The Virginia Tech football team might’ve had their first bye this past week, but that doesn’t mean that things were quiet around the program.
In the midst of the news that the Hokies placed 14th in the BCS standings, the rest of the team has been anxiously awaiting a certain star player’s return, worrying over the health of a key freshman and feverishly recruiting future stars.
Exum Finally Ready
It’s an old refrain by now, but cornerback Antone Exum is finally ready to step back on the field.
Although the redshirt senior was medically cleared to play at the beginning of October, he’s chosen to take three extra weeks to rest his surgically repaired knee.
This week, Exum says he thinks he's finally ready to step on the field against Duke.
“I think so,” Exum said. “That’s how I’m preparing, that’s my mindset and it’s looking good right for me to be out there Saturday.”
The coaching staff is similarly confident that this will be the week Exum actually returns.
“I’m pretty positive Exum’s going to go,” defensive backs coach Torrian Gray said. “I know he feels excited that he’s going to start the game. He’s definitely preparing mentally and physically to start the game here.”
The decision to rest might’ve frustrated Hokie fans, but the cornerback insists he made the right choice for his body.
“I’ve made huge strides,” Exum said. “That week that I was cleared, I wasn’t ready to play at a high level. I would’ve been OK, but I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of the things that I’m doing right now. And that’s just come with continued hard work.”
While the bye week certainly gave Exum extra time to heal up, he claims he didn’t specifically target Duke as the opponent he wanted to play against.
“If it was Clemson and I was ready, then I’d be lined up with Sammy (Watkins), but it just happened to be Duke this week,” Exum said.
Now that he finally is back, the senior is ready to move on from the subject of his injury and get back to football.
“I can’t wait until next Tuesday when we can talk about Duke or how well I played against Duke,” Exum said.
The Hokies have to hope that Exum does indeed have a good game against the Blue Devils, since another player in the secondary may be limited.
Freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson, the very player starting in Exum’s place, had a brush with injury in practice on Sunday.
Facyson suffered a concussion on a pass play that resulted in a wrestling match with tight end Kalvin Cline.
“I intercepted a pass and I think (Cline) was trying to rip the ball out or something and I came down and my head came down and hit the ground,” Facyson said. “He was just trying to make a play on the ball — I would’ve done the same thing.”
The cornerback was in a green jersey in practice Tuesday, which indicates he wasn’t cleared for contact, but he’s still hopeful he can play against Duke.
“If I’m ready to play, I’ll go at it, but if I’m not, I don’t want to jeopardize myself,” Facyson said. “We have many great DBs here, so they’ll take up the slack. It’s kind of judging on how I feel.”
The injury comes at an unfortunate time for Facyson, as Exum’s return figures to cost the freshman his starting job. However, he says he has no issues with impending change.
“He’s a great player. I’m excited for him to come back,” Facyson said. “So if that means taking time from me, then so be it. We’re going to do what’s best for the team, I’m not a selfish person.”