One of the more important players in Tuesday's Sugar Bowl between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Virginia Tech will be a redshirt freshman who gets teased mercilessly by his teammmates.
It's not Hokies quarterback Michael Vick. It's Florida State tackle Brett Williams.
"Ol' baby face," Florida State senior guard Jason Whitaker said. "What can you say about him?"
Actually, quite a bit has been said about Williams, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound product of Kissimmee, Fla., who has blond hair, big blue eyes and, truly, a baby face. Tuesday night, having been named a first-team freshman all-American by the Sporting News, Williams also will have the assignment of blocking Corey Moore and John Engelberger, Virginia Tech's star defensive ends.
"I hate to brag about them too much when they're young, but he's an extremely talented guy," Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt said. "He really could do everything you could ask a tackle to do. Pass protection, run block, just a great athlete. . . . He's never flinched or fainted in any tough situation."
And he has a tough one against Virginia Tech. Williams, 19, will face both Moore and Engelberger during the game because Florida State's offensive linemen aren't assigned to the left side or right side of the field, but rather to the wide side of the field or the short side, which can change from one play to the next.
Beamer Pledges Allegiance
Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer pledged his allegiance to the school today while still leaving open the possibility that he might someday leave to coach somewhere else. "I don't think you ever say never, but I don't have any desire to leave Blacksburg," he said. "I like what Virginia Tech is all about, I like the people and it would take a lot for me to leave." . . .
Beamer also spoke at unusual length about the near fatal accident he endured when he was 7 years old that still leaves him scarred. Beamer inadvertently ignited a gas fire in the garage on his father's farm, setting off an explosion. His older brother saved his life by rolling him around on the grass to put out the flames, but what followed over the next three years was nearly as bad--30 skin graft operations, many of which weren't successful.
That was more than 46 years ago, but Beamer said it's a memory that makes the rest of his life a little easier--and makes the pressure of coaching in his first national championship game a little lighter.
"There were two things I learned from that, and I think it did shape me," Beamer said. "Whenever I got to feeling sorry for myself at the hospital, my mom would make me walk up and down the hallways, and she would always find someone who was in worse shape than me.
"The second part of it was that I can't remember ever thinking that this thing wasn't going to be okay. It was just a matter of doing what we need to do, get the thing done, control what we can control here and it's going to be all right."