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December 17, 2013

News & Notes

By: Jimmy Robertson

Longtime Tech supporter passes away

Sonny Merryman, Jr., a longtime supporter of Virginia Tech athletics and the person for whom the Merryman Center on Tech’s campus is named, passed away on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the age 89.

Merryman, a native of Rustburg, Va., graduated from Rustburg High School in 1942 and matriculated to Virginia Polytechnic Institute – now, of course, known as Virginia Tech. He enthusiastically supported the university’s academic programs and the athletics teams until his final days. In 2006, the university presented Merryman with the school’s most prestigious individual honor – the Ruffner Medal recognizing his lifetime of contributions and service to his beloved alma mater.

Merryman and his wife, Lou, founded Sonny Merryman, Inc. – a small trailer equipment and bus dealership. Six decades later, the company has grown into one of the nation’s most prominent bus dealers and today has more than 125 employees.

In the mid-1990s, Merryman and his family made a generous donation to the Tech athletics department that led to the building of the Merryman Center. This 48,000-square foot facility features two floors, with the bottom floor serving as the home of the football team’s strength and conditioning area, rehab area and team doctors’ offices. The top floor is the home of individual position meeting rooms, a team meeting room and a memorabilia area that commemorates the greatest moments in Tech football history.

Merryman left behind wife Lou, daughter Pat, son Floyd and grandson Lee.

Fuller named ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year

Tech freshman cornerback Kendall Fuller received the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year honor in a vote by the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association (ACSMA).

The honor marked the first for a Tech player since the school joined the ACC. Fuller, who has started 11 of Tech’s 12 games this season, ranks fifth nationally in interceptions with six, and he is leading the ACC with 16 passes defended. He stands fourth on Tech’s team in tackles with 56 (37 solo).

Fuller was one of four Tech players to receive second-team All-ACC nods, joining defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins, mike linebacker Jack Tyler and punter A.J. Hughes. Hopkins has 49 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss, and four sacks, while Tyler is leading the team in tackles with 93, including 10.5 for a loss, and four sacks. Hughes averaged 44.5 yards per punt, which ranks second in the ACC.

Three Hokies received third-team nods, including defensive tackle Luther Maddy, cornerback Kyle Fuller and cornerback Brandon Facyson. Kyle Fuller has now received All-ACC recognition three times (second team in 2011 and honorable mention last season).

Four Hokies received honorable mention recognition, including guard Andrew Miller, center David Wang, defensive end James Gayle and rover Kyshoen Jarrett.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston received the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year honor and the league’s Player of the Year honor. Duke coach David Cutcliffe was named the ACC Coach of the Year after guiding the Blue Devils to a 10-win regular season.

Tech and ODU agree to extend football series

Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University have agreed on a four-year home-and-home football series that comes on the heels of the three-year deal that the two programs agreed to in December of last year.

The new four-year deal will begin in Norfolk in 2022, with the Monarchs traveling to Blacksburg in 2023. Tech plays again in Norfolk in 2024, and the Monarchs return to Tech in 2025.

The two schools already had three games scheduled, two in Blacksburg in 2017 and 2019, and one in Norfolk in 2018. They now will play seven times over a nine-year span. Tech hasn’t played in the Hampton Roads area since the 1987 Oyster Bowl in Norfolk against Temple, Bill Dooley’s last season as head coach.

The Monarchs are transitioning into FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision] and will play a full Conference USA schedule in 2014.

Tech still has vacancies for nonconference opponents on its 2015, 2017 and 2018 schedules.

Rapp places 55th at NCAA Cross Country Championships

Sarah Rapp recorded a 55th-place finish out of 254 women’s runners at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.

Rapp, a junior from Raleigh, N.C., finished in a time of 20 minutes, 56.10 seconds. She missed All-America honors by just 10 seconds, as the top 40 finishers earned the honor.

In the men’s race, Thomas Curtin, a junior from Leesburg, Va., recorded a 69th-place finish out of 253 runners. He was in 15th place at the 3000-meter mark, but fell back to 34th place at the 5000-meter mark. Curtin slipped to 62nd place at the 8000-meter mark before falling to his 69th-place finish. He ran the course in 31:02.40, missing All-America honors by 17 seconds.

Rapp and Curtin were the only two qualifiers for Tech participating at the NCAA Championships.