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October 17, 2012

October News and Notes

By: Jimmy Robertson

Tech football leads nation in graduates

The Virginia Tech football program continues to get things done off the field, as the program leads all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools with 15 players who have graduated already.

Of those 15, 13 are seniors. That group includes Nick Becton, Marcus Davis, Randall Dunn, George George, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Antoine Hopkins, Eric Martin, Vinston Painter, Joey Phillips, Dyrell Roberts, Bruce Taylor, Alonzo Tweedy and Michael Via.

Additionally, two juniors have graduated. Antone Exum and David Wang both graduated in three years with degrees in finance and management, respectively.

In nine of the past 11 years, Tech has graduated at least 70 percent of its football class.

Here is a list of schools with the most graduates on their rosters:

1. Virginia Tech – 15

2. Pittsburgh – 12

3. Florida State – 11

UCF – 11

5. TCU – 10

Illinois – 10

Northwestern – 10

South Carolina – 10

Abbott sees action, becomes eighth true freshman to play

Tech kicker Brooks Abbott became the eighth true freshman to play this season when he took over the kickoff duties for the Bowling Green game on Sept. 22. Abbott, a walk-on from Jacksonville, Fla., joins tailback J.C. Coleman, receiver Josh Stanford, linebacker Deon Clarke, walk-on punter A.J. Hughes and defensive backs Donovan Riley, Donaldven Manning and Desmond Frye.

Abbott replaced sophomore Michael Branthover in the lineup. He kicked off seven times against Bowling Green, sending two of those into the end zone for touchbacks.

“Branthover has been doing fine, but I think Abbott gets the ball higher and he’s more accurate with placing the ball where we want it time after time,” Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. “Branthover hasn’t done badly. It wasn’t that. It was just that Abbott has some hang time, and that’s why we went with him.”

More true freshmen have played this season than in any season since 2002 when Beamer and his staff played nine true freshmen.

Tech highlighted for athletics and academics

The National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) rated Virginia Tech 20th among NCAA Division I universities and 41st overall in its annual NCSA collegiate power rankings.

The Collegiate Power Rankings from NCSA Athletic Recruiting are calculated for each Division I, II and III college and university by averaging student-athlete graduation rates, academic rankings provided by U.S. News & World Report, and the strength of athletics departments as determined by the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. Fewer than six percent of colleges and universities earned a spot in NCSA Athletic Recruiting’s Top 100 for 2012, and Tech is in this elite class.

Tech finished a program-best 35th in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup race last year. The Hokies received a majority of points from their men’s track and field team, which finished fifth at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships thanks largely to Alexander Ziegler winning the national championship in the hammer throw. The same team finished eighth at the NCAA’s indoor meet, with Marcel Lomnicky winning the national title in the weight throw.

The Hokies’ golf, softball, women’s soccer and men’s tennis teams also accumulated points because of those sports’ NCAA Championship appearances. The Tech men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams and the wrestling teams accumulated points this winter because of strong individual performances at the NCAA competitions in those respective sports. Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams finished a program-best 18th, while the wrestling team came in 11th. Also, the football team received points for its strong play last fall.

The Hokies finished 81st in NCAA graduation rates (among schools at all levels – Division I, II and III), and they claimed 71st in the U.S. News and World Report ranking. Tech’s scores averaged out to 62, which came out to 20th among Division I schools and 41st overall.

Only Duke (No. 1), BC (19th), Wake Forest (34th) and North Carolina (35th) finished ahead of Tech among ACC schools.