Tuesday, March 18th, 1997
Harrison Acquitted; Hawkes Trial Delayed
On Monday, March 17th, both Angelo Harrison and Michael Hawkes were scheduled to go to trial for their roles in the infamous Blacksburg Brawl. Harrison was charged with felony malicious wounding, and he was the only football player charged with a felony, primarily because he was accused of beating track athlete Hilliard Sumner with a cane, supposedly breaking Sumner's collar bone in the process. Hawkes was charged with a misdemeanor.
In Angelo Harrison's case, the judge declared Harrison not guilty on the grounds of insufficient evidence. No witnesses were able to verify that they saw Harrison at the scene with the cane in his hand. Harrison maintained that the closest he got to Sumner was "about 15 or 20 feet."
After Harrison's acquittal, an angry Sumner told a TV reporter, "I'm disgusted. I'm disgusted because he did it, and he knows he did it." Sumner then turned to leave the court house, but before exiting the front door, he exchanged heated words with Harrison and Harrison's lawyer.
Ironically, by storming out of the court house, Sumner caused Hawkes's trial to be delayed until this coming Friday. The trial of Hawkes was supposed to follow Harrison's, but several key Commonwealth witnesses, including Sumner, left after Harrison's trial, so the judge had to delay Hawkes's trial until Friday the 21st.
So Angelo Harrison is a free man, and under Tech's new athletic rules, he is eligible to be reinstated to the team. No word yet from Tech on that.
Notes from the Hokie Hotline Show
Dave Braine was on for the first half hour, as usual, only this time, he was participating from his car phone. He was, as Bill Roth said, "on the road somewhere." I'm not sure what mysterious mission Dave is on, but something that was said later in the show indicated to me that it may be related to the search for a new women's basketball coach to replace Carol Alfano.
Dave and Bill always talk facilities when Dave is on the Hokie Hotline, and they made a good suggestion: any Hokies who are planning on being in the area for the Spring Game should visit the new track and soccer complex, as well as check out the new baseball press box and the new turf that has been laid down in the Rector Field House. By the date of the Spring Game, Bill Roth also promised that the Merryman Center construction was going to be a site to see.
Spring Football Preview
The last hour of the show featured Bill and three Hokie assistant football coaches, talking about the outlook for Spring football: Billy Hite (running backs coach, assistant head coach), Ricky Bustle (offensive coordinator), and Bud Foster (defensive coordinator).
A lot of time was spent talking with Ricky Bustle about Al Clark, the heir apparent to Druckenmiller's job. In case you had any doubt, the job is definitely Al Clark's to lose. Bustle seemed very excited about the effort Clark has been putting forth, both in the weight room and with the film projector. Tidbit: Clark has broken Druckenmiller's QB squat record recently.
The comment was made more than once that Druckenmiller has set the standard for future Tech quarterbacks, not so much with his on-the-field performance, but rather with his demeanor and his work ethic. This lesson of hard work and perseverance will be Druckenmiller's greatest legacy to Tech, although the Sugar Bowl trophy and Big East Championship trophies aren't too shabby, either.
Of course, you would have to be a fool to watch Jim Druckenmiller for two years, as Al Clark has done, and not come to the realization that to follow his example would be a good idea. Bustle seems to feel that Al is ready, both physically and mentally, and as Ricky pointed out, "Al Clark knows this offense."
When confronted with the question "Is Tech going to run more of an offense like what we saw in the Maurice DeShazo years?" Bustle said that he doesn't think Tech should change the way they run their offense. The key, he said, is to play Al Clark and get him some experience until he finds his sweet spot, or his passing range, in the offense. His range probably won't be the long ball, like it was with Druckenmiller, and it won't be with the flair pass, but somewhere in between, and everybody needs to be patient until Clark figures out what's right for him.
Look for incoming Juco transfer WR Ricky Hall to be a major contributor on offense. Hall is tall (6-3) and fast (4.38), and I personally think that he is coming along at just the right time for Al Clark. He will be to Clark what Freeman was to DeShazo. Hall will make his own plays without Clark having to work all the magic.
On the offensive line, only right tackle is a question mark. Todd Washington will move to center, while Gennaro DiNapoli will take one guard. The other guard and tackle positions will be filled by Dwight Vick, who will see major playing time this year, and Derek Smith, who the coaches are really excited about. Smith, Bustle lamented, "didn't play enough last year," meaning that he did a great job and the coaches should have gotten him into the game more.
You already know the deal at running back. Parker and the Ox will start, providing one of the best combinations of power, speed, and receiving ability in the country. After that, the list of capable backups is long: Stith, Pegues, and Ward will all battle for playing time. At FB, Shelley Ellison is regarded as a great physical speciman who needs to become more consistent.
The defensive line is so stacked with young talent that Bud Foster doesn't seem to know what to do with it. As far as I could tell, he was noncommital on a starting four, but he complimented John Engelberger, Danny Wheel, Carl Bradley, etc., etc. We'll just have to wait and see what develops there, but this defensive line is going to be fun to watch for three or four years.
At Brandon Semones's whip linebacker spot, the names Lorenzo Ferguson and Donald Harris were thrown out as candidates, along with Korey Irby. You will remember that Lo and Harris were recruited as DB's, and in particular, I was hoping to see Ferguson at corner, because he was big (6 feet plus) and fast. But if he is one of the candidates at Tech's famous whip linebacker spot, so be it. At Myron Newsome's old position, Jamel Smith was tabbed as the front-runner, with Bud Foster even going so far as to say that he has been likened to a combination of Ken Brown and Myron. Sheesh!
Foster said that he feels most comfortable with the defensive back position, because Tech returns a lot of young talent there. Pierson Prioleau, Loren Johnson, Keion Carpenter, and Anthony Midget were all mentioned as top returners. But - darn it! - I missed whether or not Larry Green's name was invoked. His status for next year, and whether he is going to return from academic troubles, is the big mystery around Tech these days.
So there's a quick rundown, but it is by no means the final word. I was driving around the New River Valley, looking for a Shamrock Shake at McDonald's while I listened to all of this, and I may have missed some things along the way. Spring practice starts Saturday the 22nd. I'll keep an eye on scrimmage reports and let you know what comes up.
Spring Game Get-Together?
I've received several requests to organize some sort of Spring Game get-together for Hokie Central readers who are interested (the message board posters, in particular, are into the idea).
So, fire me off a quick email if you'd like to meet, and let me know what's best for you: before the game, during, after, or some combination of the three. If enough people contact me, I'll announce something, and we can all gather in the stands and/or the parking lot and talk Hokie football.
As for the membership donations, they're going pretty well. Many thanks to everybody who has sent me a membership form and donation. I've even gotten a couple of donations from students, which is pretty remarkable. When I was a student, you couldn't separate me from my money unless the words beer, food, or beer and food were invoked.
Anyway, I'll try to send out the first Hokie Central Newsletter to all the new members this weekend with an update on how things are going. I plan on moving the site first and then tackling the licensing tasks second. Thanks again!
Late-Breaking Carruth News
Tom Clark ('93) emailed me the following just as I was transferring this edition over, so I added it in:
"I thought I would give you (and the Hokie Central faithful, if you like) a quick summary of The Chief's initial NBA action. Ever since he was signed to the 10 day contract by the Bucks, I have tried to watch the end of all their games - in hopes of seeing him get some action. Tonight, he finally saw the floor.
"The Bucks were getting beaten by the Celtics, and Chris Ford put Carruth in when Vin Baker fouled out with around one minute left in the game. The first time down the floor, the Bucks tried to work a play for him, but Sherman Douglas threw the ball away. The next time down, they got the ball to Carruth as he was facing up on the left block. He went straight in with his left hand and dropped it through, and was fouled!
"To top it off, the free throw was picture perfect (he has obviously been working on that aspect of his game). Now let's hope the Bucks play nice and sign him to a second ten day deal."
Thanks, Tom! Hail to the Chief!