BLACKSBURG, Va. — Veteran players lamented the lost opportunity to perform for fans. Coaches complained of missed evaluation time, especially for the backups. But Saturday's cancelation of the annual Virginia Tech spring football game because of storms apparently did little to dampen recruits' enthusiasm for the Hokies' program.
On a day when the current Tech players never got much further than their pregame stretching routine, at least six high schoolers reportedly verbally committed to join the Hokies after their upcoming senior years.
"I think we've had a good day recruiting-wise," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said after the Hokies canceled their spring game for the first time since the 2007 campus shootings. "But I think it would have been even better if you could have seen that stadium with about 40,000 people in there for a spring game. But most of them have seen games at Virginia Tech, so they know the great atmosphere that we have here."
Among those who pledged their services in non-binding fashion to the Hokies, was Salem-Virginia Beach quarterback Bucky Hodges, one of the team's top recruiting targets.
Hodges and still-uncommitted Kendall Fuller, the younger brother of current Hokies Corey and Kyle Fuller, were among those recruits on campus for Saturday's game.
But when heavy rains, thunder and lightning overtook Lane Stadium about 20 minutes before kickoff, the field and stands were cleared.
Players and fans never returned.
"It's pretty disappointing," redshirt freshman tailback Michael Holmes said. "I wanted to go out there and show them what I could do. I'm pretty sure everyone on our team wanted to show them what we could do. ... By the looks of it, they kept saying storms were coming. Everyone was still hoping the storm would just pass or split up so everyone could go out there and do some work."
Holmes and cornerback Antone Exum said, as players waited in the locker room, some held out hope the game might still be played.
Although Exum said some players were ready to call it a day before others.
"It was kind of split when we got the news," Exum, the former Deep Run High School standout, said. "When you get in there and you've waited for like an hour and a half, some guys are just ready to go home. I love the game and performing in front of crowds. So I was kind of disappointed."
The biggest losers of the day, however, were players fighting for spots on the fall roster. Beamer said NCAA rules limit the Hokies to 105 players in preseason camp. And to make room for incoming freshmen, some current players will have to be cut.
"This thing is so competitive," Beamer said. "You'd like to have one more day to look at backup guys. A few of the guys who were out here this spring are not going to be able to come back to preseason practice."
Some questions will follow the Hokies to the fall. Most notably, how good will their offensive line be?
Beamer had made the unusual decision to keep the entire first-team offense together on one squad — the maroon team — for Saturday's spring game, to give it one extra day to develop continuity.
The veteran coach also wanted to see how some players would respond in front of a crowd. While Tech expected more than 40,000 fans to attend Saturday's game, rain apparently chased many away.
Only about 15,000 were in the seats during pregame when they were told to leave the stadium.
Read more about the Hokies at VTeffect.com