Tech Talk Live Notes: Former Players in Richmond

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Virginia Tech, Sam Rogers
Former Virginia Tech player Sam Rogers was one of Monday night’s special guests. (Jon Fleming)

Tech Talk Live was held in Richmond on Monday night, and a trio of former Virginia Tech players were the special guests.

Sam Rogers

On playing in the comeback at the Belk Bowl back in 2016…

All I remember is all of the guys just wanted to get back out there. It was one of those things where we just wanted to make it right again. Obviously, we’re down 24-0 and we get back into the locker room and everybody is just itching to get back out on the field. When we did, once we got those first couple of plays going, it was all downhill from there. It really was a tale of two halves. It was one of the cooler games I’ve ever been a part of.

On his last game at Lane Stadium when he had a career day against UVA…

I joked with Mike Goforth that the only time they gave me the ball over 10 times, I had 100 yards rushing. Maybe I should have gotten it a little bit more, but no it was fun. I proposed that night to my wife. It was a good time.

On what he’s been up to…

My sister had her first kid, her name is Charlotte and we call her Charlie. It’s great being an uncle because you have all of the good things about being around kids without any of the responsibilities. I actually became Uncle Sam on July 4th which is pretty awesome. Now, my brother’s wife is pregnant, so I’ll have another little niece on the way too.

On being recruited to Virginia Tech…

Shane Beamer recruited me, and I remember that it kind of picked up with him actively recruiting me and calling me to be a preferred walk-on after an All-Metro banquet in Richmond where I got a couple of awards. They were calling me every day and letting me know that I had the opportunity to play pretty early. That was one of my goals, to get on the field as soon as possible.

When I got there, I was able to contribute pretty early. Then, we had the coaching change at the end of my junior year. With how hectic it could have been, it was a very smooth transition. I tell people all of the time that we went from a blue-collar coach to a blue-collar coach. So, principles and foundations were very similar. That made it a lot easier, and I’m thankful for the experience and both coaches.

On the recent changes to the coaching staff…

It’s great that they’re keeping it in the family which I think is just awesome. It’s different now being a fan and not really being a part of the program. I have a different perspective, but I think it’s great that they’re keeping it in the program. I think that says a lot about Coach Hamilton that Coach Foster and Coach Fuente speak so highly of him. Obviously, Darryl Tapp’s resume speaks for itself. I’m excited for Hokie football in the years to come.

On staying in touch with former teammates…

We try to stay in touch whenever we can. Obviously, you don’t want to bug the guys that are still playing too much during the season. Once you’re a part of that family, you never really get out of it.

On transitioning from player to fan…

I think Whit Babcock gave us all this advice. He said, ‘When you play here, that logo never comes off, so you have to represent Virginia Tech whether you’re currently playing or whether you’re just an alumnus.’ We have to make sure we hold ourselves to the highest standard off of the field now too, but it’s a great new perspective being a fan now. I find myself yelling at the TV on Saturday afternoon just like any other fan.

On his experience trying to make an NFL roster…

I’m so grateful for my time with the Rams. I spent a year with the Rams on the practice squad. I spent a couple of months with the Bills in training camp, and I had a minicamp opportunity with the Titans. Getting cut a couple of times, it’s never fun, but it’s a great opportunity to learn and grow. My faith has grown tremendously because of it. When you get put through the fire, you realize there’s a refining process in those tough times. It was great for me and Lauren, it was a great adventure going out to California and coming back. I’m so grateful for the many opportunities that I had and I’m looking forward to what is to come.

On the team heading into next year…

Just looking from a fan’s perspective, it looks bright. I’m not in there every day and in those meetings, but just from the surface, you’re returning 21 of 22 starters. That’s awesome. With the success that they had in the second half of this year, I’m excited for Virginia Tech football in the future and for this game coming up.

On the big games that he played in…

Alabama is a blur for me because I had been used to playing high school football. Then, you’re going into the Georgia Dome in front of 80,000 people, that’s a little bit different. Then, we played at Ohio State and got a win there; that is one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of. Playing Ohio State at home, the first half was great, but the second half wasn’t as fun. There have been a ton of fun games. The Battle at Bristol was a fun one to be a part of. There’s been a lot of fun games. Obviously, I wish we were 4-0 in those games and not 1-3, but they were all fun.

On staying around the game…

I love being around the game. Anytime that I can learn and further my knowledge of the game, I try and take advantage of all of those opportunities. I love to teach and be around guys. Anyway, that I can stay involved in the game, I’m going to do.

On the Virginia Tech offense…

Offensively, I love being a student of the game and watching what they do. It’s fun to see the multiple tight end sets that they run now.  A lot of times they’re in 12 and 13 personnel with Nick Gallo and James Mitchell. It’s fun to watch those guys out there. Obviously, I also like to see Dalton Keene in the backfield taking some handoffs. It reminds me of myself a little bit. They’ve got Deshawn McCleese and Keshawn King. They’re fun to watch.

Jonathan McLaughlin, Virginia Tech
Jonathan McLaughlin made an appearance on Monday. (Ivan Morozov)

Jonathan McLaughlin

On Sam Rogers’ exercise class that he takes…

He’s crazy. I have to tell Sam, we’re three years removed, so it hurts to get up in the morning now. It’s really a good workout class. I joke with him and call him ‘Little Gentry.’ It’s a great class, for sure.

On what he’s been doing…

I’m working at Dodson Property Management right now. I just moved to Richmond about a year and a half ago.

On seeing the Edmunds brothers play last night…

I think that was the first time in 40 years or something since that’s happened. That was really special. We all played with them. That was so cool to see them all playing on the same field.

On staying in contact with his former offensive line group…

I still keep in contact with all of them. Wyatt [Teller] is with the Browns right now and Yosh [Nijman] is with Green Bay. You’ll definitely see all of them at my wedding one day.

On a game that was more special than the rest…

I would say the Alabama game. Like Sam said, it was a blur because I was a freshman. You see all of those guys on the field and it was my first game ever and we played the defending national champions. That was probably the most memorable game I have.

On the Belk Bowl comeback…

Sam’s being a little humble there. He was the one in the locker room getting everybody hyped up. We all were thinking that we had been there before, 17-0 in the Notre Dame game. We came back and won that one. When it got to 24-0, we all were thinking, ‘Well, we haven’t been here.’ Sam was the one that got us ready to play.

On the coolest place he played…

Probably Bristol. Bristol was definitely cool with all of those people. It was a really cool experience. It didn’t turn in our favor, but it was a cool experience for sure.

On the Hokies’ offensive line…

I think they’re going to be really good. I think they have a chance to be really special. What I saw this year was that everybody played different positions. That helps because anything can happen in the college football world. Some tackles played guard and a tackle played center. That’s special and not every team can do that. Vance Vice had his hands on that offensive line for sure.

On transitioning to Vance Vice…

Vance is a good coach. He came in and picked up things that our old coaches were doing, and we knew that he knew what he was doing. I was only with him for a year, but I still text him every now and again to see how he’s doing.

On his experience in the NFL…

I was in Arizona for a little bit with Bruce Arians when he was there. He’s a great coach. I got cut there and like Sam said, it’s never easy. I was with the Giants for a little bit, too, and had a couple of tryouts with the Panthers and Tampa Bay too.

On whether his time at Virginia Tech was the best time of his life…

It was. It doesn’t get any better than that. The relationships you make and the traditions there, it was a great experience for sure.

On what he would change about his college experience…

The weather. I’m from South Carolina, so that’s the only thing I would say. The snow has to go.

On what life is like now for him…

Like Sam said earlier, just trying to find that next thing. We’ve been playing football since we were eight years old, so it’s hard to stop playing football, but there are other opportunities out there too. 

On his typical day…

It’s pretty busy. You have to deal with a lot of people. I think I’m pretty good with people. It’s challenging, but it’s definitely different than football.

On watching games as a fan…

I get pretty worked up. I tweet a lot unfortunately. I have to watch myself. It’s different, I would say that for sure. I try to get up there twice a year. Kevin Jones does a camp once a year, so we kind of have a reunion there during the summer, and then I try to get there once a year for a game.

On the support he’s received from Hokie fans…

I’m received pretty well. I’m from South Carolina, so I don’t get that love there because it’s just Clemson and South Carolina people everywhere. It’s nice to get that love up here from Hokies.

On next season for the Hokies…

I think this team has a bright future for sure. That many starters coming back, that doesn’t happen a lot. Just with the way they finished this year, you know that there’s something special about this team.

On Reggie Floyd…

Reggie played with us. I think he was a freshman during our last season. That’s pretty crazy to imagine that everyone else around you is coming back.

On his best Coach Fuente story…

We had to do some up-downs for penalties, and he got a penalty during the Notre Dame game. I went up to him and said, ‘Hey Coach, are you gonna do those up-downs?’ He said, ‘You wish.’ I never mentioned it to him again.

On his Belk Bowl prediction…

24-0 Hokies. I want to see a shutout in Bud Foster’s last game.

On Coach Foster coaching in his last game…

He is Virginia Tech. He built that defense from the ground up. I think his tradition will keep going. Having a former player come in and take his place is special.

Nigel Williams Virginia Tech
Former Virginia Tech defensive tackle Nigel Williams was a special guest. (Ivan Morozov)

Nigel Williams

On what he’s been doing since leaving Virginia Tech…

I’ve been keeping pretty busy since that 2016 Belk Bowl. I got picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills, and then from there I used that suit that I got at the Belk Bowl and got a few interviews and got a job in wealth management. I started working in wealth management, and then about a year in, I got picked up again by the Arizona Cardinals. Things didn’t work there, so I returned to the Richmond area and started coaching high school football. I kept working in finance. I’ve kept pretty busy.

On how he got to Virginia Tech and what he majored in…

Coach Cavanaugh was my first recruiter. Then, it was Shane Beamer. I got my degree in Economic Management.

On the Belk Bowl comeback…

It was a slow start. With defense, it just takes one big play to hurt you. We got a couple of big plays on us early in the game. We had a good group of seniors, but we were also pretty young at the time. We had a lot of good leaders like Andrew Motuapuaka and Chuck Clark. We heard Sam yelling at the offense, but we fed off of it as well and turned the game around.

On playing for Charley Wiles and Bud Foster…

There was a lot of spitting going on in that room. Those guys are both high energy guys and that resonates in the players too. We never went into a game timid because we never saw that out of those guys. We were always ready to go on game day.

On Bud’s back-to-back shutouts…

That’s a perfect sendoff for Bud. It’s exactly what he deserves. It shows what he’s been building over these last couple of years. They struggled early in the season but kept fighting through it. We’ve got 21 returning starters next year, some good, young players. Not only did they beat good teams, they shut them out. It’s cool to see what we’ll have in the future as well.

On staying in touch with his former teammates…

I try and stay in touch with Tim [Settle] as much as I can; he’s doing really well with the Redskins. I just talked to Woody Baron not too long ago; he had a really good season up in Canada. I know Mook and Adonis were younger than us, but that whole team felt like a family. We’ve kept that going on after we graduated.

On being an artist…

I’ve been doing art lately. It was tough to keep up with it while I was in school because of the schedule with football, but since I got back to Richmond, I’ve been teaching art at the juvenile correction center. I do that every other Sunday. I just had the opportunity in late October to teach in Kenya as well.

On his passion for art…

It was just a release for me. With football, I had physical exertion, but art was more mental. I was able to dial in my thoughts and create something that I liked.

On his career in finance…

With work, it’s like a different team. In football, you have a team that you work and compete with for 12 or 13 games a year. In finance, you’re trying to work with your team to help your clients the best that you can. With wealth management, we want to put people at ease. Money can be a stressful aspect of your life. This new team is about trying to best serve the people that we work with.

On what he learned from the transition from Coach Beamer to Coach Fuente…

Just the way they handled adversity. Coach Beamer was an amazing, legendary coach, but Coach Fuente never tried to be Coach Beamer. He tried to be the best version of himself that he could be. It was different, but he just wanted us to be the best men that we could be which was the same thing as Coach Beamer.

On his experience in the Military Bowl…

I remember that Deon Clarke had a big hit on the quarterback at the beginning of that game. It was one of the biggest hits we had all season. I remember the ball kind of hopped right into my hands and I just started running. I had been in that situation a little bit in high school. I looked up and saw myself running on the jumbotron but didn’t realize the delay.

Then, the running back came back and punched the ball out. It looked like it could have been a lateral. That was the first question I got on the sideline, I said, ‘You take it as you see it.’ Greg Stroman ended up picking it up and taking it back in. He finished the play, but I wish I would have taken it in myself.

On Luther Maddy helping…

Luther was one of the funniest guys you would ever meet. I still give him a lot of crap. He was at practice one day and a fly was going around his head and he stepped back and jabbed the fly. He went into a boxing stance and killed the fly right there.

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4 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Great to hear from all these guys. Love their stories and anecdotes… I wish them all well, they deserve it.

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