Seventeen true freshmen dressed out for today’s game against the Tribe. Nine of them played: Isaiah Ford, Eric Gallo, Melvin Keihn, Shai McKenzie, Cam Phillips, C.J. Reavis, Joey Slye, Greg Stroman and Marshawn Williams.
The list of true freshmen who also made the dress squad, but did not play, include quarterbacks Chris Durkin and Andrew Ford, kickers Michael Santamaria and Carson Wise, offensive linemen Colt Pettit and Braxton Pfaff and defensive lineman Vinny Mihota. Eleven true freshmen played last season, the most ever under head coach Frank Beamer.
In all, 32 players on the dress squad came into today having not played a game at Virginia Tech. That includes 17 true freshmen, nine redshirt freshmen, and then transfers (e.g. Michael Brewer and Wade Hansen) and walk-ons. Twenty saw their first action in the game.
Isaiah Ford became just the second true freshman wide receiver to start the opening game of the year under head coach Frank Beamer when he took the field for the first snap on offense. Dyrell Roberts is the only other true frosh WR to start the opening game under Beamer, getting the nod in the 2008 opener against East Carolina in Charlotte. Roberts’ only catch in that game was a 62-yarder in the second half. Ford scored the first touchdown of the season for the Hokies and finished the game with four catches for 43 yards. The last true freshman to catch a touchdown pass in the season opener was tailback Mike Imoh, who caught a 19-yard scoring pass from Bryan Randall in 2002.
Kicker Joey Slye became the first freshman kicker to open the season as Tech’s starting placekicker since Carter Warley in 2000. Slye made all four extra points and a pair of field goals in the game. Shayne Graham was the last true freshman kicker in the opening game, that coming in 1996.
Derek Di Nardo made his first career start, coming at outside linebacker. Also making their first career starts were Isaiah Ford (WR), Augie Conte (OG), Deon Clarke (LB), Ken Ekanem (DE) and Joey Slye (PK).
Michael Brewer completed 23 passes to nine different receivers in the first game. The interception he threw in the first half off a deflected pass was the first of his college career as he had none in two seasons at Texas Tech. He finished the game completing 76.7 percent of his passes.
Virginia Tech has now scored in 244 consecutive games, extending its school- and ACC-record streak. Today was just the 79th time during the streak that the Hokies have scored on their opening possession.
Redshirt freshman Bucky Hodges (6-6, 244), a converted quarterback, caught six passes for 48 yards in the game, including an 8-yard touchdown.
Twenty-eight of the 34 points for the Hokies were scored by freshmen (touchdowns from true freshmen Isaiah Ford and Shai McKenzie and redshirt freshman Bucky Hodges, as well as two field goals and four extra points from Joey Slye).
True freshman Shai McKenzie finished with 106 yards on the ground, becoming the second-straight Tech freshman to post 100 yards rushing or more in a season opener. Trey Edmunds rushed for 132 yards against Alabama last year in his first game as a redshirt freshman. The last true freshman to top 100 yards in his first game was Shyrone Stith in 1996 against Akron (119).