Sergio Render Returns to Blacksburg

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Offensive lineman Sergio Render has achieved the necessary test scores to
enroll at Virginia Tech and will be returning to Blacksburg on Friday morning.
Render was making a big splash at right guard in August practices before the
NCAA Clearinghouse ruled that he was not academically eligible.

By
NCAA standards, Render was fully qualified to play. However, he did not score
high enough on the high school exit exam administered by the state of Georgia.
He was forced to leave Virginia Tech and return home to take the exam again.
After taking the test in September, Render recently found out that he scored
high enough to enroll at Virginia Tech.

Render is returning to Blacksburg but will not be enrolled at Virginia Tech
until the spring semester. He will not be able to practice with the team or
participate in team workouts, but he will be able to work out on his own and
further adjust to life in Blacksburg. He will be eligible to practice with the
team in preparation for the bowl game, and he will join the team for offseason
workouts in January.

Render will be enrolled at Tech beginning in January, and he will participate
in spring practice. However, he will still be considered a true freshman when
practice begins next August. Render is expected to contend for a starting
position at guard, as the Hokies will lose right guard Jason Murphy and
sometimes-left guard Reggie Butler after this season.

Bristol Motor Speedway Offer Still on the Table?

Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports, INC, has told members of
the media that his offer of $20 million apiece to Virginia Tech and Tennessee to
play a football game at Bristol Motor Speedway is still on the table.

Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver recently stated on the Hokie
Hotline that he believed the offer was no longer on the table, because no one at
Virginia Tech had heard from Smith or any other Bristol Motor Speedway official.
Weaver hinted that believed Smith was using the rumors to create more publicity
for the upcoming race at Bristol, which was held on August 27.

Both Weaver and Dave Chambers, associate athletic director at Virginia Tech,
have been quoted as saying they were very interested in playing Tennessee in
Bristol for $20 million.

Sources tell TechSideline.com that Virginia Tech and Tennessee can’t play
until 2009 because of current scheduling constraints. However, Smith doesn’t
want to wait that long. The Hokies have an opening on their schedule in 2006,
when they were scheduled to travel to Ohio. The Bobcats have asked out of that
game, and VT will no longer be playing in Athens. A joint announcement with a
replacement team to fill Ohio’s spot in 2006 is expected soon, but it is not
expected to be the long-rumored Bristol Motor Speedway game against Tennessee.

Hokies Begin Basketball Practice on Friday

The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will begin their quest for a second
consecutive postseason berth when they begin practice on Friday, October 14.
Guided by reigning ACC Coach of the Year Seth Greenberg, the Hokies return four
starters and the majority of their key backups from last year’s 16-14 squad
that advanced to the second round of the NIT.

Tech’s biggest loss is small forward Carlos Dixon, who averaged 13.8 points
per game last season and ranked among the ACC’s best three point shooters.
Dixon was a versatile player who had good range and played very good defense,
and his solid play will be missed.

Competing
to replace Dixon in the starting lineup are 6-7 sophomore Wynton Witherspoon,
6-6 freshman A.D. Vassallo and 6-4 senior Shawn Harris. Witherspoon has been
limited recently because of a fracture in his foot. He is expected to be ready
when practice begins.

Vassallo is a freshman who spent his summer playing for the Puerto Rican
Junior National team. He played well on the summer tour against top flight
competition. His strength is his shooting accuracy. He is known as a sharp
shooter from three-point range. Like any other freshman who has to adjust to
college basketball, Vassallo must continue to improve defensively, but he should
see a lot of playing time as a freshman.

Harris, a solid backup who has provided the Hokies with an offensive spark
off the bench in the past, is probably the long shot to win the starting job.
Greenberg would probably prefer that Harris play the same role off the bench in
his senior season. Every team needs a tremendous hustle player that gives the
team a boost coming off the bench, and that is the type of player Harris is.

Tech returns four starters, highlighted by the junior triumvirate of
guards Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon, and center Coleman Collins. They are
joined by sophomore Deron Washington, a high-flying player who was named to the
ACC’s All-Freshman team last season.

The Hokies appear to be blessed with more depth this season than in their
inaugural ACC season. First of all, junior guard Markus Sailes returns after
taking a redshirt year in 2004-05 to recover from an injury. Sailes started
every game two years ago, and his experience will be invaluable. He and Jamon
Gordon will be very effective defenders on the perimeter.

Other options on the bench include 7-0 sophomore Robert Krabbendam and 6-7
walk-on junior Chris Tucker. Freshmen forwards Terrance Vinson, Hyman Taylor and
Cheick Diakate will also compete for playing time.

The Hokies open the regular season on Thursday, November 10 when they host
Radford at 7 pm. Tech’s only exhibition game, against the University of
Saskatchewan, will be played on Friday, November 4th at 7 pm. For the complete
2005-2006 schedule, click
here
.

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