You may remember my story on Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley from a couple weeks ago, when Hosley’s mother, Beverly, talked about the tongue-lashing she gave her son after her trip to Blacksburg last season coincided with his suspension for the Hokies’ win over East Carolina.
“I let him know the mistakes he made there at school, he wasn’t raised that way,” Beverly Hosley said. “I told him: ‘We sacrificed so much. Don’t blow it.’ It got to the point where he was crying like a baby and he said: ‘Mama, I’ll make you proud. I’ll do better.’ ”
This week, Jayron Hosley comes full circle as he makes his long-awaited debut against the Pirates. On Tuesday, the junior addressed the effect that suspension had on his 2010 season, a year that ended with him leading the country in interceptions.
“I had to get on my high horse. I had to go out and handle business. I had to prove why I’m here and what I came to do,” Hosley said “I didn’t like missing that game. It opened my eyes and I had to go out and handle business.”
Hosley had nine interceptions in 2010, all of which came after that suspension. But the entire defense is on an interesting streak when it comes to picking off opposing quarterbacks.
The Hokies have an interception in 12 of the past 13 games, including the last eight. Virginia Tech had 23 picks a year ago, tied for second-most in the country. Last week, starters Eddie Whitley and Jeron Gouveia-Winslow both had interceptions, and reserve linebacker Derek DiNardo had a third pick during garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Hosley is perhaps the most likely to add to that streak, because he’ll likely see plenty of action this weekend facing East Carolina’s pass-heavy attack. With the Hokies blowing out Appalachian State last week, Hosley only got 36 snaps on defense and did not register a tackle or pass break-up.
East Carolina, though, threw 16 interceptions in 2010 (putting the Pirates tied for 99th in the country in that category) and averaged close to 49 pass attempts per game — promising statistics for a defense that hasn’t gone without a pick since last year’s win over Wake Forest on Oct. 16, 2010.
Hosley’s talents aren’t limited to the secondary, either. He reminded fans once again last week how dangerous he can be as a punt returner, averaging more than 32 yards per return, including a 55-yarder.
“You have to have the heart of a burglar back there,” said Hosley, who has scored a punt return touchdown the past two seasons. “You’ve just got to love doing it because it’s not easy back there. You’ve just got to trust the people around you, and know that they’re going to have you back, they’re going to make their blocks. It’s just being out there and having fun and making guys miss.”
Hosley also addressed his future on Tuesday, one that even Virginia Tech’s coaches concede will probably involve an early departure to the NFL following this season. But the 5-foot-10, 171-pound cornerback said he isn’t thinking about all that now. He’ll sit down with his family after the season and discuss what route to go.
After all, it was less than a year ago that Hosley’s name was associated more with being a troublemaker than a playmaker. One suspension sure has done a lot of good.
“I’m definitely more mature as a person, as a player,” Hosley said. “I don’t take things lightly or for granted. I cherish it more. Just coming out and working hard every day. I’m pushing myself to my limits, just trying to be a better player and come out and help my team any way I can.”