August 31, 2010
    Tech's staff makes aggressive decision on Wilson

    The aggressive decision of the Virginia Tech coaching staff to eschew a redshirt year for David Wilson and play the sophomore during the 2010 season may turn out to be one of the best, albeit curious, decisions in head coach Frank Beamer’s tenure at Tech.

    Fifteen years ago, I’m not sure Beamer and his staff would’ve come to the same conclusion. After all, the Hokies are loaded at tailback with Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and even Tony Gregory. Plus. Tech has plenty of other fleet-footed skill guys on its roster who could return kicks. Carries could be limited at the tailback position in 2010, and there’s a chance that both Williams and Evans could declare for the NFL Draft after this season. You’d like to have Wilson around for a few more years. Who wouldn’t?

    But there’s also a chance that Wilson could declare for the 2012 draft after his junior season, so why keep such a valuable commodity on the sidelines this year if Tech is only going to get two years out of him anyway?

    “We did that with Michael Vick and look what happened,” associate head coach Billy Hite said Monday night.

    Tech redshirted Vick during the 1998 season and he played just two seasons in a Tech uniform before declaring for the NFL Draft following the 2000 season. Hite, Beamer and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring met Sunday morning to discuss the situation. Their conclusion? Let’s go for it now.

    Late Monday, Beamer said, “Right now, I’m not worried about a couple years down the road. We’re focused on this season.”

    And this season will include Wilson as a key man. On kickoff returns. In the backfield. At other spots on the field. Fifteen years ago, this staff might have come to a different conclusion. The conservative, build-the-program approach would be to stockpile and develop talent, and hedge the bet for future seasons.

    But this is 2010, not 1995.

    “I look at what Pete Carroll did at USC,” Beamer said. “Play your best guys and get them on the field. You don’t know how long you’re going to have them.”

    That’s where the equation – and recruiting – has changed in the past few years. In 2010, Tech coaches have to assume that all of their skill players will declare for the NFL Draft before their senior seasons. They are mindful of that in the recruiting process and – as we saw Monday – in the decision to who plays and who doesn’t.

    If you recall, many wanted to redshirt Wilson last year. He only got 59 rushing attempts for his entire true freshman season. That’s not a lot, but he is a better back now as a result.

    It might make sense to redshirt the true freshman linemen who will develop and grow and get bigger and stronger over the next four years. On September 20, 2014, the Hokies will play Ohio State in Columbus. That day, if all goes well, Tech will start veteran fifth-year defensive linemen like Nick Acree and Zack McCray, who will redshirt this year at Tech as true freshmen. That seems sound and logical, and Beamer and staff will be thankful for that decision when they walk into “The Horseshoe” with Nick and Zack as season vets.

    But Wilson wanted to play in 2010. And he was ready to play. That was evident from his offseason preparation and his exceptional performance in preseason practices and scrimmages.

    “He reminds me of Reggie Bush,” Beamer said Monday, and the coach is right. With his quick, darting-and-dashing style, and his breakaway speed, Wilson is the closest thing the Hokies have ever had to the former USC and current New Orleans Saints star.

    Keep in mind that Wilson is a ‘team guy’ and would’ve redshirted without a peep had the coaches insisted. He would’ve put on one of his patented sharp, crisp dress shirts, tied a perfect Windsor knot and trotted off to class, as does daily – all with a smile on his face.

    But Wilson can help this team win right now, starting next Monday night at FedExField in Washington. And that’s why the decision to play him was made.

    “When we recruit a tailback, he knows that he’s going to get the ball a lot, and he knows that he can play right away,” Hite said.

    With a few exceptions, like Brandon Minor (Michigan) and Evan Royster (Penn State) in 2006, Hite and company have signed the premier in-state running back each year over the past decade. Wilson, Williams, Branden Ore, Elan Lewis, Lee Suggs and Mike Imoh all played for Beamer. And the Hokies have signed national backs like Kevin Jones (Pennsylvania) and Evans (Indiana) out of state. Meaning while you don’t know for sure whom the Hokies tailback will be in 2014 at Ohio State, you have a pretty good hunch he’ll be a good one. And he might be a kid who is just in ninth or 10th grade today.

    But that’s okay because what we saw this week was that Beamer, Stinespring and Hite are going to be aggressive when it comes to personnel – aggressive in recruiting and aggressive in getting their best guys on the field right now. That will help them sign a star running back in 2011, 2012 or 2013. Perhaps each year.

    In the end, Coach Beamer will always do what’s best for the player. And in this case, playing Wilson was also the best decision for the team. You’ll see that Monday night in D.C.

    Radio news
    We’re delighted that 106.7-The Fan, WJFK-FM is Washington’s new radio home of the Hokies’ football and basketball broadcasts. The powerful station (25,000 watts) blankets the entire Capitol region and is a great addition to our Virginia Tech ISP Sports Network. But you should know that because the station broadcasts a totally digital signal, there is an eight-second delay in our game broadcasts. That means that while you’ll be able to hear our coverage loud and clear at FedExField on Monday, the audio will be eight seconds behind the action on the field. This works great if you’re watching on TV and turning the sound down since the audio will match-up more often. But if you’re at the stadium, it’s problematic.

    This is becoming more common throughout the country, and why we’re excited to offer the Live Sports Radio (www.livesportsradio.com) product this year. LSR receives a re-broadcast of the Virginia Tech ISP Sports Network in every stadium, both home and away. The LSR radios receive AM and FM, plus a special E-band. The Virginia Tech- Boise State game will be on channel E-2 and will be live, without delay. It’s a crystal clear signal, which you’ll be able hear throughout the stadium on game day. There will be no other FM broadcast of the game at the stadium, or at any other road venue this season. So LSR is the only way to get the game broadcast live in D.C., Boston, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Miami, etc.

    Tech is one of 28 NFL and NCAA teams that have LSR this year.

    At home games, LSR will receive a re-broadcast of WBRW-FM, our flagship station, on Channel E-1. You’ll also be able to hear the games on 105.3 FM in Blacksburg. For road games, the LSR frequency will be announced each week on hokiesports.com. It will be on channel E-2 through E-9.

    The radios are sharp, high quality and very loud. There is a single ear option, or a conventional headset radio option as well. They’ve been a huge hit at some SEC schools and we’re glad to be part of the LSR team in 2010. The radios have the VT logo and lanyard and will work at home or at the beach year round as they get AM and FM signals. But on game day, flip to the “E” frequency to hear our broadcasts live without delay.

    You can order online or purchase at FedEx or Lane Stadiums this year.

    You can find more info here: www.livesportsradio.com

    Bill
    Has the athletics department considered adding Navy to the football schedule? I think it makes sense on many levels. They can play on a neutral field (FedEx) every year and both teams (and their fans) will feel like it is still a home game. Obviously, Navy is just down the road, while northern Virginia has the largest number of students and alumni of any region in the state, so a sellout for the teams and a local game for the fans is a real win-win.

    Both teams bring a proud military presence that could be on display with a march on or both bands playing at halftime. There will be many fun family rivalries since so many military parents in northern Virginia have children who are students or future students at Tech. Most importantly, if the game can be scheduled the week prior to the Georgia Tech game, it will be great preparation for Paul Johnson’s option offense that he used, and is still being used, at the Academy.

    The biggest issue most teams have with the Yellow Jackets’ offense is that they don’t see it but once a year. So the best way to get ready for that all-important conference game is to play against the Navy option the week before. If you can make it happen, I’ll (Tech class of ’80) be the first one there with my dad (Navy class of ‘55). David Petersen, Centreville, Virginia.

    David,

    Anchors Aweigh! Thanks for taking the time to send your note, but you need to forward that e-mail to Navy AD Chet Gladchuck. As Tech AD Jim Weaver said again Monday night on Tech Talk LIVE!, Tech has reached out to Navy several times, but the Academy is not interested in playing. It’s as simple as that. Don’t want to play in Blacksburg, Annapolis, or at a neutral site (Baltimore or FedEx.) Of all the places we’ve played over the years, Annapolis was one of the most memorable, so I hope we have the chance to go back some day. It’s a special, special place, and it was a wonderful experience for our players and fans.

    Bill,
    Looking forward to a great season and to more great calls from you and Mike B. Go easy on the buffets, guys (just kidding)!

    Regarding the opener against Boise State, I was wondering if the conference (ACC) offers any advice to the programs on scheduling two such games less than 40 miles apart on the same day, considering Maryland is taking on Navy at the Ravens stadium in the afternoon. It could be good for making a full day of football, but seems to me more likely to split attendance, media coverage and public attention in the area. Rob, Alexandria, Virginia.

    Rob,

    I’m curious to see what the attendance numbers will look like for both games next Monday. As for the media coverage, both games are on ESPN, and the Tech-Boise game will run unopposed in prime time, so it’s going to be a huge ratings winner. It’s a big day for college football in the Washington-Baltimore area, but the league wouldn’t dictate non-conference games like this. It’s up to the schools, etc.

    Bill,
    How's it going? What the easiest/cheapest way to pick up the broadcast for the games. I am in Atlanta. Thanks Michael Jackson, Atlanta. BS ’95, MS ‘99.

    Bill,
    I am surely going to miss the Virginia Tech games this fall, especially you and Mike. Like most Hokies, we cut the sound down on the TV and get you guys on the network. I am down in Australia and hopefully I can pick up some type signal. Any ideas? Go Hokies! Steve DeHart, Yarrowonga, Australia.

    Michael and Steve,
    The best way to follow the action if you live far away is either online or on satellite radio. With Hokies All-Access, you can see and hear games on your home computer or laptop. You can also hear Tech Talk LIVE! on Monday nights on your computer. XM Radio will carry the games each week on channels 190-193, and TTL on Monday nights on channel 143. However, Steve, XM only works in North America, so your best bet is the computer. Thanks so much for listening!

    Hey Bill,
    Just a quick question for you. I noticed on the hokiesports.com section for Lane Stadium that it mentions Tech's first televised football game in Lane Stadium was the Florida State game from 1966. I was wondering if this is the earliest ever televised VT football game (home/away or bowl)? Were any games ever televised from Miles Stadium? Also, does the athletics department keep film of all these old games on file, and if so, is there any way to share this with the public? I think it'd be really interesting to check out some of these old games, and maybe even see Coach Beamer on the field! Thanks for any insight you can provide. Chris Scruggs, Bristow, Virginia.

    Steve,

    Good question. I had fun researching this one. The first televised Virginia Tech game was on October 10, 1959 when the Hokies faced Florida State at Miles Stadium. The game was shown regionally by the C.D. Chesley Company, which, as ACC historians know, was a pioneer in college sports telecasts of that era. The Seminoles won that game 7-6 in Blacksburg when Tech’s two-point conversion attempt failed with just less than three minutes to play. That was also a game that Tech threw a Southern Conference-record seven interceptions. Not pretty TV, eh? The Tech video office has digitized all the old game films of that era, so we have them. You might see some fun clips on Virginia Tech Sports Today as the season progresses. You can see the all-time list of televised Virginia Tech football games here: http://www.hokiesports.com/football/tv.html

    Hi Bill
    I spent four wonderful years in Blacksburg earning my degree at Virginia Tech from 2002-06. I now teach at the University of Idaho-Boise. My office is three blocks north of the blue turf and I look out at the BSU practice field. I can't wait for the trip back to watch the Hokies and Broncos in FedEx next Monday. I listen to all of the Hokie football and basketball games on the Internet and XM, and I truly enjoy the broadcasts. Keep up the great work, and I am looking forward to a great game in D.C. and a great season! John Cannon, Boise, Idaho.

    John,

    Thanks for listening and for taking the time to write. Enjoy the game.

    Dear Bill,
    I would like to suggest you do a story called ‘fact or fiction’ in which you list a bunch of topics and set the record straight. Such as the rumor of Tech playing Tennessee in Bristol, the expansion of Lane Stadium in the north end zone, Jim Weaver sets the game times, who painted the VT logo on the field at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, etc. There are some wild stories out there and you can set the record straight. What do you think? Paul H. Clearwater, Florida.

    Paul,

    Thanks for writing. That’s an interesting idea.

    • VT-UT in Bristol: Fiction. Total PR stunt to draw attention to a race from the always creative Bruton Smith. Jim Weaver (and his counterpart at Tennessee Mike Hamilton) even put in a few calls to Smith about his offer to pay each school $20 million for the game. “I’d play for $10 million,” Weaver joked.

    • North end zone expansion: Fiction. Right now, there are no plans to expand Lane Stadium.

    • Game times: TV sets game times. For non-televised games, Weaver and staff have picked 1:30, which allows fans in D.C. and Hampton Roads to get home following games.

    • As for who altered the UVa logo at Scott Stadium and turned it into a “VT”? We may never know!

    Have a great trip to D.C. Please follow me on twitter @vtvoice.

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

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