Randall named team MVP at Hokies' awards banquet
By Jimmy Robertson
January 1, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - Virginia Tech quarterback Bryan Randall was named the Hokies' most valuable player at the Hokies' 2004 awards banquet held Saturday night at the Marriott in New Orleans.

The entire team voted on the award and Randall won after a season in which he became Tech's all-time leader in passing yardage and total offense. He also won the Dudley Award as the Commonwealth of Virginia's top collegiate football player and he received the ACC's player of the year honor.

Randall, a senior from Williamsburg, Va., was one of many players honored at the banquet. Here's a list of the major award winners:

Lawrence R. White Award (the most outstanding strength and conditioning athlete) - Brandon Manning

Wes Worsham Award (the player who exceeds expectations and surprises everyone with his performance) - Jon Dunn

John William Schneider Award (player who has excelled in athletics, academics and leadership) - Kevin Lewis

Paul Torgersen Award (player who shows a commitment to hard work and great effort) - Jim Miller

Williams-Moss Award (player who is the greatest moral influence on his teammates) - Mike Daniels

Paul Frederick Cobb Award (player who contributes the most to team spirit) - James Griffin

Outstanding Senior Award (senior who exhibits leadership and character) - Richard Johnson

Edward G. Ferrell Award (player who exhibits hard work and unselfishness) - Jason Lallis

The football staff also handed out numerous other awards. The Chain Gang awards go to the offensive players who graded a winning percentage in at least eight of the 12 games. Eleven players received this honor - Jon Dunn, Jim Miller, Will Montgomery, Jimmy Martin, Jeff King, Jared Mazzetta, Justin Hamilton, Cedric Humes, Eddie Royal, Mike Imoh, and Randall.

Three defensive players received awards as the leading point-getters during the season. Those were Darryl Tapp (linemen), Vince Hall (linebackers) and Jimmy Williams (defensive backs).

The Sledgehammer Award, which goes to the defensive player who made the biggest hit during the season, went to James Griffin for his hit of a Western Michigan running back. The Big Kahuna Award, which goes to the special teams player who made the biggest hit this season, went to Robert Parker for a block on a punt return in a game earlier this season.

Defensive tackle Jim Davis received the Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award, while the Outstanding Linebacker Award went to Mikal Baaqee. Williams, Eric Green and Vinnie Fuller each shared the Outstanding Defensive Back Award.

Will Montgomery, the Hokies' starting center, was the Outstanding Offensive Lineman, with Jeff King winning the Outstanding Receiver Award. Randall took home the Outstanding Offensive Back Award.

Tech punter Vinnie Burns won the Outstanding Specialist Award.

Finally, six players received the honor of being voted as this season's permanent captains. Those players included Davis, Baaqee, Fuller, Green, Mazzetta, and Randall.

Hokies head to the Superdome

The Virginia Tech football team bid farewell to Tulane University on Saturday after conducting part of their practice there before moving to the Superdome, the site of the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3rd.

Tech's coaching staff, mainly head coach Frank Beamer, worked on a few special teams situations on Tulane's practice field early Saturday afternoon, and then the Hokies packed up their gear and rode on buses to the Superdome. They spent more than an hour at the Superdome mainly to get acclimated to the venue they'll be playing in Monday night.

"The surface is the same as it was at Tulane, but playing in a dome is just different," Beamer said. "I always thought that when we played at Syracuse. The ceiling here is higher and the lighting is different. I thought it'd be good for us to catch some balls and field some punts just to get used to it a little bit."

The Hokies spent a lot of the practice working on special teams. In what figures to be a close defensive struggle, the game could come down to special teams and both punter Vinnie Burns and Brandon Pace are preparing themselves for that situation.

"A lot of people have been saying that," Pace said of the potential for a close game. "This game could be like the N.C. State game and the West Virginia game, where I had a bunch of field goals. I'm looking forward to the opportunity if it presents itself. I just hope I can help this team."

Pace was one of five Tech players taken to the daily news conference at the Hyatt hotel, along with Burns, center Will Montgomery, defensive end Noland Burchette and tailback Mike Imoh. No coaches attended this press conference.

After practice, the players enjoyed some free time before attending the annual team awards banquet. Each year, Beamer and his staff have the awards banquet at the bowl game, usually in a banquet room at the team hotel.

The players had curfew at 11 p.m., though many of them stayed at the hotel with their families after the banquet. They'll go through a brief walkthrough at the Superdome on Sunday to conclude their preparations for the game.

Crescent City clips

  • New Year's Eve came and went without a hitch for Tech's players, and surprisingly, only a small group of them stayed out until the 1 a.m. curfew. Bourbon Street was insanely crowded, with fans from both schools starting to pour into town, and many of the players decided it wasn't worth it to deal with the crowds.

    "I think everyone's had their fun," Pace said. "It's time to play the game. I'm ready to play right now."

    Imoh agreed.

    "A few of us went down to Bourbon Street," he said. "But it's the same thing over and over. We're ready for the game."

  • Imoh proclaimed himself ready for the game against Auburn. The junior from Fairfax, Va., injured his hamstring against Maryland and missed the majority of the Hokies' final two games of the season.

    "There's no question I'm full speed," Imoh said. "I tested it out hard the first day we were down here and it felt great. I've felt fine since then. So I'm ready."

  • Imoh received a call from former Tech tailback - and his good buddy - Kevin Jones on New Year's Eve. Jones, who starts at tailback for the Detroit Lions, leads all rookies in rushing, and ranks among the league leaders in rushing the latter half of the season.

    "I think he got mad at me because I broke his record," said Imoh, referring to his single-game record 243 yards rushing against UNC that broke Jones' old mark of 241 against Pittsburgh. "It's like 'You broke my record, well, let me show you something.' He's been incredible."

  • Beamer, Tech's head coach, finally made it to the casino, but his stay didn't last too long. He only allowed himself to wager a certain amount, and after losing his 'allotment,' he headed back to the hotel.

    "Everything about this trip has been great except that," Beamer told a few media members, laughing.

    He refused to say how much he lost.

    "Enough," he said.