November 12, 2010
    Taylor will go down as more than just a great quarterback at Tech

    It should come as no surprise that Tyrod Taylor will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks and one of the most accomplished athletes in Virginia Tech history. He’s won more games, gained more yards and delivered in more big games than anyone who’s ever taken a snap wearing orange and maroon.

    But what might surprise some – particularly those outside the Tech program who don’t know him – is that Tech’s all-time leader in total offense is also a humble, gracious and genuine guy. He deflects praise to his teammates. He accepts blame even when he’s not at fault.

    His stats are great, but his personality is even better. He is tough, but he’s sensitive. He’s aware of his individual achievements, but focused solely on team success.

    I sat down with Tyrod to learn more about what makes him go and what’s made him such a unique guy.

    BR: You’ve won more games than any other quarterback at Virginia Tech, and you’re shattering records for total offense and passing and rushing at this school. Do you ever think about what your legacy will be here at Tech?

    TT: No, I’ll think about it once it’s all over. I’m just thinking about playing football and being the best I can be each week.

    What others are saying about Taylor

    Mike Smith, head coach Hampton High School: “What’s happening to Tyrod couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. It’s funny, my team was off today, but we were out on the field and I was talking about Tyrod to them. He’s a good role model for them. When he was here, he always had great respect from everyone at this high school, from his teammates to his teachers. He’s one of those people who just demands respect, especially in the huddle, but off the field, too. I remember when Coach Beamer and Curt (Newsome) came to offer him during his junior year. I had to pull Tyrod out of his business class just down the hall from my office. He ended up committing to Tech, and even when some other schools came in, like Oklahoma, he was going to stick with Tech. His mama deserves a lot of the credit here for all this success. She set the parameters for him. His parents did a great job. You know, his dad played for me, too, so he’s got a lot of “Crabbers Blood” in him. I’m really happy and proud of what he’s done up there.”

    Frank Beamer, head coach, Virginia Tech: “He is playing at a high, high level. He is completely taken the leadership of this team. Right now, he’s playing as well as anyone in the country.”

    David Cutcliffe, head coach, Duke University: “I think, without question, he's the best dual-threat quarterback I've seen. I would go as far to say he's the best in the country. There are guys running well that you see. You see Cam Newton [Auburn}, a youngster at Nevada [Colin Kaepernick], certainly Terrelle Pryor [Ohio State]. He's as good a runner as any of them, maybe better. I think he may be the fastest. He's a drop-back passer. You see very few drop-back passers that are as gifted as he is in the pocket that can do that other (stuff) with their feet.”

    BR: But you have to be aware of it, right? You’re passing guys like Bob Schweickert and Don Strock and Bryan Randall and Michael Vick on the various lists here at Tech. The biggest names, the brightest stars we’ve ever had at quarterback, and you’re passing them in total offense and touchdowns and yards.

    TT: I’m just honored to be in the class of those guys. Bryan Randall hit me up on Facebook and said, ‘Please don’t break ALL of my records.’ He’s a good friend, though, and we just laughed about it.

    BR: You’re a lot like Bryan Randall in a lot of ways, with your maturity and your poise and the way you handle yourself. Do you see the comparison?

    TT: They way he handled himself on the football field, and off, he always showed a lot of class, and I’m trying to do the same thing.

    BR: The Saturday night after the James Madison loss, when the Hokies were 0-2, and you went back to your apartment, what was your mindset? We know how the team responded, and the winning streak that followed, but that rainy Saturday night, what was it like for you?”

    TT: It just felt worse because we lost two games in one week. That never ever happened to me in my life. I just wanted to get back out on the practice field and preach to the guys that we have to turn things around. This is a big-time program. We expect to win, and that’s that we’re going to do.

    BR: What’s been the difference since?

    TT: We have been finishing drives, putting the football in the end zone a high percentage of the time and not settling for field goals. That’s one thing that Coach [Bryan] Stinespring has been preaching to us, and that’s one thing I tell the offense on Fridays. We need to finish drives and put touchdowns on the board.

    BR: You’ve made some amazing plays over the years, and especially this season. What do you have in store for us down the stretch?

    TT: Hopefully, I can continue to do that. I’m just excited to play football at Virginia Tech and thankful for the opportunity they [the coaches] gave me to continue to play at a high level.

    BR: Where do you get this humbleness? Your family?

    TT: Yeah, that’s the way I was brought up. My mom and dad did a good job of raising me. Stay humble and work hard. That’s the key. Work hard. Never be satisfied. Never be content.

    BR: Are your folks like that?

    TT: Yes. Exactly like that. I’m exactly like my mom and dad.

    BR: You’re an only child, right? No brothers or sisters?

    TT: No, no brothers or sisters. I have a bunch of cousins who think they’re my brothers and sisters (laughs).

    BR: Well, were you a spoiled child?

    TT: No. I wasn’t. That’s one thing that factors into me being humble. I was always thankful for the things I got. That’s something my parents probably felt would benefit me in the long run.

    BR: You are in complete control on the football field. And it seems you’re that way off the field, too. In your life and in the classroom, you’re very much in control and poised. You like that feeling?

    TT: I think so. I think a lot of people look to me to make decisions. Off the field, I try to make the best decisions. If I’m with my friends, I try to make the best decisions for all of us. We stay out of trouble, things like that. On the field, it comes with experience. You gain experience, and as a result, the coaches have confidence in me to call plays and that gives me another sense of being in control.”

    BR: I’m curious about this. Whom do you talk with on a weekly basis outside of our program? Friends from home? Ex-teammates?

    TT: I talk with Mike (Vick) just about every week. He tells me to go out there and keep the team together and keep winning, especially after the first two games. He just wanted us to turn it around. I also think a lot of guys on his team [Eagles] were trash-talkin’ about our start, so he’s happy now that we’re winning.

    BR: Do you have a closer relationship with Michael now than before?

    TT: Yes. We started talking right before he got locked up. Once he got out and back on the field and I was on the field, it drew us back together, so we are closer now than before. We talk a lot.

    BR: This might be a better question for Mike, but do you think he misses this – the life you have now, being Tyrod Taylor, the college quarterback, and living the experiences you are having here now?

    TT: I think so. There’s nothing like college football. You don’t have to worry about the business part of it.

    BR: You’re having fun, aren’t you?

    TT: Oh yes.

    It’s been fun to watch Taylor’s development. He’s been a class guy and an elite performer at a high-level program.

    The good news for Hokie fans: he’s got a lot of football left to play before this 2010 season ends.

    ACC hoops a powerful brand

    ESPN baseball analyst Joe Morgan made an interesting comment during game 4 of the 2010 World Series. Working the game on ESPN Radio with Jon Miller, Morgan tried to draw a parallel between the American League and Atlantic Coast Conference basketball after the Giants took a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning of Sunday night’s game.

    This isn’t a verbatim quote (I was driving at the time), but it went something like this:

    “The American League might be like ACC basketball. Everyone thinks those teams are unbeatable but when it comes to the postseason, every once in a while, they can be beaten.”

    The ensuing discussion between the two centered around how Giants where surprisingly shutting down an AL team like Texas, and that the Yankees and Rays were the talk all season, but the Giants, a National League team, were about to take control of the World Series.

    Their brief discussion really showed the power of the brand of ACC basketball.

    Over the past 10 years, an ACC team has won the NCAA Tournament five times (Duke 2001 and 2010, Maryland 2002, UNC 2005 and 2009). That’s as many titles as the Big East (2), SEC (2) and Big 12 (1) have combined during the same period. Also, over the past 10 years, the ACC leads all conferences with nine Final Four appearances, and four different ACC teams – Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland and North Carolina – have earned Final Four berths over that span.

    Bill,
    Just a comment – GREAT Styx quote. I did a double take. Always enjoy reading your column, and listening to you when I can, which does lead to a question … is there a place on the Web where I can hear your radio call of the biggest four or five plays of the previous week’s football game? For example, for the Baltimore Ravens games, when I get home from the game or after watching an away game on TV, I go to WBAL.com and find Ravens broadcaster Jerry Sandusky’s call of the game-winning TD, the big fumble recovery, etc. So I wanted to hear your calls from the NC State game.

    Of course, I will never forget your call of the 1995 UVa game. I was listening while serving as best man at my fraternity brother’s wedding. He violated No. 1 rule - NEVER have your wedding during a Tech football game, especially not UVa or Miami (and, in the 90s, Syracuse). Anyway, THANKS for everything!! Mike Fudge, Class of '90, Chantilly, Va.

    Mike,
    Thanks for your note. The highlights of every game, with audio and video, are available on hokiesports.com. It’s one of the many free offerings of Hokies All-Access. Click on the football tab on the left side of this page: http://www.hokiesports.com/videos/. Our terrific crew at the Hokies’ video office does a super job of editing highlights, postgame interviews and more. You’ll find highlights of all Tech teams on that site, too.

    Bill,
    I was watching a college football game the other day when a player in a team jersey, No. 99, and street clothes pushed an opposing player when he was out of bounds. A flag was thrown and a 15-yard penalty was announced against player No. 99. If that player was a redshirt on the sidelines, did he just participate in a play and loose a year's eligibility? The foul was dumb enough, but I wondered if it could be even dumber! Thanks for the answer, Paul Porter, West Chester, Pa.

    Paul,
    Interesting question. No, he wouldn’t lose eligibility, but the conference office, or his coach could suspend him for a game or two when he started playing – or most certainly keep him off the sideline for future games. I double-checked with Tech’s official statistician on this question. Officially, the penalty would be levied against the ‘team’ or the ‘bench,’ not on the player. Since he was not an active participant in the game, that situation would be treated as if a trainer, manager or coach had committed the infraction.

    Bill,
    I was unable to find your broadcast on the FM dial at the NC State game. I was in section 15 in the stands across from the press box. Are you not broadcasting anymore within the away stadium on the FM band? Is the only way to get game coverage in the stands with the little Live Sports Radio receivers? What band do they use? Is there some kind of special encoding that makes regular FM radios unable to receive your signal? Dick Swink, King George, Va.

    Dick,
    Yes, road game broadcasts are only available on Live Sports Radio. (www.livesportsradio.com). The LSR has been issued an FCC license to broadcast on the special band reserved solely for this use. For the North Carolina game, we’re on channel E-5. Miami will be on channel E-4. And for all home games, your LSR unit will pick up the game broadcasts on channel E-1.

    Bill,
    I have a silly question. Where do I find the gray hat that Tyrod was wearing at the end of the Wake game? I have looked online at the bookstore, Campus Emporium, etc. and can’t locate it. I would love to buy one. I also have a photo I would like to send to you showing a new and different kind of Hokie fan if you will let me know where to e-mail it. Thanks Leslie Terry, Houston, Texas

    Terry,
    That’s a Nike cap. If you can’t find it at the bookstores, you might try looking on Nike’s Web site.

    Dear Bill,
    It was interesting to hear you and Coach Beamer discuss the greatest team and players the Hokies have played against during Frank’s days as our coach. In my opinion, the best team we ever played was Alabama in 2009. And the best player was Peyton Manning of Tennessee in 1994. Thanks for the great work. GO HOKIES! Martin Bock, Charlotte, N.C.

    Martin,
    Thanks for listening. For those who missed Tech Talk Live! last week, in responding to a listener’s question, Coach Beamer thought the 2001 Miami Hurricanes were the best team Tech had played during the Beamer era, and I concurred, giving the 2001 ‘Canes the edge over the 1999 Seminoles. That Miami team featured Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinnie and others. That team had six first-team All-American players in its starting lineup and won the national title by beating Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. Coach Beamer thought Reggie Bush (USC, 2004) was the best individual player the Hokies had faced. I went with Warren Sapp (Miami, 1994). Peyton was a good choice though on your part. Nice work.

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