Virginia Tech defensive end James Gayle, like teammates Logan Thomas and Antone Exum, will wait to make a final decision about whether he’ll enter his name in the NFL draft until after the bowl game, once he gets his paperwork back from the draft advisory board.
His line coach, Charley Wiles, thinks Gayle would benefit from another year at Virginia Tech.
“I think he’s very, very capable of being a first-, second-round draft pick and having a great year [if he comes back],” Wiles said. “That’s what I’d like to see him do is reach his potential here at Virginia Tech.”
The junior from Hampton has earned second-team All-ACC honors each of the last two years, but he’d like to get first-team recognition at some point.
“I want to gain more accolades,” he said.
He also wants a year with a big sack total. He had seven last year but, after setting a preseason goal of reaching double digits this season, only had five, although he did have 27 quarterback hurries.
“I think you’ve got to be more productive in rushing the passer,” Wiles said. “He’s been good, but he could be better.”
Wiles last talked with Gayle about the NFL after the Florida State game. He just wanted to make sure the defensive end knows what’s at stake in the pros.
“He’s going to go in there and there are going to be guys who are fifth-, sixth-, seventh-year players that he’s trying to get their jobs,” Wiles said. “He has to understand that … it’s not going to be buddy-buddy. It’s a different approach. So he needs to understand that it’s a business. It’s a job.”
Gayle said he’s not in a hurry to leave Tech.
“College has been a blast,” he said. “I’m not really in a rush to leave. I feel like I still have more fun to have. I feel like I have more goals I want to complete while I’m in college on the football field. But like I said, it depends.”
Here are few more notes and quotes from Tuesday’s practice …
- Linebacker Bruce Taylor walked out on the practice field Tuesday wearing a tank-top colored like the Jamaican flag, soaking in some of the warm Orlando weather. “It doesn’t really feel like Christmas, especially since we’re practicing,” said Taylor, who called his family to wish them a Merry Christmas in the morning. “Maybe I’ll have a little Christmas dinner or something later with the team.”
- According to Tech’s website, the last time the Hokies were on the road for a bowl practice during Christmas was the 2003 Insight Bowl in Arizona. Linebacker Jack Tyler got into the Christmas spirit Tuesday, practicing with a Santa hat hanging out of the back of his pants.
- Head coach Frank Beamer said he and his family, including his two young granddaughters, celebrated Christmas the Saturday before flying to Orlando. “I don’t know that they didn’t know it was Christmas day,” he said. “But they knew that they were getting gifts.”
- The Hokies had a team trip to Disney World planned Tuesday after practice. Beamer’s granddaughters already had arrived at the park earlier in the day, although he wasn’t going to be joining them. “I’m going to stay back and watch a little video and do a little work back there,” Beamer said. “I can’t keep up with them.”
- After practicing on a nearby grass field the first day, the Hokies moved into the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on Tuesday, taking time to adjust to the turf field. They’ll do so again at Wednesday’s practice. “I think in every way, it just makes for a better practice,” Beamer said.
- Virginia Tech has actually played in the stadium before, winning a 2000 matchup with Central Florida 44-21.
- Reserve rover/whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (ankle) was out of a walking boot but still in a green, no-contact jersey. He did conditioning exercises while the rest of the team practiced.
- Cornerback Antone Exum, who donated his bowl swag to some kids at Best Buy on Christmas Eve, has a new hairdo for the bowl game. He went back to the mohawk, with maroon/orange stripes. “I just felt like it was the bowl game so I had to spice things up a little bit,” said Exum, who has had a blond mohawk before. ” I’ve had this idea since a while ago. I was going for like a Tiger-stripe look, but she didn’t put enough orange in it, so it looks more maroonish, so I said I’ll just keep that.”
- Up and down the defense, the Hokies say the key against Rutgers is to stop the run. Running back Jawan Jamison ran for 1,054 yards and five touchdowns this year, despite suffering an ankle sprain late in the year that limited him. “The running back is not the fastest guy, but does a good job running behind his pads and getting positive yards,” Taylor said. “Anybody we play, we try to stop the run first. We know if you can make a team one-dimensional, it makes it a little easier for the coaches to game plan for.”
- Jamison said he feels as good as he has all season, health-wise. “I’m finally back to where I was at the beginning of the season,” he said. “I’m excited. I’m ready to go play. Now that I’m finally back healthy and I don’t have to worry about the nagging injuries like whether or not I can plant or I can cut. I can just go now.”
- Players from both teams will visit children at a local hospital Wednesday morning. Thomas, Corey Fuller , Tyler and Exum will make the visit for the Hokies. Khaseem Greene, Steve Beauharnais, Timothy Wright and Mason Robinson will go from Rutgers. Both teams have practices scheduled in the afternoon.