December 27, 2013
Hokies begin practice in El Paso
Dinner and Day with the Troops highlights the day

The Virginia Tech football squad held its first practice in El Paso, going for a little over two hours at Socorro Activities Complex Friday morning. It was a normal Tuesday for the squad as the Hokies went through their most-physical practice of the game-week, one that featured a middle drill session and a full team period of the 1s vs. the 1s. The end of practice featured Coach Mike Gentry putting the team through some conditioning on a sun-splashed late morning in the mountains.

While the game is still four days away, the news looked promising on the injury front as both Kyle Fuller (core) and Antone Exum (ankle) practiced full. Head trainer Mike Goforth still is cautiously optimistic and said the real test will be to see how they feel after practice and tomorrow morning.

After practice, the entire squad grabbed lunch at the field before heading back to the hotel for an hour before getting a chance to participate in a special bowl event. The team went to Ft. Bliss, a United States Army post with its headquarters located in El Paso. With an area of about 1,700 square miles, it is the Army’s second-largest installation. The players had an opportunity to spend time with the troops, many of whom are in training for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. The group got to get up close with many pieces of military equipment such as tanks, gun simulators and helicopters.

The official party arrived a few hours later as both teams enjoyed a dinner with troops and some entertainment from master hypnotist Doug MacCraw, which delighted both teams. For Tech, J.C. Coleman, Mark Shuman, Donavan Riley, Brandon Facyson and Corey Gravely participated.

Before the practice, members of the offense met with the media. Below are some quotes from tailback J.C. Coleman, line coach and UTEP grad Jeff Grimes and head coach Frank Beamer.

J.C. Coleman
“The hospitality has been great so far. Everybody’s nice and everybody’s welcomed us with open arms and it’s been a fun experience so far.”

“I’m definitely taking this game as an opportunity to build some momentum going into next year. I’m gonna get some extra reps in there and try to make a few things happen and try and carry the load. Even when I did get healthy around the Georgia Tech game, I still couldn’t run full speed or cut like I wanted to, so it pretty much took me seven games to get going and to be able to run and everything. It was very frustrating for me and kind of disappointing at the same time.”

Jeff Grimes
“As we were driving in last night, I was showing my kids ‘okay, right here is Juarez” or “here’s the dorm room where I used to live’ or ‘there’s the stadium’. It’s kind of neat being back, as I’ve mentioned before, not only because I played college ball here, but I got my coaching start here. I coached at Riverside High School and had a lot of great memories. A lot of the things that I do as a coach go back to the formative years I had here. I’m really looking forward to it. As much time as I’ve spent in El Paso, this is one thing I’ve never done, be at the Sun Bowl. I always watched it on TV, but never have been a part of it.”

Frank Beamer
“I think this is a great bowl. We just have to prepare well and go play well and we’re doing a good job of that. I thought our alertness and eagerness coming out here this morning was very good, so I’m pleased with what’s taken place so far.”

“Logan brings great leadership and he’s a real talented guy. I think the people around him haven’t always been as consistent as we would have liked. The best friend of a quarterback is to have, good, experienced guys around him at offensive line, wide receiver and running back. He’s never changed. He’s the same guy. I’ve never seen him get rattled. To me, he’s the perfect quarterback and I think he’s got a great future after Virginia Tech because he’s really got skill and he’s got a toughness about him.”

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