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Future Looks Bright, But VT's 2020 Vision Is Fading...

It sure is a good thing that Virginia Tech’s Class of 2022 *seems* to be heading in the right direction.

Because the Class of 2020 continues to be doing the exact opposite.

Alec Bryant and Robert Wooten (right), the two highest-rated signees from the Hokies’ 2020 class, both announced their decisions to transfer from Virginia Tech on Monday. While neither Bryant nor Wooten were expected to see the field a lot this season, they had the potential to slot in the two-deep the following year and served as necessary depth for Tech in 2021.

Alas, that is no longer the case.

We knew after National Signing Day that Tech’s Class of 2020 didn’t have a lot of promise, but things have gotten significantly worse for that group of players.

Bryant, the class’ top-rated prospect, is now leaving the program. Wooten, No. 2 in the class, is in the same boat.

Tyree Saunders, an athletic receiver from Jacksonville, Fl. that many expected to fight for snaps immediately, is already enrolled at East Carolina. The class’ No. 4 prospect, Justin Beadles, is transferring to Houston.

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Hokies Reloading The Wagon On The Offensive Line

Virginia Tech added another commitment to their Class of 2022 on Monday, earning a pledge from South Carolina offensive lineman Xavier Chaplin.

Chaplin’s a big guy — the 370-pounder stands at 6-foot-6 and likely will need a year or two before he can seriously compete for a starting spot. But he does not lack the size necessary to play, that much is for certain.

Chaplin is now the fourth commitment along the offensive line for the Hokies, a sure sign that Vance Vice is trying to backfill some of his misses over the years. That number could go to five if Braelin Moore plays offensive line instead of defensive line.

There was a point in time where Tech looked locked and loaded on the offensive front for the foreseeable future. Tech added four offensive linemen in 2018 — Christian Darrisaw, Luke Tenuta, Walker Culver and John Harris — but only one remains in the program. Vice brought in four-stars Doug Nester and Bryan Hudson for the 2019 cycle, but both have since transferred.

William Pritchard, another offensive lineman from that class, medically retired from football last season. Only Jesse Hanson remains from the Class of 2019.

So to recap, Tech lost five offensive lineman over two seasons to medical retirements and transfers. That’s enough to decimate a program’s depth.

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One Of Roanoke's Most Colorful Characters Is Retiring

The University of North Florida has announced the retirement of Lee Moon, the athletic director at UNF since 2009, and one of the true characters to come out of the Roanoke Valley.

Moon played football at William Fleming High School in Roanoke before heading to VMI, where he was an offensive lineman between 1966-69.

Moon later served as a graduate assistant at Virginia from 1972-73 and as a full-time assistant to then-UVa coach Dick Bestwick.

Moon later had full-time coaching stints at Duke, UVa, Mississippi and Kansas State, where he was the interim head coach.

Moon later served as the interim athletic director at Kansas State and was the AD at Marshall and Wyoming.

Moon's decision to retire, announced earlier in the spring, became official this week

"For the past 12 years, Coach Lee Moon has served the university with great distinction, integrity and devotion to our student-athletes, coaches and athletic programming," UNF President David Szymanski said in a statement. "Under his leadership, UNF Athletics has fostered a strong culture of athletic excellence, high academic achievement and great respect that has directly contributed to the remarkable growth and success of UNF's sports programs. His legacy will leave a long-lasting impact on our Osprey community."

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Now That 24 Hours Have Passed, Picture Becomes Clearer

When it was announced yesterday that Virginia Tech’s Tyrece Radford had entered the transfer portal, my first thought was “this can’t be related to basketball.”

Coach Mike Young and Radford have great affection and respect for each other. Young refused to throw him under the bus when Radford had legal issues with DUI and gun charges and was suspended from the team, vocally going to bat for him. That the two would part company because Radford wanted to play somewhere else didn’t make any sense.

Since the announcement, however, a picture of why the Hokies’ second-leading scorer (12.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists) would enter the transfer portal has emerged. Will Stewart of Techsideline.com tweeted a screenshot of two court dates Radford has in August, and both are hearings on the possible revocation of the probation he received on his DUI and gun charges earlier in the year. The agreement that resulted in the probation allowed Radford to return to the team after missing a number of games.

One date lists an August 9 hearing at 10 AM for “SC/IMPOSE SUSPENDED SENTENCE” and the other lists another 10 AM hearing for “SC/REVOKE VASAP.” I have since learned VASAP is a program that includes restricting your driver’s license after having an incident involving drinking and driving, and includes an ignition interlock system attached to your car. It monitors a person so if the device monitors a blood alcohol level above a certain limit, the car won’t start.

Obviously, words like “impose” and “revoke” strongly imply that on August 9, a possibility exists where everything rolls back to the original sentence, which includes jail time. Radford was found guilty on Feb. 3, reached a plea agreement, and was sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail sentence, $1,000 fine ($750 suspended) and 12 months of probation. He was suspended from the team on Jan. 25, missed four games, and was reinstated on Feb. 23.

Mark Berman in the Roanoke Times offered even more evidence of that in a story today, talking to Radford’s attorney, Jimmy Turk. The uber-defender of Hokie athletes over the years, Turk acknowledged there was a positive reading on the ignition interlock system. Radford wasn’t supposed to have any alcohol, Turk said, and the device said he did.

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To No One's Surprise, Keve Aluma Returns To Virginia Tech

Two days after Virginia Tech dropped a big hint that Keve Aluma would be returning by using his picture on a season ticket renewal graphic, Aluma himself made it official.

Today on Twitter, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer last season posted a picture of the back of his jersey along with the words “Round 2….Let’s run it back.”

Aluma had entered the NBA draft back in April, but did it in such a way where he preserved his eligibility at Virginia Tech so he could come back. It seemed apparent that Aluma wanted to see where he stood in regards to making it to the next level, and if he fell short, wanted to see the areas he needed to work on if he tried again next year.

That’s pretty much what happened, as he was one of 40 invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp, which was held last weekend in Chicago. While he did well enough to be invited to that event, he was not chosen to join the prospects who were invited to the NBA Draft Combine, which is where the elite prospects worked out for NBA scouts.

Seeing that, Aluma realized his chances of going undrafted were a distinct possibility, and also saw where he needed to improve his game.

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Virginia Tech Football Gets 6 Commitments In Last 7 Days

Anytime a school gets a handful of commitments in a single week, you should set aside some time to figure out who the newbies are.

Virginia Tech has added six separate commitments in the last seven days — running back Bryce Duke, offensive linemen Johnny Garrett and Jakson LaHue, tight end Matt Hoffman, defensive back Malcolm Jones and athlete Xavier Simmons.

Let’s take a moment to parse through each of these six commitments…

Running back Bryce Duke (5-foot-11, 196 pounds) — Leesburg, Va.

Duke - who played for Tuscarora here in Loudoun County - committed to Tech on Tuesday, giving the Hokies their first tailback in this cycle. He’s got average size and rates as a middle-of-the-road three-star prospect. 247Sports puts him 23rd in Virginia’s 2022 class.

Virginia Tech didn’t face stiff competition for Duke. Rutgers and Duke are his only other Power 5 offers, though the northern Virginia native also holds offers from App State, Cincinnati and Old Dominion.

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This Seems To Be A Huge Clue About Aluma's Return

If you were wondering if Keve Aluma was coming back this season to play basketball at Virginia Tech, the Hokies might have offered a pretty big clue in its push for season ticket renewals.

Aluma back in April entered his name on the list for the 2021 NBA Draft while still maintaining his eligibility as a Hokie. He said he was exploring his options, while still leaving open the possibility of coming back to play in Blacksburg another year.

Aluma was the team’s leading scorer (15.2 points per game) and rebounder (7.9 rebounds per game) while earning second-team All-ACC honors. His return would certainly be great news for the Hokies in Coach Mike Young's third season at Virginia Tech.

There has been no definitive announcement that Aluma is definitely coming back for the 2021-2022 season, but a person who I trust (who seems to know these kinds of things in Blacksburg) told me several weeks ago he would definitely be back. That’s all well and good, but I’ve seen many a situation where someone was definitely coming back…until they weren’t.

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After 15 Months, We Finally Crossed The Finish Line...

I still clearly remember the moment it all began: It was March 12, 2020, the Washington Nationals were playing an exhibition game with the New York Yankees, and at 1:05, my new dog Maggie and I sat in my favorite chair and turned on the television.

By the time the game ended at 4 PM, every other team in every other sport had shut down their seasons. Soon everything would be under some sort of shutdown, restriction or other regulation to execute a strategy called “two weeks to flatten the curve."

We all know how that turned out.

But today…without warning or fanfare…it is now officially over, at least the way I look at it. It would be over, I thought, when the day came where I could leave the house, drive to a stadium of my choice, and go see one of my favorite teams without any sort of capacity restriction.

With Virginia Tech announcing today that there would be no such restrictions this year, and Lane Stadium was free to be 100 percent full of orange and maroon-clad fans, bouncing up and down while singing every verse of “Enter Sandman” as fireworks went off overhead and football players tapped hokiestone with their hands at the end of a tunnel leading to Worsham Field, the last domino has fallen.

It’s over. As a Southwest Airlines commercial once noted, you are now free to move about the country.

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Kyshoen Jarrett Finally Comes Home To Virginia Tech

Some sports reporters will tell you they are entirely objective. They will further claim they never have and never will let their personal feelings about a player, coach, executive or team get in the way of how they cover their beat.

They’re wrong.

The truth is writers and reporters are human too. We have emotions. We make mistakes. Sometimes, we let our personal opinions dictate an angle that we take on a story. Occasionally, that’s in a negative light.

But ever so often, it’s just the opposite.

My junior year at Virginia Tech was a lot of fun, as I served as the opinions editor, sports editor and managing editor of the Collegiate Times at different points in the school year. I also got to cover Virginia Tech football that season, attending the games as a writer and reporter.

As the 2014 season came to a close, I started putting together a piece on Virginia Tech’s two senior safeties: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett. The two were great young men and I enjoyed interviewing both.

Jarrett’s interview sticks with me. He had an admirable innocence; Jarrett’s soul was honest and pure. Nothing had been given to him, yet Jarrett was still thankful that he got the opportunity in the first place. Even though football was offering him a chance to play professionally, Jarrett had already thought about how he could contribute off the field.

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In 100 Days, You Can Watch Hokies' 1st Game Against UNC

Seems like since the mask mandates in Virginia were dropped a week and a half ago, I’m finding more and more experiences closer to the normal ones I enjoyed every day before words like pandemic and COVID became mainstays of everyone’s vocabulary.

One simple pleasure always occurred around Memorial Day. While I follow all sports, I’m first and foremost a football guy. I played it as a kid, I understand it, and I look forward to football season every year. Doesn’t mean I don’t care about the Nationals, Capitals, basketball or racing, but if I can only watch one sport, football is going to be the pick.

My wife has even asked many times over our 40-year marriage how many days there were until football season, because she knows the odds of me going anywhere on a Saturday or Sunday is pretty close to zero. I’m going to be parked back in my office, where I have a setup of more television screens than any sane man would have, and I watch every game I can. Since there are snacks, Maggie the WonderBeagle joins me, usually sleeping on my lap.

So every Memorial Day, to be prepared for such a question, I pull out a spreadsheet that is designed to provide an answer. It has three columns, and you can see it in the upper right part of this post. It tracks six events that are important to me: The first NFL exhibition game (the Hall Of Fame Game), the first NFL regular-season game, the first college football game, the first Virginia Tech game and the first WFT exhibition and regular-season games.

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I Dare Not Even Think This, But Holy Crap....

If you’ve been a Hokie fan for over 50 years like I have, you know the drill.

We all carry it like the 1.500-pound gorilla on our back it is: Virginia Tech has never won a national championship in any NCAA team sport. In fact, I can only think of two instances where the possibility even crossed my mind.

One was a warm September afternoon in Blacksburg where a redshirt freshman name Michael Vick flicked a ball 70 yards on a line for a touchdown, then came back a few minutes later and ran 60 yards up the middle for another score.

I eloquently turned to my wife and said “holy crap, this is the guy we’ve waited our whole lives for. Maybe he can get us over the top.”

He came close on another warm night in New Orleans, but didn’t. Since then, I haven’t thought there was a serious possibility of it happening again.

Well, until tonight.

I was watching the Virginia Tech women’s softball team take on Brigham Young in Tempe, AZ, much as I do every Hokie team that makes it to the postseason. But for the second time in my life, I uttered another “holy crap” and tried to suppress my imagination.

They’re that good, folks. They could win it all.

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Recent Comments
Chip Grubb

AWESOME COLUMN

I've been following this team all season, and as a Hokie fan, you never want to get your hopes up, but you make great points. Ya ... Read More
Sunday, 23 May 2021 12:18
Dave Scarangella

Thanks!

Seems like half the time, the team that wins a title isn't necessarily the one with the most talent, it's the one that gets hot a... Read More
Sunday, 23 May 2021 12:28
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