Tech arrives in Atlanta to begin preparations for Chick-fil-A Bowl
Chick-fil-A Bowl Nuggets
December 24, 2006

ATLANTA, Ga. - The Virginia Tech football team travel party arrived in Atlanta on Sunday by various means of transportation safe and ready for a week of preparation for Saturday's game. Members of the coaching staff, as well as their families, and other athletics department personnel took two charter flights from Blacksburg and arrived in the late morning and early afternoon. The players were allowed to drive to Atlanta and get reimbursed for mileage as per NCAA rules. All players arrived by head coach Frank Beamer's mandated 3 p.m. deadline.

Following a 4 p.m. team meeting, Tech's players went through a light workout at Georgia Tech, 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 enormous Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta.

The Marquis is a 1,663-room hotel that features a 47-story atrium in the middle. Numerous players were seen staring up at the roof in awe before trying to figure out the complicated elevator system in the hotel. Hotel personnel said the Washington Monument would fit in the atrium, and that monument stands at 555 feet 5 1/8 inches.

The team spent the early evening hours at the hotel for a Christmas Eve celebration. 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 Atlanta 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.

  • Several members of the travel party, including Beamer, ventured over to the Georgia Dome to see the Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers in NFL action. It's also the site of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, so it gave them a feel for the facility. Four former Hokies - quarterback Michael Vick, offensive guard Matt Lehr, and cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Jimmy Williams - all made the start for the Falcons while Will Montgomery got the start at offensive guard for Carolina. Also, the Panthers' roster featured former Hokies Jeff King, Kevin McCadam and James Anderson and they all saw action in the game.

    Two staff members were lucky enough to get down into the locker rooms to chat with the players they used to work with at Tech. Members of the Falcons won't be able to attend the game on Saturday as they play at Philadelphia next Sunday, but they know they're always welcome to stop by practice - Hall came by Sunday's team run - or the hotel if they want. By the way, the Panthers won, 10-3. King caught a 1-yard touchdown pass - the first reception of his NFL career - to provide the difference.

    "It feels good to get that first score," King said afterwards. "We ran the ball most of the way down there [on that drive], so the play call kind of caught me by surprise. I was able to get to the corner and Chris [Weinke] put it out there. It wasn't a hard catch, but I'll take it."

    On playing against former teammates, King said "It was fun to be out there on the same with them again. We all have a lot in common in where we've been and know how much hard work we put in at Tech."

    Vick's team didn't get the win, but he had great things to say about Tech after the game.

    "I never would have imagined at the beginning of the season that Tech would be playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and in the Georgia Dome. This bowl will be a great experience and the Georgia Dome is a great place to play in. I know most of the fans around here will be pulling for Georgia, but I'm not worried because I know there will be a ton of Hokies here, too."

    On seeing Coach Beamer before the game, Vick said "That was nice. Coach Beamer means a lot to me. He believed in me as a freshman to lead his team, a team that is a major program, and I take a lot of pride in that."

  • The Hokies will practice at Georgia Tech's practice facility - the Rose Bowl Field - for the week barring inclement weather. The University of Georgia will be practicing in the Georgia Dome all week. That's where the Hokies will move if they need to go inside. Tech had the option of practicing at the Dome as well, but Beamer chose to practice outside, as he has done for other bowl games played in a dome.

  • Beamer and his staff have been hard at work since the Virginia game with recruiting. That won't change while in the ATL. With signing day less than two months away - and the Hokies still in the hunt for some top prospects - Tech's staff plans on writing letters to those recruits during their free time in Georgia.

  • Monday will serve as a regular Monday practice for the Hokies, even though it's Christmas Day. The rest of the week, the team will practice in the morning. But Monday, Tech will practice at 12:30 to give the staff a chance to spend Christmas morning with their families. Despite initial fears, word is Santa does know the location of Tech's players, as well as the children of the staff members, and should have no problem dropping off goodies tonight.

  • Monday will consist of installing the game plan, as well as a lot of special teams work. After the practice, the team and staff will have a Christmas lunch at the hotel.