Tech holds first practice
By Jimmy Robertson
August 7, 2003

The Virginia Tech football team held its first practice of the fall Thursday afternoon on the practice fields behind the Jamerson Athletics Center as the Hokies begin preparations for the 2003 season.

Wednesday evening, 105 players, including freshmen, reported to Blacksburg on the eve of the first practice. Tech spent the first day in helmets, jerseys and shorts and practiced for more than two hours.

"I'm excited," quarterback Bryan Randall said. "I'm happy to get started. It's been a long summer and we've worked hard. I couldn't wait to get out here and get going."

"This was a different first day for us," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "In the past, we've had the freshmen in a few days early and we have a few practices before the varsity reports, but this year [because of an NCAA policy change], we're all together.

"I thought we had a good practice. We've got a lot of eager kids. They've worked hard over the summer and I think that's a great indication of how you're going to do in the fall because kids could be doing other things [in the summer]."

Because of the lack of practice time with the freshmen, Beamer and his staff plan on quickly identifying the freshmen most likely to contribute this season and giving them some additional reps.

"I think being with those varsity guys is the best teacher," he said. "Those guys can help the freshmen as far as what to do in certain situations and which way to step, things like that.

"Our philosophy with freshmen has always been if we're going to play them, we want to play them a lot. That's not going to change."

Tech conducts its next practice Friday afternoon. The Hokies won't be in full pads until next week.

Other notes from the first day of practice:

  • Michael Brown, one of the Hokies' top recruits, sat out the first practice while waiting to be cleared by the school (not the NCAA). Brown, a defensive end from Palm Beach, Fla., who chose the Hokies over Michigan, Florida and BC, and Tech's staff expect the issues to be cleared by Friday morning and they expect Brown to be on the practice field Friday afternoon. Brown was the only one of the 105 players not to practice.

  • The total of 105 does not include offensive lineman Tripp Carroll or defensive end Jim Davis. Carroll, a freshman offensive tackle from Jacksonville, Fla., who enrolled in January, is nursing a leg injury, while Davis, the defensive end from Highland Springs, plans on redshirting this season while rehabbing a torn pectoral muscle.

  • Robert Ramsey, the second-team center, sprained a right ankle late in the practice and had to be helped from the field. He'll be on crutches for a brief period of time and won't practice for a few days.

    Also on the injury front, Corey Gordon, a freshman from Gainesville, Fla., by way of Hargrave, saw limited work Thursday because of a sprained ankle (he dressed in a blue jersey). Brandon Frye, an offensive tackle from South Carolina, also dressed in blue. He's nursing a hamstring injury.

  • Kevin Lewis, a redshirt junior defensive tackle from Richmond, saw his first action since tearing his pectoral muscle at the end of last season. He sat out spring practice, but went full speed in Thursday's practice.

    "I was eager to get out here," he said. "I knew I'd be a little rusty, so I'm working on getting my technique right. But my shoulder feels good. It felt good being able to go full speed."

  • Tech's staff plans on carefully monitoring double-threat DeAngelo Hall so as not to wear him out this early in the season. Hall cramped up after practice and needed a couple of IVs. Hall will be with the defense for nine periods and the offense for three periods during a practice and the staff may keep him out of some of the conditioning drills at the end of practice.

    "With the heat - though it wasn't too bad today - we want to watch him," Beamer said. "He's going to be playing cornerback and returning punts and we want to get him about 30 plays on offense. So we don't want to wear him down."