BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech football team met with the media on Saturday morning at the team’s annual Media Day held at Lane Stadium. The coaching staff and players addressed a wide array of topics, but one of the more interesting ones centered on sports agents.
As most know, sports agents have been in the news in a negative light. A series of parties this summer in Miami, allegedly attended by college football players from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina has prompted an NCAA investigation into whether these athletes received improper benefits from sports agents.
Tech head coach Frank Beamer strongly addressed this Saturday, saying the student-athlete needed to be more responsible.
“Our message is this – and this is what I believe – this has got to start with the student-athlete,” Beamer said. “There are too many agents. You can wake up tomorrow morning and be an agent. They say we need the NFL to help, but I’m not sure they can control agents. It’s very complex. There are so many ways of going about it.
“What we tell our players is that agent can’t do one single thing for you to get you drafted higher. I’ll promise you, there’s not one single thing he can do. The way you get drafted higher is to go out and play well on Saturday. That’s what determines where you get drafted. To be working with an agent or have your family talking with an agent, all you’re doing is taking a chance on getting into trouble.
“If you tell an agent that you’d rather not talk until after your season is over and he doesn’t abide by that, then that agent is telling you something, too. If he’s not going to do the right thing before he’s your agent, he’s not going to do the right thing after he’s your agent.”
Two of Tech’s high-profile players, tailbacks Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, told media members that they have not been approached by any agents. They also understand the consequences.
“If I don’t have your number, then I won’t answer, and I hardly check my e-mail unless it’s during the school year,” Williams said. “So I wouldn’t know who’s trying to contact me. Seeing what’s going on, I’m sure they’ve probably tried. But I don’t pay attention because I know that’s not good for us and I don’t want to lose any years playing.”
“You always get the e-mails and stuff, but if it’s not from a teacher, I don’t usually look at it,” Evans said. “I usually delete it. I ignore them. You get the e-mail and it’ll say something like, ‘Sports Agency.’ I delete them.”
Beamer and his staff are proactive when it comes to addressing this topic with the team. In fact, he has “educational sessions” throughout the preseason that address a wide array of topics and one of those topics is the NFL. Usually, he brings in an NFL scout or personnel person to talk to the team.
“We’ve got education sessions where we bring these people in and make sure that everyone knows the rules,” Beamer said. “After that, you have to depend on them.
“The rules are pretty simple. You can’t accept one single thing from an agent. You can’t commit to them verbally or sign with him. You talk with that agent after your eligibility is up and then there is no problem.”
Other news coming out of Saturday’s media session:
• Tech tailback David Wilson, who played last season as a true freshman, may end up redshirting because of the presence of Williams and Evans in the backfield. Tech’s coaching staff doesn’t plan on making a decision any time soon and wants Wilson to work his way up the depth chart.
To his credit, Wilson worked hard over the summer and put up some impressive numbers in the strength and conditioning program, tying for team bests in the 40-yard dash (4.29 seconds) and vertical jump (40 inches).
“I’m just practicing hard and trying to show the coaches what I can do,” Wilson said. “I’m trying to move up the depth chart, but if that doesn’t happen, then I think my decision will be clear. I’ll take the season to get faster and stronger and then I’ll come back impatient and ready to play. It’s going to be hard. But I can deal with it.”
“I think we just go full speed ahead, and in the end, we’ll make the best decision for him and for our football team,” Beamer said. “What that is this very day, I’m not sure. Things happen and situations change. I can tell you, he hasn’t slowed down. You look at those vertical jumps and his lifting numbers. He’s full speed ahead and that’s what we want. He’s going to be the best he can possibly be. I think he’s a terrific talent and a terrific person.”
• Tech kicker Cody Journell is not among the 104 players practicing this preseason. Beamer elected instead to take a closer looking at some walk-on candidates, though right now, Chris Hazley is in the driver’s seat to win the starting job.
Journell, a redshirt freshman from nearby Giles, was one of the top kicking prospects in the nation in the class of 2009. He still remains on scholarship.
“He’s in the mix,” Beamer said. “He can come [to practice] voluntarily, which he is doing, but he’s not among our 105. When school starts, we can go to 120. He’s had a good summer, but he’s got to get more consistent. He’s a good kicker, but he’s got to get more consistent.”
• Defensive coordinator Bud Foster awarded the lunch pail to defensive tackle John Graves, who is now responsible for taking care of the symbol of Tech’s defense. In the past, guys like Darryl Tapp, Macho Harris and Nekos Brown have been so honored.
“There’s a lot of great respect and responsibility that comes with it,” Graves said. “Coach Foster told me that he wanted me to be the leader of the defense, and there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that.”
• Unlike last fall, when Williams failed to run 16 110-yard sprints in the required time, the redshirt sophomore from Manassas, Virginia, came back for the second summer session and arrived at preseason practice in phenomenal shape, looking to build on his record-setting 1,655-yard season a year ago.
Notably, he dropped a little weight.
“I ran twice a day, with the morning group and the afternoon group,” Williams said. “I wanted to make sure my conditioning was good enough to finish the 110 test. I feel good at 202. I played half the season last season at 195-197, so I feel good with where I’m at. The weight works good for me right now.”
• One of the key guys to watch in the preseason is 6-foot-6, 311-pound Nick Becton, a redshirt sophomore who takes over at the left tackle spot for the departed Ed Wang. Becton, a relative unknown coming out of Wilmington, North Carolina, a few years ago, is an impressive athlete with tremendous footwork honed from years of playing basketball.
Becton’s potential, and play this spring, resulted in him earning the job, as the staff elected to keep Blake DeChristopher at right tackle instead of switching him to left tackle.
“I’m not really surprised,” Becton said. “I knew I had a chance at a tackle spot. I didn’t know it was going to be left. I just did what they wanted me to do and they put me in this spot. I think Coach has a lot of confidence in me and try to live up to the potential they say I have.”
“I think Nick Becton has a tremendous future,” Beamer said. “He can do all those things you want a left tackle to do and I think it’s going to happen. [Blake] DeChristopher is a guy we think a lot of and he’s had a great summer. But he’s had all those reps at right tackle and I get a bit concerned when you flip them because it is different. All those reps he’s had, we want them to pay off, too.”
• Tech practices at 4 p.m. on Saturday and again on Sunday. In fact, the Hokies practice every day through Aug. 14. They get the 15th off.
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