Where to begin? Where TOOOO begin?
Let's go to West Virginia (though I'd really rather not) and their prodigy-spawning Athletic Director Oliver Luck (Andrew's Dad), who isn't content with how we've left our ugly cousin to the West chained up in the attic with nothing to eat but a rusty bucket of fish heads since the programs last met in 2005.
Just one man's view of the WVU dynamic (pictured to the right):
Due to the lack of love lost between fan bases, and our program's tacit unwillingness to subject our fan base to travel to the "Land of ziplocked urine, airborne batteries, and burning couches" (sounds like Mel Gibson is gearing up for a final Mad Max does it not?); there had been an agreement in place for the schools to resume their "rivalry" in 2021 at FedEx Field. More fans, more shine, undoubtedly a sellout.
However it now appears (per Wednesday's reports) that WVU is feverishly trying to add out of conference opponents to their 2017 schedule and are attempting to move the game up from it's originally scheduled 2021 and get a big name on their schedule. They only have ECU scheduled out of conference at present.
Currently, the Hokies are in desperate need of a Power Five conference opponent as well, as the out of conference schedule boasts only Delaware and ODU at home, and the ever-present ECU Pirates on the road. The Hokies will go to Miami, and face Clemson at home, but beyond that the schedule is even easier than this year's. Assuming the talent is in place, that's a pretty easy road to an ACC title game appearance.
Perhaps AD Luck is wary of Beamer's advancing age, and worries that WVU will never take back the Black Diamond Trophy while Coach is still at the helm. 2021, after all is a long time away. Honestly, I think it's why VT waited to schedule the beginning of the home-and-home for 2021, because Frank has been pretty adamant about not returning to Morgantown in his lifetime after the 2005 debacle (a very dominating win that set a very negative tone for the rest of the season).
But I imagine FedEx dates are something that even the Don of VT Football has to entertain on his daughter's wedding day. The money is so vast that he has to take one for the program. Unfortunately, VT is 0-3 in that Den of Iniquity, so even though it's 20 minutes from home for me, I don't relish FedEx dates. Can you blame me?
Here's a quote from Luck on Wednesday:
"That's something we're talking about," Luck said. "Nothing has been finalized, but don't be surprised if there is an announcement at some point."
Per Damian Salas, HokieSports Webmaster (along with some help from Twitter compatriot Phillip Booth), we have owned the Black Diamond trophy for 3,568 days dating back to October 2, 2004. With the open date in 2017 scheduled for September 9 (once again a nighttime NASCAR race in the second week of September, so no ABC), this means we will have had possession of the trophy for 4,724 days at that point. If the deal falls through, and we don't face them til 2021, we'll have had the trophy for close to 6,200 days.
Personally, I think we should just tease them with the possibility of a series every few years and dangle the trophy and snatch it back:
Excellent SBNation site Testudo Times (Terrapins community) published this excellent article yesterday about diminutive Oscar Smith three-star RB Deshawn McLease, and his decision next Wednesday (his 18th birthday) coming down to Maryland or Virginia Tech. Here is what DeShawn tweeted the other day:
The 5'8", 175 lb RB prospect has undeniable speed, with an official 40 time of 4.40 seconds. However, the cynic in me doesn't allow for one MAAAAAJOR aspect of McLease's recruitment to go unnoticed. For those of you recruitniks who remember our own JC Coleman as an Oscar Smith alum, you get a cookie. But for those who are also making the Josh Sweat connection, you win the grand prize.
Is McLease just a better Brenden Hill? If you recall Hill came in a package deal with Marcus Vick to help grease the tracks a bit in securing MV2's commitment. And by all appearances, Hill didn't have quite the bonafides that McLease has. I would love to gain his commitment next week, I just don't think I want VT to sign him to play RB, and I have no idea what kind of deal-breaker that would be for McLease.
Here is what Testudo Times quoted McLease as saying, and I couldn't help but chuckle/gag/choke and eventually shake my head at it:
"If I were to commit there, they want to use me more as a speed back," McClease said of the Virginia Tech coaching staff. "They want to run the two-running back system, which would include [incoming freshman] Marshawn Williams. They would use him as the bruiser and me as the homerun guy."
If he's a home run guy in the same way that JC Coleman has been a "home-run" guy, I think we can safely say that we need a better home-run guy. For one thing, Juice Williams will have the physical ability to play his true freshman year, and will likely be a true junior when McLease were to line up for his redshirt Freshman year if McLease were so fortunate to have earned the job. I find it a tad gauche for a guy to name-drop like that when there are already other guys on the roster that will have years in the system, and the "sweat equity" to validate themselves. It's putting the cart before the horse.
From his video, I see a potential DB/KR, and possible change of pace RB though I don't see him as a 10-15 carry guy. I don't see Noel Devine (formerly of WVU, similarly sized but way more rockets). If you want a comparison at this point, I'll reach back into the annals for you and dredge up the impossibly optimistic Marcus Gildersleeve (late-90s), who when given space, could really make a guy look stupid. The problem was getting him into that space.
I will say this though: He looks better in tight spaces than JC Coleman ever has. Very shifty, whereas at the same point in his career, Coleman was more straight-line, trying to find space and then hit the home run. Take a look at McLease here:
Again for VT, 2015's big prize is Josh Sweat, the DE who just put up an insane 4.46 forty-yard time at Nike's "The Opening" this past week in Beaverton, Oregon and is drawing (unfair to him?) comparisons to recent #1 draft pick JaDaveon Clowney (USC-E). Sweat is now a top-five player in the country. Wouldn't it be nice to get both?
This Is Getting Boring! (No, it's not)
Yawn, another day, another honor. Kendall Fuller made the Thorpe watch-list this morning, for the nation's best defensive back. He is one of only six sophomores that made the list of 39. The Hokies will see Duke's Jeremy Cash (JR) and UVA cheap-shot artist Anthony Harris (SR) on the docket, but that is all. Hopefully, the new QB can take advantage of the light fare on the menu and feast at will.
A notable omission (at least to me), was Brandon Facyson, also a sophomore. But he can be added at any time. Although he had several interceptions last year and held up stoutly while opponents looked for someplace (when it wasn't Detrick Bonner....8!!!!!!!!*$%&$) in our secondary to pick on, he suffered a pair of injuries, and that likely dropped him a bit in the committee's mind. I expect him to be the beneficiary of several errant passes this season.
Your ACC Representatives At The 2014 ACC Kickoff Next Week
Who else but Big Lu? Of course the congenial Luther Maddy will go down to Greensboro and bring that intimidating swagger with him. He's on every watch list, he's a name guy, perhaps THE name guy for VT.
So who else gets to go with Lu and coach? Former walk-on WR Willie "Sick" Byrn. Like, wild, man. Far out.
Eat all the shrimp cocktail you can fellas!
We're going to Greensboro with Songs of Fire and Ice. Scowls and Smiles. You know nothing Flyers13.
Let's Touch On Hoops For Just One Moment
CJ Barksdale left the team this week, just as open evaluation periods opened this past Wednesday for the transfer market. That makes it two integral players (at least in our eyes) for 2014 gone in under one week. As Cates mentioned this past week, we had a potential contingency plan for the loss of team captain Ben Emelogu in a JUCO transfer we've had our eye on. But CJ Barksdale? Nothing too definitive has emerged out of the ether yet.
Found this interesting blurb in the Washington Post yesterday though:
Former Kansas guard Andrew White is scheduled to visit Blacksburg, Va., in the next 10 days. The 6-6 Richmond native has been to Nebraska and Notre Dame and is slated to visit Florida State this weekend as he searches for a new team.
The downside to this of course, is that White, very much like former South Florida PF Zach LeDay and Maryland transfer PG Seth Allen, would also have to sit for this season. Let's just understate things and refer to the situation as "nebulous" for now.
White is a member of AAU Team Loaded, and a couple years ahead of incoming freshman Jalen Hudson (also from Richmond) in that program. He has a nice pull-up off the bounce and a decent handle, but doesn't show much above the rim flash. Not like these 2015 targets Buzz has been pursuing.
I have received questions as to the timing of these announcements, and I can only say that I know Buzz wanted Ben Emelogu to stay. Who wouldn't want a player that could drop 20 within the flow of the offense and displayed maturity in the face of numerous bad situations? However, the combination of post-concussion syndrome and distance from his home in Grand Prairie, TX were too big of an objection to overcome for Coach Williams. Sadly, I have a feeling that Tubby Smith (Texas Tech) or Larry Brown (SMU) will be swimming in our wake, and will make great use of his talents.
Barksdale is more of a head scratcher. As he enters his Senior season, he could play immediately elsewhere IF he had graduated already. I have not seen confirmed reports on his academic progress, so as of now, I am under the impression he'll have to take a year off. As I had written before, Barksdale was a tweener who was aggressively working on his perimeter game. But VT is loaded with wing players now, and the writing was on the wall: All the hard work CJ had put into his outside shot, and his off the dribble game was going to be shelved for more back-to-the-basket play.
Sadly it never worked out for CJ or Emelogu at VT quite as they intended, but the list of VT players that can say that their careers in Blacksburg worked out is woefully short. Hopefully Buzz can get the roster where he likes it and we can flip that script once and for all.
For now here's a little video of the Kansas player, White, who is expected on that visit:
Eyes On What To Watch For This Weekend, Miscellaneous
If you've had enough 7-on-7 skeleton drills and combine workouts from Oregon (very difficult to watch), then perhaps you might be interested in a little thing called the World Cup. I dunno, hadn't heard of it until this year myself, much like the rest of the country right? #rollseyes #zeignorantttemereecans.
But as far as VT is concerned, we have some NBA Summer League going on with former NCAA scoring leader Erick Green on NBATV (Denver Nuggets). This weekend's games are at 6pm EST on Saturday, and 8pm EST on Sunday.
And we have young fireballer Jesse Hahn, looking to move to an impressive 5-2 start with the Padres tonight against the LA Dodgers and Dan Haren (a special treat for those streamers and MLB package holders, as it's a Dodgers home game and that means Vin Scully on the call). Of course, that requires you stay intact for the 10:10pm EST start time.
Former Hokie Joe Saunders struggled through early injury to an 0-5 record in 8 starts with the Rangers this season. He didn't really look good in a single turn, leading me to believe that the veteran is still nursing some injuries. Fortunately, his track record was enough for Kansas City to sign him to a minor league deal and he'll work out the kinks in AAA Omaha.
As if that weren't enough insult from my now least-favorite MLB team, the Rangers optioned Ben Rowen back to AAA Round Rock after he performed reasonably OK in 8 relief appearances (4.15 ERA). His departure also marks the return of 2011 World Series goat Neftali Feliz, who came within a strike of closing a championshiop out for the Rangers, and therefore exposing the rest of the world to St. Louis Cardinals fans trying to lay claim to the Boston Pink Sawx fans mythical best fans in baseball title. Simply nauseating all around.
Just seeing that logo makes me wanna take target practice:
It is my hope that this has helped round out the week some for all of you. We have more GREAT content coming this weekend. We here at Gobbler Country hope that everyone is having a very safe, enjoyable, and memorable summer.