The Hokies actually enjoy the anonymity that surrounds them. They don't mind that opponents don't know the name of their stadium (Lane) or the location of their campus (Blacksburg). They couldn't care less that the folks from Miami or Boston College can't define the word Hokie. "I don't even know if I know what a Hokie is," says Hokie linebacker Ken Brown. "Some kind of bird, I guess."
Nice try, Ken. Yes, the Virginia Tech mascot does resemble a steroid-pumped chicken hawk, but Hokie is just a nonsense word created nearly a century ago for that locker-room battle cry, Hokie, Hokie, Hokie, Hi! We're the boys from VPI!"
Before you dismiss this fearsome yell, note that it helped those boys finish 9-3 last season—and that was after a dismal 2-8-1 record in '92. Quarterback Maurice DeShazo, now a senior, played a part in the turnaround too. Last year he ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency and orchestrated an attack that set school records for scoring (36.4 points per game) and total offense (444.1 yards per game).
The Hokies also have other weapons. Senior tailback Dwayne Thomas picked up 1,130 yards last season, and wideout Antonio Freeman, DeShazo's favorite target in '93, averaged 20.1 yards per catch. If sophomore Billy Conaty can fill the shoulder pads of All-America center Jim Pyne, who's now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, the offense should put up even bigger numbers in '94.
Although they have eight first-stringers back, the Hokies' defense is young: Brown, who had 113 tackles last fall, is the only senior in the starting lineup. One of the top kids is sophomore safety Antonio Banks. Last year he was named defensive MVP of the Independence Bowl, in which he recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass and returned a blocked field goal 80 yards for a touchdown in the Hokies' 45-20 romp over Indiana.
With a maturing defense and a blistering offense, Virginia Tech should become more familiar to people around the Big East—and everywhere else. And here's a tip for those seeking enlightenment: "What's a Hokie?" says Freeman. "Contender for the Big Last championship in 1994."