Monday, September 07, 2009

Hokie Freshman Class of the NFL

The Hokies didn't graduate too many players to the NFL this season, but those who made it certainly warrant mention. This post give a little tid-bit about each of them.

Victor “Macho” Harris

To no surprise to the College Football world, an NFL team picked Victor “Macho” Harris during the draft. The Philadelphia Eagles selected the 5’11’, 187 lbs. cornerback as the 21st pick of round 5, the 157th pick overall.

High School Career

Harris high school career earned him many accolades. When playing for Highland Spring, he led the Richmond, Virginia metropolitan area teams in rushing during his Senior year. He scored 27 touchdowns that same season. Playing defense, he notched 22 tackles and made 3 interceptions. The Roanoke Times named him Offensive Player of the Year in Virginia’s AAA group.

He earned the honor of All-State first-team, and Prep Star named him as the second-best collegiate prospect in the nation. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer paid him a visit at home on a recruiting trip. During that visit, the kitchen in Harris’ house caught fire. While putting out the fire, Harris suffered third degree burns leaving scars on his face and requiring skin graphs on his arm. Very soon into his recovery, he committed to playing for Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech.

College Career

During Harris’ true Freshman year he played primarily on special teams. He blocked a kick, deflected two passes, and made 12 tackles (7 of them solo). During his Sophomore season, he earned the starting job at cornerback. He made 4 interceptions and 34 tackles (22 of them solo). In his Junior year he received All-ACC honors for starting all 14 games of the season. He began doing kick returns and performed a 100-yard runback against Clemson. Also in his Junior year accomplishments, he deflected 11 passes. As a Senior he made 46 tackles (32 of them solo), recovered a fumble, and caused two fumbles. He intercepted 6 passes, returning two of them for touchdowns. Performing runbacks on special teams, he did 25 punt returns where he averaged 15 yards per return. He also assumed some of the team’s offensive duties. Harris caught eight passes for a total of 63 yards as well as rushed during 5 carries. Harris’s enthusiasm and gusto made him evolve into a natural leader on the field. Many players of the 2008 squad looked up to him for that leadership as the only starting Senior for the defense.

Professional Career

NFL pundits predict that he will most likely fit into a zone scheme defense as a shutdown cornerback. (A “shutdown cornerback” earns that title for “shutting down” half of the playing field.) He may play that role in his traditional position, cornerback, but he may also fit well into a system as a free safety. Coaches take note of his strong playing instincts but note that he does not have the same speed as the fastest in professional football. To compensate for that at the collegiate level, he often made contact with opponents, but that may come under greater referee scrutiny in the NFL. Philadelphia will most likely position him where he can play to his strengths of short-bursts of quickness, awareness of the field, and well rounded abilities as a versatile player.

Sean Glennon

Although former Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon did not receive a draft pick or even a spot on an NFL team, I think it worth noting his current whereabouts.

High School Career

Glennon started as quarterback for Westfield High School in Centerville, VA during his Junior and Senior years. In his Senior year, he led his team to win the AAA Division 6 state championship. The Associated Press and the Virginia Coaches’ elected him to their all-state teams and the Washington Post all-Metro first team. He earned High School All-America honors by PrepStar and SuperPrep. The Roanoke Times ranked him as the number four player in the state, and ranked him the number three player in the state.

College Career

Glennon’s career at Virginia Tech went for a roller coaster ride. As a true Freshman he backed up Bryan Randall while Marcus Vick served a year long suspension for off field conduct. Upon Vick’s return the following year he red-shirted and did not play that season. Then, Vick’s off field conduct once again resulted in disciplinary action, this time resulting in expulsion. In his red-shirt Sophomore year, Glennon took the helm as the number one spot at the quarterback position. Over the course of the season, he threw for a completion rate of 56.3%, 2191 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. His numbers had positive signs and negative signs, but he led his team to a well finished season earning a bid in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Georgia. Glennon and the Hokies played a strong first half, but broke down in the second half. Geogia exposed and took advantage of Glennon’s greatest weakness, and quickly collapsing pocket. Blitz after blitz lead to blind passes and three interceptions that gave the Bulldogs all the mistakes they needed to turn the game around for a victory in their favor. Glennon returned as the starting quarterback for his Junior season, but after a start against LSU reminiscent of second half Chik-fil-A Bowl, head coach Frank Beamer decided to forgo the red-shirting of true Freshman Tyrod Taylor who relieved Glennon. Taylor quickly rose to the starting quarterback; however, still early in the season, Taylor suffered a high ankle sprain. Glennon re-entered the picture and gave a stellar performance. He threw so consistently that he kept the starting job to finish the regular season with respectable numbers: 60.9% completion rate, 12 touchdowns, and 1796 passing yards. He received the honor of MVP against Boston College in the Hokies’ win in the ACC Championship. However, the entire team collapsed during the Orange Bowl against Kansas and dropped another post season contest. Beamer named Glennon as the starting quarterback the next year setting a similar stage to that of the previous season. The Hokies suffered a loss in the season opener against ECU, Beamer pulled Glennon and elevated Taylor back to the starting role. Taylor would suffer yet another ankle sprain, and Glennon would get his chance, but strangely enough Glennon himself suffered an ankle sprain only a few plays later. Glennon would have to watch the rest of the season from the sidelines for the most part.

Post College

No NFL pundits predicted that Glennon wouldn't receive a draft pick, and he didn’t. He received invitations to training camps from Pittsburgh, Houston, and Minnesota. He chose to accept Minnesota’s invitation where former Virginia Tech assistant coach, Kevin Rogers, now coaches. Full of hope and enthusiasm he headed for Minnesota and worked well through the training camp, but all the while the story of Brett Farvre returning to the NFL with Minnesotta began to loom. Suddenly, Farve decided to come back, and the Vikings released Glennon. Towards the beginning of training camp, Kyle Tucker wrote an article about the struggling quarterback. In the article Glennon seeks no sympathy, expresses no regret, and looks back fondly upon his years as a Hokie, even in the light of the booing that came from some of his own fans. For now, Glennon sits at home pondering what to do next while he waits for the off-chance call from an NFL franchise that has a sudden opening on a practice squad so that he can keep his football career alive with hope just a little longer. However, football doesn’t round out the Hokie quarterback’s talents. Glennon demonstrated one of his greatest assets as the speed at which he could lean a playbook. The Hokie coaching staff lauded his aptitude. In his article, Tucker notes that Glennon scores a 35 on the Wonderlic test. The average NFL football player scores a 20, the average person scores a 24, and the average chemist scores a 31. Sean Glennon may well be destined for great successes in something outside the role of a quarterback.

Orion Martin

Orion Martin didn’t receive a draft pick, but the Detroit Lyons have activated him on their roster.

High School

Martin played for George Washington High School. In his Senior season he earned a selection to the All-Western Valley Conference first-team.

College Career

Martin played a single season at Hargrave ilitary Academy Prep School prior to coming to Virginia Tech. He walked onto the Hokie Squad in his Sophomore year and red-shirted. He played on the scout team and won the Paul Torgerson Award, given to the scout team’s best new arrival. In the subsequent season, Martin played during all 13 games as a 2nd string defensive end. He received the George Preas Award, earned by the most valuable defensive player in the Spring. In his red-shirt Junior year he earned a spot on the starting lineup and also made strong contributions on special teams. By his Senior year, he had made team captain and put up stellar defensive numbers: 53 tackles (25 solo), 17 quarterback pressures, 14.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage, and 7.5 sacks. He truly has made his own college career beginning as a unknown to a key contributor and leader.

Professional Career

Martin goes to the struggling Lyons, who made NFL history last season in loosing all 16 regular season games, ironically after winning all 4 preseason games. Pro scouting reports note his all around athleticism, speed, quickness, and tackling ability. They also take note of his demonstrated leadership ability and versatility to move between defense and special teams. On the downside, they refer to his average size and need to improve on defending the run.

1 comment:

Lefty said...

Macho named STARING free safety for the Eagles this week. Quite a rise for someone who looked like they might not make the 53 man roster a month ago.