Sept. 7, 2006
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -Brandon Ore did some heavy lifting when he left Virginia Tech last spring. It had nothing to do with curls or bench presses.
The Hokies' tailback was hoisting cartons of soft drinks, chocolate milk and cookies onto trucks at a Chesapeake warehouse for delivery to 7-Eleven stores. That chore came at the end of the day, after he'd filled the crates.
The experience renewed his commitment to college and football.
"Every day I was home I was just thinking about how to get back here," Ore said. "I knew I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life."
Ore took the semester off following shoulder surgery but acknowledged his mental outlook needed rehabbing as well.
"I was kind of a knucklehead," the sophomore said. "I didn't see the big picture."
Running backs coach Billy Hite came to Chesapeake the week before school was to start last January and urged him to sit out a semester.
"He wanted me to get my mind right. That's the term he used," Ore said. "He wanted me to sit back and think what I wanted to do with my life."
Ore said he wasn't in academic trouble, but not far from it: He was sliding by with about a 2.1 grade-point average. When he didn't return to Blacksburg for classes, some of the people he knows believed he wouldn't go back.
"People thought I'd dropped out or flunked out," he said. Even some of the people he considered to be friends questioned him "like I'm telling them lies."
That hurt, but it reinforced his resolve.
"I hurried up and got back here just to prove them wrong," he said.
Ore had been frustrated over playing time. He was third on the depth chart at tailback, behind Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes. He wasn't upset with the coaches.
"I was just mad at myself for not showing them more to get me more playing time," he said.
Ore still finished second on the Hokies with 647 rushing yards last year, and he doesn't have any obstacles this year - both Imoh and Humes graduated. Ore started in the No. 16 Hokies' opening victory against Northeastern last Saturday and scored two touchdowns - on a 6-yard run and a 55-yard run after catching a screen pass.
"I think he's very excited to be back on the football field," center Danny McGrath said.
Hite and coach Frank Beamer said Ore's new attitude is evident.
"Sometimes you don't understand what you've got until you don't have it," Beamer said. "I think that's probably a little bit with Branden."
Ore played high school football with some of his co-workers at the warehouse, and he has kept in touch with them since he came back to summer school in July.
"They told me they were going to be watching," he said.