ACC: Billy Hite

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Virginia Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer can still vividly remember walking off the field at Lane Stadium in 1992 when he was a sophomore in high school and his father, Frank, had just concluded a dismal 2-8-1 season as head coach of the Hokies.

Virginia Tech had lost at home 41-38 to rival Virginia in its season finale, and the younger Beamer was following his father’s footsteps into the tunnel as they left the field.

“I was about 10 feet behind him following him, and I can remember a guy hanging over the railing and screamed down at him, ‘bye-bye, Beamer!’” Shane Beamer said. “People thought that might be his last game.”

[+] EnlargeFrank Beamer
Jeff Blake/US PresswireVirginia Tech has compiled a 195-98-2 record under Frank Beamer in 24 seasons.
Instead, it was Virginia Tech’s last losing season under Frank Beamer.

“I was sitting in an academic visit the other day with a recruit, and the professor said we were just kind of a quiet little college town university before [Frank] Beamer showed up,” said defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who has been on the sideline with Beamer as either a player or coach for 33 years. “Now, we feel like we hit the jackpot. Things have changed. That’s what you see with Coach. He’s a guy who put this place on the map, so to speak.”

Beamer enters his 25th season as Virginia Tech’s head coach this fall, a longevity that has been unrivaled, as no other head football coach in school history had lasted longer than 10 seasons, and only Penn State’s Joe Paterno has been at his current school consecutively longer (45 years). Beamer has won 240 games in his 30 years as a head coach, and his sustained success at his alma mater has been unparalleled in recent years, as no other program has managed seven straight 10-win seasons. Under Beamer, Virginia Tech has won four ACC titles, three Big East titles, made five BCS bowl appearances and played for one national championship.

“I feel fortunate to be around 25 years,” Beamer said. “I really understand how fortunate I am. There have been a lot of good coaches, a lot of good players, and an administration that hung around when most wouldn’t these days after about the first four or five years. Things have turned out good for Virginia Tech. Being in the Big East was a great situation for us. That helped because it gave you TV and bowl games. And then coming into the ACC, that helps because that’s the right conference for us. We’ve had some fortunate things happen to help me stay there for 25 years.”

There is a reason, though, Beamer is still coaching and making sweeping changes to the program at 64 years old.

Despite his accomplishments, Beamer has yet to win a national title, a fact that hasn’t exactly escaped the Virginia Tech faithful. With or without that elusive title, Beamer is destined for the College Football Hall of Fame, and those within the program say Beamer doesn’t need a national title to validate his career or legacy at the program. Most would agree. But he still wants to win one, and by making staff changes this offseason -- which included the hire of his son, also a top-notch recruiter -- Beamer has put himself in a better position to contend for one, if not this year, then in the near future.

Shane Beamer said there wouldn’t be a better way to commemorate his father’s silver anniversary this season than with a title -- any title.

“If you were writing a movie script and the head coach hires his son in his 25th year of coaching and they win a national championship the first year together, that would be pretty storybook and Hollywood-esque,” Shane said. “I don’t know if that’s in the cards or not. We’ve got a tough schedule this year and a lot of challenges ahead of us. Obviously if we win a championship that would make it even more special, but if we don’t win a championship this year, just being on the staff and being a part of this team and getting to share his 25th year of coaching with him, that’s pretty special in itself.”

Staff loyalty runs deep in Blacksburg, which is why the offseason changes caused quite a stir inside and outside of the football building. Longtime assistants Billy Hite and Jim Cavanaugh were moved into administrative positions to make room for the younger Beamer and outside linebackers/assistant defensive ends coach Cornell Brown. Quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain was given the playcalling duties.

Shane said there were plenty of elite recruiters on Virginia Tech’s staff before he arrived, and if there is a perception out there that he is the missing piece to the Hokies’ quest for a national title, it’s the wrong one.

“If you count my dad and the nine assistant coaches, I’m one-tenth of the equation,” he said. “We’re all in this thing together. I don’t think myself or Cornell is the missing piece. He’s been adamant about why we were brought in, and thought it was good for the program to try and make it better from top to bottom and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Beamer said being able to retain the knowledge of Hite and Cavanaugh while hiring two younger coaches who have to reach the top of their game was an overall upgrade.

“I think our organization is the strongest it’s ever been,” Shane said.

That’s saying a lot, considering the milestones that have been reached over the past 24 seasons.

Frank Beamer, though, isn’t done yet.

“I’m hoping we will be celebrating Year 25,” said Foster. “I’m hoping it will be a special year.”

It’s been a long time at Virginia Tech since it wasn’t.

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April, 22, 2011
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Will VT staff changes pay off?

February, 22, 2011
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For the first time in five years, there has been a change on Virginia Tech's staff.

For the first time in a long time, there has been significant change.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has restructured his staff, the most significant move being that quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain will now call the plays instead of offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. Virginia Tech fans, many of whom have long been clamoring for a replacement for Stinespring, seem ecstatic. It's as if Virginia Tech just beat Stanford in the Orange Bowl, as if the Hokies have automatically morphed into one of the nation's top two teams.

The reality of the situation, though, is this: Virginia Tech still enters 2011 with a rookie starting quarterback, and no staff changes are going to change the fact that he has 26 collegiate passes to his name. Logan Thomas' potential far outweighs his accomplishments at this point. The Hokies also have to replace two starters on the defensive line, they're almost starting from scratch at tight end, and it's the second straight season they need a new starting kicker and punter.

And few, if any, Virginia Tech fans were doing David Wilson-like backflips over this year's recruiting class.

There's also the question of how Stinespring handles this change. Sure, he retains the title of offensive coordinator, but how much weight does it carry if he's not calling the plays? That's like giving someone the title to a new car, but taking away the keys. What fun is it if you can't drive?

On the surface, Beamer's staff changes all seem like good moves: O'Cain's relationship with Thomas, the program's quarterback of the future, will help both of them flourish in their new roles. O'Cain has experience, having been head coach at NC State and offensive coordinator at both Clemson and North Carolina. Shane Beamer, who was hired as running backs coach, will not only help the offense, but he's gained a reputation as a top-notch recruiter. Retaining the knowledge of longtime assistants Billy Hite and Jim Cavanaugh, who moved to administrative positions, will be like having two additional coaches on staff.

Beamer strategically made these changes knowing there's room for improvement. There's one title he's still chasing. Better coaching is half of the equation. Better recruiting is the other half. These moves can help Virginia Tech get closer to bringing it all together, but the Hokies won't make the jump from top of the ACC to top of the BCS standings in one season -- not with a rookie quarterback.

Somehow, Beamer figured out a way to make his staff better without losing any good people. Next comes the tricky part -- figuring out how to make his team better without losing any big games.

More tweaks to Virginia Tech's staff

February, 16, 2011
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Virginia Tech assistant Jim Cavanaugh has been moved to the administrative position of director of recruiting and high school relations, and former Tech standout Cornell Brown will replace Cavanaugh coaching the outside linebackers and help out with the defensive line. Cavanaugh was the Hokies' recruiting coordinator and coached the strong safeties and outside linebackers.

Brown, who was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, comes to the Hokies from the Canadian Football League where he served as the defensive line coach for the Calgary Stampeders the past three seasons.

Earlier in the week, coach Frank Beamer named long-time assistant Billy Hite as Tech's assistant to the head coach and senior adviser and added Shane Beamer, another former Hokie, to his coaching staff.

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February, 15, 2011
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The schedule wasn't the only news out of the ACC on Monday ...

Shane Beamer added to Virginia Tech staff

February, 14, 2011
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Longtime Virginia Tech assistant Billy Hite has been elevated to a new administrative position as assistant to the head coach and senior advisor, and Shane Beamer, son of Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, has been hired to coach the running backs, the school announced on Monday.

"Over the years, I've had great confidence in Billy's judgment and advice," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I appreciate the fact that I will continue to be able to rely on him in this regard. He will continue to be a valuable part of our football program and will be a real asset working with our alumni and former players in different ways."

Shane Beamer comes to Virginia Tech after spending four seasons at South Carolina, where he coached the Spurs and strong safeties for two seasons after coaching the outside linebackers in 2007 and the cornerbacks in 2008. He also served as the special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the Gamecocks' program.

"I think we are fortunate to get Shane to come back to Virginia Tech," coach Frank Beamer said. "He has had the opportunity to develop a good background, having coached at Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Mississippi State and South Carolina."
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The names of the different offensive packages that incorporate Virginia Tech’s trio of running backs are aptly named for the workhorses of the Hokies’ offense.

[+] EnlargeRyan Williams
Geoff Burke/Getty ImagesRyan Williams missed four games after suffering a hamstring injury against East Carolina.
There’s the stallions package, where two running backs are in the game at the same time, and the pony package, which again uses two tailbacks but a different combination of them.

“We spread the wealth of our offense this year,” running backs coach Billy Hite said.

It’s much easier to do that when there are three tailbacks with NFL potential to work with. Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and David Wilson have combined to give the Hokies the No. 18 rushing offense in the country at 208.92 yards per game heading into Monday’s Discover Orange Bowl against Stanford. One of the biggest questions facing Virginia Tech this season was how the coaching staff would divvy the carries and make use of the depth at the position, and that has since been answered with all three receiving at least 100 carries this year. While they would have liked to get more carries, both Evans and Williams said the team’s 11-game winning streak takes precedence.

“What I enjoy is playing, and playing a lot, if that says anything to you,” Williams said. “That’s what I enjoy. I’ve never been in a system where the most series you see is four. Ever. Do I like it? I’m not going to say I like it or I’m in love with it, but it works for the team and we’re winning, so that’s that bottom line and I’m playing. That’s what I want to do and be able to contribute. But do I feel like I could contribute more? Yeah. It works right now. I can’t be mad at it. None of us are really complaining, but I bet I can speak for all of us when I say that we would like to be in there a lot more. But we’re not. So, it’s cool.”

Williams, who missed four games this year after suffering a hamstring injury against East Carolina, has practiced sparingly this week and will be a game-time decision, but Hite said he expects Williams to play. Wilson will miss the first quarter as punishment for not being in his hotel room by the 1 a.m. curfew on New Year’s Eve.

[+] EnlargeDarren Evans
Elsa/Getty ImagesVirginia Tech's Darren Evans has 139 carries for 817 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
Even when Hite’s rotation has been thrown a curveball, there’s enough talent at the position that the Hokies can actually afford to be a man down. Evans, who missed all of 2008 with a torn ACL, leads the way with 139 carries for 817 yards and 11 touchdowns. All of them average at least 50 yards per game.

“Winning takes away the selfish part of it, but the way that we thought it was going to go, it is a lot different,” Evans said. “I would’ve like to have more carries, but I’m also really blessed just to be out here again, to come off the injury like I did and perform like I did, I can’t complain and I won’t just for that fact. I do feel blessed to be playing the way I’m playing right now.”

Evans is a powerful back with speed, but coach Frank Beamer said Wilson is the fastest player he’s ever seen on the field. Williams is a combination of the two, but not quite as big as Evans. Hokies fans should enjoy them all in the Discover Orange Bowl, because it could be the last time they’re on the field together. Evans and Williams have submitted their paperwork to the NFL to find out more about their draft status, and Hite said they could find out as early as today.

“All three of them have a bright future down the road in the NFL, whether it’s this year where we lose them or next year,” Hite said. “It’s a decision they have to make, and their families have to be involved in it. Darren’s a special situation being a husband and a father. If the minimum is $400,000, that’s still a heck of a lot of money if he’s not even drafted until the late rounds, but I think he would be drafted higher than that. It’s their decision and we’ll do everything we can to help them.”

After all, all three of them have done plenty this year to help Virginia Tech.



DAVIE, Fla. -- Virginia Tech running back David Wilson and safety Antone Exum will miss the first quarter of the Discover Orange Bowl against Stanford because they were not in their hotel rooms by the 1 a.m. curfew on New Year's Eve, coach Frank Beamer said at practice Saturday.

“We’re going to keep them out of the first quarter of the ball game, take some of their travel money, and that will be the end of that,” Beamer said. “The good thing is they were in their hotel, the bad thing is they were out of their room. They knew they needed to be in there.”

“It’s something you’re bothering with," he said. "This is our Thursday practice, and that’s the first thing you’re facing here in the morning. It’s a distraction. We’ve got another 65 or however many we’re dressing out that was in their room. … I’m not going to make more of that than it is.”

Beamer said Rashad Carmichael will take over for Wilson as the Hokies' kick returner. Beamer said running back Ryan Williams (hamstring) will be a game-time decision. Saturday was the first day Williams was cleared for full-contact. Running backs coach Billy Hite said he thinks Williams will play.

"He ran so much better yesterday," Hite said. "I think we're going to have to wait and see where he is before the game. Right now I plan on playing Ryan."

If that's the case, the Hokies will survive the first quarter without Wilson.

VT RB Ryan Williams will be ready for Jackets

October, 27, 2010
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Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams entered this season with legitimate Heisman hopes. Now, he's just hoping to contribute again after injuring his hamstring against East Carolina on Sept. 18.

Williams made his return in a 44-7 win against Duke last week, but he played sparingly. By the time the Hokies host Georgia Tech on Nov. 4, those within the program expect him to be back to his season-opening form.

Against Duke, Williams finished with 10 yards and a touchdown on six carries. He scored on a 1-yard run with 1:30 left in the first quarter.

Running backs coach Billy Hite said Williams has been practicing well, and was able to keep up with his teammates during sprints, but that he'd like Williams to continue running on his own to improve his conditioning.

"My big concern was No. 1, I wanted him to get back in, get some playing time, I wanted him to get knocked around a little bit," said Hite. "That's exactly what we got. I was more worried about conditioning. When you miss 35 days of practice and you have the kind of injury he had, you can't do much conditioning work. That was the big concern that I had.

"I told him I was only going to give him 10 or 12 plays. I believe he ended up getting 11 plays, and on the goal line he did score a touchdown. He had a couple broken tackles, made a guy miss one time, and I think Ryan's back to his old form right now."
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson will play this season instead of redshirting, coach Frank Beamer said on Monday's teleconference.

"We're going to plan to play David," Beamer said. "Coach [Billy] Hite met with him [Sunday] and David has really been exceptional here in preseason, and I think he brings another element back there. He can help this football team be successful and he wants to do it. I think you need to try to get your best players on the football field and he's one of them. In preseason practices, he's certainly been outstanding in every scrimmage."

This offense is simply oozing with talent, and it will be interesting to see how the staff makes use of it all this fall. With the return of 1,000-yard rushers Darren Evans and Ryan Williams, it's not like the Hokies needed another ball carrier, but Wilson was simply too good to keep off the field this fall.

Weekend rewind: Tyrod Taylor's big scrimmage

August, 30, 2010
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If Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor plays this season the way he did in Saturday's scrimmage, the Hokies increase their chances of being a legitimate national title contender.

Taylor completed 16 of 17 pass attempts -- including his first 10 -- for 319 yards and three touchdowns. He threw a 95-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andre Smith on his third play from scrimmage. He also completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Darren Evans and a 35-yard touchdown to Dyrell Roberts.

His lone incompletion was a throwaway to avoid a sack.

I spoke with running backs coach Billy Hite last week and asked him just how productive he thought this offense could be. Without hesitation, his first response was about Taylor's improvement:

"I really, really think Tyrod is a much-improved quarterback," Hite said. "We're very pleased with where he is right now. He's throwing the ball very well. He can beat you with his arm or his feet. Just watching him be a leader out there, the way he takes control of that huddle, he understands the game so much more than what he did last year. It's really been interesting to see the progress he's made."

David Wilson 'making it difficult' to redshirt

August, 27, 2010
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Virginia Tech running backs coach Billy Hite said David Wilson is "making it difficult" to redshirt him.

"Obviously we still haven't made a decision on him yet," Hite said. "He has performed very well. We went through it last year. It's tough to get three of them all of the touches they need to have. At the same time, we have to get our 11 best on the football field. If David is one of them, then he doesn't need to redshirt."

The Hokies have one more scrimmage, on Saturday, and all of next week to help the staff decide what to do with Wilson. It's possible the decision could go into the first two or three weeks, but Hite said if they're going to play Wilson, he doesn't want him to miss the first two or three weeks, either.

"He could help us out on special teams," Hite said.

One thing is certain -- Wilson's value won't change if the staff decides to redshirt him. It's only a matter of time before he steals the show.

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