Monday, June 23rd, 1997

Musings on Camm, David, Yubrenal, and Tyrone

Last week, High School All-American Tyrone Robertson's shaky commitment to Virginia Tech took a turn for the worse. To bring you up to date on Tyrone, he is a highly sought after defensive end from GW-Danville whose recruitment came down to another UVa-Tech showdown for in-state talent. Tyrone's status as a football player is solid - he is ranked as the #3 recruit in the state of Virginia, and sometimes in the Top 50 nationally. Tyrone's status as an academic qualifier, however, was in doubt. His SAT was adequate, but his grades needed to come up a few tenths of a point in order for him to be eligible to play, according to the NCAA's sliding scale of GPA/SAT combinations.

In January, Tyrone quit the GW-Danville basketball team to concentrate on grades. Somewhere around that time frame, he was told by the UVa admissions department that if he didn't qualify academically, he would not be taken as a partial qualifier. Tech, on the other hand, expressed a willingness to take him, and it was that distinction between the two schools that may have pushed Tyrone to commit to Tech. In February, on national signing day, Tyrone inked a letter of intent to play for the Hokies.

Since then, he was unable to bring his grades up to qualifier status, which for Hokie fans was a disappointment, but not a disaster. It just meant that he would sit out a year before donning the orange and maroon. Right?

As Lee Corso likes to say, "Not so fast, my friend." As the spring wore on, I started hearing reports from very good sources that Tyrone was not Tech-bound, but instead was considering junior college. And then last week, The Richmond Times-Dispatch dropped the bombshell: Robertson did not even graduate from GW-Danville High School this year. A day later, the press reported that Tyrone Robertson will attend Fork Union next year, not Virginia Tech.

A few facts: (1) from what I have been told, Robertson's failure to graduate from high school renders his letter of intent to Tech null and void. He is now fair game, and anybody from Florida State to Tennessee to Virginia Tech to, yes, even UVa, can start recruiting him again; (2) his failure to graduate is somewhat stunning, when you consider that it wasn't his high school academic status that was in question - it was his collegiate eligibility. Tyrone easily had the grades to graduate from GW.

This turn of events has left the Tech football community wondering, What does this mean? There are those who point to the circuitous routes taken by Shelly Ellison, Ricky Hall, Myron Newsome and others to get to Tech, and these folks say, "Tyrone and Virginia Tech will stay true to their words. He will play for the Hokies."

Then there are those who say, "So why didn't he just graduate, come here, and sit out a year, like it was expected he would do?"

I don't know, folks. I don't know Tyrone personally, so I therefore don't know if there are other things going on in his life that would make him fail to graduate. And I'm not going to predict how this one is going to come out. But, like Melrose Place, you'll keep tuning in until you find out what's going to happen, won't you?

The "recruitment" of Yubrenal Isabelle, who will live forever in Virginia Tech infamy, and the latest turn of events with Tyrone Robertson have put a damper on what was a very good recruiting year. They are arguably Tech's most ballyhooed recruits of this year, and they remain "the ones that got away." We know for sure that Isabelle is long gone. We'll just have to wait and see with Tyrone Robertson.

At times like this, I often think of my two favorite football recruits of this past year, LB/RB Camm Jackson and OL David Pugh, both of Amherst High. They were the first two commitments I ever reported here at HokieCentral, and for that reason, I remember them clearly.

Pugh committed verbally in April of 1996, as a 16 year old junior, five months before his senior season even started. He cited the quality of Tech's Forestry program as his main reason for wanting to go to Tech. Two months later, Amherst teammate Camm Jackson committed, uttering the line that I will always associate with him: "I've always wanted to go to Tech." Camm has commented that he always planned to attend Tech as a student, but as he grew and developed his talent on the football field, he suddenly realized that if he played his cards right, he could not only go to Tech, he could play football for the Hokies!

How can you not love two kids who cite academics and a lifelong desire to attend Tech as reasons for wanting to go there? As the Yubrenal Isabelles and the Tyrone Robertsons of the world make recruiting headlines, contributions that make a real difference on the field often come from the quiet but strong dedication and unwavering commitment of kids like Camm and David, or from no-names like John Engelberger who sneak in through the back door, or from stars like Ricky Hall who have to take the long, hard route to get here.

At this point, no one knows what kinds of careers these kids are going to have, but it sure will be fun to hang around for 4-5 years and find out. To Tyrone Robertson, I can only say good luck in getting things worked out, whether you ever come to Tech or not. To Yubrenal Isabelle, I leave out the good luck part, but I do say that I can't wait to see you on a football field, getting cleat marks in your back as you get run over by some Hokie stud wearing the orange and maroon - perhaps even Camm Jackson or David Pugh.

To Camm and David, I say, "Welcome to Tech. We look forward to having you as Hokies, because you already are Hokies."


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