Fans don't have an effect on the game, right? Fans don't prepare, they don't play, they don't make the tackles, they don't run the ball, and they don't throw or catch it. All the noise they make is just that -- noise. That might be true elsewhere, but in Blacksburg, on November 1, 2003, Hokie fans jammed Spring Road for the "The Walk", and the electricity sent the Hokies into orbit, where they mauled #2 Miami 31-7. This Saturday, lightning can strike twice.

The Miami Hurricanes are coming this weekend for an ESPN Saturday night war under the brand-new bright lights of Lane Stadium. It's the biggest game of the season so far for Virginia Tech. It's the biggest game in college football this weekend, pitting #3 in the BCS versus #6 in the BCS. It's the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for the Hokies, with about 30 visitors (half of them on official visits, the other half unofficial) from up and down the east coast, players so talented that if you filled a team with them, you could compete for the national championship for years to come. GameDay will be in Blacksburg, and from the time they start their show at 10:30 a.m. to the time the game is over around 11:00 p.m., all eyes will be on Blacksburg, from New York to California.

This is why you slog through the games against Duke, Ohio, and Marshall, so you can get to games like this. This is why you agonize through the off-season and tailgate at the Spring Game. Very few programs around the country get to enjoy a Saturday like this, and come November 5th, it's all yours, Tech fans.

With the TV cameras trained on Blacksburg, the recruits flowing in for visits, and the best team Tech will face this year coming into Lane Stadium, it's a rare opportunity for Hokie fans to step up and make a direct contribution to the program. The best place to do that is the Walk, where Hokie fans, Hokie players, and recruits will all come together on the strip of Spring Road that passes by Lane Stadium.

The Walk -- Make it Real

Talk about your "perfect storms." For the 2003 Miami game, the pre-game Walk was like nothing you've ever seen. Over 10,000 Hokie fans packed Spring Road from the Southwest corner of Lane Stadium to the Merryman Center, jammed shoulder to shoulder and pulsing with energy.

The unusual turnout was spurred by a TSL article called Make it Real that urged fans to head out to the Walk, look the players in the eyes, and let them know you were behind them. At the time, free TSL articles registered 4,000-8,000 page views, but Make it Real caught fire, hit email lists, and became a phenomenon, totaling an incredible 35,000 page views. (Which means that about 20,000 people read it and didn't make it to the Walk -- shame on you!)

Since then, we've received numerous requests to write another Walk article. The simple truth is that that article can never be recreated. The good news is that re-reading it two years later still gets you fired up, so click one of the links in the previous paragraph and have at it. Be careful if you're at work, though -- reading Make it Real could cause you to kick your cubicle walls down and launch your computer out the window.

If you were there for the 2003 Miami Walk, then you know what an electric atmosphere it was. The story has circulated about what happened on the team buses as they topped the hill on their approach to Lane Stadium and saw the street filled with thousands of Hokie fans, waiting for them. scbeachokie re-posted a story from two years ago on the TSL Pass subscriber message board the other day:

I went to the dentist today here in Roanoke. The hygienist was admiring my Tech ring and mentioned that her husband was a driver for the Hokie team bus. Then she asked if I had gone to the Miami game and said, "Let me tell you a story".

She told me that her husband was a driver for the team and has been for several years. He was driving the team into Blacksburg from their stay in Radford on Saturday evening. The mood on the bus was somber... sullen almost. As they crested the hill to head down toward the stadium, they saw thousands of people waiting to greet them. It was as if an electric current moved through the bus. The guys were rubber necking to see what was going on. Poking each other and mumbling in near disbelief. Then it got loud. They started getting fired up right there on the bus. Shouting and cheering. It was as if doubt and despair had suddenly been replaced by confidence and conviction. The hygienist went on to tell me that her husband had never seen anything like it. He said it nearly brought him to tears and swears he saw some on the bus as well.

As the players got off the bus and worked their way up through the crowd, the throng pressed in close, close enough to look the players right in the eyes, slap them on the back, and shake their hands close enough to "make it real." Had it not been so positive in nature, it would have been frightening. It was a rare opportunity to pump energy straight from the fans into the players, and anyone who was there will tell you what it was like. Or maybe they won't be able to find the words.

Talent on Hand

Knowing that this game will be the best atmosphere all season, the Tech coaching staff has set it up as the biggest weekend for recruiting visits, both official and unofficial. (Official recruiting visits are paid for by the school, and each recruit can only go on official visits to a maximum of five different schools. Unofficial visits are paid for by the recruit, and a recruit can make as many of these visits as they wish.) Lists are still being assembled, but at this point, 13 official visitors and 16 unofficial visitors are known to be headed to Blacksburg this weekend.

And we're not talking about a handful of two-star players and potential walk-ons. We're talking about the largest assemblage of talent ever to visit Blacksburg in one weekend: three 5-star players, an incredible thirteen 4-star players, and even more.

Recruits Visiting VT This Weekend
Official Visitors Unofficial Visitors
S Marcus Ball RB Brandon Minor
RB LeSean McCoy RB Evan Royster
WR Vidal Hazelton DE Jason Adjepong
OL Lou Eliades DE John Graves
WR Damon McDaniel DE Josh Minton
LB Jarell Miller OL Aaron Brown *
LB Brandon Spikes DT Daryl Robertson *
LB Morrice Richardson RB Lucas Caparelli
LB Navorro Bowman OL Hutch Eckerson
DE Jermaine Cunningham OL Brandon Holland *
OL Clark Crum OL Beau Warren *
TE Andre Smith CB Stephan Virgil *
S Mario Edwards DE Greg Billinger
  OL Billy Cuffee
  ATH Ras'i Dawling
  QB Tyrod Taylor +
* VT Commitment; + 2007 Recruit

That's an immense amount of talent, and they'll all be on Spring Road Saturday evening. The official visitors will ride the bus and walk with the team, and you better believe the unofficial visitors won't be far away. A turnout of thousands of fans on Spring Road will blow them away.

A Chance To Do It Again

As perfect as it was, the incredible Miami Walk of 2003 has one black cloud hanging over it. Yes, the team rocked the 'Canes that night, but it was just a moment in time. The players weren't able to carry that energy over into the rest of the season, and it ended poorly.

This Saturday can be different. It can be the perfect part of a great season, instead of the perfect part of a disappointing season. Just imagine being one of those players coming over the hill in that bus, and seeing thousands of Hokie fans lining the street as night falls.

Read Make it Real. Print it out. Pass it around. And if that's still not enough, then read this, from an October 30th article:

Coming off his best game of his career, senior fullback Quadtrine Hill wants to let everyone know the 'Canes will be ready.

"We are going to stomp them out," Hill said. "They think they are invincible up there in Blacksburg, but they have another thing coming. They can't forget this is the 'U'. We got something to fight for. Every time we go step out on the field we feel we are good enough to win. Anybody predicting us not to win this game needs to re-think their job because their profession should be on the line."

Do all these things to get yourself prepped, and then be there for the Walk at 5:40. Get there early, because it'll be standing room only, elbow to elbow, and you don't want to miss it. Consider this your Call to Arms.