Monday, August 11th, 1997

Last week saw the beginning of football practice for the Hokies, the unveiling of the new college football polls, and Jim Druckenmiller's debut in a San Francisco 49ers uniform. Here's a recap of what went down:

Freshmen Arrive

The Hokie freshmen football players had their first practice on Thursday, and the buzz seemed to center on several players:

  • Defensive lineman Chad Beasley, who looked impressive on TV and drew the admiration of Hokie fans everywhere with his aw-shucks, "I'll do whatever the coaches ask me to" attitude. Beasley expressed a willingness to redshirt, not only because he's a team player, but because the Hokies are deep - and young - on the defensive line.
  • Tight End James Lomax, who showed up looking big and strong and ready to step on the field - physically, anyway. Also mentioned for possible playing time at tight end this year is newcomer Derek Carter, who is nearly two years older than Lomax and has spent a year prepping at FUMA.
  • Offensive lineman Matt Lehr, who reportedly arrived in excellent physical condition, although he may be a little too small at this point to play much. He's listed at 260 in Tech's brand new media guide, and if we've reached the point where 260 is too small, well, then I'm about to dry up and blow away at 155 pounds. Offensive tackle Dave Kadela may also see action this year, and defensive tackle David Pugh out of Amherst may get playing time, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Five of Tech's new players won't enroll until January, and thus won't play this fall, two due to injury. The most notable among this group of late enrollers is my anointed "favorite recruit" Camm "I've always wanted to be a Hokie" Jackson, who has a knee injury.

In my opinion, there's always a danger with a kid enrolling late. Sometimes they never get into the swing of things and disappear off the face of the map, like my favorite recruit from last year, Jeremy "The Animal" Kishbaugh from Berwick, PA. (Kishbaugh was injured in high school and never enrolled at Tech).

For other kids, it's a good thing, because they get to mature physically, they get acclimated to college academics without having to play football right away, and they get to go through Spring practice before becoming a freshman the next fall. Hopefully, Camm won't go the way of Kishbaugh. The fact that Camm intended to go to Tech as a student long before he ever realized he might be able to play football here should work in his favor. He's motivated to be here beyond what happens on the football field.

Other freshmen who won't enroll until January are OL Matt Wincek (injury), DE Tim Selmon, WR Ben Taylor, and DL Derrius Monroe, who is a partial academic qualifier.

AP Poll up to its Old Tricks

Last week's preseason polls went about like most Hokies expected: Tech arrived at #25 in the coaches poll, now dubbed the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, and as expected, the AP pollsters ranked the Hokies a solid 4 slots behind the coaches, at #29. That's a dead, tired subject that we won't beat anymore. Suffice to say that if the Hokies fail to topple Syracuse on September 13, we'll disappear right off the AP's radar screen.

Druck Doing Well in San Francisco

Jim Druckenmiller has gotten more press in San Francisco than you can shake a modem at. Thanks to the HokieCentral message board and some diligent Hokies who watch the on-line 'Frisco papers, we've been treated to near-daily updates on how Druck is doing out in SF.

Bottom line? The folks out in San Francisco are catching on to what a great football player - and what a great guy - Druck is. They seem to like his personality (how could you not?), and once they got him in camp, they started oohing and aahing at his arm strength. Druck seems to have emerged from his "holdout" unscathed, from an image standpoint. There is no doubt, however, that the "holdout" put him behind the 8-ball this year in terms of his development as a QB.

Despite Coach Steve Mariucci's early insistence that Druck's "holdout" would prevent him from seeing playing time this past Saturday, the coach changed his mind by the end of the week and put Druck in for the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. Here's how it went, according to the San Francisco Examiner (with thanks to Steve Smith for emailing me this article):

(article starts here)

... The game also marked the debut of first-round draft pick Jim Druckenmiller, who completed five passes in seven attempts for 47 yards.

"I was really encouraged with Jim Druckenmiller," Mariucci said. "He handled himself well."

Druckenmiller is not an immediate threat to Young, who was 7-of-14 passes for 33 yards, or backup Jeff Brohm, who completed 9-of-12 attempts for 62 yards. But it was the first chance for fans to see the rookie out of Virginia Tech, who missed must of camp during a contract holdout and has had only nine days of practice.

"It was a great experience," Druckenmiller said. "I was super-excited. I can't say enough about it."

An overeager Seattle defender messed up Druckenmiller's first series.

His first two throws were aimed at receiver Travis Hannah, who was interfered with by Seattle third-string cornerback Carlos Jones on each toss. The two plays were good for 34 yards.

His third pass, good to former Cal running back Reynard Rutherford, was nullified by an illegal blocking call against Marc Lamb.

Then, a near-perfect strike to Chad Fann bounced off the tight end's hands. That's probably not the way Druckenmiller, who came into the game early in the fourth quarter, dreamed of his first NFL snaps.

Finally, Druckenmiller completed a 7-yard toss to Allen DeGraffenreid, a third-down throw far short of the first-down marker.

His best toss of the night was a 25-yard pass to tight end Sean Manuel during the two-minute drill.

"It was a little bit faster," Druckenmiller said, comparing the NFL to college. "But football is football." ...

(end of article)

One Last Note

For those of you who don't peruse the message board, I encourage you to do so. In particular, web-surfing Hokies from all over post links to articles from around the country that keep you more up to date on the Hokies, and particularly the Hokies in the pro's, than I could ever hope to do here in the News and Notes section.

In one typical day, the sheer amount of information that gets posted on the message board is phenomenal. The message board is one of the strongest parts of the site and keeps a lot of people coming back, time after time. So if you haven't looked at, well, you ain't takin' full advantage of this site.


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