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August 15, 2011

News & Notes

By: Jimmy Robertson

Drager applying for Rhodes Scholarship

Tech tight end Chris Drager confirmed at Tech’s Football Media Day that he was submitting his application for the Rhodes Scholarship. The prestigious scholarship allows students to take postgraduate courses at renowned Oxford University in England for anywhere from one to three years. Only 32 students in the United States are awarded this scholarship each year.

“Christina McIntyre [associate director of Tech’s University Honors Program] contacted me last spring and said I had the potential to be a good candidate,” Drager said. “Right away, I wanted to do it. I was kind of surprised because I didn’t put myself up there to get that award. Then football started up and I started grad school and I didn’t have time. Then the summer came and I had some free time, so I figured I might as well do something and applied for it.”

Drager, who got his undergrad degree in human foods, nutrition and exercise and is now working on his master’s, must submit a resumé, eight letters of recommendation from people who know him well (five must be professors) and a 1,000-word personal essay to Tech by Aug. 25. Then he interviews with a committee, which decides whether to send his application to Oxford. The officials at Oxford then make a decision by Thanksgiving.

DeChristopher to miss 2-4 weeks

Four-year starting offense tackle Blake DeChristopher is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a strained pectoral muscle after injuring himself while performing the bench press in the weight room a week before fall practice started. DeChristopher, a 6-foot-5, 311-pound redshirt senior, earned second-team All-ACC honors a year ago while starting all 14 games. He leads all of Tech’s offensive linemen with 37 career starts.

His status for the season opener against Appalachian State is unclear, but he anticipates playing.

“I think 2-4 weeks is pretty accurate, with the way I feel right now,” he said. “As of right now, I feel a lot better. I think I will be back, but I’m going to be smart and not do anything stupid and hurt it even more. This is a big year for me and this team, and I’m not going to do anything stupid by re-injuring it.”

Vinston Painter, a 6-6, 303-pound redshirt junior, and Michael Via, 6-7, 292-pound redshirt junior, are competing for reps until DeChristopher returns. Painter played in four games a year ago, while Via, hampered while recovering from a torn ACL, played in six. Via, though, has starting experience, having started three games at center as a redshirt freshman following an injury to Beau Warren.

“They need reps, and Blake knows what to do,” offensive line coach Curt Newsome said. “It’s a long season. We think he’ll be back for the first game, so let those other guys get some reps. Blake doesn’t have to get all the preseason bumps and bruises. Plus, we need to find out who is going in for Blake during a game. I hate that Blake is hurt, but I don’t think this is going to hurt our football team.”

Hopper, Acree change positions

Tech’s staff moved James Hopper, a 5-9, 180-pound redshirt sophomore from Fayetteville, N.C., from tailback to free safety shortly before fall practice started to add depth to that position. The move marks the second in less than six months for Hopper, who was moved from rover to tailback before the start of spring practice. Hopper played in 12 games and recorded 10 tackles a year ago.

Also, the staff moved Nick Acree from defensive tackle to the offensive line at his request. The 6-5, 278-pound redshirt freshman from King William, Va., felt he was a better fit on the offensive line, and the coaches granted his request.

Tech to face Alabama in 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game

Alabama and Virginia Tech will open the 2013 college football season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

The game will be a rematch of the 2009 season opener. In that one, the No. 5 Crimson Tide downed the No. 7 Hokies 34-24 on their way to the national championship.

The game is expected to air in prime time on either ABC or ESPN. Tickets to the game will be evenly split between the two teams, creating a true neutral-site game.