A year ago Virginia Tech's running back tandem of senior Lee Suggs and sophomore Kevin Jones were dubbed The Untouchables. This year junior DeAngelo Hall has a moniker that's a bit more pedestrian. "I was running back and forth between cornerback and wide receiver in spring practice, and the coaches kept forgetting where I was, so they made me wear this fluorescent vest," says Hall. "It wasn't long before I became The Crossing Guard."
Inspired by the 2002 performance of Ohio State sophomore Chris Gamble, who played cornerback and wideout, several coaches are considering using their best athletes on both sides of the ball. Among the new two-way men, Hall, who played corner last season, is likely to be among the standouts. He excelled on double duty at Deep Creek High in Chesapeake, Va., and, at 5'11" and 198 pounds, he has the athleticism to pull it off. "The man can dunk a basketball, do flips on command, just about any freaky athletic thing you ask him to do," says quarterback Bryan Randall. Hall also may be the fastest player in college football. After spending the winter practicing with the track team, he ran the 40 last February in 4.15 seconds. "Our only concern is that we don't burn him out," says defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
Virginia Tech wants to push the limits in many ways this year. The Hokies got off to an 8-0 start in 2002 but suffered an emotional 28-21 defeat to Pittsburgh and lost three more games. A 20-13 San Francisco Bowl victory over Air Force marked the program's 10th straight postseason appearance, but it wasn't the marquee bowl expected at midseason. With nine starters returning on defense, plus the stellar junior backfield duo of Jones and Randall—he passed for 2,134 yards and rushed for 507 last season—Virginia Tech has the personnel to get off to another strong start and this time extend it through December.
The upperclassmen agree that this group seems unusually dedicated winning. Over the summer Hall discussed how his roommate, junior Richard Johnson, whose starting receiver job is threatened by Hall's two-way duty, volunteered to tutor The Crossing Guard on running routes. "He's just saying, May the best man win," says Hall. Catchy nickname or not.
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