July 19, 2015
Hokies at 2015 #ACCKickoff
Updated 9:30 p.m. - News, notes, tweets and video from Pinehurst

Welcome to the 2015 ACC Kickoff here at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Media members from around the country have converged upon south-central North Carolina to hear players and coaches from the 14 conference teams talk about their upcoming season.

Hokiesports.com will be there the entire way following the school’s two player representatives, Michael Brewer and Kendall Fuller, as well as head coach Frank Beamer.

The action kicks off Sunday evening with the student-athlete symposium. All 28 student-athletes representatives will participate in a personal development session, with Inky Johnson as the keynote speaker. Johnson is a former University of Tennessee football player whose career came to an end because of an injury. He now mentors underprivileged you in Knoxville, Tennessee, and his hometown of Atlanta.

The interviews kick off tomorrow morning at 8:15, with the players being interviewed by various television and radio outlets. After lunch, the players are interviewed by print media outlets. The coaches are then interviewed on Tuesday.

We’ll be posting tweets on the official Twitter handle of Virginia Tech Football, @VT_Football, as well as pictures, lots of videos, blogs and news nuggets as they happen. So check back often both here and on Twitter for all the latest from Pinehurst!

Final day ends at #ACCKickoff

Tech head football coach Frank Beamer wrapped up media interviews roughly around 3 in the afternoon and that marked the end of the 2015 #ACCKickoff for the Hokies. Beamer headed to Roanoke shortly afterward to speak at the Roanoke Hokie Club's annual kickoff dinner Tuesday night.

We leave you with a behind-scenes-look at Coach Beamer's day and a final tweet!

Having a little fun on final day at #ACCKickoff

Day 3 at #ACCKickoff is underway

The third and final day of #ACCKickoff is underway, and Tech head coach Frank Beamer is being interviewed by various media outlets. He will be meeting with print media reporters at 10:15 a.m., and we'll be writing more on that a little later.

Tech players Kendall Fuller and Michael Brewer are back in Blacksburg, but Hokievision put together a cool behind-the-scenes video of their experiences here in Pinehurst. Please take a look:

Day No. 2 complete at #ACCKickoff

This is the final entry of the evening, and before signing off, we want to remind Tech students that student season tickets are now on sale to freshmen and transfers. The deadline is Aug. 7 and the cost is $72. Buying one is a great way to ensure oneself of a ticket to the Ohio State game.

Now, as for the final entry, here is a treat, with Kendall Fuller and Michael Brewer calling the action of Fuller's interception for a touchdown last season against UNC:

Fuller and Brewer finish interviews at #ACCKickoff

Day No. 2 of the #ACCKickoff is complete here in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Players Kendall Fuller and Michael Brewer finished their gauntlet of interviews with television, radio and print reporters and have left to return to Blacksburg. Both players wanted to get back so that they can participate in strength and conditioning workouts on Tuesday.

A lot went on today, as evidenced by the series of tweets, notes and videos throughout this blog. A recap of the day will be on hokiesports.com shortly, but for now, we leave you with two interviews - one with Brewer and Andrew Allegretta and one with Fuller and Allegretta.

Interviews continuing at #ACCKickoff

Interviews are continuing here in Pinehurst on Monday afternoon as both Kendall Fuller and Michael Brewer have met with the print media and are doing some interviews with both ESPN and various radio networks.

We’ll have a recap of the day that we’ll post on hokiesports.com a little bit later. We’ll leave you with these photos of Fuller being interviewed by the folks at ESPNU.

Swofford touches on array of topics

We’re at the halfway point of day No. 2 and we’re going to leave you with some comments from ACC Commissioner John Swofford, who delivered his annual remarks and answered questions on a variety of topics, including cost of attendance, student-athlete health and safety, and the oft-discussed ACC channel, which has yet to launch.

Swofford started his remarks by talking about the student-athlete experience and its importance. He plans on have student-athletes involved more in ACC business, including participation on more ACC committees, integration in league meetings and getting feedback on their time commitments, which has been a hot topic.

“I believe it’s important to preserve the student-athlete experience,” Swofford said. “What we have is unique to the world, but we have to modernize and adjust. At the same time, we have to retain the fundamentals that are there for the student-athlete experience. We have to retain the student-athlete model. I think we’ve waited too long to make some necessary adjustments, such as cost of attendance, but that’s an excellent start.”

Swofford said he realized some league coaches were unhappy with the disparity in the cost of attendance numbers – cost of attendance allows schools to provide for miscellaneous expenses according to a federal formula and each school tabulates this figure differently. Some league coaches feel there is the potential for a bidding war for student-athletes, but Swofford was comfortable with the implementation of those numbers.

“Any time you take a stand like we’ve taken and it’s new, you’re going to have some discomfort,” he said. “We’re going to need to live with this for a couple of years to see whether those differences impact the decisions of recruits.

“In a perfect world, would that number be the same? Probably, but we don’t live in a perfect world. From a legal standpoint, that cannot exist at the moment. I think this is the right thing to do. I think this is the right step, even with the concerns about the differentials.”

The league’s ADs, in conjunction with the league, recently took a step to improve health and safety for football players with the decision to require each school to have a medical observer in the press box of every football game. That observer will observe players for his/her respective program. He or she will know the medical histories of the players and will travel with the team for every game. He or she will not have the authority to stop a game, but have the ability to communicate with the medical staff on the sideline.

As for the ACC channel, Swofford said discussions were continuing with ESPN on a possible ACC channel, similar to those in the SEC and Big 10. The league and ESPN have a television contract that extends through 2026-27.

“At some point as we go through our analysis and discussion and we’re being very thorough, together we’ll make a decision about a joint route to go for the future of our television as we move forward,” Swofford said. “I thin we’ve positioned ourselves well as a league for future options, whatever those options may be.”

When asked if he was worried about how long these discussions have been ongoing – years – Swofford replied honestly.

“No, not particularly,” he said. “I’m sort of used to it. It’s not the first time the world has changed, especially in television. We’re working with our consultant. We’ve got a partner that knows every possible in and out of this industry. We’ll reach an end point at some point and time. Believe me, I’ll be just as glad as you are. I know you’re tired of hearing me talk and not say very much on that subject.”

Day 2 begins

Day No. 2 at the #ACCKickoff has begun. The players enjoyed breakfast Monday morning before starting interviews with the broadcast media. ESPN, the ACC Digital Network, the ACC Network, RSN, College Football Live, and CBS Sports are just a few of the networks here in Pinehurst conducting interviews. This set of interviews will continue through 11:30.

Willis speaks at #ACCKickoff

On Sunday evening, the 28 student-athletes at the ACC Football Kickoff participated in a symposium, one that focused on personal development and life skills.

Two former Hokies served as guest speakers at the event. Most know Kevin Jones and his role within the Tech athletics department as an assistant AD, but former Tech tight end Keith Willis also spoke.

Willis, who played at Tech from 2000-03, serves as the CEO of MOSS Movement – Men of Surrendering and Service – a company he established that teaches life skills to male student-athletes. With the help of some partners, he launched the company in December of last year.

“I had a heart to serve athletes, and I wanted to figure out what I could do with my gifts,” Willis said. “I wanted to help guys respond better off the field in adverse situations. I was seeing guys get in trouble, and I understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

“So we came up with a curriculum, a couple of partners and commissions, to figure this thing out. So we formed a company called MOSS, where we help athletes respond better off the field in adverse situations. Our four core areas are anger management, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and relationship skills management to help guys understand what to do when those situations come up.”

Willis’ first client was the University of Oregon. Today, he spends much of his time speaking at schools around the country. He also has plans to work with certain NFL teams.

“We go to different schools and implement our program there,” he said. “We give a presentation designed to help guys get better in those situations. Our heart is to get into every school to be able to help these guys and team them life skills because a lot of these guys don’t understand what life skills look like. They’ve never been taught what to do in these situations. That’s what we’re doing.”

Willis, who got both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Tech, lives in Largo, Maryland. He bounced around the NFL with five different teams and also played in NFL Europe before finishing playing in 2008. He ran a fitness company for six years before pursuing his current venture – one that he loves.

“Over the last year, the Lord moved my heart to establish this life skills company,” Willis said. “This is my purpose and this is what I’ve been doing. This is why I’ve been created.”

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