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May 6, 2011

Drager and Simon receive Skelton Awards

By: Jimmy Robertson

Chris Drager and Laura Simon received the Skelton Award for Academic Excellence in Athletics – the highest designation handed out by the Tech athletics department – at the annual Athletics Director’s Honors Breakfast held April 2 on the Tech campus.

The Skelton Award, named after the late Dr. Bill Skelton and wife Peggy, is presented each year to a rising junior, senior or fifth-year male and female student-athlete who has participated in intercollegiate athletics for at least two seasons at Tech. Each recipient receives a scholarship of $5,000 for the upcoming academic year.

Drager, a tight end on the football team from Jefferson Hills, Pa., graduated last year with a degree in human nutrition, foods and exercise. The rising fifth-year senior is currently in the master’s program. Simon, a sophomore swimmer from Greenville, S.C., is majoring in biochemistry. She competes in the distance freestyle events and the individual medley events.

In addition to the Skelton Award recipients, the members of the 2010 Athletic Director’s Honor Roll were also recognized. The AD Honor Roll is designed to pay tribute to student-athletes who have achieved a grade-point average of 3.0 or better during one or both semesters in the preceding calendar year. This year, 362 student-athletes made the AD Honor Roll.

The ACC also sponsors an award to outstanding senior student-athletes. Each institution establishes criteria for the award, and Virginia Tech has chosen to honor seniors who excel in balancing the academic and athletic demands of intercollegiate athletics. This year’s ACC-VT Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year are Kelly Phillips and Pedro Graber.

The ACC provides student-athletes with financial support for postgraduate endeavors through the ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Program. Phillips and Graber, along with women’s soccer player Jennifer Harvey, are recipients of the 2010-2011 ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Awards, also known as the Weaver-James-Corrigan Graduate Scholarship.

The Weaver-James-Corrigan scholarships are awarded to three student-athletes from each conference institution who intend to pursue a postgraduate degree. Each recipient receives $5,000 to contribute to his or her postgraduate education. Harvey and Phillips both plan to attend medical school. Graber is currently pursuing a master’s degree in industrial systems engineering at Tech and hopes to pursue a career in operational research.

Several Tech athletes receive national strength and conditioning honor

Six Tech student-athletes received All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year honors from the National Strength and Conditioning Association on March 31. The NSCA awarded 247 collegiate and high school athletes from 96 schools with this award, which recognizes student-athletes’ dedication to strength and conditioning.

The list includes football standouts John Graves and David Wilson, basketball player Terrell Bell, softball catcher Courtney Liddle, women’s soccer star Jennifer Harvey, and baseball standout Michael Seaborn.

Graves increased his bench press from 350 pounds to 425, and he recorded a front squat of 420 pounds during his last testing. His 36-inch vertical jump is a record for a Tech defensive tackle.

Wilson was the fastest football player in recent testing, recording a time of 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He also led the team in the 10-yard sprint (1.63 seconds) and the NFL shuttle run (3.85 seconds).

Harvey and Seaborn both have earned Elite status in Tech’s strength and conditioning program on three occasions. Bell recorded a 300-pound bench press and a 385-pound back squat in recent testing. He also had a 38-inch vertical jump. And Liddle finished with a bench press of 150 pounds and a squat of 230 pounds in the most recent testing.

Williams heads to Arizona

Tech tailback Ryan Williams, who decided to forego his final two seasons at Tech and declare for the NFL Draft, realized a dream when the Arizona Cardinals selected him in the second round of the league’s annual draft on April 29.

As a redshirt freshman, Williams set Tech single-season records by rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns. He rushed for 477 yards this past season, missing four games with a hamstring injury.

Williams was one of three Tech players to get drafted. The Houston Texans selected Rashad Carmichael in the fourth round, while the Baltimore Ravens selected quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the sixth round.

The group brings the total to 83 players drafted since head coach Frank Beamer took over in 1987. It also extended the streak of having at least one player drafted to 18 consecutive years.

None of Tech’s other players have signed free agent deals because of the ongoing NFL lockout.