NORFOLK, Va. - Virginia Tech has taken some of its program's greatest players from Virginia's Tidewater region. This weekend, the Hokies will bring their players back.
Saturday, for the first time since 1986, Virginia Tech will play in Norfolk. Old Dominion hosts the Hokies for the first time ever. It marks Virginia Tech's first non-conference road game in the state of Virginia that wasn't UVA since 1986 when Tech won 17-10 at Richmond on Nov. 8.
14 members of the Hokies' roster hail from "The 757". Among that bunch, Ricky Walker (Bethel H.S.), Deshawn McClease (Oscar Smith H.S.), Trevon Hill (Salem H.S.), Phil Patterson (Bayside H.S.) and Devon Hunter (Indian River H.S.).
"The more I sit back and think about it, the more excited I get to play," said Hampton native and Virginia Tech defensive lineman Ricky Walker. "It's going to be cool to finally get some Tidewater air. It's a different feeling going home and playing in front of friends and family, in your environment. A couple teammates not from there are excited to go. They're asking me if the food Friday night in the hotel is going to be good."
Virginia Tech's first game in Norfolk was an 18-4 win over UMBC on Nov. 6, 1897. Between that contest and 1986, the Hokies have played 38 games in Norfolk. Tech's longest streak of playing in Norfolk was eight consecutive seasons between 1916 and 1923.
“I think it’s need to take the band on the road here," Virginia Tech head football coach Justin Fuente said. "We get a chance to reach out to our fan base. We played in the DC area, the northern Virginia area last year. Now this year we get a chance to play in the 757. Those people have been fantastic fans making that four-plus hour drive to come see us in Blacksburg. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to come to them one time. That’s what I’m kind of getting at, we are excited to get to play in this game, we really are."
Despite being installed as a four-touchdown underdog, Old Dominion is excited for its first ever home date vs. Virginia Tech, too.
"This is clearly a historic game and something that I am very proud and excited to be a part of," Old Dominion head football coach Bobby Wilder said. "I never could’ve imagined when I was hired here that we would be hosting Virginia Tech, one of the top programs in the country and has consistently been a good program and the fact that this is the first of a number of times they will come to Old Dominion is exciting for all of us."
The Monarchs host Virginia Tech Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Foreman Field. Last year, in the first ever meeting between the two programs, the Hokies shut-out ODU, 38-0.