Witten Back To Full Speed For Tech
Gator Bites
December 28, 2001

JACKSONVILLE - Tech's second practice in Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl unveiled a pleasant surprise on Friday as receiver Shawn Witten practiced in full pads for the first time since breaking a non-weight bearing bone in his leg in the Pittsburgh loss earlier this season. The junior missed Tech's final three regular-season games and was listed as doubtful for the Hokies' Gator Bowl match-up with Florida State earlier this month.

But Witten attacked his rehab and thus has put himself in position to play against the Seminoles. The junior from Elizabethton, Tenn., practiced in a blue jersey on Thursday, meaning limited contact. But Friday, Witten went full speed for the first time and should play in the Gator Bowl.

In other injury news, Emmett Johnson, another receiver, showed no ill effects of a dislocated middle finger on his left hand suffered Thursday in practice and Steve DeMasi, Tech's starting center, is probable for the game despite a badly sprained ankle. Jacob Gibson, a reserve offensive lineman, remains doubtful for the bowl game with an injured back while defensive end Jim Davis, who tore his pectoral muscle in the Miami game, remains probable for the game.

In other news:

Nelson provides a scare: Reserve offensive lineman Anthony Nelson went to a local hospital Friday morning with Tech's team physician Dr. Duane Lagan after complaining of flu-like systems. Nelson also had a rapid heartbeat that "fluttered" on occasion, so Tech's sports medicine staff decided to send him to the hospital as a precaution.

New addition arrives: Chris Ceasar, a 5-10, 170-pound receiver from Delray Beach, Fla., arrived in Jacksonville on Thursday night and joined the team for Friday's practice. Ceasar, recruited by Tech defensive line coach Charley Wiles, failed to meet the NCAA's minimum eligibility requirements coming out of Spanish River High School, but he achieved the score earlier this fall and decided to enroll at Tech for the spring semester.

Ceasar was recruited by Miami but got lost in the shuffle after Butch Davis took the Cleveland Browns head coaching job. He chose Tech over Rutgers, Cincinnati and Louisville. He played quarterback at Spanish River the past two season, but projects as a receiver or defensive back at Tech.

Rogers to come to town Saturday: Tech's new quarterbacks coach, Kevin Rogers, will come to Jacksonville on Saturday to watch his new team prepare for the Seminoles. Rogers, who spent the past three years at Notre Dame, will take the spot on the staff that will be vacated by Rickey Bustle, who recently took the Louisiana Lafayette head coaching job. Bustle will help new offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring with the play calling in the Gator Bowl before heading to Lafayette for good on Jan. 5.

Hospital visit planned for Friday afternoon: Tech's seniors will visit the children's ward of a local hospital as part of a Gator Bowl-sponsored event. The Hokies visited Columbia Regional Hospital in Blacksburg before Christmas to sign autographs and hand out small gifts to those less fortunate.

The Hokies will take to the field for their third practice on Saturday, beginning at 9:45 a.m., at the University of North Florida's soccer complex. Saturday's team event is an optional trip to the Mayport Naval Shipyard, where the players will be able to take a tour of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy and Helicopter Squadron.