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Virginia Tech football players holding themselves accountable as other ACC programs struggle with coronavirus

The Hokies held a players-only meeting focused on following protocol with classes set to begin on Monday.
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 6:19 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - With nearly two weeks of fall camp in the books, the Virginia Tech football team has learned quickly that the key to staying on the field is staying six feet apart.

“It was definitely hard at first, like nobody was even giving it a thought,” said redshirt senior safety Divine Deablo. “We were all lining up right behind each other, but it’s definitely become second-nature now.”

The Hokies continue to chug along, as the ACC remains on course to begin the season as scheduled.

But they’re not oblivious - the players know how fragile the situation is - and senior leaders like Deablo are taking matters into their own hands.

“We actually had a player team meeting recently,” he said. “It was only players and we were just talking about how seriously we have to take this season, and if we want to play, we’ve got to be smart off the field, not just on the field.

“To be honest with you, I’m not even worried about the older guys. I just had to get the message to the younger guys since it’s their first year in college. They may want to have fun, but they’ve got to know, just at least for a semester, we’ve got to be smart.”

Tech doesn't begin classes until Monday, but other ACC institutions are already seeing issues with students back on campus.

UNC shifted classes online and suspended athletics for at least 24 hours on Wednesday, while Notre Dame has also put practice on hiatus after multiple positive tests within the Irish football team.

Hokies tight end James Mitchell said he wouldn’t be deterred from playing, though, if students were sent home.

“Actually, it would probably be easier, if you think about it,” he said over Zoom on Wednesday. “Without the students there, we’d kind of be like in our own sort of bubble away from people. So I think, in a way, it would actually be easier to kind of get things done.”

But, for now, the focus is still very much on football in Blacksburg, with the Hokies still learning about themselves after their first scrimmage last weekend.

“We definitely have a lot of playmakers and guys that will help,” said Mitchell. “We’ve got a lot of depth on the offensive line, as well, so definitely excited for the future and just building off that scrimmage and just getting better off of it.”

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