Three years ago Tyrod Taylor came to Blacksburg and was heralded as the next Michael Vick. An unfair comparison to pin on an incoming freshman. Taylor was rated as the best dual-threat quarterback in his recruiting class, and as the number five overall quarterback prospect.
Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer toyed with the idea of redshirting him, and after much deliberation Beamer placed a redshirt on Taylor.
After an emotional victory over East Carolina in the school's first football game since the April 16 tragedy, the Hokies went on the road to face LSU.
I won't bring up the score because it will just bring back pain and misery for Hokie fans everywhere, but it became evident that the offensive line at Virginia Tech was awful. People put the blame on Sean Glennon, but when a quarterback doesn't have time to throw the results aren't good.
Beamer decided to play Taylor, who held his own against the future national champions, but the decision to remove Taylor's redshirt left a cloud over the Virginia Tech football program for the rest of the year.
Glennon remained the starter as the offense switched to a two-quarterback system, but the system was only used in certain games. There were times Taylor didn't see the field at all, sometimes because of injuries.
The Hokies made it to the Orange Bowl that season, losing to Kansas. A key play in the game was a pass thrown by Taylor that was intercepted by future first round pick Aquib Talib and returned for a touchdown.
Taylor finished the year with 927 passing yards five touchdowns and three interceptions. He added over 400 rushing yards with six touchdowns as well.
After an eventful freshman year, questions about redshirting Taylor were still coming up as he prepared to enter his sophomore year. Glennon was now a senior, the Hokies offense just lost their leading rusher Branden Ore and the Virginia Tech offense was coming off a season in which it was one of the worst in the nation.
Like the year prior, the Hokies had no identity on offense, Taylor would start one week and then Glennon the next and their offense was once again anemic. Taylor would finally take over as the starting quarterback late in the 2008 season.
Taylor and Glennon led the Hokies to their second consecutive ACC title, and running back Darren Evans led the way in the Hokies Orange Bowl victory over Cincinnati.
After Taylor's first two seasons two things were evident. Taylor needed playmakers around him, and he was finally the starter entering his junior year.
In 2009, the Hokies offense was much improved with playmakers at running back and wide receiver. Add an experienced offensive line to the mix and the 2009 Hokies had many thinking they could compete for a national title.
The question was answered in the first week against Alabama. The Hokies offense was not elite, and neither was the defense. It did appear they had a playmaker in Ryan Williams, but Williams was the only bright spot against Alabama.
After the Hokies pounded Marshall, their offense struggled again against Nebraska. One of the worst games I've attended until the final minutes. Taylor finally made a play with his arm and hit Danny Coale down the field to put the Hokies in a great spot to win.
Taylor would then scramble around the pocket three plays later, for what seemed like a decade before finding Dyrell Roberts in the back of the endzone to put the Hokies up 16-15 with 21 seconds left.
The season was almost lost, but Taylor found a way to pull out a victory against Nebraska, and that's when the offense woke up for the first time in over two years.
Taylor and the Hokies dominated 9th ranked Miami in Blacksburg the following week, and were rolling on all cylinders until they traveled to Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets' Josh Nesbitt completed one pass against the Virginia Tech defense, and Georgia Tech still came out on top. Taylor struggled for much of the game, and the 4th ranked Hokies had their national championship hopes shattered for the second time in one year.
But, 2010 is a new year. The Hokies have a formidable offense entering the season. Taylor is coming off his best year yet, throwing for over 2,300 yards 13 touchdowns and five picks.
He has two weapons in the backfield that will be his biggest assets, and the running game should really open up the Hokies aerial attack.
If Taylor wants to live up to the hype, the time is now. The last three years are behind him, and he can take those experiences and apply them to this year. Taylor knows that it's national championship or bust for the Hokies in 2010, regardless of what the coaching staff is saying.
When you have a vacant trophy case reserved for a crystal ball the number one goal is apparent. Taylor, the coaching staff and the rest of the Hokies have to stop settling for Orange Bowl appearances. The Orange Bowl should be a last resort for the Hokies in 2010.
If defense wins championships, don't you think the Hokies would have one by now? Their defense will be solid, but likely won't be great. The offense has to be great for the Hokies to excel this year, and that means Taylor will need to be at his best every week.
Taylor is now surrounded with playmakers in his last season in Blacksburg, and he has a chance to be one of the most beloved Hokie football players in school history if he can fill that trophy case that sits empty in the Merryman Athletic Center.
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