- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2005

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Despite his reputation as a fierce pass rusher, Virginia Tech defensive end Darryl Tapp might be best known for his sense of humor.

Tapp’s top pastime: needling his roommate, linebacker James Anderson, about his favorite hobbies, painting and crochet.

Teammates dating to their days at Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, Va., Tapp and Anderson now share a townhouse at Virginia Tech — but not for long. They play their last college game together when No. 12 Virginia Tech (10-2) plays No. 15 Louisville (9-2) in the Gator Bowl at Jacksonville, Fla., on Monday.

Tapp graduated earlier this month, finishing a marketing degree in three-and-a-half years. Anderson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art, is in graduate school working toward a master’s degree in health and physical education.

Though he will enter the NFL Draft this spring, Tapp is still caught up in the emotion of his recent graduation.

“It’s everything, especially in my family,” Tapp said. “It’s first and foremost. To get it done and out of the way is a great feeling.”

As part of the ceremony, Tapp carried a lunch pail across the stage. Responsible for keeping up with Virginia Tech’s symbol for its blue-collar defense all season, Tapp found himself on the receiving end of many lunch pail pranks.

All kidding aside, Tapp and Anderson anchored the nation’s top-ranked defense this season. Tapp led the team with 10 sacks, and he forced three fumbles and blocked a field goal on the way to earning first-team All-ACC honors for the second year in a row.

Keeping in line with his sense of humor, Tapp uses unorthodox training methods to prepare for his relentless pursuit of quarterbacks. He has been known to try jazzercise. He also rides his bike uphill while wearing ankle weights to strengthen his legs.

“To be in the best condition you have to do the little things,” Tapp said. “The little things are what separate a good player from a great player.”

Anderson’s 77 tackles were second on the team, and he had an interception at West Virginia.

But around the house, Anderson is known for his artistic talent.

“I think he knocked out about three paintings in the past week,” Tapp said. “He definitely has a passion for doing it.”

Anderson’s favorite painting style is abstract, but Tapp said he prefers something a little easier to understand.

That traditional view doesn’t hold up when discussing Tapp’s NFL prospects. His 6-foot-1 frame is considered small for NFL defensive ends. So Tapp identifies with Louisville’s Elvis Dumervil, who leads the nation with 20 sacks despite an even smaller stature (6-foot).

“Our heart is bigger than our size,” Tapp said.

Tapp said his family instilled those values in him, especially his brothers. His brother Charles Tapp, a captain in the Air Force, watched last year’s Sugar Bowl from Iraq.

Back from his deployment, Charles can watch this year’s Gator Bowl without sitting up all night.

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