Going into the 1985-86 academic year, the two major sports at Virginia Tech,
football and men’s basketball, were attempting to answer the same question: how
do you replace talented long-time starters and still maintain program momentum?
In the case of football, superstars like Bruce Smith, Jesse Penn, and Ashley Lee
were gone, and on the basketball side, the Youngs, Perry and Al, were done, and
it was left up to Dell Curry and Bobby Beecher to carry on.
1985, the Hokies returned just three starters from their strong 1984 defense.
Tech lost almost their entire defensive line, including Bruce Smith, Jesse Penn,
and Cornell Urquhart. All four defensive backs from the 1984 defense were gone,
including Ashley Lee, and even leading 1984 tackler Vince Daniels wasn’t
returning. Daniels, a rising junior, had stolen a classmate’s ring and was
convicted of the crime in Delaware. He missed a summer session of class and
became academically ineligible, having not achieved junior status.
The Hokies had young players ready to step into the void — linemen Mark
Webb, Rainer Coleman, and Morgan Roane, linebackers Jamel Agemy, Paul Nelson,
and Lawrence White, and true freshman defensive backs Roger Brown, Mitch Dove,
and Sean Lucas. But youth was the buzzword, and it would take time for the
defense to gel.
Uncharacteristically for a Bill Dooley-coached team, the Hokies were expected
to rely on their offense, where senior quarterbacks Mark Cox and Todd Greenwood
resumed their long-standing battle for playing time. They were backed by a
loaded group of stallion tailbacks, led by Eddie Hunter and Maurice Williams.
The fullbacks (Earnie Jones and Sean Donnelly) were strong, as were the
receiving corps of Donald Wayne Snell, Terrence Howell, and Desmar Becton. The
offensive line was more of a question mark, with just two full-time starters
A bigger problem than replacing players was the schedule, and
uncharacteristically tough one for Dooley at Tech. The Hokies were due to host
Clemson and Syracuse, plus travel to West Virginia, Virginia, and Florida. For a
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