Virginia Tech's Fabulous Freshmen
Back in the day, most college freshmen had no shot of seeing any action during their first year. Conventional wisdom said that they needed experience, seasoning, and a year (sometimes two) of riding the pine before making it onto the field.
Times have changed however, and the Hokies have changed with them. Many recruits coming out of high school are just too talented to keep off the field.
Here's a look at some fabulous freshmen, both true and red-shirt, that have made an impact for the Hokies.
In 2005, redshirt freshman Branden Ore was pressed into action when running back Cedric Humes fractured his arm in the second quarter of a game against Marshall.
Ore, who was third on the depth chart behind Humes and Mike Imoh, came into the game blazing and became the first Hokie tailback to rush for over 100 yards in a game all season.
He would end the season with over 600 yards and six touchdowns, and was twice named ACC Rookie of the Week. He also ended the season with an almost unheard of two rushes for negative yards.
Though his Virginia Tech career would be cut short by personal issues that eventually led to his dismissal from the team, Ore was definitely a freshman who showed his talent early and often.
Adibi, younger brother of another Hokie great, Nathaniel Adibi, began his career as a redshirt freshman in the Black Coaches Association Football Classic against USC.
On just his 23rd play as a collegian, he suffered what was thought to be a season ending bicep injury, seemingly putting an end to what many saw shaping up to be a great season.
However, he made a rapid recovery, missing only 6 games, and returned against Georgia Tech, where he had 8 tackles, a forced fumble, 2.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Yikes.
Adibi would go on to pair with Vince Hall as one of the most dynamic linebacker duos in the country, and perhaps the best pair to ever play at Virginia Tech.
As a true freshman in 2004, Eddie Royal led the team with 28 catches for almost 500 yards and three touchdowns.
He excelled as both a punt returner and a kickoff returner, and would end his career at Virginia Tech as the ACC all time leader in punt returns.
He had an 80 yard touchdown reception against Georgia Tech, the longest ever by a Hokie freshman receiver.
Royal has followed up on his success at Virginia Tech with an outstanding rookie season with the Denver Broncos.
A true freshman quarterback at Virginia Tech? Hasn't happened since 1982. Frank prefers to red-shirt his quarterbacks, even superstar ones. Right? Well, wrong.
Enter Tyrod Taylor, a Parade All-American, the number one dual threat quarterback by Rivals.com, and the number 16 player in the ESPN 150.
Taylor would begin his true freshman season as the Hokie's number two quarterback, a ranking that would last all of a game and a half. Pressed into action during the 2007 LSU game, Taylor would lead the Hokies to their only score of the game.
A dual threat quarterback, Taylor still uses his legs more than his arm, but showed that he did have passing ability, ending his freshman season with 927 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Taylor struggled with passing during the 2008 season, with an inexperienced group of freshman (!) receivers and a line that still had blocking issues, but still led the Hokies to the ACC championship and a victory in the Orange Bowl.
Is there a better kicker in the history of Virginia Tech football? Before Graham, Chris Kinzer held that honor, but four years of Graham's consistency and reliability have cemented his place in Hokie history.
(Plus, there's that little kick against WVU in 1999 that saved the undefeated season, and helped the Hokies to their first and only National Championship appearance, but I digress).
Graham ended his career as both Virginia Tech and the Big East leading scorer, and is one of only two players in Big East history to ever be named 1st Team All Big East for four consecutive years.
Plus, he earns bonus points (from me anyway) for having "Enter Sandman" playing on his official website.
and finally, Michael Vick
No article about famous Hokies (of any class) would be complete without the most famous Hokie of them all, Michael Vick.
Much maligned, divisive, polarizing, emotion producing, and controversial. These are words that describe present day Michael Vick. Hokie fans prefer a much different list of words, a list that harkens back to the days of glory.
In 1999, redshirt freshman Michael Vick began his career at Virginia Tech, and changed the course of Hokie football forever. Already an emerging power, the Hokies just needed that "one thing" to make the leap to champions. Enter Vick.
Ranked out of high school as the number five quarterback in the country, Vick was overshadowed and overlooked by many by a quarterback named Ronald Curry from Hampton High School.
Curry was almost universally rated as a better prospect, and Vick took a backseat. He would soon show, however, that the comparison was for naught.
Vick ended his redshirt freshman season as the nation's first Archie Griffin award winner for most valuable college player, a 1st team All American, both Big East Player of the Year AND Rookie of the Year, was second in voting for AP Player of the Year, third in Heisman trophy balloting and won an ESPY as college player of the year.
Vick held the attention of the nation during the National Championship game, in which he almost single-handedly beat a dominating Florida State team filled with NFL caliber talent.
Vick showed a speed and elusiveness that had previously not been seen by a quarterback, and began to usher in a different sort of college quarterback, the dual threat.
Since then, many successful college quarterbacks from Vince Young to Tim Tebow have ridden this model to great success, but it is Vick who remains the poster child for the mobile quarterback.
Love him or hate him today, his college football legacy is one that Virginia Tech will never deny.