Mini-Camp Reports: Praise for Former Hokies
Just a week after the NFL Draft, teams held their
mini-camps in anticipation of the 2005 season. These were four-day camps over
last weekend, and already there is some word floating out about a former Hokies
who signed free agent contracts.
Bryan Randall decided to head where many of
Virginia Tech’s NFL players end up: Atlanta. Randall joined the Falcons on
Thursday to participate in mini-camp, and while there were mixed reviews, the
general consensus is that Randall played well as he began his quest to make the
perusal of Falcons web sites and message boards reveals that Randall was spotted
by one practice observer working out with the special teams, lined up as a
gunner in punt formation. The observer also noted that if Randall hoped to make
the Falcons’ roster, he would have to prove that he could play a position other
than quarterback. However, other practice observers disagreed with this view,
stating that Randall showed good zip on his passes and generally did a nice job.
Randall hopes to beat out Ty Detmer, 37, for the
third-string quarterback position.
Another Hokie free agent hoping to make an NFL
team is defensive end Jim Davis. Davis, who flashed talent throughout his
injury-plagued VT career, finally put a healthy season together in 2004. He also
showed his versatility by playing defensive tackle for Tech. That ability will
help him in his quest to make the NFL.
It came as quite a surprise to many when Davis
was not drafted. Some considered him to be a late third round pick, but everyone
was almost certain that he would go at some point on day two. However, Davis
slipped through the cracks and signed a free agent deal with the Jacksonville
Jaguars, where he joins former Hokies Nick Sorensen and Ernest Wilford.
It appears that Davis has a good chance to make
the Jacksonville roster. Already considered one of the top players who did not
get drafted, Davis apparently
turned some heads during mini-camp. In the linked article, Gene Smith, the
Jaguars Director of College Scouting, praised Davis as “showing quickness
off the edge.”
Meanwhile, among the VT players drafted, the
Tennessee Titans are putting the versatility of Vincent Fuller to work. Fuller
has the body and speed of a cornerback (6-0, 189, 4.4 forty) and the mind of a
safety. He player both positions at Virginia Tech, and the Nashville
City Paper reports today that Fuller is learning free safety for the Titans
but is also studying to play a role as a nickel back.
Despite his less than ideal size for the role of
safety in the NFL, Fuller is in a good position at Tennessee to garner playing
time. As the linked article details, “There has been plenty of speculation
that Lance Schulters could be a salary cap casualty come June 1, and strong
safety Tank Williams might not be ready for the start of the season after
suffering a torn ACL that ended his 2004 season in November.”
Titans head coach Jeff Fisher speaks very highly
of Fuller, praising his football IQ. Fuller’s smarts, plus his versatility, are
a promising combination.
NCAA Approves 12th Regular Season Game
In a move that was not unexpected, the NCAA Board
of Directors will now allow its football teams to play 12 regular season games
per year, beginning in the 2006 season. This decision has been expected for some
time. Of the 11 college presidents on the Board of Directors, only two voted
against the proposal. Eight voted in favor, while one abstained.
To alleviate concerns that adding a regular
season game would make the college football season too long, the NCAA has
eliminated a bye week. With this system in place, teams will be able to play 12
regular season games in the same amount of time that they played 11 in seasons
past. However, they will lose one of their two bye weeks each season.
The NCAA argues that the 12th game ruling will
help bring about more high profile matchups. For example, Miami and Florida
played a home-and-home series in 2002 and 2003 because the NCAA allowed a 12th
game to be played during those seasons. A 12th game was allowed during those
seasons because 14 Saturdays fell between the first and last days of the college
With the new ruling in place for the 2006 season,
Virginia Tech will have the chance to play 14 games throughout the course of the
season. This includes 12 regular season games, the ACC Championship game, and a
bowl game. The Hokies played 14 games in a season once before in school history,
Perhaps more importantly, the NCAA will now allow
Division I-A schools to count one victory per season against a Division I-AA
school towards bowl eligibility. The previous rule allowed schools to count a
win against a Division I-AA school once every four years. This new ruling will
take effect immediately for the 2005 season.
This could create an interesting scheduling
dilemma for some teams in future years. The question is whether to schedule a
high paying made-for-television game, or to add a Division I-AA team to have a
guaranteed revenue-generating home win that would also count towards bowl
And finally, the Board of Directors also voted to
loosen the requirements for Division I-A status in the NCAA. Previously, a
school must average 15,000 fans per game in actual attendance. With the new
ruling, schools who average 15,000 fans per game in actual or paid attendance
once every two years can now qualify for Division I-A status. That’s good news
for the Temple Owls and most of the MAC.