BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech junior tailback Tony Gregory has a tattoo of one of his favorite Bible verses emblazoned on his right forearm.
"No weapon formed against me shall prosper," Gregory said, reading aloud from the ink he had done entering his freshman year as a Hokie, before explaining its meaning. "Any obstacle I run into, I won't let it overcome me. I keep pushing."
Over the past five years, the 6-foot, 185-pound Virginia Beach native has worked hard to make sure those words ring true to his athletic career.
The speedy Gregory has been felled by a torn anterior cruciate ligament three times: once in high school in his right knee and twice in college in his left knee.
Each time, Gregory has worked his way back to the football field.
"Football is the love of my life," said Gregory, whose 3-1 team faces Cincinnati on Saturday at FedEx Field. "I've been playing it since I was 6. I love the work. I love being out there."
His most recent injury came last year during the Hokies' road win over Virginia in the regular-season finale. Gregory, seeing most of his time on special teams, played with a torn ACL in his left knee during an ACC championship game loss to Clemson and in the Sugar Bowl, where Tech fell in overtime to Michigan.
He had surgery in the offseason and missed spring practice. Gregory entered the preseason as a forgotten man of sorts in the Hokies' crowded backfield. Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes had earned the starting job, and true freshman J.C. Coleman showed enough promise to be the backup. Senior Martin Scales, a converted fullback, offered a change of pace.
Entering the season, no one seemed sure what Gregory, used mostly as a reserve during his Hokies career, could contribute coming off his latest injury.
"Nobody ever asked about Gregory," Tech running backs coach Shane Beamer said. "I always said, he's the guy nobody talks about but I'm excited about. Every day in practice, we saw what you guys saw Saturday."
Saturday, a week after getting zero touches in a road loss at Pittsburgh, Gregory rushed for a team-high 68 yards, sparking the Hokies in a 37-0 home win over Bowling Green.
As he started getting the ball more often, Gregory tried not to let his mind wander to all he had overcome.
"I didn't want to start thinking too much out there," Gregory said. "I just wanted to stay focused and act like I've done it before."
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