March 8, 2000
By Jimmy Robertson
Despite zipping past the competition at the IC4A meet recently the way
Dale Jarrett zips past stock cars on the NASCAR circuit, André Davis was a
little saddened after the weekend's events.
"I had to give up my nickname," joked Davis, who won the 60- and the
200-meter dashes at the IC4A Championships in Cambridge, Mass. "I don't
deserve it anymore."
You see, Davis - nicknamed 'The Blur' - lost his title as the Hokies'
fastest football player. And that marks one of the few times he's lost on
the track in his career.
In a performance that left his coaches and teammates shaking their
heads, quarterback Michael Vick usurped Davis as Tech's fastest player. He
recorded an eye-popping 4.25 40 time at the Hokies' annual timing day held
March 3rd on the indoor track at Rector Fieldhouse. The day served as part
of testing week for Tech's players, who have been working out very hard
since the national championship game in early January.
Everyone knew Vick possessed a ton of speed. He probably could break the
But a 4.25? And he slipped on the start of his first two runs.
"I honestly never thought I'd be the fastest player," Vick said. "I
always thought André would. I still think he'd beat me if we raced."
"That's amazing," Davis said of Vick's time. "It's hard to explain. To
see a quarterback do that is just incredible."
Vick's time shattered the quarterback record - which he previously held.
And came just two one-hundredths of a second off the school record of 4.23
set by Damien Russell.
Amazingly, Vick's time was just one of several incredible times put
forth by Tech's players. In fact, consider this. Davis, the Atlantic 10
indoor champ in the 55 and 200, now stands as the fourth-fastest Hokie.
Fourth. Davis ran a 4.29 - the same as season.
In all, 21 players recorded 40 times of 4.5 seconds or lower and eight
players recorded 40 times of 4.4 or lower. That list includes the following
All those times are impressive. But several stand out simply because
they were unexpected. Everyone knew Ward possesses a lot of physical
ability. After all, he earned Coca-Cola player of the year honors in
Florida his senior season at a Class 6A school. But the kid weighs 210
pounds and still ran a 4.39. In addition, he squatted 620. (Complete
analysis on the lifting results will be in the next issue).
"I work out with him every day," said new whip Nick Sorensen, who ran a
4.47 himself. "He's in my group. He's such a great guy and he works so
hard. I'm not surprised."
Two months ago, running backs coach Billy Hite was in a sour mood after
Shyrone Stith decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to go to the
NFL and after André Kendrick failed to take care of things in the
classroom, costing him spring practice and possibly more. But Ward's
numbers, along with those of Suggs and Burnell, left Hite with a smile on
Speaking of smiles, how about Jackson, who contributed nothing last
season. The redshirt freshman seemed confused and timid. But the former
SuperPrep All-American always could run and he possesses the body of
Adonis. Now he needs to play better.
And how about Johnson? Few expect him to run that fast because of his
height (6-3) and his size (210). But after that time, they do expect a big
In addition to those eight, there were several other standout times. At
fullback, Jarrett Ferguson ran a 4.49 to no one's surprise. At receiver,
walk-on Ron Moody, who redshirted this past season, ran a 4.45 to
On the defensive line, Nathaniel Adibi - weighing 242 pounds - and Cols
Colas, two kids who also redshirted this past season, ran a 4.48 and a
4.45, respectively. And Lamar Cobb, who weighs 226, ran a 4.6. Tech's
defensive ends may be inexperienced this season, but they can run. They
bring the same speed Corey Moore brought off the edge.
At linebacker, Sorensen led the way. But former whip Ben Taylor
surprised everyone with a 4.48. And Vegas Robinson ran just once before
straining a hamstring. But he made it count, running a 4.49.
Finally, in the secondary, Ronyell Whitaker seems to have picked up
right where he left off last season. The rising sophomore ran a 4.49. But
that paled in comparison to rover Cory Bird, who ran a 4.42, and safety
Willie Pile, who ran a 4.44.
"We put a premium on speed," said Mike Gentry, Tech's assistant AD for
athletic performance. "From coach Beamer on down.
"When coach Beamer first came here, he recognized that speed was one of
the most important ingredients of winning and that we didn't have enough
speed. He and his staff made an effort to recruit faster players, and now
that we're recruiting against the top teams in the country, you're talking
about guys who can run great times."
Granted, the players today get to run on one of the best - and fastest -
indoor tracks in the nation. Tech's relatively new indoor track features
the ultra-quick Mondo surface, built for fast times.
"They run on an ideal surface," Gentry agreed. "But as long as you're
consistent with it, you can still compare from year to year."
But Gentry and his staff also implement programs designed to increase
speed. The Hokies perform numerous exercises and drills that a track coach
might assign. And as a player gets stronger, he gets faster.
"We do our workouts a little differently too," Gentry said. "Most
schools train their players four days out of the week. Our big guys spend
four days a week lifting. But with our skill players, we train them three
days in the weight room and then work them for two days on nothing but
speed. And I think other teams are going to start training that way."
Gentry tries his best to ensure accuracy when recording these 40 times.
Each player runs the 40 three times and three coaches time each run. A
player runs the 40 the first time and a manager records the three times
yelled out by the coaches. The average of those three times counts as that
player's first run.
The manager does this for the second and third runs, calculating the
averages. Gentry then takes the best time out of the three averages and
uses that time as the 40 time for a player.
"These are hand-held times," Gentry said. "So yes, there is a margin of
error. But that's the way we've always done it and we want to be consistent
Still, Vick's time, Davis' time and the times of several others showed
one thing. The Hokies are getting faster under Gentry, and without
question, there will be even more speed on the field next fall.
"And you've got more room for error if you can make up for it with
speed," Gentry said.
And who knows? With the way those 40 times keep dropping, Davis might
get that nickname back sooner than one might think.
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Jimmy Robertson is the editor of the Hokie Huddler at Virginia Tech. The
Hokie Huddler is the athletics department newspaper that is printed 33
times a year - weekly during football and basketball seasons and bi-monthly
during the spring.
Hokie Huddler Archive
- February 23, 2000: Injuries dampen an otherwise stellar weekend at Tech
- February 16, 2000: Tech coaches set to hit trail, but this time it isn't the recruiting one
- February 4, 2000: Last year's redshirts filled with promise
- February 3, 2000: Strock calls it a career after revitalizing Monogram Club
- January 26, 2000: Tech-UVa game itself overshadows subplots surrounding it
- January 21, 2000: Mims leads Hokies on recent tear
- January 19, 2000: Tech now must deal with early departures
- January 14, 2000: Despite miscues and loss, Tech's performance showed Hokies belonged
- December 26, 1999: One Hokie taking on new role
- December 18, 1999: Hokies start preparing for FSU
- December 17, 1999: Current NFL Hokies watching approvingly
- December 15, 1999: THE MAN, THE MYTH... THE FRESHMAN
- December 13, 1999: Tech winning battle off the field
- December 9, 1999: New recruits bring skill and athleticism to Stokes' squad
- December 7, 1999: Beamer now in same class with nation's best coaches
- December 1, 1999: Utin kicked for all the right reasons
- November 29, 1999: Hokies should get a Sugar rush after such a perfect season
- November 15, 1999: Hokies' Secondary Excels In Biggest Test So Far This Season
- November 9, 1999: Moore, Hokies Sound Off On BCS
- November 8, 1999: 'Neers Nosed Out By Graham's Long Shot
- November 3, 1999: Dobbins Takes It All In Stride Before And After Football
- November 1, 1999: Tight Slugfest With Pittsburgh Does Hokies Good