Virginia Tech’s trip to East Carolina this weekend is likely to be one senior wide receiver Jarrett Boykin will never forget. He’s just two catches and 134 receiving yards away from surpassing the school record for receptions (126) and receiving yards (2,272), which are currently held by Ernest Wilford and Ricky Scales, respectively.
Boykin is the focus of my advance for Saturday’s paper, but it’s worth repeating some of his accomplishments since the quiet 6-foot-2, 218-pounder is an anomaly at a position where bravado is the norm rather than the exception.
Boykin has led the Hokies in receiving yards every year since arriving in Blacksburg in 2008, and his past two seasons have ranked among the five best all-time for a Virginia Tech wide receiver. That’s even more impressive when one considers that Darren Evans broke rushing records during Boykin’s freshman year, Ryan Williams did the same when Boykin was a sophomore and there were three NFL-bound running backs (Evans, Williams and David Wilson) receiving carries during his junior campaign in 2010.
“If it’s something I do, I try to strive to be the best at it,” said Boykin, who set career highs in catches (53), receiving yards (847) and touchdowns (6) last season. “I have goals for myself, and if one day I do make it to the next level, the next goal from there would probably be to try to be a Hall of Fame player.”
When Boykin’s career is over, though, his calling card will be a remarkable run of consistency. If he eclipses 800 receiving yards this season, he would become just the fourth player in ACC history to record three straight 800-yard seasons.
“Jarrett is a player who comes out every day, is a challenge every day because he wants to be better, he wants to be the best, and I love going against that,” cornerback Jayron Hosley said. “You don’t see no slack-off in Jarrett. He’s definitely one of those guys you love to have on your team, you love to compete against. He definitely should be up there.”
Boykin also reminisced about his first career catch at Virginia Tech. It came in the Hokies’ second game of the 2008 season against Furman, and all Boykin remembers is that he caught it over a safety that he had previously seen on the MTV show ‘Two-a-days” that followed a Hoover, Ala. high school football team.
“I thought it was cool,” Boykin said.
***Speaking of coolness, it oozed out of right tackle Blake DeChristopher this week when he participated in Virginia Tech’s Tuesday press conference. The four-year starter from Midlothian, Va., was a mix between San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson and The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” as he referenced his shaggy beard in the third person – it’s simply called “The Beard” – and joked about how the entire offensive line meets on Sunday nights to eat pasta, drink Mountain Dew Code Red and watch the HBO show “True Blood” together.
When told his irreverent humor could lead to a public speaking job in the future, DeChristopher joked, “The Beard would like that, too.” For the record, the 311-pound linemen would like to get into law enforcement when his football career is over, or at least “just have a good mustache.”
In between jokes, though, DeChristopher did provide some insight into how East Carolina’s 3-4 scheme differs from the one the Hokies saw against Appalachian State last week. He said from film it looks like the Pirates blitz from the edges, whereas the Mountaineers brought pressure up the middle.
As for the prospect of seeing eight East Carolina defenders in the box this week to stop running back David Wilson, “that’s something you definitely have to be prepared for,” DeChristopher said. “Not every game the running back is gonna get 10 yards, so you definitely have to prepare for those four-yard gains, five-yard gains. But I’ll take that any day, too. The main thing is we need to keep blocking for him and we need to keep him running the ball hard.”
***Wide receiver Danny Coale revealed earlier this week that he still uses one period of every practice to work on his punting, but that he’s not necessarily pushing for the starting punter job. He wants to leave that for the coaches to decide.
Redshirt junior Scott Demler, meantime, only averaged about 32 yards on his five punts against Appalachian State, and it doesn’t help that the Hokies were forced indoors much of this week because of inclement weather. The ceiling in Rector Field House is not high enough to practice punting.
But Coach Frank Beamer is still sticking behind his new punter for now.
“He’s been very good all through preseason camp, and his last punt [against Appalachian State], he hit that one good,” Beamer said. “He hit it about 45 and they fair caught it. He’s got the potential. He wants to. I think he just needs to be in there and do it enough to where he feels comfortable doing it, and he’s going to be just fine.
***On the injury front, wide receiver D.J. Coles (shoulder), linebacker Telvion Clark (ankle), offensive lineman Michael Via (knee), and free safety Theron Norman (shoulder) were all listed as probable for Saturday’s game. Norman is returning from spring shoulder surgery and has been splitting reps with redshirt sophomore James Hopper as a second-team safety this week in practice.
That’s all I’ve got until Saturday, when I get to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. By the way, East Carolina’s Web site said Thursday there’s about 2,000 tickets still remaining if you’re interested in a last-minute road trip.