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    May 11, 2010
    Graduation Day will be a special one in Blacksburg

    Friday night, a group of more than 5,000 Hokies and their families will have one of their greatest days ever inside of Lane Stadium.

    There will be no Marching Virginians blaring Tech Triumph, and there will be no football or Enter Sandman played on Friday either. Instead, the stadium will serve as the host of Virginia Tech’s commencement ceremonies. Tech president Dr. Charles Steger will preside and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell will deliver the keynote address.

    More than 5,000 robe-wearing Hokies will sit on Worsham Field for the ceremonies (for the record, the most popular major among this year’s class was biology) for one of the most memorable, noteworthy days of their lives. Among the group making the exciting transition from student to alum will be hundreds of Virginia Tech student-athletes, some of the names you know, some you won’t. We honored those seniors last Monday night at the annual all-sports banquet here in Blacksburg, which is annually one of the real highlights.

    For the 5,000-plus who will be on the field on Friday, it will mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of another (surely, Governor McDonnell will have many more similar motivational metaphors to share on Friday). From an athletics standpoint, all these graduating seniors leave Tech having experienced one of the most exceptionally thrilling times in the history of Hokies athletics.

    They were here at the same time as Angela Tincher and Queen Harrison and Ryan Williams and Malcolm Delaney and Drew Weaver. That’s pretty good company!

    They were here for the tremendous renaissance of Tech basketball under Coach Seth Greenberg’s leadership – wins over Duke, No. 1 UNC, and No. 1 Wake Forest.

    They were here when the men’s soccer team made the College Cup and the softball team advanced to the College World Series, and when seven swimmers were named All-America.

    They were at Tech at a time when the football team won 10-plus games every year, and won several ACC titles and captured the school’s first Orange Bowl victory.

    They were here when ‘Home of the Fighting Gobblers’ came down and the new west side opened at the stadium. They saw the Hokies beat Maryland in a blizzard at Cassell Coliseum and saw Tyrod beat the ‘Huskers.

    Oh, and they never lost to Virginia in football either, right?

    It’s memories like these that make college special. There’s excitement and anticipation behind each smile to graduate and move on to bigger and better things. But you’ll hear nearly each member of this year’s graduating class also claim “I can’t wait to come back.”

    They say things like that because the bond between Virginia Tech students and their school is unmatched since for most, both the best and worst days of their lives were spent on this campus. The best days may have been in Lane Stadium when they jumped for joy, and hugged their friends or roommate.

    The worst day was April 16, 2007, when tears fill their eyes, their hearts sunk and they hugged their friends or roommate.

    When you share the most euphoric highs and the most horrific lows with the same people and in the same community, a tight bond builds. Things happened during the last few years on this campus that no student should ever endure anywhere, especially when you’re a college freshman, as was the case with many of this year’s graduates. But the end result is a bond that will last a lifetime.

    While we can’t forget the good or bad, we should understand how sharing all these experiences makes us tighter and how it made this 2010 class a special one. We’ll have doctors and engineers and vets and scientists and savvy business types. Thirty-five students will be commissioned into the United States Army, 35 into the U.S. Air Force, and 24 into the U.S. Navy. In addition, seven students will join the United States Marine Corps after graduation. And it looks like we’ll have about 10 who will make the National Football League, too.

    Yep, no game will be played this Friday, but it will be a special day in the history of Lane Stadium nonetheless.

    It will be a day to celebrate tremendous personal achievement for these young men and women and mark the last time they’ll walk into Lane Stadium as Tech students. They’ll walk out as alums who, no doubt, will look back at the past few years as the most special time of their lives.

    Bill,

    Now that we know that Malcolm Delaney is coming back for his senior year, where do you see the Hokies in the 2011 ACC race? Can we win it? Brad in Reston, Va.

    Brad,

    Absolutely! It should be a great basketball season, for sure. Duke looks like the preseason No. 1 in the league, but after that, I’d put the Hokies at No. 2. It’s a long way to go, so let’s see how the summer plays out and see how injuries and team chemistry look once the season approaches.

    Dear Bill,

    When will we know the 2010 basketball schedule? I hope it’s more exciting than last year’s? We should be playing UNC and Duke twice this year, right? Cliff in Roanoke.

    Dear Cliff,

    The final 2010-11 basketball schedule will be out some time in August, but the ACC rotation is set. This coming season, the Hokies will play UNC and Duke once each. Here is the lineup:

    Home ACC games: Virginia, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Maryland, Duke, Florida State and Miami.

    Road ACC games: Virginia, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Maryland, North Carolina, Clemson and N.C. State.

    It’s possible that future ACC schedules will change. More news on that could come out of the ACC meetings this week in Florida.

    Dear Bill,

    I agree with you that Logan Thomas should get reps as our backup quarterback this year if he is going to be the starter in 2011. However, I still think you’re underrating the talent at USC compared to Tech. I think if you look back at the talent on the field when the Hokies played USC, you’d be crazy to think we compare to that team. We had a nice ACC championship team, but we didn’t have players at USC’s level. We were one blown call away from winning that game, too. I don’t think we’re at USC’s recruiting level, but hopefully we will be sometime soon. Steve in Richmond.

    Steve,

    Thanks for your note. I wasn’t comparing the 2009 Hokies with the 2004 Trojans. That USC team had two Heisman winners in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, plus a dozen other real superstars. That was one of the greatest teams Tech has ever played and it won a national title.

    In my previous report, I was comparing the skill position on the ’09 Hokies with the ’09 Trojans and claimed “I wouldn’t trade our guys for theirs” and I’ll stick with that. Quarterback, running back, receiver, etc., I’ll stick with our guys right now.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think, in the long haul, Matt Barkley is going to be a great quarterback for USC and later in the NFL, but I wouldn’t trade him for Tyrod Taylor. USC has some inherent advantages when it comes to recruiting, and if you take a look at the number of high schools in southern California alone, it’s staggering. But I’m really impressed with the skill position Tech has now on offense, and I’m excited to watch them continue to develop this fall.

    For updates on Virginia Tech Athletics, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@hokiesports).

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