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Carmichael Turns Off Cable, Turns On Film

One of the lessons that Rashad Carmichael learned from his mentor, Brandon Flowers, a former all-American cornerback at Virginia Tech, is the importance of studying film. So in January, Carmichael cut off his cable so he could dedicate time to watch game tape.

This season, Carmichael has emerged as a presence at cornerback; on Saturday, he sealed Virginia Tech’s 31-7 win over Miami with a fourth-quarter interception that set up the Hokies’ final touchdown. Carmichael’s position coach said his development as a cornerback was linked to his intense devotion to studying film.

“He has really taken to heart what Brandon said,” said Torrian Gray, the Hokies’ defensive backs coach. “It’s unbelievable. That’s how he has been able to take his game to a level I never thought he’d be able to take it.”

With Stephan Virgil still bothered by a left knee injury, Carmichael has moved into the boundary cornerback role for the past three games and will likely stay there for the foreseeable future. The boundary cornerback is responsible for one-on-one coverage in the boundary, often matching up against the opposing team’s best receivers.

Although Carmichael’s strength is one-on-one coverage, he stands 5 feet 11 and is often overshadowed; he tackled poorly against Nebraska (along with many other Hokies). Gray said Carmichael is “evolving” in the physical part of his game, but also said Carmichael had the mental element of his game already at a high level at a position that has a rich history of producing talented players.

“He’s even evolving into the type of boundary corner we’ve had before,” Gray said of Carmichael. “He’s evolving into that.”

The student-of-the-game cliché perhaps does not do Carmichael justice: He worked out three times a day as at a young age, analyzed film with his late father after each of his games at Gwynn Park High School and said this summer he was too focused on football to have a girlfriend.

In film review sessions with Gray and the defensive backs, Carmichael is so intent that he takes notes. Gray said it was somewhat surprising to see one of his players taking notes. But Gray immediately saw Carmichael apply what was being taught in the meeting room to the field. Now, Gray said, Carmichael is thinking “two steps ahead.”

Gray said: “He’s like, ‘Coach, if they’re this, can I do this?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, let’s go ahead and do it, because that’s what I was thinking.’ There was another time in the meeting room he said, ‘Hey, they’re in this –’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah; I was thinking that.’ ”

“I was shocked,” Gray said.

By Mark Viera  |  September 29, 2009; 10:15 AM ET
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