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Hokies Add Size, Depth With Signing Of 6-8 Jalen Haynes

You have to hand it to Mike Young and the Hokies: They sure are good at keeping their interest in a player close to the vest.

Virginia Tech sort of surprised everyone late this afternoon when they announced the signing of incoming freshman Jalen Haynes. He’s 6-8, 215 pounds, from Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL and comes to the Hokies after playing a post-scholastic year at Montverde Academy last season. He’s been reclassified as a class of 2021 recruit, so he will be a freshman this fall.

"Jalen possesses the type of skill and size we are looking for in our program," Young said in a press release. "He reminds me of a lot of good players I have had the privilege of coaching in the past and we are excited to bring him to Virginia Tech. Jalen comes from a very good high school program and he has a great understanding of the game of basketball. We are excited for his future as a Hokie."

The signing continues Young’s remarkable string of signing players that seem to be exactly what the Hokies need to take the next step. Needing more scoring at the point, Young got Storm Murphy to transfer from Wofford and provide just that; needing a true center, the Hokies also picked up 7-foot transfer Michael Durr.

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I'd Be OK If They Removed April 16 From The Calendar

Tomorrow is April 16, and for me, if anyone wanted to start a campaign to remove the date from the calendar, I’d be all for it. Every April 16, I wake up and hear the same two phrases and can't get them out of my mind.

The first involves two words I heard on a police scanner on the morning of April 16, 2007: “31 Black.”

It was a Monday, and I was the general manager of a local radio station called WAGE in Leesburg. Immediately that morning, phone calls started coming in from parents who had children at Virginia Tech, asking “what is going on in Blacksburg?”

We were clueless. There was nothing on the news yet, but the frequency of the calls and the nervousness in the voices indicated something big was going on. We all started making calls and soon word came out that there had been a shooting at the Ambler-Johnston dorm. One dead, shooter on the loose.

Thanks to a suggestion from friends in Blacksburg, we soon figured out how to listen in on police band transmissions at Virginia Tech. I connected with it on one computer and turned the sound up as loud as it would go. I then grabbed another computer and was able to pick up streaming video from a Roanoke television station so we might be able to hear or see things as they were happening.

While monitoring these, I selectively listened to each for a few moments at a time. I’d walk back and forth between there and the studio to see if they heard anything, and just as I came back to my desk, I heard the end of a transmission with a voice saying “31 black.” Nobody at the station knew what it meant. All we knew was police were only reporting one fatality.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

All In

Regardless our persuations on other days, on April 16, 2007 we were all Hokies.
Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:03
Dave Scarangella

Amen

Will always remember seeing this the next morning... Read More
Thursday, 15 April 2021 15:31
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This Would Seem To Indicate Bede Isn't Coming Back

It’s never really been said specifically if Virginia Tech guard Wabissa Bede is coming back for the extra year the NCAA is allowing all players due to the COVID pandemic.

But this graphic Virginia Tech Men's Basketball sent out about Storm Davis today would seem to confirm he is not.

Storm coming to Virginia Tech is old news, and I wrote about it several weeks ago. But look closely at the jersey he’s wearing in the graphic. It’s No. 3. Bede’s number.

Now I suppose Bede could still come back and wear a different number. But there’s an old rule of thumb in sports: when they give your number to someone else, it’s a strong hint that you may not be a priority in the team’s plans for next season.

I think Bede still has a lot to offer and would be an excellent graduate assistant on the sidelines next season. He knows the offense, knows the player, and seems to still have a fire inside him for the game.

But as for suiting up and playing? When they give your number away, you’re probably not.

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ACC Getting Closer To Telling Us What We Already Know

I’m not sure what the ACC is trying to accomplish, but they sure seem to be leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in regards to when Virginia Tech is going to play its season opener against North Carolina.

A month ago, the schedules were released for all the ACC Schools, but the time and date for the UNC-VT game was left intentionally vague. It was going to be either on Thursday September 2 or Friday September 3, and there was no time or what channel it would be televised on.

“It’s going to be a Friday game, probably at 8 PM on one of the ESPNs, probably the main one,” I thought.

Today the league confirmed at least the game would be played on Friday, Sept. 3, but still no word of a time or who is televising it. They did at least say it would be in prime time, again, something obvious. You don’t play a game at 1 PM in late-summer heat on a day people have to go to work.

I say it will probably be on one of the ESPNs because the only other option would be the ACC Network, which would mean ESPN – which owns the ACC Network – would be competing with itself. Plus the only other games scheduled for Sept. 3 are Old Dominion at Wake Forest, St. Francis at Eastern Michigan, and Northern Colorado at Colorado.

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Dave Fulton

Men's Souls

As the Kingston Trio once sang in their ballad about poor Charlie stuck on Boston's MTA, "These are the times that try men's souls... Read More
Monday, 12 April 2021 15:50
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Basketball's Plan I Understand; Football? Not So Much

I was talking to a friend the other day, and he mentioned I sure seemed more interested in Virginia Tech basketball these days than football.

I hadn't really thought about it that way, but I guess I am.

It’s certainly not a matter of disliking a coach, players or anything like that. Upon reflection, I'd say I've just gotten to a point where with basketball, I understand what’s going on. I can watch a game, see what Mike Young is trying to do, understand that it’s not just 5 guys out on the floor freelancing, and they are running sets, motion and plays specifically designed to counter the strength of the other team.

It doesn’t always work, and sometimes it blows up in Virginia Tech’s face, but I at least see the plan. More importantly, when I see something that doesn’t work, I tend to see in the next game a strategy designed at making sure that doesn’t happen again. No coach is ever going to have all the answers, and for every great win, there’s going to probably be a bad loss somewhere in there.

But after those bad losses, I look to see if the coach pushes buttons to address that. If the buttons he pushes work, it shows a control of his team and a respect from player to coach that both trust each other.

I also see in the basketball team a strategy that calls for certain types of players, and each year, it seems I can understand what Young thinks he needs. This offseason it looks like he needs a point guard who can score. BOOM. He gets one. He needs a legitimate center to free his talented forwards playing out of position in the lane and BOOM. He gets one.

It’s not a matter of me liking or not liking the moves, either. But the understanding of where the team is going, seeing the progress toward the strategy that seems apparent, and watching the entire group buy into this gives me confidence. And thus makes me more and more interested in every detail.

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Virginia Tech's Aluma Testing The Waters With The NBA

Last night, Keve Aluma, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer this past season, tweeted he was putting his name in the NBA hat to see what interest pro teams may have in him.

“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to explore my options and enter my name for the 2021 NBA draft while still maintaining my eligibility as a Hokie,” Aluma tweeted. “Can’t wait to see what God has in store for me and go Hokies.”

I think it’s a good move, as he can see what the response is from the NBA and still return to college with no penalty. Plus I don’t think you have to worry about Keve not wearing orange and maroon next season either.

What Aluma is doing is no different than interviewing for a job you have a slim chance at. If you get it, fantastic. But more than likely in those situations, they tell you why you won’t be considered, tell you the skills and experience the eventual winner will have that you don’t have at the time, and allows you to go back home, develop a game plan, and put yourself in a situation to be ready to take that job a year or two later.

I like Keve doing this because he appears to be a goal-oriented hard worker. The player he was at Wofford – where he played in 68 games and averaged seven points and seven rebounds a game – is not the same player he was at Virginia Tech that averaged 15.2 points per game and 7.9 rebounds. It is clear he spent his red-shirt year working hard on his game, spent a lot of time in the weight room, and had a goal in mind of the player he and Mike Young wanted him to be.

It’s why he reminded me of an old saying about “I worked hard for years to become an overnight sensation” when announcers seemed to wonder where he came from. And I believe he knows he still has work to do if he wants to play in the league that pays you millions.

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Hokies Add The 7-Footer They've Both Wanted And Needed

At first, the story of Virginia Tech’s off-season was more about the players leaving the basketball team via the transfer portal.

Now, Hokie fans are starting to see who is going to take their place.

Not soon after the season ended, Jalen Cone and Joe Bamisile entered the portal, with Cone landing at Northern Arizona University and Bamisile going to George Washington. Today, the portal went the other way as the Hokies got a commitment from the big man they’ve both wanted and sorely needed, 7-foot, 250-pound Michael Durr.

Durr is a transfer from the University of South Florida, the same place the Hokies acquired Zach LeDay back when Buzz Williams was coaching. He was a 3-star out of high school, and in three seasons with USF, averaged 5.7 points and 6.2 rebounds his freshman year, 6.7 points and 6.1 rebounds as a sophomore, and last season had 8.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

He is a true center, which Virginia Tech hasn’t had in a long time. Keve Aluma has played the center position, but his style of play is more suited for the 4 position, which this commitment frees Aluma to move to. Both Aluma and Justyn Mutts have been very effective scoring under the basket, but the Hokies haven’t had a true rim protector who mixes it up underneath. This fills that need.

After Virginia Tech lost in the first round of the NCAA’s, many – including me – have pointed out that the team seriously needed two things: a point guard who could score and a true big man. The Hokies have gotten a commitment from Storm Murphy to address the guard situation, as the 6-foot 180-pound guard who averaged 17.8 points per game last season for Wofford now joins proven scorers Hunter Cattoor, Naheim Alleyne and Tyrece Radford to give Virginia Tech quite a backcourt punch.

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Guest — Steve

❤️ This!

This will enable us to compete with FSU, who has been a thorn in our side forever. Athletic AND long.
Wednesday, 07 April 2021 14:15
Dave Scarangella

Exactly!

The Hokies have needed this for some time...
Wednesday, 07 April 2021 14:40
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Where's The Beef? Maybe Finally Returning To VT DLine...

I'm here to talk about Virginia Tech's 2018 football season.

Yes, I'm aware that season brings back a lot of anger and despair for Hokies fans, but humor me for a moment.

The 2018 season happened to be Ricky Walker's final season in a Virginia Tech uniform. It also happened to be Vinny Mihota's final season in a Tech uniform. Both graduated and moved on after the season.

Mihota had an odd career — he started it at defensive end opposite Ken Ekanem and served his purpose as an edge-setting end that allowed Ekanem to rush the passer on the other side. Mihota would later move inside to defensive tackle out of necessity, forcing the injury-prone 270-pounder into the slog that is the interior.

Unsurprisingly, Mihota struggled. He played in just six games, registered 11 tackles and zero sacks.

Defensive tackle has been a sore spot for the Hokies for the last several seasons. Woody Baron was the last uber-productive tackle to play in a Hokies uniform, though Walker was more than respectable during his tenure. 

But Woody Baron doesn't come around often. You don't find 260-pound defensive linemen who can dominate the interior very often. You need bigger bodies in there and you need a lot of them

For the first time in what feels like forever, Virginia Tech might have the beef.

Among those returning are DaShawn Crawford, Norell Pollard and Mario Kendricks, all of whom have flashed at various points. Josh Fuga is also back, as well as Jaden Cunningham and Maxx Philpott. Oh, and Clemson transfer Jordan Williams is in town too.

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Guest — John

Check the numbers...

Ricky's numbers better than Barron. Barron had one huge year. Ricky's numbers were better than Settle. ALL-ACC Preseason AA.... Read More
Tuesday, 30 March 2021 15:53
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Rest In Peace, Coach Schnellenberger

If you follow sports for a long enough time, you end up with 4 or 5 moments that seem to stay permanently etched in your memory. Some are due to last-second heroics, while others are just the confluence of several interesting people at a particular point in time.

The passing this morning of legendary football coach Howard Schnellenberger brought back one of those for me. At the time, Schnellenberger was at the University of Miami before it was “The U”, and he was in the process of creating that transition for the Hurricanes.

He took over Miami in 1979, and in year 2 got his team to a bowl game, beating this group of upstarts from Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl to finish 9-3. Three years later, “The U” was born, as Miami and Schnellenberger went 11-1 and won a national title by beating Nebraska.

The year before winning the national title, Miami faced Virginia Tech for the second time in three years in Blacksburg. It was a warm September afternoon, and Miami was favored due to a high-powered offense led by quarterback Jim Kelly. The Hokies were a typical Bill Dooley team, with a strong running attack led by players like Tony Paige and Cyrus Lawrence, and a stout defense with the likes of Bruce Smith and Padro Phillips.

Miami did win that day, 14-8. But some things also happened I doubt anyone expected.

The moment I remember took place shortly after the game. Back then, there were no formal press conferences or restrictions on who you could talk with after a game. If you wanted to ask a question of a player, you went in the locker room and asked.

For Miami, the visitor’s locker room was just under the East stands down near the corner of the South end zone. The question of the day regarded an injury to Kelly, who was sacked midway through the game by the Virginia Tech defense and had to leave the game. Since he didn’t return, we all wanted to know how bad the injury was.

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Guest — Johnny Hurst

Memories

I was at that game and I'm 63 and can't remember if I ate breakfast or not but remember the sack. Some of my favorite memories of ... Read More
Monday, 29 March 2021 12:24
Dave Scarangella

Always amazes me too

I can remember that moment in 1982 clearly. But don't ask me what I did last week ... Read More
Monday, 29 March 2021 12:51
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J.C. Price Quickly Having An Impact At Virginia Tech

That didn't take very long.

Just a few weeks after accepting a position at his alma mater, J.C. Price is already impacting Virginia Tech's roster decisions.

C.J .McCray is an intriguing addition. The 6-foot-4 linebacker enrolled at Marshall as a 2020 recruit with academic issues that kept him ineligible last season. McCray took care of those issues, and now is following Price to Blacksburg.

Time will tell if McCray impacts Virginia Tech's program. Any time you can add a linebacker at that height, you're adding someone who could realistically grow into a solid outside backer. He wasn't a highly sought after prospect, but his eligibility issues could have affected that.

More importantly, McCray's decision to transfer shows that Price is being taken seriously inside those coaches' meetings. And that's encouraging.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they take over a management role is hiring only people that they're familiar with and people that think like them. It creates an echo chamber of thinking with almost no dissent or creativity to be found.

Justin Fuente has done this throughout his tenure. His offensive coordinator has followed him around for years. His defensive coordinator coached under him for two seasons. Most, if not all, of his assistants have some prior connection to Fuente's past stops.

Familiarity is helpful, but so is a diversity of thought. That's what Price offers.

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Guest — Turkey Ball

Price is Right!

Listen, Fuente may not know Price like his right hand, but Blacksburg knows Price! Several members of the coaching staff know Pric... Read More
Friday, 26 March 2021 13:45
Dave Scarangella

Agree

He's what they need on the coaching staff...
Friday, 26 March 2021 14:16
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50 Years After Meeting, She's Still A Big Fan Of Bruce Arians

Geraldine Barber had no problem rooting for Tampa Bay to win the Super Bowl and not just because one of her twin sons had played 16 seasons for the Buccaneers.

Her connection with the Bucs' head coach, Bruce Arians, goes back to their college days at Virginia Tech in the early 1970's.

"This whole week is about Bruce," she said in a phone interview from her Maryland home. "I don't want to do anything to take anything from the focus on him because he is so deserving."

Arians' wife, Christine, is another Tech alumna.

"Chris reminded me last year, when we were together at a game, that it has been 50 years since we met each other," said Geraldine, who now goes by Barber-Hale.  

"Bruce was already [at Tech]. I believe this was right after Chris and Bruce had gotten married because they were long-time sweethearts. Before they had gotten married, Bruce and Tiki and Ronde's daddy, [J.B. Barber] were roommates and the first inter-racial teammates to be football roommates there.

"They got to be real good friends and then, when J.B. and I got married, I was taken into that friendship. Bruce and Chris were always there for me. When Tiki and Ronde were infants and were having problems with seizures, I could always count on Chris."

Geraldine later divorced from J.B.  Barber and moved to Roanoke, where she raised her sons as a single mom. 

"I didn't see them for years," Geraldine said of Bruce and Chris Arians. "We kept in touch but I didn't spend any time with them until I was at a [New York] Giants game and I think, at the time, Bruce was coaching with the Indianapolis Colts and they came to Giants Stadium.

"I was coming down to the back of the stadium with parents and guests and Bruce was headed to the visitors' dressing room and I heard somebody say 'G-e-r-a-l-d-i-n-e,' and I turned around and it was him. It was like seeing your long-lost brother.

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