometimes perseverance pays off.

David Clowney spent last season as a member of the New York Jets. He was not on the active roster, but he was a member of the practice squad. He apparently learned a lot since last season. As training camp has progressed, Clowney has been more and more impressive.

In the Jets' win over the Browns last night, Clowney had four catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He had two touchdown receptions of over 70 yards and probably earned himself a spot on the active roster with new quarterback Brett Favre.

The other Virginia Tech receivers in the NFL are all rookies. They have all been mentioned in the preseason, and all reviews have been positive.

Eddie Royal was a second round pick of the Denver Broncos. He was expected to provide immediate help returning kicks, and perhaps see a little bit of action as a slot receiver. He has done a lot more than that. Royal has played so well that he's forced his way into the starting lineup with Brandon Marshall.

For the starting spot opposite of Marshall, he had to beat out veterans such as Darrell Jackson, Brandon Stokley and Keary Colbert. He hasn't entrenched himself as a starter yet, but he is expected to run with the first team on Saturday night against the Texans.

By the way, there will be a lot of Hokies in that Denver-Houston game. By my count, we'll see John Engelberger, Eddie Royal, Andre Davis, Duane Brown, Xavier Adibi and Brandon Frye.

Josh Morgan was a sixth round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. He has drawn rave reviews for his performance throughout training camp. He certainly doesn't look like a sixth round pick.

The 49ers play their first preseason game tonight, and because of a couple of injuries, there is a good chance that Morgan will get the start in his first-ever NFL game. The other starting wideout will be Arnaz Battle. If Morgan plays well tonight, he could move up the depth chart even more. If nothing else, we at least know that he's got a bright future in the NFL.

Finally, Justin Harper is playing for the Baltimore Ravens. He played in his first game last night, and had one reception for 18 yards. Harper has made a good first impression in training camp. However, he isn't 100% certain to make the final roster. He is in a competition with a couple of other rookie receivers.

Finally, think about this. Assuming Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan start this weekend, the Hokies will have four rookies starting their first-ever NFL game. Brandon Flowers started for the Chiefs last night, and Duane Brown is slated to start for the Texas as well. What's more remarkable is that three of the players are offensive players. When you watched Tech's offense last season, did you ever get the feeling that three of the 11 players on the field would go on to start their first-ever NFL game?

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TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week

Hokies Complete Edwards Tandem

August 8, 2008
Virginia Tech received another commitment for their 2009 recruiting class on Friday morning. Tyrell Edwards informed Tech's coaches of his intentions to play college football in Blacksburg, joining his brother Tariq as the 13th member of this recruiting class.
more

Friday Football Q&A: August 8, 2008
August 8, 2008
Raleigh Hokie is our contributor in this week's Friday Q&A. He tackles questions about using Tyrod Taylor in goal line situations, why Bud Foster doesn't rotate his inside linebackers, and what type of quarterback the coaching staff would prefer to have in the future.
more

2008 ACC Football Season Preview: North Carolina State
August 8, 2008
Tom O'Brien is entering his second year at NC State. He did a very good job in his first year, coming within one game of getting the Wolfpack to a bowl game. He did that despite having quarterbacks that threw the ball to the other team a lot more than they did to their own receivers.
more

2008 Hokie Football Season Preview: Running Backs
August 7, 2008
The Virginia Tech backfield will look different without Branden Ore. Ore was a little less than 1,000 yards away from breaking the school all-time career rushing record, but a number of problems forced Frank Beamer to part ways with the talented runner. The Hokies must replace starting fullback Carlton Weatherford as well. A number of candidates are lining up, particularly for the open tailback competition.
more

TSL Audio: The Final Word, 8/6/08
August 7, 2008
This week's "Catching Up With Coleman" segment of "The Final Word With George Hunsicker" on ESPN Radio 1430AM in Blacksburg featured George and Chris talking about Virginia Tech's outlook in football, key position battles, and ACC foe the Miami Hurricanes (WMA format, 2.6 MB, 11:00).
more

Player Profile: LB Telvion Clark
August 7, 2008
When Curt Brown returned to the Granby (Norfolk, VA) sideline as defensive coordinator in the 2007 season, he saw a potential stud in 6-2, 210-pound linebacker Telvion Clark. Clark didn't disappoint, registering over 150 tackles including nine sacks last season as a junior. As the new Comets head coach, Brown expects a big-time senior season from Clark, who has continued to improve this off-season.
more

Exum Continues Recruiting Visits
August 7, 2008
As he awaits the first preseason practice of what will be his senior season, Deep Run (Glen Allen, VA) defensive back/wide receiver recruit Antone Exum continues on in the recruiting process. The 6-0, 210-pound prospect, who has yet to narrow his list of double-digit scholarship offers, has focused his latest travels on the Big 10 conference.
more

Leaner and Meaner: Hokies Ready for 2008
August 6, 2008
Football practice began on Monday for Virginia Tech. Beginning this week, and continuing throughout the preseason, we'll read article after article that will focus on Tech's quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, defensive tackles, as well as the kicking game. While all of that is important, the truth is that the Hokies may have taken the most important step towards another successful season over the summer: by all accounts, they made major strides in their offseason conditioning program.
more

2008 ACC Football Season Preview: North Carolina
August 6, 2008
The Tar Heels appear to have good players at all positions on offense, however the most experienced and most polished group is wide receiver. They are led by Hakeem Nicks, arguably the best wide receiver in the ACC. He caught 74 passes for 958 yards and five touchdowns last season. Similar to Josh Morgan in build, he has a good combination of all the skills necessary to be a great wideout: hands, speed, moves, and route running.
more

Varina Notes: Rhodes Adds Another Big Offer
August 6, 2008
Varina's (VA) varsity football team begins a new era this season, with new head coach Stu Brown taking over the reigns from former head coach Gary Chilcoat. Coach Brown is excited about the 2008 group, which includes top defensive line prospect DeAntre Rhodes and top rising junior offensive lineman Marquis Wallace, among others.
more

TSL Audio: The Jerry Miller Show, 8/5/08
August 6, 2008
Yesterday afternoon, TSL's Chris Coleman made his debut appearance on Jerry Miller's new program "The Jerry Miller Show" and talked Hokie football with Miller. Chris and Jerry talked wide receivers, recruiting, Vinston Painter and more. The Jerry Miller Show appears on The Sports Addict Radio Network every afternoon from 1:00-3:00 pm in Blacksburg (1430 AM), Charlottesville (840 AM), and Bluefield (1050 AM), and from 2:00-4:00 in Martinsville (1160 AM) (WMA format, 2.8 MB, 12:05).
more

2008 Hokie Football Season Preview: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
August 5, 2008
The Hokies have a tremendous amount of youth and inexperience at wide receiver. Only one player in the current three deep at wideout has played in a college game. It's possible that as many as three true freshmen could play at wideout this year. Things are a lot better at tight end, where the Hokies actually have more players than they need this year.
more

Top WR Evaluates Options
August 5, 2008
Concord (Wilmington, DE) wide receiver Justin Brown, one of the top overall prospects in the Northeast in this 2009 recruiting class, admits that certain schools have made more of a positive impression than others, but for now he is not disclosing a clear list of favorites. And he has yet to narrow a list of schools that includes offers from Boston College, Iowa, Maryland, N.C. State, Oregon, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others.
more

Gregory Heads to FUMA Next Week
August 5, 2008
Certainly, former First Colonial (Virginia Beach, VA) star running back Tony Gregory would rather be in Blacksburg right now, suiting up for the orange and maroon and preparing for his freshman year. Gregory's Virginia Tech career will have to take a detour first, though, and the 6-0, 192-pound prospect is headed to Fork Union on the 14th of this month.
more

Position Changes, Freshman Status Update, and Player Attrition
August 5, 2008
Virginia Tech began practice yesterday, and there were a few guys who were playing different positions than expected. Also, we have the status of Virginia Tech's 2008 football recruits who are not enrolled for this semester, and information on a couple of players who have left the program.
more

2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Miami
August 4, 2008
Miami is coming off a rough season that saw them finish 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the ACC, finishing ahead of only Duke in the ACC standings. They lost their last four games last season, and six of their last seven overall. Their most humiliating defeats came at the hands of Oklahoma (51-13), Virginia (48-0) and Virginia Tech (44-14).
more

Hairston Updates Recruitment
August 4, 2008
Courtland (Spotsylvania, VA) forward Josh Hairston, one of the most highly recruited players in the 2010 recruiting class, has earned scholarship offers from Clemson, Duke, Kansas, Memphis, Ohio State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others. The 6-8, 215-pound prospect would like to make his college choice by the beginning of his junior season, but he admits that he is open to waiting beyond that timetable if necessary.
more

Hokies Open 2008 Football Practice Today
August 4, 2008
The day everyone has been waiting for has arrived. The Virginia Tech football team opens practice today in preparation for the 2008 football season, which begins on August 30 against East Carolina in Charlotte.
more

Tech Football Scores Another Top Commitment
August 1, 2008
Virginia Tech's latest verbal is one of the top defensive prospects in the state of South Carolina, a state the Hokies have enjoyed success in these past few years. After signing the top linebacker Bruce Taylor in the 2008 class, the staff had already landed Palmetto state cornerback recruit Jerrodd Williams in this year's class before today.
more

2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Maryland
August 1, 2008
Maryland returns most of their starters on offense, and could have the best offensive line in the ACC. However, there are major question marks at quarterback and running back, and those positions could ultimately hold the offense back.
more
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