By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Rising senior Branden Ore, Virginia Tech's leading running back for the past two seasons, is no longer on the team, Coach Frank Beamer announced yesterday in an e-mail.
"During recent meetings with Branden Ore, we have decided that it would be best for Branden to pursue other opportunities," Beamer said in a statement. "Branden has had many great moments here at Virginia Tech, and we wish him well in the future."
Ore's break with the program completes a tumultuous year for the running back. Ore drew running back coach Billy Hite's ire when he showed up this preseason out of shape, and his production sharply decreased last year as he fought injuries throughout the season. Ore was suspended and held out of the first quarter of Virginia Tech's 24-21 Orange Bowl loss to Kansas because he came late to a practice.
In January, one week after the Orange Bowl, Ore testified in a federal crack cocaine trial. His role in the trial stemmed from an incident in June 2006 when drugs were found in a car in which he and friend Tony Majette were traveling. Majette was found guilty of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute it. Ore was never charged, only asked to testify.
After the trial, Ore flirted with declaring for the NFL draft. Shortly before the deadline to announce, Ore met with coaches to convince them he should remain a part of the team. At that time, at least, coaches decided he could remain with the Hokies.
Virginia Tech's new running back will come from a deep pool of candidates. Juniors Jahre Cheeseman and Kenny Lewis and redshirt freshmen Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby are the leading contenders. Highly regarded freshman recruit Ryan Williams also might compete for time.