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‘Count on me’: Tight ends win Virginia Tech football’s new offseason accountability challenge

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Virginia Tech football practice: Nick Gallo

Virginia Tech tight end Nick Gallo runs drills at practice last summer.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech’s tight ends are getting some fancy new footwear.

The tight ends won the accountability challenge new coach Brent Pry brought with him from Penn State. The Hokies tight end group is led by a veteran trio of Drake DeIuliis, Nick Gallo and Connor Blumrick.

Tech’s linebackers came in second place and the specialists were in third.

“Coach (Tyler) Bowen got it done, one percentage point difference,” Pry said, with a smile.

The accountability challenge was something Pry instituted two years ago at Penn State for his defense during winter workouts and spring camp. He kept a chart in the defensive meeting room with everybody’s name and a list of categories that could gain or lose you points.

Those negative points were recorded with a red x. He carried most of those ideas over to Blacksburg, but he just expanded it to the whole team.

“If you are not a detailed guy off the field, you are not going to be a detailed guy on the field,” Pry said, in February. “You have to be accountable to each other and there’s trust that’s got to be built up.”

Tech’s tight ends will get to flaunt their victory everytime they walk into a team meeting. Pry had slides — backless, open-toed sandals — ordered for the group with Virginia Tech’s logo and “count on me” printed on the front of them.

While the competition won’t continue into the summer, Pry and the coaches have jokingly continued to hand out red x’s to players (and each other) as he did last week to safeties coach Pierson Prioleau and his son P.J.

“We always start the meeting with a quote and I asked P.J. to read it,” Pry said. “The quote was about work ethic and at the end it always has whose quote is it. It was Steve Young, so at the end I said P.J., do you know who Steve Young is? No.”

The irony as Pry pointed out was that his father — a then rookie — played with the former hall of famer.

“Your dad freaking played with that guy,” Pry said, with a laugh. “Pierson said he wasn’t even born yet, but still man.”

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