As a boy who grew up spending every Saturday afternoon in autumn at Lane Stadium, absorbing every second of the spectacle that is Hokie football, it is with great joy that I am welcomed to Gobbler Country.
I can still remember Jim Druckenmiller and Bryan Still dismantling the Texas Longhorn defense in the 1995 Sugar Bowl, sitting in my Virginia Tech pajama pants and Ken Oxendine jersey.
I bleed Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange.
A small section of the turf from the field following the Hokies' 38-14 win over Boston College in 1999, the win that finished an unbeaten regular season, sits atop a bookshelf in my bedroom. As does a box of Hokie Toasties, the special cereal sold in celebration of that 1999 team.
When Michael Vick bid farewell to Virginia Tech following a 41-20 victory over Clemson in the 2001 Gator Bowl, I shed more than a few tears from my seat in Alltel Stadium.
This may be historically incorrect, but I believe my first swear words came after Brandon Pace missed the game-winning field goal against North Carolina State in 2004, the Hokies' only conference loss in their inaugural season in the ACC.
I have been through every nook and cranny of the football infrastructure on the Blacksburg Campus. Legends Hall, the 10,000-square feet weight room on the bottom floor of the Merryman Center. I've stood on top of the tower that is the epicenter of Tech football practices, the very same confined cage where coach Frank Beamer descends his gaze upon every practice during the season.
Hokie football is not simply a passion for me, but a way of life. It is an honor to be able to spread a little of that life with all of you. I hope you enjoy following Hokie football as much as I do.
As a parting shot, here are a few favorite Tech milestones of mine during my lifetime.
Most memorable game ever attended: Boston College 1999, 38-14 wins sealed a spot in the BCS national championship game in the Sugar Bowl.
Most memorable play ever witnessed: It's a tie between Michael Vick's 82-yard touchdown run against Boston College in 2000, and Tyrod Taylor's 81-yard pass to Danny Coale in the final minutes against Nebraska in 2009, setting up a game-winning pass to Dyrell Roberts three plays later. I was in attendance for the Nebraska game, and the euphoria following the ending to that game was unlike anything I had ever witnessed, in Lane Stadium or anywhere else.
Favorite offensive player ever seen: Ryan Williams provided more thrilling plays in one season than just about anyone else I have ever seen, save for Michael Vick. Williams' good character and passion for the game of football makes him my favorite player to ever have been fortunate enough to watch play.
Favorite defensive player ever seen: Corey Moore, the 1999 Nagurski Award winner, was the ultimate sack artist and the leader of the national championship team's defense. His speed on the edge of the pass rush has yet to be matched by any of his successors at Tech.
Best pre-game atmosphere at Lane Stadium: In 2005, second-ranked Virginia Tech hosted third-ranked Miami in a game that received more attention the week leading up to it than any other regular season game in school history. The game itself was a disaster (Marcus Vick commits six turnovers in a 27-7 loss), but the volume of that stadium during "Enter Sandman" and the echoing "Let's go...Hokies" chant just before the team appeared from the tunnel was unmatched.
Best in-game atmosphere at Lane Stadium: In the 2002 season, the Hokies faced the defending SEC champion LSU Tigers in the second week of the season. LSU has a reputation for its fans traveling extremely well, and having some of the rowdiest supporters in the country. Hokie fans were clearly on a mission to show the Bayou Bengals who was boss that day.
It was the second home game played in Lane Stadium following the construction of the new South end zone. The fans put the added capacity and intimidating noise-enclosing device to good use, making that game the loudest I have ever seen. Thanks to unbelievable support from the home fans, the Hokies gouged the Tigers 26-8.