ACC: Victor Harris

Virginia Tech spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech Hokies
2008 overall record: 10-4

2008 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters: Offense: 8, defense: 7, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners: QB Tyrod Taylor, TB Darren Evans, TE Greg Boone, OG Sergio Render, OT Ed Wang, WR Danny Coale, WR Jarrett Boykin, P Brent Bowden, FS Kam Chancellor, OLB Cam Martin, DE Jason Worilds, CB Stephan Virgil, ROV Dorian Porch, OLB Cody Grimm

Key losses: DE Orion Martin, ILB Brett Warren, ILB Purnell Sturdivant, CB Victor Harris, PK Dustin Keys, C Ryan Shuman, OG Nick Marshman

2007 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Darren Evans* (1,265 yards)
Passing: Tyrod Taylor* (1,036 yards)
Jarrett Boykin* (441 yards)
Purnell Sturdivant (99)
Cody Grimm* and Orion Martin (7.5)
Victor Harris (6)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Alabama (Georgia Dome, Atlanta)
Sept. 12 Marshall
Sept. 19 Nebraska
Sept. 26 Miami
Oct. 3 at Duke
Oct. 10 Boston College
Oct. 17 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 29 North Carolina
Nov. 5 at East Carolina
Nov. 14 at Maryland
Nov. 21 NC State
Nov. 28 at Virginia

1. It's Ju-Ju, not Joseph. And it's a name you'll learn, as Frank Beamer named Joseph "Ju-Ju" Clayton his No. 2 quarterback this spring. Marcus Davis moved to split end and had a good spring game, despite being at his original position for one week, but the door won't be closed on him at quarterback. He needs to work on his arm strength, and until that improves, the staff wanted to find a spot for him on the field.

2. Liking the linebackers. Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson both had good springs. They've got a few players behind them who still need some grooming in Bruce Taylor and Quillie Odom, but overall confidence grew in the group this spring.

3. Overall improvement on the offensive line. The coaches have eight players they're confident can play. They'd still like to find one or two more, but it's better depth and athleticism than in the past. Ed Wang, Sergio Render, Beau Warren and Jaymes Brooks are the starters, and at right tackle, Andrew Lanier is listed as the co-starter with Blake DeChristopher. That's a good sign for how well Lanier played this spring.

Fall questions

1. Searching for a kicker. Matt Waldron, who was in a battle for the job last year and is probably the most consistent candidate, is the leader going into fall, but he doesn't have the job locked up. Cody Journell, a highly touted incoming freshman, will be given a chance to win the job. Justin Myer, who handled kickoffs last year as a true freshman, is still in the mix.

2. Disguised defensive ends. There just aren't a lot of bodies to choose from here, as evidenced by the fact the staff moved tight end Chris Drager there to help the depth. Jason Worilds, who missed the spring after shoulder surgery, and Nekos Brown are the only two natural ends. John Graves was moved to tackle to help while Worilds was out.

3. Musical chairs in the secondary. Stephan Virgil is moving from boundary corner to field corner to replace Macho Harris, and Rashad Carmichael is now taking over Virgil's spot with Cris Hill behind him. It's a rotation that's become a tradition for the Hokies, and while the staff is confident in Virgil, Carmichael still has a few things to prove in his new position.

Speaking of winning games without offense ...

December, 17, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

As a follow-up to the last blog post in which Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver refreshed everyone's memories about what, exactly, Beamerball is, I found some numbers to back him up. The Hokies have scored 107 non-offensive touchdowns since 1992, more than any other team in the ACC. Granted, they didn't join the league until 2004, but they set the standard.

The rest of the ACC is catching up with the trend.

While some (including myself) have lamented the lack of offense in the ACC this season, it's really been the league's forte to get it done with defense and special teams. In four of the past five seasons, the ACC has scored at least 41 non-offensive touchdowns. This year, North Carolina and Boston College are tied for the lead with seven. Virginia Tech ranks second with five, and Florida State had four.

Maryland was the only team in the conference without a non-offensive touchdown, and the only program that didn't have one last year, either. Wake Forest, which had 10 last year, had just three this season.

Who were the ACC's best non-offensive, offensive threats this season?

Virginia Tech cornerback Victor Harris, Wake Forest safety Kevin Patterson, and Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. They each had two this season. (Coincidentally, Herzlich returned an interception 34 yards against Wake, and Patterson returned the favor in the same game with a 15-yard fumble return).

The master at this, though, among current ACC players, is UNC's Brandon Tate, who tore his ACL and MCL in October before he could add to his league-leading six non-offensive touchdowns since 2005.

Inexperience secondary to expectations at Virginia Tech

December, 2, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The fact that Virginia Tech won the Coastal Division again is not surprising. They were picked by the media in July to win it and they did. It's HOW they won it that was shocking -- with the youngest, most inexperienced roster coach Frank Beamer can remember.

The Hokies had to replace 13 players from last year's ACC championship roster who were either drafted by the NFL or signed as free agents. Their top four receivers? Gone. Seven starters on defense? Gone. We're talking a total of 6,139 career receiving yards, 43 touchdowns, 59 sacks, 32 interceptions and 153.5 tackles for loss.


They're numbers that have been overshadowed this season by one -- Virginia Tech's 103rd-ranked offense.

It's a miracle they're not 119th, considering the inexperience the Hokies have relied upon at the skill positions this season.

"We may not always play well, but I think we play hard," coach Frank Beamer said. "We're trying hard."

Of the projected 66-player dress squad for Saturday's ACC championship game against Boston College, 15 are redshirt freshmen, five are true freshmen, and one is a sophomore. Five of them -- flanker Danny Coale, split end Jarrett Boykin, tailback Darren Evans, right tackle Blake DeChristopher and quarterback Tyrod Taylor -- are starters.

"We've had to do some coaching here, but I've enjoyed the players and their attitude, how they work," Beamer said. "This is just a very gratifying, very thankful time, that we're able to get back to the championship game with all the things this football team has been through. Yeah, I think it does mean more to you, when it's hard like that."

Virginia Tech had nine season-ending injuries, including two that affected the offense significantly. Starting tailback Kenny Lewis Jr. and starting receiver Brandon Dillard both ruptured their Achilles, forcing underclassmen into key roles.

The inexperience at wide receiver caused inconsistency at quarterback. Without veteran hands to throw to, embattled quarterback Sean Glennon didn't look like as poised and productive as he did last season, when he won the MVP award in the ACC championship game.

"Very seldom do you have that much inexperience at one position," Beamer said of his receivers. "I wouldn't want a secondary full of freshmen. When you get all freshmen at that position, I just think it's hard. I like playing young guys, I like playing freshmen, but I like a couple of seniors around them, too. We haven't had that luxury there at wide receiver, but I think they're better now than they were when we started the season."

And without consistent play from the offensive line, shifty quarterback Taylor couldn't always get out of jams with his feet, and Evans was often stifled. The lack of playmakers was evident from the start, which is why Beamer decided to redshirt Taylor and bench Glennon.

Aside from cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris, there isn't really a nationally-recognized player on the roster, but it is stocked with future talent.

"We don't have a lot of name guys," Beamer said, "but I think we have a lot of hard-working guys."

The Hokies expect to play for the ACC championship. It's a trait that has become inherent in the players they recruit.

"We want to recruit kids that come here with the idea of winning championships, and most of our kids do," Beamer said. "I think we also know how fortunate we are to be in this ball game. With the scheduling we had, which I think is the toughest in some time, and young kids all at the same position, and then a couple key injuries we got, I think it's really a credit to our coaches and players that we're in this ball game this particular year."

After losing to Miami, the Hokies had no choice but to beat Duke and rival Virginia. They barely escaped both opponents.

"I knew if we just kept playing hard, kept practicing and keep our faith, I knew things would work out in our favor and it did," said defensive end Orion Martin. "We're happy to be here and we're going to take advantage of it.

"This one is more exciting. This year was a little different. We had a young team, and so many injuries and so many setbacks during the year that to finally fight through all of it and have the chance to play for the championship makes the ride even more enjoyable."

Martin, a fifth-year senior, said he's excited about the future of the program he'll leave behind.

"We have a great combination of youth and experience," he said. "Next year I think they'll keep going and getting better. We have some good athletic players who are going to help take this program to probably new heights."

After all, it's what's expected of them.

ACSMA All-Conference ACC team announced

December, 1, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association announced its All-Conference teams today. Please note that this is not's list. This is the 2008 Associated Press all-ACC football team as voted on by 67 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

NOTE: A first-team vote was worth two points and second team vote one. An asterisk denotes unanimous selection.

QB: Russell Wilson, N.C. State (106)
RB: Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (134)*
RB: Da'Rel Scott, Maryland (76)
WR: Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina (130)
WR: D.J. Boldin, Wake Forest (76)
TE: John Phillips, Virginia (88)
OT: Eugene Monroe, Virginia (117)
OT: Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech (107)
OG: Rodney Hudson, Florida State (99)
OG: Cliff Ramsey, Boston College (78)
C: Edwin Williams, Maryland (62)

QB: Thaddeus Lewis, Duke (28)
RB: Darren Evans, Virginia Tech (58)
RB: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (50)
WR: Eron Riley, Duke (57)
WR: Aaron Kelly, Clemson (56)
TE: Ryan Purvis, Boston College (45)
OT: Garrett Reynolds, North Carolina (42)
OT: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (41)
OG: Sergio Render, Virginia Tech (48)
OG: Cord Howard, Georgia Tech (45)
C: Thomas Austin, Clemson (48)

DE: Everette Brown, Florida State (131)
DE: Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech (99)
DT: B.J. Raji, Boston College (103)
DT: Vance Walker, Georgia Tech (62)
LB: Mark Herzlich, Boston College (118)
LB: Michael Tauiliili, Duke (110)
LB: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest (106)
CB: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (134)*
CB: Victor Harris, Virginia Tech (125)
S: Trimane Goddard, North Carolina (105)
S: Michael Hamlin, Clemson (89)

DE: Orion Martin, Virginia Tech (61)
DE: Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech (39)
DT: Ron Brace, Boston College (52)
DT: Darryl Richard, Georgia Tech (50)
LB: Clint Sintim, Virginia (79)
LB: Alex Wujciak, Maryland (43)
LB: Mark Paschal, North Carolina (40)
CB: Ras-I Dowling, Virginia (49)
CB: Tony Carter, Florida State (34)
CB: Kendric Burney, North Carolina (34)
S: Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (85)
S: Myron Rolle, Florida State (55)

K: Graham Gano, Florida State (127)
P: Travis Baltz, Maryland (105)
Specialist: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (66)

K: Matt Bosher, Miami (34)
P: Matt Bosher, Miami (60)
Specialist: Michael Ray Garvin, Florida State (41)


OFFENSE: Riley Skinner, qb, Wake Forest (26); Antone Smith, rb, Florida State (33); Cedric Peerman, rb, Virginia (30); Darius Heyward-Bey, wr, Maryland (34); Kevin Ogletree, wr, Virginia (32); Dan Gronkowski, te, Maryland (41); Scott Burley, ot, Maryland (34); Thomas Claiborne, og, Boston College (38); Calvin Darity, og, North Carolina (34); Jaimie Thomas, og, Maryland (33); Nick Marshman, og, Virginia Tech (24); Ryan McMahon, c, Florida State (35); Matt Tennant, c, Boston College (33); Ryan Shuman, c, Virginia Tech (23).

DEFENSE: Derrick Morgan, de, Georgia Tech (26); Willie Young, de, N.C. State (25); Vince Oghobaase, dt, Duke (40); Boo Robinson, de, Wake Forest (31); Jeremy Navarre, dt, Maryland (29); Nate Irving, lb, N.C. State (28); Paul Anderson, s, Boston College (35); Anthony Reddick, s, Miami (23).

SPECIAL TEAMS: Dustin Keys, k, Virginia Tech (25); Brandon Tate, spec., North Carolina (33); T.J. Graham, spec., N.C. State (31).

Graham set to step in for Hokies' DeChristopher

September, 4, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech lost more than its game to East Carolina, it also lost its starting right tackle, Blake DeChristopher, for two to four weeks. Among his ailments are a bruised kidney, a pretty severely bruised right knee and right quad. The injuries were sustained on an interception play where head athletic trainer Mike Goforth said DeChristopher "was clipped by the East Carolina player."

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said DeChristopher is "feeling rough" and can't practice, but Richard Graham is ready to fill in. Graham started the first six games of 2007 at left guard.

"He doesn't feel well," Beamer said of DeChristopher. "We've got to get him feeling good again and the doctors will tell us when he can practice. It's kind of an unusual thing as far as I've been around, but he'll be back as quick as he can.

"Blake DeChristopher is such a tough kid and wants to play and wants to be good. I feel for him. An offensive line, that's where you need to work together and hang in there and know how that guy next to you is going to react. It's getting us out of smoothness there. I thought our offensive line made progress, and we have. We're getting better all the time, but it is what it is. Richard Graham is set to step in there. He's a fighter and a very smart guy."

Victor "Macho" Harris is doing more in practice and Goforth said he "looks promising for Saturday" but we'll know more after today's injury update.

ACC anticipation

August, 27, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

I thought this top 25 list was going to be difficult, but as it turns out, there are a gazillion things I can't wait to see in the ACC this season -- Chief Osceola and Renegade included. But this year, the quarterbacks top the list.

I can't wait to see ...

1. Miami quarterback Robert Marve in his first collegiate start against Florida. First there was the car accident. Then the suspension. Can we please get an official snap now?

2. Boston College quarterback Chris Crane. Finally. Let's watch what he can do and stop talking about the other guy.

3. Who will wind up as Florida State's most consistent starting quarterback. It was Drew Weatherford's job to lose this summer, but Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson both have Jimbo Fisher thinking too much.

4. Maryland third-string quarterback Josh Portis. So much hype, so little action. Not this season. After spending the past two years on the scout team, we finally get to see what this speedy transfer from Florida can do.

5. Which Miami freshman is going to have the most impact. There are so many to choose from, on both sides of the ball, including the two who are in the starting lineup for Thursday's season opener against Charleston Southern -- quarterback Jacory Harris and defensive end Marcus Robinson.

6. James Davis and C.J. Spiller try and get through B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, and the other guys in the Eagles' front seven. BC's defense should be even better than it was in 2007, and Thunder and Lightening only rushed for a total of 62 yards against them last year.

7. Macho Harris as a receiver. He switched to offense for a part of the spring, and the Hokies certainly could use him there, but will they?

8. Jacoby Ford used on a reverse in the same game he takes a kickoff or punt return all the way back. He's super fast, athletic and can be used just about anywhere on the field. Let's see it.

9. An upset -- I don't care who it is, and I don't care when it happens. That could mean Clemson shocking somebody in the postseason, or it could mean NC State shocking Clemson. Clemson losing to Wake? Not a shocker.

10. Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt throw it. It's bound to happen sooner or later, and don't think the receivers were standing around at practice this summer gossiping.

11. James Franklin calling the plays. Go deep, Hey-Bey. The offense should be more fun to watch as long as the staff doesn't get caught up in Jordan Steffy throwing five-yard passes.

12. Michael Johnson absolutely flatten somebody. He hasn't started a game yet, but the Yellow Jackets' new defensive scheme will free him up to rush from the edge.

13. Preston Parker take one home. Sure, he's suspended for two games, but this guy is a playmaker. I remember what he did against Maryland last year in his first shot at tailback and would love to see more.

14. The Wake Forest defense score 11 touchdowns. Hey, they scored 10 last year. OK, so the odds of this happening are slim to none, but this defense is still one of the most exciting to watch because of its playmaking potential.

15. Butch Davis' return to Coral Gables. Davis' coaching ties make for a good subplot, but so does the fact that the Tar Heels beat these guys last season.

16. Al Groh in a good mood. Too bad I'm heading to the season opener. Odds are Charlottesville is a happier place around Week 10. Then again, maybe not.

17. NC State get a break that doesn't involve a body part. These guys are due for one. It's not the third-string left tackle that gets hurt for these guys, either, it's their leading rushers and receivers. I want to see what the Pack can do at 100 percent.

18. Thaddeus Lewis after a summer of instruction from some former SEC coaches. He was the third best QB in the league before he started taking advice from a coach that tutored the Manning brothers.

19. The return of NC State tight end Anthony Hill. This guy is a veteran playmaker, and after missing last season with a torn ACL, he's ready to rock.

20. The Blue Devils win more than one game. These guys have put in way too much work this summer not to.

21. The Tar Heels defense under Everett Withers. The first-year defensive coordinator is the first to admit his Minnesota defense last year was "awful." What can he do with the talent on the Tar Heels' roster?

22. Frank Beamer's hip-hop dance. I missed it last year after the Hokies won the ACC title. Then again, they've got to win it again in order for another show.

23. The Euro kicker make his first field goal against USC. Yannick Reyering has never played a game of football in his life, and here he is starting against USC. Fun.

24. Jim Grobe explain his gameplan to the well-to-do fans in Deacon Tower an hour before kickoff against Clemson. If only I were a well-to-do sports reporter ...

25. The inside of the Esso. I've heard a lot about this place, but didn't get a chance to go there this summer. I was too busy running down some hill.

Preseason All-ACC team

August, 26, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Just so you know, I agonize over these things. You can't pick everyone.

Here's the final version:


QB -- Cullen Harper, Clemson
RB -- Josh Adams, Wake Forest
RB -- James Davis, Clemson
WR -- Aaron Kelly, Clemson
WR -- Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
TE -- Ryan Purvis, Boston College
T -- Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
T -- Eugene Monroe, Virginia
G -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
G -- Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
C -- Edwin Williams, Maryland


DE -- Everette Brown, Florida State
DE -- Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
DT -- Ron Brace, Boston College
DT -- Vance Walker, Georgia Tech
LB -- Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
LB -- Clint Sintim, Virginia
LB -- Michael Tauiliili, Duke
CB -- Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
CB -- Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
S -- Michael Hamlin, Clemson
S -- Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest


PK -- Sam Swank, Wake Forest
P -- Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech (Graham Gano is injured, out 3-5 weeks)
KO RET -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson
PUNT RET -- Preston Parker, Florida State (following his two-game suspension, of course)