November 6th, 2009 will mark a 10 year anniversary of the "Miracle in Morgantown" as dubbed by the voice of the Hokies, Bill Roth. I was nine years old at the time, sitting on my brothers bed as we gazed at the TV, watching Shayne Graham lineup to kick the game winning field goal from 44 yards out. Ten seconds later I leaped up off the bed and celebrated as Tech remained undefeated and crushed one of our arch rivals in the must gut-wrenching and heart breaking ways possible.
Since that magical 1999 season, Tech has gone through four kickers, none of which have really stood out as much as Shayne Graham did during his four years on campus. Some would argue Brandon Pace, but Pace never possessed a strong enough leg to make it in the NFL.
After Pace, the Hokies have traded out senior kickers each year as Dunlevy consumed the kicking role in 2007 and Dustin Keys was Frank Beamer's chosen one this past season.
Heading into fall practice, it appears that Beamer is leaning towards starting another senior kicker in Matt Waldron, who transferred to Virginia Tech 3 years ago from Penn State.
Matt has come a long way from high school where he was selected as a High School All-American according to Tom Lemming and Scouts Inc. Matt traveled with the team at the end of last season and was placed as the no. 2 kicker on the depth chart. This past spring, Waldron separated himself from the pack after not missing a field goal in the spring game or in any of the spring scrimmages.
If Waldron plays well in next weekend's scrimmage then it could be Matt's spot to lose.
Even though Matt appears to be the front runner, the field boasts two qualified challengers in sophomore Justin Myer and freshman Cody Journell.
Myer was the Hokies kickoff man last season, handling 59 of the team's 67 kickoffs. Justin has a strong leg but has missed a few short field goals this past spring and even had a few blocked in the spring scrimmages. Coach Beamer described Myer as a "line-drive" style kicker meaning that his career may just consist of kickoffs, unless he can add some more height on his kicks.
Journell was a highly touted kicker out of Giles county, who has a career long of 54 yards (made a 54 yard field goal in his junior season). Cody is going to be a future starter here at Tech but with Myer covering the kickoffs and Waldron covering field goal duty, it may be wise to redshirt him this fall.
The good news for Hokie fans is that after this season, Tech no longer will have to jump from kicker to kicker each season as Journell is a future star in the making.
However, this season, I'd put my money on Waldron lining up for field goals, not the field.