Rashad Carmichael peers through the windowpane in the Hokies’ Hall of Legends, then points to a group of clouds sitting on a valley in the treetops, above the practice field upon which he spends much of his spring.
“I look over there every practice. Like, we’re stretching, I talk to my dad,” Carmichael says.
The sun beams down to the grass like it hasn’t since Lane Stadium filled to the brim on Saturday afternoons.
“When it gets tough some days, I look up,” Carmichael continues. “That’s my spot right there. Right there. I might be out there running and practicing. I’d be tired and I’d look up, and be like, ‘I need you man.’”
Two offseasons ago, “Rock” Carmichael, as he’s known to many, suffered the loss of his father to a heart attack. Last year at this time, Carmichael — then a redshirt junior — battled for the starting field corner position with underclassmen Cris Hill and Eddie Whitley.
In this year’s edition of spring ball, Carmichael has already stamped his name to the Virginia Tech boundary cornerback position.
Perseverance through two off seasons of grueling tribulation has certainly paid off thus far for Carmichael. Boundary corner is to the Hokies what the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is to business. One can rattle off a parade of Hokies’ names that marched onto college fame and NFL success after playing the boundary position.
Victor “Macho” Harris started as a rookie for the playoff-bound Philadelphia Eagles. Brandon Flowers quickly found a place in the Kansas City secondary and made a bang as rookie, returning a Brett Favre pass for a touchdown. And those are just the two players Carmichael studied under since arriving in southwest Virginia.
During the oxymoronic test of willpower known as the Division I football offseason — an exercise that starts with break-of-dawn conditioning and meetings, arduous weight training, before adding to the schedule like a Jenga tower — Carmichael and many teammates opt to meet their summer tasks at Tech, hoping to be ready for testing when the whole team returns later in the summer.