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March 9, 2009

2009 football schedule filled with exciting match-ups

By: Jimmy Robertson

In mid-February, the ACC finally released the football schedules for each team for the upcoming season, and the Hokies’ slate features attractive non-conference match-ups against Alabama and Nebraska and two Thursday night appearances for the sixth straight season.

Tech opens the season on Sept. 5 against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff. Tickets to the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff will not be included in the Tech football season ticket package. After the game with the Crimson Tide, the Hokies play Marshall and Nebraska at home before opening ACC play with a game against Miami in Blacksburg.

The two Thursday night games will be against North Carolina on Oct. 29 and at East Carolina on Nov. 5. The Hokies conclude the season on Nov. 28 against Virginia in Charlottesville.

Nine of the 12 teams on Tech’s slate played in bowl games a year ago. Here’s a look at the complete schedule:

Date Opponent Location
Sept. 5 Alabama Atlanta, Ga.
Sept. 12 Marshall Blacksburg
Sept. 19 Nebraska Blacksburg
Sept. 26 Miami Blacksburg
Oct. 3 Duke Durham, N.C.
Oct. 10 Boston College Blacksburg
Oct. 17 Georgia Tech Atlanta, Ga.
Oct. 29 North Carolina Blacksburg
Nov. 5 East Carolina Greenville, N.C.
Nov. 14 Maryland College Park, Md.
Nov. 21 N.C. State Blacksburg
Nov. 28 Virginia Charlottesville, Va.

Football program holds ‘prospect’ day

Feb. 28 marked ‘prospect’ day in Blacksburg in which the Tech football program invited 20 junior prospects and their families to campus for a one-day visit. This marks the first time the football coaching staff has brought in prospects for a one-day visit – typically called ‘junior’ day at other schools.

“Basically, we’ve been seeing the recruiting process for high school kids moved up anywhere from eight to 10 months,” said Jim Cavanaugh, Tech’s whips and rovers coach who also doubles as the recruiting coordinator. “We’re seeing more and more kids commit before their senior season of high school even starts. My guess is that two-thirds of the kids are doing that now.
“So we decided to bring some of those juniors to our campus for a day to meet with us and get to know what our school and our program is all about. We want to get in on these kids early and make sure we’re always in the running for the top players in this state.”

For the 20 prospects and their families, the day consisted of meetings concerning academic support services, career planning, and strength and conditioning. Then each prospect and his family met with his projected position coach before later meeting with the players.

Tech’s staff also provided a lunch and then the prospects and their families got to attend the Tech-Duke basketball game at Cassell Coliseum.

“We thought that was important,” Cavanaugh said. “It was a great way to show them how much our fans support us in all sports. That makes an impression on those kids.”

Each one of the 20 prospects had been offered a scholarship to Tech before being invited for the day. Given the success of the prospect day at Tech, this will be something that the staff probably will continue to do.

Dowdell playing in Italy

After playing in France last season, former Tech guard Zabian Dowdell decided to go to Italy and play this season, and he is tearing things up for Casale Monferrato, a team that resides in a city with the same name in the northwestern part of the country. Casale Monferrato currently in second place in one of the Italian professional leagues.

As of March 1, Dowdell was averaging 21.5 points per game and hitting 55.3 percent of his field-goal attempts (42.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc). He was also hitting 84.7 percent of his free-throw attempts.

“So far it's going pretty good,” said Dowdell, who played in Nancy, France, last season and led that team to the French league championship. “My team is in second place and I've been a big part of the team’s success.

“I was in France last year and the transition from English to French was completely different from the transition from English to Italian. But basketball is basketball, no matter where you are.”

Dowdell had scored in double figures in 21 of the team’s first 22 games, including single-game outbursts of 36, 33 and 31 points.
The Pahokee, Fla., native - who finished his career sixth on Tech’s all-time scoring list with 1,785 points – hopes to get back to Blacksburg this summer for a visit. His basketball season will end in late April.

“Hopefully I'll get a chance to come back this summer and hang out for a while and catch up with some old friends,” he said. “I also want to see what’s going on with the basketball team.”