-- After each Virginia Tech football game, wide receiver Eddie Royal spends much of the following day in the team's film room, scouting the next opponent's defensive backs, searching hours of highlights for any advantage he might find.
This past Sunday, Royal didn't need much time to come up with this scouting report on Marshall's starting free safety: "He doesn't have many weaknesses. He's a better player than I thought he was. He's got really good hips. He used to play quarterback in high school, so he's got really good ball skills and he's good at reading the quarterback. He's a lot more aggressive than the last time I saw him. You can tell he's playing with a lot of confidence."
Royal believes he knows each of the Thundering Herd free safety's strengths and weaknesses because Chris Royal is his older brother. Chris Royal, 22, is about three years older than Eddie, who is the youngest of Pearl Royal's seven children.
The Royal brothers played one season together when Chris was a senior and Eddie was a freshman at South Lakes High School in Reston. Saturday's game between Marshall and No. 3 Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium will be the first and last time they play each other, unless both play professional football.
Eddie Royal has been frantically searching for more than a dozen tickets this week so his mother, five older brothers and sisters and other family members could attend the game. His youngest sister, Christina, is a senior at Virginia Tech.
"We were always on the same team," said Chris Royal, a senior who is scheduled to graduate next spring with a political science degree. "We've never played against each other before. Neither one of us is going to hold anything back in this game. There's no family thing going on."
Eddie Royal, who was the Hokies' leading receiver as a freshman last season, is about one inch taller and 11 pounds lighter than his older brother. The brothers look somewhat alike; Chris has short cornrows and Eddie's hair is short and clean-cut.
Chris Royal said he isn't surprised his younger brother is excelling at Virginia Tech because Eddie always played against older boys in basketball and football. Wherever Chris Royal went while they were growing up, Eddie was tagging along.
"He was always trying to keep up with the bigger guys and older guys," Chris Royal said. "He started to get good at football because the older guys were always beating up on him."
When Chris graduated from South Lakes High School, he failed to qualify academically and played one season at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. The Hokies tried to recruit him near the end of his post-graduate season, but Royal had already orally committed to play football for Marshall, which offered him a scholarship earlier than any other school.
Eddie Royal was ranked Virginia's No. 1 high school prospect by SuperPrep Magazine after his senior season at Westfield High in Herndon. It didn't take him long to make an impact with the Hokies, as he led the 2004 team with 28 catches for 470 yards and three touchdowns and averaged 28.8 yards on kickoff returns and 11 on punt returns.
With the Hokies being 35-point favorites in Saturday's game, the matchup between the Royal brothers might be one of the more entertaining aspects of the game. Although Thundering Herd cornerbacks Chris Hawkins and Willie Smith will have the primary duties of covering Eddie Royal, his older brother must make sure he doesn't beat them deep.
Eddie Royal, 5 feet 10 and 174 pounds, is coming off his best game of the season. In last week's 34-17 victory at West Virginia, Royal caught six passes for 71 yards and his first touchdown of the season. He is the team's third-leading receiver with 10 catches for 130 yards and one score through five games.
Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick believes Eddie Royal has too much speed for his older brother to keep up with him.
"I think Eddie's a little bit more talented than Chris," Vick said. "Don't get me wrong, Chris is a talented guy. But Eddie just has that extra burst."
Chris Royal, 5 feet 9 and 185 pounds, was tied for second in Division I-A last season with six interceptions in his first season as a starter. He has yet to record an interception in four games this year, but is fourth on the team with 24 tackles and has one pass breakup, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.
Chris Royal said he was looking forward to receiving his younger brother's scouting report during their telephone conversation on Monday morning. But Eddie Royal refused to disclose the weaknesses he found to his older brother -- or to inquiring reporters for that matter.
"I didn't tell him what I found," Eddie Royal said. "Let's just say I spent a little bit of extra time on him. I'd love to score on him because this is a game we're going to remember for the rest of our lives. This is bragging rights. Growing up, he always got the better of me and this is my chance for payback."
Hokies Note: Freshman defensive end William Wall, an All-Met from H.D. Woodson, has been suspended from football activities because of academics, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said yesterday.