Surprise visitor makes stop at Tech practice
San Fran Chronicles
December 29, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO - The Hokies got a surprise visitor at their practice Sunday morning when Senator George Allen stopped by before the Hokies began practice at Laney College in Oakland. Allen was in town to see the Oakland Raiders play the Kansas City Chiefs this past Saturday. Allen's brother, Bruce Allen, serves as the general manager of the Oakland Raiders.

Wearing at Raiders jacket, Allen - whose father used to coach in the NFL - delivered a pep talk to the Hokies before practice, telling them that he was proud and the Commonwealth of Virginia was proud of what Tech has accomplished. Allen also stayed for the entire practice and talked with some of Tech's players afterwards, including tailbacks Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs and defensive end Nathaniel Adibi.

"That says a lot that he would take his time and stop by and talk to our players," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "We're honored and appreciative that he would do that."

Then Beamer joked, "He did a good job, too. I thought we were getting ready to take the field for a game."

Tech conducted its final practice at Laney College as the Hokies prepare for Air Force in the San Francisco Bowl on New Year's Eve. The Hokies will have a short walk-through Monday at Pac Bell Park, the site of the game.

On the injury front, defensive tackle Jimmy Williams, the junior college transfer from Pasadena [Calif.] City College, is out for the game after spraining his ankle in Saturday's practice.

"He just can't catch a break," said Beamer, referring to all the issues this season that have kept Williams off the field. "We're going to get him in that strength and conditioning program this offseason and get some of that weight off of him. We know that guy has some talent. We just need to get him ready for next year."

Also, receiver Richard Johnson is very doubtful, according to trainer Mike Goforth, after spraining an ankle in Blacksburg before the team left. And Justin Hamilton, a redshirt freshman wide receiver who also sprained his ankle in Saturday's practice, practiced full speed Sunday and should be ready for the game.

Sunday's practice was conducted under beautiful sunny conditions in the Bay Area as the Hokies got a break from the rains that have plagued the area. But another front is expected to bring more rain in the next day or so.

"We've already had training in playing in bad weather," Beamer said, referring to Tech's win over UVa in windy, cold conditions in late November. "It's like I've told this team. We came out with the right mindset and beat Virginia and played well when that game was played in bad conditions. It's all about our mental approach. So I'm not worrying about the weather. I'm worrying about us and making sure that we have the right mental approach."

The team participated in a pep rally at Union Square early Sunday evening before heading to the Sony Metreon in downtown San Francisco to play video games and have dinner.

Kickoff for the game on New Year's Eve is 10:30 p.m. EST.