Monday, April 5, 1999

Spring Football Update

There hasn't been a lot of solid information coming out of Tech's spring practices and scrimmages. I'm not sure how closely the Roanoke Times was planning on covering spring practice, but their cause wasn't helped any when Tech beat writer Randy King, who has been working like a dog on men's and women's basketball (along with Mark Berman, who helped out on women's hoops) for about three months now, was in a car accident about a week ago.

I figure after driving all over the Northeast for three months, and then getting T-boned (on Stokes drive in Roanoke, ironically), King probably starts twitching when he even thinks about getting in a car. I don't know where he lives, but I think he ought to buy a house in Blacksburg or somewhere in between Blacksburg and Roanoke, to put him closer to his real work, covering Hokie sports (in the business, we call that sentence a "non-sequitor").

Anyway, while Randy recuperates, we're left with message board poster reports and a little bit of solid information that leaks out on either television or in newspaper reports here and there. Here is a recap of some of the more interesting news and anecdotes I've heard and read so far:

Phillip Summers, who battled Lorenzo Ferguson for the starting whip linebacker job going into last season before an injury slowed him down, and who was impressive in limited action at the position, has been moved to rover, Pierson Prioleau's old position. He'll battle for the starting job there with traveling man Cory Bird, who in the past has been moved from offense (split end) to whip linebacker, and last season, to rover.

Those two players are an interesting story. Bird, as I mentioned, has been shuffled around and has been plagued by injuries in his career, and Summers has shown great potential. One of these guys is going to finally get the chance to show his stuff, and the other is going to have to take a deep breath and prepare for another season as a backup. Both will be redshirt juniors next year, and it may be their last chances to carve out a spot in the starting lineup.

Meanwhile, rising redshirt freshman T.J. Jackson is being given a shot at whip, where Ferguson is solidly entrenched as a starter.

At safety, Nick Sorensen appears to be in line for the starting job, and he is backed up by Steven Hunt and 1998 sleeper recruit Willie Pile. Reggie Samuel, who has been shuffled around as much as Cory Bird in his career, has also been moved to safety, so, assuming that Sorensen is the starter, there's a logjam of inexperience behind him. Note that Anthony Midget, who Tech coaches said might get a look at safety, is not on that list anymore.

Instead, Midget is the odds-on favorite to start at cornerback, opposite Ike Charlton, whose name is chiseled in stone as a starter. Special teams demon Larry Austin will back up Charlton, but Midget will be pushed by rising redshirt freshman Ronyell Whitaker.

My thought on Midget, as N2VTFTBL said on the message board, is that he needs to step up this season like Loren Johnson and Keion Carpenter stepped up last year. The Hokies have many concerns in the defensive backfield, and Midget is the only "new starter" with significant playing time. He has been adequate but never impressive as a cornerback, and he needs to have his best season this year, so Hokie fans and coaches can stop worrying about the corners and worry about safety and rover, instead.

If Midget does win the starting job, I look for Ronyell to get significant playing time behind him and be ready to go as the starter in 2000, assuming that one of the steady stream of incoming stud DB types that Tech has been recruiting doesn't steal the job from him.

Elsewhere on the defense, odds-on favorites to break into what would otherwise appear to be rock-solid starting lineup are Chad Beasley and Jake Houseright. Beasley and Brick House are drawing rave reviews from observers who have checked out practices and are posting on the message board.

Tech has an embarrassment of riches on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps, so I think the defense will be very, very solid. Yeah, I know, that's really going out on a limb, but the more I look at the defensive backfield, which has the potential to be the weak link, the less I worry about it.

We're two-deep at each corner, although experience might be lacking in backups Austin and Whitaker. If Midget steps up and has a good year, we've got no worries, mate. And we're two-deep at rover, with less worry about experience, between Bird and Summers.

My only concern is at safety, where Sorensen is a heady and athletically gifted player, but relatively inexperienced, and if he goes down (or God forbid, gets moved back to quarterback, or punter, or kicking-tee carrier, or whatever), we're looking at three players - Samuel, Pile, and Hunt - with zero snaps at the position.

I would just about bet you money that if Sorensen suffers some sort of injury, Anthony Midget would be shifted over to safety so fast it would make your orange and maroon head spin.

So those are my thoughts on the defense. For the latest scrimmage report, see Stretch's report from Saturday. He and N2 are neck-and-neck for the title of "Most Enthusiastic Scrimmage Report." And while we're on the subject of N2, have you seen the pictures he took the other day at spring practice?  Thanks for the input, fellas.


Stokes Still Drawing Rave Reviews from the RT-D

One very positive side-effect of Jim Weaver's hiring of Ricky Stokes is that it has pulled the Richmond Times-Dispatch solidly into the Tech basketball camp, since Stokes is a "local boy."

Want to know why you haven't heard much out of Tech beat writer Jeff White regarding spring football? It's because White has been giving Stokes rivers of ink, in articles written on March 31st and a large article written on April 4th. Here are the links:

Jaudon speaks highly of ex-Texas mate - Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 31st
By hiring Stokes, Tech is hoping for an injection of excitement (link 1) - Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 4th
By hiring Stokes, Tech is hoping for an injection of excitement (link 2) - Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 4th

Link 1 is where the story was originally stored - if that link doesn't work, then check link 2, which is my guess of where they'll archive it. If neither link works, try the RT-D's Tech basketball page


Non-Revenue Sports

Old-time HokieCentral readers know that I do a lousy job of covering spring non-revenue sports, including baseball, although I do start to track the baseball team as the season starts coming to a close, and possible NCAA tournament action approaches.

Other than that, I reserve spring-time ink for spring football. That's not likely to change, because I don't actually attend non-revenue sporting events, I don't pay much attention to them, and therefore, I can't add much to the scores that you can get elsewhere.

Plus, I like to take the late spring and summer months to get stuff done around the house, spend time with the family, and recharge my batteries for eight to nine more months of football, basketball, and football (August-April) the next season.

Having said that, if you're into the non-rev sports, there are two good resources for tracking them:

  • VT Hokie News - HokiefromWV continues to be the linkmeister, and he includes non-rev links and reports in his VT Hokie News page.
  • The other resource, of course, is,   which follows all Tech sports, and has columns from Bill Roth (see "Press Box View") and has Hokie Huddler excerpts.


TSL News and Notes Archives

TSL Home