January 3, 2000 - by
Hokies Tailback Works Mostly In The Shadows

Jan. 3, 2000

By HANK KURZ Jr.

AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – In any other season, and probably with any other
quarterback as a teammate, Shyrone Stith would be a well-known tailback.

Stith rushed for 1,119 yards and a school record-tying 13 touchdowns this
season for Virginia Tech. He caught four passes for 48 yards, averaged 25.8
yards on 15 kickoff returns and was the first-team selection in the Big East.

But while rookie Michael Vick and his fleet feet, powerful arm and ability
to improvise like a veteran received much of the credit, Stith helped make it
all possible.

“To have a great runner like Shyrone behind me, a 1,000-yard rusher, it
takes a lot of pressure off me,” Vick said. “He’s done that all season, and I
think that’s where a lot of our success has come from in the play action
game.”

Stith has no problem taking a back seat to Vick. Stith shuns the spotlight
and thinks operating in the shadows could play right into the Hokies’ hands.

“I don’t think they are too worried about me or the receivers. All I’ve
heard is ‘Michael, Michael, Michael,”‘ Stith said of Florida State, the
Hokies’ opponent in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night with the national
championship on the line.

“Maybe something else will open up.”

At least one Seminoles defender doesn’t sound too concerned.

“Michael Vick makes the offense,” linebacker Brian Allen said. “Stith is
a 1,000-yard rusher, but he’s not anything without his offensive line.”

Offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle thinks the junior’s lack of national
recognition is a simple product of Stith living up to high expectations.

“Everybody thought Shyrone would be good and then Michael Vick had the year
that he had, Davis popped out of the woodwork and so those were surprises,”
Bustle said, referring to receiver Andre Davis.

“Everybody knew that Shyrone would be a good player, and he was.”

Stith began to see in the spring that this year could be special for the
Hokies when Vick was having his way against the heralded first-team defense.

“That was one of the main keys in the spring, changing the attitude that
Virginia Tech was just a defense and special teams team,” Stith said.
“Michael Vick changed that whole interpretation of our team. We have an
offense now.”

And Stith, initially reluctant to redshirt two years ago when the Hokies had
a glut of quality tailbacks, now feels like agreeing to it was a good move.

“It was the right thing for me to do,” he said. “I took the back seat and
I think I did a good job with doing that. Now I’ve got another year next
year.”

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