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The ties that bind Virginia, VMI

Defensive Coordinator Jim Reid went through a list of all the Virginia Military Institute defensive starters Monday and recalled that he had recruited all but one of them. Reid served as VMI's head coach from 2006-07.

When Reid left VMI to become a defensive assistant coach with the NFL's Miami Dolphins in 2007, he handed the reins over to Sparky Woods, who was Virginia's offensive coordinator from 1997-98 under former Coach George Welsh. Virginia Defensive Line Coach Jeff Hanson served in the same role at VMI under Reid in 2007.

Reid holds the VMI cadets in extremely high regard. He was effusive Monday in his praise of their effort, determination and commitment. And he wasn't limiting his compliments to the football players he coached there. He gave a passionate description of the 7 a.m. march the cadets make six mornings per week.

"From the first day when I got chills to the very last day when I knew I was leaving, I went out to watch it," Reid said. "There was not one day that I was on post that I didn't go to the formtion and watch that in the morning. It's an absolutely amazing experience to watch the precision and discipline of every Keydey as they march in step from the barracks to the mess hall."

As for the team Virginia will face Saturday at Scott Stadium, Reid is familiar with it, as well. He spoke highly of VMI senior tailback Gabe Itoka, who set a career-high with 85 rushing yards in 21 attempts Sept. 11 in a 45-0 loss at William & Mary. Reid said he showed the Cavaliers defense on Sunday some clips of Itoka's performance against William & Mary, specifically the "eight or nine times" Itoka broke into the secondary.

"That's an explosive guy when he gets into the secondary," Reid said. "We're going to have a hard time tackling him. He's as fast as people we have on our team right now, but he's 5-6. And I've never lied, so he's 5-5 and a half. But he is a determined, wonderful, excellent, fast football player."

VMI might not operate out of a triple-option offense anymore, but the Keydets have played three quarterbacks in both of their games so far. Senior Cam Jones started against William & Mary, though redshirt freshman Adam Morgan and true freshman Eric Kordenbrock each saw some action, as well.

Woods is scheduled to speak with reporters in a teleconference later this morning, so we'll post some of his thoughts on the matchup with Virginia later today.

By Steve Yanda  | September 21, 2010; 9:41 AM ET
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