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Friday earns an 'A' from a critic close to home

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By Mark Giannotto
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BLACKSBURG, VA. - At this point, it's a family ritual for Virginia Tech defensive end Steven Friday. After every game, his mother gives him a report card of sorts, grading his performance on the field. Friday claims she's not easily impressed.

But after the fifth-year senior from Hampton, Va., terrorized Boston College's offensive line in a 19-0 Hokies win on Saturday, recording two sacks and forcing a fumble, even Mom had to give her son some credit.

"She gave me an 'A,' " said Friday, smiling during the Hokies' news conference on Tuesday. "She knows football, I guess, through me playing all these years."

Unlike many of the seniors in Virginia Tech's lineup, Friday is getting his first extensive action as a starter this year after trailing future NFL players such as Chris Ellis, Orion Martin and Jason Worilds on the depth chart since arriving on campus back in 2006.

But his performance against the Eagles was particularly impressive because it happened in a head-to-head matchup against Boston College left tackle Anthony Castonzo, rated by some as the top offensive lineman in the country.

Friday has been the Hokies' most consistent defensive lineman all season and through four games, he's already registered more tackles (16), tackles for a loss (6.5) and sacks (4) than he had during the previous three seasons combined, when he only saw limited action.

"You can practice all day, but until you get more reps in the game, that's how you get better," said Friday, who had never started a game before this year and had 11 tackles in 12 games during the 2009 season. "We definitely took it upon ourselves that Monday to make it our priority to win [the Boston College] game up front. A couple guys from BC called us out so we took it very personal during the week to be successful."

Friday's quick burst off the edge has been one of the biggest developments for a Hokies defense that was short on experience coming into the season. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound pass rusher came to Virginia Tech weighing just 197 pounds, and yet during both his junior and senior seasons at Phoebus High, he finished with 17 sacks.

Now he's 24, the oldest player on this year's team, and even though Mom remains his toughest critic, he's finally enjoying his moment in the spotlight.

Williams still uncertain

For the second straight week, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said the availability of running back Ryan Williams would not be announced until the team releases its official injury report Thursday.

But the Manassas native was back at practice Monday, in pads for the first time since suffering a right hamstring injury in the second quarter of the Hokies' 49-27 win over East Carolina on Sept. 18. Williams was wearing a blue jersey, indicating he was only seeing limited work, and appeared to be favoring his right leg slightly during post-practice sprints.

Locals see some action

Freshman Ricardo Young may be redshirting this season, but he'll play a large role in Virginia Tech's preparation for Saturday's game against North Carolina State. Young, an H.D. Woodson graduate and 2009 All-Met, is playing the role of Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson, a run-pass threat, on the Hokies' scout team this week. . . .

Senior tight end Andre Smith (Seneca Valley) had a game to remember against Boston College. He finished with four catches for 48 yards after catching just three passes during the entire 2009 season. "It definitely was like a kid in the candy store," Smith said.


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