AP Photo
August 23, 2016

Brandon Facyson made a big splash as a freshman at Virginia Tech, intercepting four passes before September was finished and winding up with five for the year. It earned his some freshman All-American accolades.

But the redshirt junior hasn't had an interception since in a career that had been marked by injuries until last season, when he largely was out of the limelight despite a season in which he led the Hokies with 10 pass breakups.

This season, Facyson is healthy and hoping to get back to drawing attention with his play.

''Everybody tries to bring me back to that freshman year when I had my five interceptions, but just because I had five interceptions and I didn't have any interceptions last year, that doesn't mean I didn't play well,'' he said.

''I feel like I played very well. I feel like I did what I needed to do to help my team.''

Facyson started 10 games last season, then had surgery to clean up some issues in his knee after the season. He was limited in spring practice for the third year in a row while recuperating, but will have a big role this season.

''I really like where Brandon is,'' defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. ''He is competing. ... We want him to be around the ball and be at the line of scrimmage a little bit more. We want him to be more pressed and different things like that. I'm pleased at where he is and his mindset right now.''

It helps to be going into a season without feeling the effects of prior injuries, Facyson said. Since arriving in Blacksburg, he's also had a slow-to-heal stress fracture in his foot, a broken leg and a concussion.

''They were a little bit of a struggle, but you've just got to take each day one day at a time and just kind of watch what you eat and how you recover and do things to make that better for yourself,'' he said. ''I've learned a couple of things along the way, and I'm very excited to be out there 100 percent and with no injuries.''

He's also poised to graduate in the fall, and still intends to pursue medical school at some point with the goal of becoming a heart surgeon. Dealing with all his injuries, he said, has highlighted the value of education.

''In my mind, I've always said that school was the most important thing regardless of football or anything else,'' he said. ''I need my education and my grinding on the academic part hasn't changed whether I've been injured or not.

''While I've been injured, it's definitely highlighted because football doesn't last forever and you've got to have something to fall back on. But in this case, it's not something to fall back on. It's always been my Plan A.''

That, and getting the Hokies' defense back to the level of stinginess that Foster has come to expect. The Hokies were unusually porous last season, especially against the run, and are working to remedy that this season.

''Coach Foster holds us to very high expectations and we hold ourselves to very high expectations, and when we don't reach those expectations, we don't feel down on ourselves,'' Facyson said. ''We know the areas we need to improve and we feel like we're hitting those areas right now. We're going to try to do everything in our power to improve those areas this year.''

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AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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