The number was blocked and he couldn’t make out what the person was saying but thought it might be a friend who needed help, so he answered again when the person called back.
That’s when the person made a threat.
“I’m not really going to go into what the person actually said, other than it did kind of freak me out a little,” Journell said. “It was more the person finding my number that kind of freaked me out more than anything.”
Journell took the matter to associate AD for football operations John Ballein, who relayed the information to the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg police departments. The two spoke with officers from both and precautions were put in place for Journell’s safety. He changed his cell phone number and police put a detail around his house briefly.
“That stuff happens,” Journell said. “I know Logan [Thomas] has gone through the same thing before. You’ve got to put it out of your head. If you let it bother you too much, then they accomplished what they want. … But that’s the world we live in.”
Head coach Frank Beamer didn’t understand what would motivate somebody to do something like that.
“It’s something that you just don’t think about or should think about at the college level, pro level, high school level, whatever,” Beamer said. “Guys are out there doing their best, playing as hard as they can play. There’s no room for that as far as I’m concerned. …
“I’ll say this: that wasn’t a good Hokie fan. That was somebody else that wants to try to give your program a bad name. The Hokies fans I know, that wasn’t them .That was somebody else.”
Journell seems to be a lightning rod for controversy lately. He had a rough outing at East Carolina, missing an extra point and two field goals, with another miss negated by a penalty. He served a one-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules against Marshall. After returning and drilling a 39-yard field goal against Georgia Tech, he missed the 25-yarder late, the first miss from inside 30 yards in his career.
“It was just kind of one of those things where you are really close to the goal post, you know, and then you get on a hash mark at the same time, and I just really didn’t let my body take over and kick it,” Journell said. “Because you’re kicking further across the field. And it feels like you’re pushing it way right. I kind of just didn’t let my body take it the way I wanted to. I just need to trust my foot.”
Beamer was at least encouraged by the fact that Journell’s missed kick went straight, not slicing or hooking. It was simply aimed wrong.
“He knows what went wrong,” Beamer said. “Some guys, they’re missing and they can’t figure it out. But he knows his rhythm, he knows his kick, and I feel good about it.”
Journell worked this weekend with his kicking coach, Doug Blevins, and said that the two think they’ve ironed out some of the problems. H also got some pointers on his follow through from NFL kicker and former Hokie Shayne Graham, who is bouncing around teams right now and occasionally takes in a Virginia Tech practice.
Journell doesn’t think last week’s phone incident will affect him negatively on the field as he tries to work out of this recent funk.
“I think it motivates me more than anything,” he said. “I honestly feel more comfortable on the field than I do being out in public or whatever. It’s kind of like my release place.”