Tech arrives in Jacksonville to begin preparations for the Gator Bowl
Gator Gator Bites Bites
December 27, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Virginia Tech football team travel party arrived in Jacksonville on Tuesday, with the coaches, managers, trainers, athletics department personnel and all their families flying to the city and landing around 11:30 a.m. The players were allowed to drive to Jacksonville and get reimbursed for mileage as per NCAA rules. All players arrived by head coach Frank Beamer's mandated noon deadline.

Tech's players went through a light workout at Jacksonville University, the Hokies' practice site for the week. Mike Gentry, Tech's assistant AD for athletic performance, put the team through a series of sprints that lasted about 20 minutes. After that, the Hokies boarded their team buses and went back to the Omni Hotel in downtown Jacksonville.

The team spent the early evening hours at Dave & Buster's as part of the Gator Bowl committee's Welcome Party. That ended at roughly 8 p.m. and the players were on their own for the remainder of the evening - until the 2 a.m. curfew.

In other news:
  • The number of players in Jacksonville for the game is well over 100, including scout-team players (walk-ons and freshmen redshirting) in addition to the Hokies' first- and second-teamers. The list also includes two players who won't be playing in this game - tailback Mike Imoh and back-up guard Brandon Gore. Both underwent surgery within the past three weeks, with Imoh having surgery performed on his ankle and Gore on his broken leg and torn ACL suffered in the ACC championship game against Florida State.

  • Beamer and several players, including defensive end Darryl Tapp, cornerback Jimmy Williams and tailback Cedric Humes, all met with the media before the Tuesday afternoon workout. One reporter asked Beamer about his memories of facing Louisville while the head coach at Murray State. Beamer coached at Murray State for six years (1981-86), and one year, his Murray State squad knocked off Louisville in one of that program's biggest wins.

    "We threw a screen pass and it went for about 70 yards," Beamer said. "That [the win] was big back then.

    "I've always liked the state of Kentucky, and I still keep up with Kentucky and Louisville. I follow them from habit, I guess. I know facing Louisville in this bowl game is going to be a challenge for us. I understand how good a football team they have and I think our football team understands it, too."

  • Beamer and his staff won't be working on their tans in their free time while in Jacksonville. With signing day less than two months away - and the Hokies still in the hunt for many top prospects - Tech's staff plans on writing letters to those recruits during their free time in Florida.

    "We're going to tell them how sunny it is here, and how we're happy to be playing in the Gator Bowl on New Year's," Beamer said. "And how we wish they were here with us."

  • Speaking of the weather, when Tech's travel party left Blacksburg on Tuesday morning, temperatures hovered around 30 degrees, with the wind chill even worse. In Jacksonville, temperatures reached the high 60s with nary a cloud in the sky.