April 4, 2012

Q&A with Cyrus Lawrence

Cyrus Lawrence played for the Hokies in the late 70s and early 80s and remains Virginia Tech's career rushing leader with 3,767 rushing yards during his time in Blacksburg. Recently, Lawrence sat down with Hokiehaven.com to discuss Billy Hite, setting the record for carries in a game with 42, and more.

HH: We start these off talking about recruiting. You were recruited over thirty years ago. What was the recruiting process like back then, what was your main form of communication with coaches, and what made you ultimately select Virginia Tech? If you didn't attend Virginia Tech, where do you think you would have gone?

Lawrence: The recruiting process then was much like today's process. You were contacted through recruitment letters or phone calls from football coaches of the school that was interested in you. My head football coach kept me in contact of certain schools that would talk with him about me. Virginia Tech which then was an independent college, and other in state schools such as Virginia, wanted to keep top recruits in state because they would leave and go to out of state colleges such as NC State, etc. Being a top recruit they wanted me to draw other top recruits through my commitment to an in state school such as Virginia Tech, etc. If I didn't attend Virginia Tech, I would have to NC State, Penn State, or Tennessee.

HH: In 1980, you were a big part of the team that took Tech to its first bowl game in a 12 years as you all earned a Peach Bowl trip. The Peach Bowl representative announced it in the locker room following the regular season finale, and reports say the scene afterwards was a mob pit of celebration. What do you remember from that scene and how excited you and the team were to clinch a bowl berth?

Lawrence: We were very excited being a young team to go to our first major Bowl Game. I remember players running around the locker room with the coaches on their shoulders shouting, "We made it!"

HH: You hold numerous rushing records at Virginia Tech, including the record for most rushes in a single game with 42 against Memphis State in 1981. What do you remember from that specific game? How did you have to prepare yourself each week physically knowing you were going to be a workhorse each Saturday?

Lawrence: The Memphis State game was a very physical ball game from the standpoint that they had a good defense. I did not know that I was going to be called on to run the ball that many times. I was always physically prepared by hitting the weight room and making sure mentally I was ready to take the beatings of being a workhorse back.

HH: You played just four games your senior season. Do you think the wear and tear from so many carries led to your injury troubles your final year and if so, do you wish that would have changed so you could play out your final year?

Lawrence: I do not believe that wear and tare of so many carries contributed to my injury. The injury I suffered is a common injury among running backs then and today. Yes I would have liked to finish my senior year because that would have put the icing on the cake for my college career and perhaps it would have been the difference in winning the Heisman Trophy and also being drafted higher in the draft.

HH: The biggest record you hold is the career rushing yards record with 3,767 yards despite playing just four games your senior season. What does that record mean to you and what will your feeling be one day if someone eventually breaks it?

Lawrence: I feel honored to hold the record and I thank God for allowing me to experience a football career. I wouldn't be disappointed if someone broke my record because records are meant to be broke and I would personally congratulate the new record holder

HH: A lot of great running backs have come to Blacksburg since you left from Dwayne Thomas to Shyrone Stith to Lee Suggs, Kevin Jones, Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, and most recently David Wilson. Since you left, who do you think has been the best running back to come through Virginia Tech?

Lawrence: I would say all of them had unique running styles in which they were all successful in leaving a legacy at Virginia Tech.

HH: As a running back, what was your favorite play to run and why?

Lawrence: As a running back, my favorite play was a dive up the middle because I was built for that type of running.

HH: You were the star running back during Billy Hite's first year as a running back's coach. What was he like back then and were you surprised he lasted so long on the sidelines, eventually becoming the longest tenured assistant coach in the country?

Lawrence: Coach Hite was a great motivator and taught me the tricks of the trade. No, I wasn't surprised Coach Hite accomplished all of these things because of the person he is.

HH: Do you keep up with the Hokies now? What are you thoughts on the growth of the program since you left?

Lawrence: Yes, I do keep up with the Hokies. I'm glad to see the contributions of early Hokie teams help transform the football program to what it is today. I also hope to see one day, the Hokies win a national championship.

HH: What do you do nowadays? How often do you make it back to Blacksburg, if at all? Anything you'd like to mention to those longtime Hokie fans who will be reading this?

Lawrence: I am presently a marketing rep. for Lorillard Tobacco Company and have a wife and three boys. I don't make it back to Blacksburg as much as I would like to because of my job and responsibilities. I would like to thank all of those longtime Hokie fans for the support and love they've shown through out my career and into the present.


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