OK, if that video of Rock and Roll Tech Triumph doesn't get your blood flowing I don't know what will. As Saturday approaches, Hokie fans anxiously await the first start of Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer, but as we watch him take the field for VT Saturday, how many of us can remember when Tyrod Taylor trotted out of the tunnel for the first time? Maybe Bryan Randall? Perhaps Michael Vick? Jim Druckenmiller ring a bell? Or perhaps we could go all the way back to a man by the name of Will Furrer (surprised I knew that one aren't cha?) Today we'll take a look back at the VT quarterbacks for the first half of Frank Beamer's tenure from the late 1980's to the end of the 1990's, so sit back and grab a cold one as we take a trip down memory lane.
1.) Will Furrer (1988-1991)
Career Record: 16-18-1
Long-time fans remember this guy. Really the first QB to take the reins for Beamer in his early days. Boy you look at the records in those first years and you say "ouch." Of course this was also the pre-BIG EAST era, so VT was an independent at the time and boy was it rough. Furrer's record for the most part reflects that.
His first crack at being the starter was on September 3rd 1988 when he faced (4)Clemson at Death Valley(nice way to open a career isn't it?). Needless to say it didn't go Will's way. VT lost that game 40-7. He was 17-36 for 116 yards with no TDs and 2 INT's. Ouch man, just ouch.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: November 24th, 1990 VT 38- UVA 13 @Lane Stadium
If I had to give one game for Will Furrer that stands out among the other's I would have to say it was in Furrer's Junior year when he ended a three game losing streak to the Cavaliers, and gave Frank Beamer his first victory over UVA as head coach. In the game Furrer was 16-23 for 254 yards and 3 TD's with no INT's. The game was never in doubt as the Hokie's led 24-6 at halftime, and gave VT it's first winning season in the Frank Beamer Era (6-5).
CAREER LOWLIGHT: September 7th 1991 VT 0-NC State 7 @NCST
Furrer was a solid starter in his career, but not perfect by any means. This loss in his final year was especially painful because the game was within reach, and it would have given VT a second straight winning season. In this game Furrer's completion numbers were OK, but five interceptions on the day killed the Hokies' chances.
Furrer had some decent moments at Tech, but his career was marred by injury, as he missed nine games in his career. Nonetheless, he gave the Hokie's their first winning season under Coach Beamer. Furrer went on to play in both the NFL and NFL Europe where he had his best season as a pro in 1996 when he played for the Amsterdam Admirals where he was 206-369 for 2689 yards and 20 TD's to 13 INT's. During his NFL run he was a reserve for the Chicago Bears and Houston Oilers. When I did some digging into what Furrer's doing today, I found out via The Florida-Times Union, That Furrer's working for former NFL player Tony Boselli's marketing firm Intra Focus Marketing and Advertising.
2.) Cam Young (1988,1989)
Career record 2-4
Cam Young is a little more of a difficult recall for fans, because he didn't start all that many games, but he started more than five games so he most certainly counts. Most of his games were out of emergency service due to time missed by Will Furrer so it wasn't uncommon for Cam to come in and substitute. Unfortunately, wins still didn't come easily for him or VT. He got his first start on November 5th 1988 at Louisville. It was a subpar showing as Young went 15-25 for 137 yards and 1 INT that resulted in a 13-3 loss (little known fact, that loss was to a Louisville team led by Jay Gruden. Yes, that Jay Gruden)
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: October 7th 1989 VT 12- (9)WVU 10 @WVU
OK, it's not like Cam lit the world on fire (15-22 for 167 yards and 0 TDS), but a win at a top ten rival's field against a future pro like Major Harris is nothing to scoff at. VT didn't score a Touchdown, but Young didn't lose the game either as he threw no INT's and let the defense hold out. A Beamerball trait for better or worse. Bottom line, a win is a win. It doesn't have to be pretty to be good and Young did what any good backup does; managed the game. Beating a WVU team coming off a national championship game appearance doesn't feel too bad either, it's one for Cam to tell his grandchildren about.
CAREER LOWLIGHT: Nov. 11 1989 VT 25-(18)UVA 32 @UVA
Cam was Furrer's backup for a reason, because VT definitely took a step backwards without him, and this game put Coach Beamer in the frying pan with alumni, fans, and the press. It didn't help matters that VT as a whole played horribly against it's ranked archrival. The Hokies fell behind at halftime 24-0 and Cam Young was ineffective, going 7-15 for 54 yards. Most points came after the game was pretty much decided, obfuscating the fact that the game was never close at all until the final margin.
Cam Young only played six games in his career as a Hokie, but his game against WVU will always be there as one of the greatest road wins in the history of Virginia Tech football. As for what he's doing today, I drew a blank after hours of research so if you're somehow reading this Mr. Young, Thanks for the awesome win at WVU sir.
3.) Maurice Deshazo (1992-1994)
Career Record: 18-14-1
Maurice Deshazo, was what I would call the Christopher Columbus of VT QB's. Reason I say this is he's the first Beamer QB to discover the new world...BOWLS! Deshazo was considered one of Virginia's top recruits, so the fact that Beamer was able to land him was an accomplishment at the time. Deshazo saw his first action as starter on September 5th, 1992 against James Madison in Lane Stadium. He only threw 8 passes that day, but you don't really need a lot when Antonio Freeman is your wide receiver and runs 69 yard grabs to the endzone. Overall his numbers were 5-8 195 yards with 2 TD's passing, and he ran for 46 yards with a rushing TD, a good overall game. Too bad the rest of the year wasn't as great (The Hokie's went 2-8-1 that year)
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Independence Bowl December 31, 1993. (22)VT 45- (21)Indiana 20
This game is so important to VT lore. This was the first of a 21 year streak of bowls that define the Beamer era and was a showcase of a hungry VT program that was just itching for big time success. Deshazo and the Hokies were held to 7 points in the first quarter but VT exploded in the second quarter for 21 points to take 28-13 lead at Halftime. It was a combination of Beamerball with the defense and special teams disrupting the unprepared Hoosiers, and consistent play from Deshazo with a 19-33 for 233 yards and 2 TD's and 2 INT's that put the Hokies in the winner's circle. When it was all said and done the Hokies took home the Independence Bowl trophy(only their second bowl win ever) and Deshazo took home the offensive MVP honors.
CAREER LOWLIGHT: Nov. 19th 1994. (14)VT 23- (16) UVA 42 @Lane Stadium
Deshazo did a lot of good at VT, but he also closed his career on a very low note, as he lost three out of his last four games as a Hokie, none more bitter than the loss at home to UVA in 1994. Deshazo had decent numbers and seemingly out dueled UVA QB Mike Groh (Deshazo: 22-34 for 235 YDS and 2 TD's to Groh's 9-16 146 YDS 0 TD's) but there was one glaring problem; Deshazo threw five INT's. In the end the turnovers cost the Hokies, and Deshazo went out on a sour note in the bowl as well as he lost to Tennessee in the Gator Bowl, who at the time was starting a young man by the name of Peyton Manning.
Deshazo had indeed accomplished quite a bit during his stay in Blacksburg. He was the first to take VT to back to back bowls, as well as the first Beamer QB to sport a winning record. Deshazo was an independent car salesman in Suffolk but as of recently his legacy might be a bit shadowed by scandal. In 2013 he was busted in a prostitution sting in Newport News.
4.) Jim Druckenmiller (1995,1996)
Career Record: 20-4
Today I would say that Druckenmiller is regarded as one of the greatest VT QB's of all time. What was accomplished in his two years as starter at VT cannot be understated. Two BIG EAST championships, two wins against UVA. being the first VT QB to beat the dreaded Miami Hurricanes, winning the Sugar Bowl against traditional power Texas, and so on and so forth. His first start came on September 7th 1995, when he went up against Boston College. Despite the strong showing (21-42, 296 Yards and 1 TD), The Hokies still lost the home conference game to BC that they should have won, in VT's second Thursday night appearance on ESPN. They wouldn't lose again on Thursday night for several years.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: November 18th 1995 (20)VT 36-(13)UVA 29 @UVA
A lot of moments came to mind when I got to Druckenmiller, but this one stands out the most. Probably because it was a showcase of the grit that a QB must have in the worst of circumstances. On the road, against your arch rival with two future all pros (Tiki and Ronde Barber), who happens to be ranked in the top 15.
The Hokies fell behind by 15 points in the fourth quarter. So what does a leader do? He puts his foot down and mounts a comeback. The fourth quarter belonged to Jim. With his back against the wall, Druckenmiller threw two TD's in the fourth quarter. His final minute TD pass to Jermaine Holmes put VT ahead in the final minute of the game 30-29. Seconds later Mike Groh would throw a pick that would get returned for a TD making the final score 36-29. This game was also the "Trip" game if you know what I'm talking about ((WINK WINK). This is still one of the greatest VT wins of all time, I still get chills when I hear the radio playback of Bill Roth screaming,"JIM DRUCKENMILLER HAS ENGINEERED ONE OF THE GREATEST COMEBACKS I'VE EVER SEEN!"
CAREER LOWLIGHT: September 28th, 1996 (18)VT 21-Syracuse 52 @SU
We all can say we hate the Carrier Dome, we all can say we hate the 'Cuse. But one thing that is especially difficult to swallow is the 1996 game between VT and Syracuse. Now with Druckenmiller I was hard pressed to find one low moment of his career, but I think this would be one because VT was undefeated for the rest of the season and had they won this game, they would have had an 11-0 record and who knows what would have happened when the season ended. Jim Drunkenmiller was OK in this game, but what VT needed was fantastic, Druckenmiller was civilian, going 11-23 for 157 yards and no TD's. It didn't help that Syracuse had Donovan McNabb who gashed the Hokies for 285 total offense (162 rushing and 123 passing with two TDs) and the running game for The Orange gained 376 yards total. Not a lot of it was Jim's fault but you've got to produce and in this game he was average in limited opportunities, because Syracuse dominated the time of possession.
Two years was all it took for Jim Drunkenmiller to produce a lifetime of memories. However there were some sour parts of his off the field life, such as rape accusations of a VT coed that he was later cleared of. After college he was drafted by the San Francisco 49er's in the first round of the 1997 NFL draft. He spent three seasons in the NFL before falling out of the league and into a one year stint in the Vince McMahon nightmare that was the XFL. The latest word on him is that he's a Sales Executive at AS Barboro.
5.) Al Clark (1997,1998)
Al Clark was in some ways Michael Vick before Michael Vick. A very mobile QB who had the ability to throw on the fly. Unfortunately he couldn't stay off IR. His first start showed some promise, an August 30th 1997 road game against Rutgers. Clark raked up 276 total yards against the Scarlet Knights (149 passing 127 rushing) with two passing TDs and one rushing TD.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: September 19th 1998 VT 27- Miami 20 @Miami
I think this game really gave Al Clark his chance to shine. In a critical BIG EAST road game against a motivated Miami team that was hungry following NCAA sanctions, Clark fought to push VT across in OT. Clark put together 202 total yards as the VT defense held off future NFL stars Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James. In overtime Clark fired a 24 yard TD pass to Ricky Hall to push the Hokies to the W.
CAREER LOWLIGHT: November 28th 1998 (16)VT 28-Syricuse 26 @SU
Curse that Carrier Dome, it's a regular house of Hokie horrors (with Heinz Field now challenging it for supremacy)! This time it bit Al Clark and bit him in a big way. Donavon McNabb was once again a problem as he racked up 353 total offense compared to Al Clark's 55 total yards of offense. In fact Al Clark's official passing stats: 4-12 for 35 yards and 1 INT. Despite this, VT had a chance to win, and yet McNabb magic got VT again in the final minutes as McNabb hit Stephen Brominski for the go-ahead touchdown. CURSE THAT DOME!
Like Young, I drew blanks on what Clark's doing as well. Clark really is the story of what could have been. He was a very good athlete, unfortunately injuries derailed so many chances. If he had been healthy, perhaps some of the losses VT suffered (One especially comes to mind...cough TEMPLE cough) may not have happened. But that's Hokie Hindsight I guess.
6.)Nick Sorensen (1997,1998)
Career Record: 3-1
Yes that's right, Nick Sorensen. The same Nick Sorensen that was an acclaimed defensive player for the Hokies and went on to the NFL was a backup QB. When Al Clark went down he was the best option available and so he started.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: November 1st, 1997 (23)VT 37-UAB 0
Probably Sorensen's best game as starter was his first as a starter against UAB. In that game Sorensen was 7-15 for 84 yards and 1 TD with 2 INTS and rushed 8 times for 65 yards. It was a blowout, not much to say.
CAREER LOWLIGHT: October 17, 1998 (14)VT 24-Temple 28
THAT GAME. Yes it's THAT GAME! I feel really bad for Nick Sorensen, truth be told he should have not been in situation, yet he was the starter and this falls on his shoulder. A shame too, because statisicaly this was Sorensen's best outing (14-24 for 143 yards 2 TDs, 2 INT's. Rushing was 13 attempts for 67 yards). Until 2010 this was the worst loss of the Frank Beamer era, a loss that still stings today.
Sorensen may have been the guy during one of the worst losses in VT history, but in the end Sorensen made good for the rest of his Career. After 1998 he moved over to safety where he shined. He finished his defensive career with 117 tackles, ten tackles for loss, four sacks and a pick. He went undrafted in the NFL draft in 2001 but went on to have a long career as a reserve in the NFL where he played from 2001-2010 with stints with the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Cleveland Browns. in 2013 he became an assistant special teams coach with the Seattle Seahawks and was on staff when they won the Super Bowl. All in all, I'd say Sorensen's career went pretty well.
7.) Michael Vick (1999,2000)
Career Record: 20-2
VIck, the name alone says it all. Michael Vick changed the game and changed the way VT was looked at from the second he stepped on the field. In his first start VIck created electricity. In the opener on September 4, 1999 against James Madison, Vick would break out a 54 yard rush to the endzone for a TD in the first quarter, and then flipped into the end zone on another short run on his way to 3 TDs. Tech won the game 47-0. That was the signal that VT had something special.
November 6th, 1999: (3)VT 22-WVU 20 @WVU
This game is always on my mind when I think of Michael Vick. With Nebraska and Tennessee nipping at the Hokie's heels in the national title race, the Hokies could not afford a slip up against WVU. But much as rivalry games go, the Mountaineers came in with fire and kept the game close, allowing them to score two late TDs to take the lead with less than 2 minutes left in the game. Down 20-19, VT needed a miracle. Michael Vick caught fire that night, using a combination of his arms and legs to get the Hokies to the 27 yard line, tiptoeing for extra yards down the right sideline to set Shayne Graham for a FG that was just about at the limits of his range. The rest is history as Shane Graham would hit the field goal from 44 yards out to save the Hokies season. Statically Vick had a good game, 14-30 for 255 yards and 61 yards rushing. Not fantastic, but good enough.
November 4, 2000: (2)VT 21-(3)Miami 41 @Miami
Understand this, I was hard pressed on this one to find a low moment in Vick's college career. This was the best I could come up with. But really this wasn't his fault. Really you can thank Torrie Cox of Pitt for rolling on Vicks leg the previous week( I hope that guy's playing in some arena D league somewhere) and VT's defense for not being able to stop Ken Dorsey and the Hurricanes from scoring. Had Vick been healthy who knows. Still this loss was the first that ended the run at the top for the Hokies in the BIG EAST.
Vick redefined his position and helped elevate VT into the national spotlight. Unfortunately VT only had him for two seasons. He was drafted first overall in 2001 by the Atlanta Falcons who he then took to the NFC title game. But his personal issues (the dogfighting and such, let's not dwell on that hot topic) and injuries have derailed him, along with his inability to catch up mentally with his physical gifts. But through all of that he's still in the league today. Following a decent stint with Philadelphia under the tutelage of Andy Reid, he is now a backup to Geno Smith for the New York Jets.
Well that took care of the early Beamer Era, the next time we meet we'll cover the New Millennium Hokies from Grant Noel on through to Logan Thomas. See you then. Stay with us here at Gobbler Country as we move forward into the 2014 campaign. Have a great Wednesday.