Mikalauskas' record led to dismissal
Leitao, staff had enough of big man's years of infractions
Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008 - 12:07 AM
By JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
The news of Laurynas Mikalauskas' dismissal from the University
of Virginia men's basketball team came Monday night. It didn't take long for
Bill Ramsey's phone to start ringing.
Ramsey, who coached Mikalauskas at the Blue Ridge School in Greene County, said yesterday that he's heard from several Division I programs interested in the 6-8, 245-pound big man. Mikalauskas, who's scheduled to return this week from his native Lithuania, has one season of eligibility left.
"He's very disappointed. He really wanted to finish his career at U.Va.," said Ramsey, who has spoken to Mikalaukas since the news broke.
Mikalauskas' dismissal was not the result of one incident, but rather years of infractions that drew the ire of Virginia coach Dave Leitao and his assistants.
"Just things like missing study halls, missing team meetings over the years, getting in academic trouble over the years," Ramsey said.
In his statement Monday night, Leitao said: "There are standards to be a member of this basketball program, and Laurynas has not lived up to those standards."
Mikalauskas, who averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds last season, faces an appeals process at U.Va. to become academically eligible for the coming school year, Ramsey said.
"Hopefully, that will be cleared, and he'll be able to transfer in good academic standing or stay," Ramsey said.
Mikalauskas would like to remain at U.Va. and get his degree, Ramsey said, but if he's not on scholarship, finding the money to pay for tuition might be difficult.
"A lot of things have to happen real quick," Ramsey said. "But he loves U.Va. He feels he let himself down, he let his family down, he let his team down . . . I think transferring is what he's probably going to end up doing, but he still has this hope of staying."
If Mikalauskas chooses not to continue his college career, he could sign with an agent and play professionally in Lithuania, Ramsey said.
Mikalauskas plans to appeal dismissal
By Whitey Reid
Published: August 19, 2008
On the court, Lars Mikalauskas has always been known as a player who leaves his heart on the hardwood and never backs down from a challenge.
Apparently, that’s the same approach the Lithuanian plans on taking with the biggest off-the-court hurdle of his college career — his dismissal from the Virginia basketball team.
On Tuesday, a day after UVa coach Dave Leitao announced that Mikalauskas would no longer be a member of the program, sources told The Daily Progress that “The Pride of Lithuania” planned to return to the states early next week and go through an appeals process with the university. The exact nature of his appeal is not known.
When reached by phone in Lithuania, Mikalauskas said he would have no comment on his situation until he had sorted things out.
Bill Ramsey, Mikalauskas’ high school coach at the Blue Ridge School, confirmed that Mikalauskas’ appeal is in the works but chose not to go into detail.
“He loves UVa and everyone there,” Ramsey said. “Virginia is a very special place to him, and he feels terrible that he let his coaches and teammates down.
“He’s hoping to meet with coach Leitao and see if there’s anything he can possibly do to earn another chance.”
To win an appeal, a student, among other things, must prove that he has suffered a hardship. Recently, former Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell lost such an appeal.
Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage was not permitted to talk about the Mikalauskas case, but he spoke in general terms about the university’s appeals process.
“There are any number of cases where a student could find their good standing in jeopardy,” Littlepage said. “Students at the university who have circumstances that warrant some level of sanction are given an opportunity to appeal whatever decision has been made…
“I don’t have the numbers, but my understanding is that [trying to win an appeal] isn’t an exercise in futility.”
If Mikalauskas were to win, he would have to convince Leitao to reinstate him.
Leitao being receptive to a Mikalauskas mea culpa could be a long shot, since this isn’t the duo’s first tussle. This past season, Leitao suspended the 6-foot-8, 245-pounder for an exhibition game against Carson-Newman for “reasons internal to the team.”
There has never been any debate about Mikalauskas’ commitment to the team on the court. Last season, he could have elected to have surgery that would have ended his campaign early and netted him a medical redshirt. Instead, he played with a cumbersome shoulder harness and helped Virginia avoid a last-place conference finish.
Keep an eye on baggage
August 20, 2008
Bob Pruett's Marshall football program violated NCAA rules. And
his inadequate oversight was among the reasons.
That is indisputable.
The thorny issue surrounding Virginia's defensive coordinator and lead Peninsula recruiter is this: Did he as Marshall's head coach condone academic fraud and encourage lying to NCAA investigators?
The NCAA's two-year probe of the Thundering Herd uncovered no evidence of such. But legal documents filed last week assert otherwise and at the very least complicate life for the newest member of Virginia's staff.
He arrived in Charlottesville with well-worn baggage.
In December 2001, the NCAA sanctioned Marshall for arranging jobs for recruits who failed to meet association academic minimums. The custodial jobs, at a business owned by a Herd booster of course, not only violated NCAA rules but also paid the athletes $25 an hour, four times the going rate.
Moreover, investigators found that an assistant professor provided at least seven football players in danger of academic ineligibility with an advance copy of a final exam. The assistant professor also served as a volunteer assistant strength coach, and the class he taught was Scientific Foundations of Physical Education, a.k.a. PE 201.
Citing academic fraud and lack of institutional control, the NCAA Committee on Infractions, then chaired by Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager, placed Marshall on four years' probation and reduced scholarship limits for the football and men's basketball programs.
Yeager on Tuesday recalled Marshall's infractions hearing, attended by Pruett and other university officials, as rife with finger-pointing and ducking of responsibility.
"That led to a certain frustration level among the committee that maybe they were not telling the whole story," Yeager said.
But, Yeager stressed, there was no finding that Pruett, a Marshall grad who compiled a 94-23 record as the Herd's coach from 1996-2004, willfully violated NCAA rules.
Instead, the committee's report said Pruett and other Marshall administrators were unaware that regulations prohibited university-arranged employment for academic non-qualifiers. The report added that Marshall's jobs program was long-standing and preceded Pruett's tenure.
The 18-page infractions summary is available at NCAA.org, and Cavaliers faithful can only hope Virginia officials read it before approving Pruett's appointment.
During a media teleconference Tuesday, Groh said he was aware of the case long before hiring Pruett.
"We're comfortable with the situation ... as we know it to be," Groh added. "It's an annoyance to him but not a distraction. He's prevented, for legal purposes and at the counsel of his attorney, to respond and I'm just going to defer to his situation and not respond in any way he wouldn't be able to."
Among the report's interesting nuggets:
From 1996-2000, Marshall admitted at least 65 football recruits who failed to meet NCAA academic standards for freshman eligibility.
Pruett was so ignorant of the rulebook that he met with the booster to familiarize himself with the business where the non-qualifiers worked.
There was a "pervasive and impermissible involvement of the football program in assuring (non-qualifiers') employment coupled with the ceding of any responsibility to assure payment of a prevailing wage."
In short, the report flatters neither Pruett nor Marshall. But arguably the harshest words were reserved for the school's then-compliance director.
That would be David Ridpath, now working at Ohio University. Six years ago, he sued Pruett, Marshall and others for defamation of character, and the case continues to linger.
Yeager recalls Ridpath as bitter and uncooperative during the infractions process, and the report quotes Ridpath, not by name but title, as saying, "We make (rules) interpretations based upon the best interests of Marshall University, and I don't care what other (institutions) are doing."
Given such arrogance, it's tempting to dismiss Ridpath's suit as irrelevant. But in affidavits filed Friday and first reported by CBSSports.com, two former Marshall players and a former strength coach implicate Pruett.
All-conference linebackers Charles Tynes and Sam Goines said Pruett instructed them to sign statements for NCAA investigators that misrepresented the salary they received from the improper jobs.
Former strength coach Mike Jenkins said he attended a staff meeting in which Pruett said players with iffy eligibility were guaranteed As in the disputed PE 201 class.
Do Tynes, Goines and Jenkins have grudges against Pruett? Are they lying or telling the truth?
Yeager said he can't imagine the NCAA reopening the case and penalizing Pruett, but as the 2008 season and an Oct. 21 court date in Huntington, W.Va., beckon, the questions raised in the lawsuit demand monitoring.
Virginia coach Pruett named in suit
The lawsuit pertains to when the current Cavs defensive coordinator was Marshall’s coach.
By Doug Doughty
First-year Virginia defensive coordinator Bob Pruett, whose return to coaching has been one of the bigger storylines in the Cavaliers’ offseason, now finds himself in the news for a less flattering matter.
Seven years after the NCAA found Marshall University guilty of various violations involving academic non-qualifiers, Pruett has been linked to the violations in sworn affidavits in a federal lawsuit by two of his former players and ex-strength and conditioning coach Mike Jenkins.
Pruett, who compiled a 92-23 record as the Thundering Herd’s head coach from 1996-2004, was not named in the initial NCAA report.
“That’s an eight-year ongoing legal procedure,” said Pruett, who said he was not aware of a story on CBSSportsline.com that first reported the allegations Sunday.
“You know, in legal procedures, you can’t comment on things like that. Those are accusations. That’s the reason hopefully one day you’ll get your day in court, and we’ll see what happens.”
Pruett’s comments were made Monday in a previously scheduled teleconference, the only teleconference this fall that has involved both of UVa’s coordinators.
UVa coach Al Groh was asked about the Pruett matter Tuesday.
“Actually, this is quite a dated issue,” Groh said. “It’s been out there for a long time. It’s been before both the NCAA and the legal system. We’re well aware of it. We’ve been aware of it for quite some time, both previous to Bob’s coming here and subsequent to that.
“We’re comfortable with the situation as we know it. It’s an annoyance to him but not a distraction. He’s prevented, for legal purposes and at the counsel of his attorney, to respond. I’m going to defer to his situation and not respond in any way that he would not be able to.”
Marshall was placed on NCAA probation for four years in 2001 and lost 15 scholarships (five per year for three years). On top of that, Marshall stopped recruiting non-qualifiers for two years.
The lawsuit was filed by David Ridpath, Marshall’s former NCAA compliance officer. Ridpath was fired in 2003. His lawsuit accuses Marshall, Pruett and others of using him as a scapegoat.
Court documents indicated that Marshall persuaded non-qualifiers to come to Marshall by promising jobs that would pay their tuition.
Pruett announced he was stepping down at Marshall in the winter of 2005, mostly for health reasons. Pruett came out of retirement in February at the urging of Groh, who had lost former defensive coordinator Mike London to Richmond, where London is the head coach.
“I even talked to Dick Bestwick way back about the possibility of coaching at the University of Virginia,” said Pruett, who was the head coach at Gar-Field High School in Prince William County when Bestwick coached at UVa from 1976-1980. “That’s sort of been a lifelong dream. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve sort of got it done.
“I don’t know if I had gone back into coaching anywhere but the University of Virginia or by Al. I’m like a 30-year-old coach, just bouncing around here, light on my feet, trying to do good.”
On the day he was hired by Groh, Pruett was contacted by cellphone as he was on the way to dinner at 4:45 p.m. He no longer partakes in Early Bird specials with as much regularity.
“It’s six in the morning till midnight when before, you was doing nothing,” said Pruett, who turned 65 on June 20. “I’ve never been accused of being smart anyhow, but this has been a joy and a trip for me.”
Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008 - 12:07 AM
Groh backs Pruett
On his teleconference with reporters yesterday, football coach Al Groh was asked whether the lawsuit in which Bob Pruett is a defendant might distract U.Va.'s new defensive coordinator this season.
Pruett was head coach at his alma mater, Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., from 1996 to 2004. As part of a lawsuit initiated about six years ago, Pruett last week was accused of involvement in academic fraud and the overpayment of players at off-campus jobs while coach at Marshall.
"Actually, this is quite a dated issue," Groh said. "It's been out there for a long time. It has been before both the NCAA and before the legal system.
"We're well aware of it. We've been aware of the circumstance for quite some time, both previous to Bob's coming here and subsequent to that, and we're comfortable with the situation as we know it to be. It's an annoyance to him but not a distraction."
The NCAA penalized Marshall in 2001 for several violations, including academic fraud and lack of institutional control. The original NCAA infractions report did not name Pruett.
Defensive end Sean Gottschalk has returned to practice on a limited basis, Groh indicated. Gottschalk, who starred at Deep Run High, took a leave of absence recently to deal with undisclosed health issues.
A redshirt sophomore, Gottschalk sat out most of spring practice while recovering from shoulder surgery. Virginia's starting defensive ends in the Aug. 30 opener are expected to be senior Alex Field and redshirt freshman Matt Conrath.
Hoops under way
Dave Leitao's basketball team opened practice last night for its upcoming trip to Canada. The Cavaliers will play three games in Montreal: two on Aug. 30 and one on Aug. 31.
Leitao's three freshmen -- 6-5 Sylven Landesberg, 6-11 John Brandenburg and 7-0 Assane Sene -- can't begin practicing with the team until Tuesday, when classes start at U.Va.
In their absence, only 10 players are available for practice: redshirt freshman Sammy Zeglinski, sophomores Mustapha Farrakhan, Mike Scott, Jeff Jones and Will Sherrill, juniors Calvin Baker, Jamil Tucker, Solomon Tat and Jerome Meyinsse, and fifth-year senior center Tunji Soroye.
Senior swingman Mamadi Diane, Virginia's top returning scorer (11.8 ppg) is recovering from foot surgery and won't play in Montreal.
Move excites Harris
When he decided to leave U.Va., forward Will Harris started looking for a basketball program where he could have a bigger impact. His eventual choice -- Albany -- struck him as "a situation where I can go in and do some good things," Harris said.
The Great Danes' assistant coaches include Jeremy Friel, whose brother Keith played basketball at U.Va. before Harris enrolled there.
As a freshman, coincidentally, Harris played against Albany in the NCAA tournament's first round. He played nine scoreless minutes in the Cavaliers' 84-57 romp.
Harris, who turns 22 next week, posted career averages of 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds at U.Va. Back problems limited him to 15 games in 2007-08, but Harris said he's healthy again.
Marist and Valparaiso also drew consideration from Harris, who said he's bittersweet about leaving U.Va. and will miss his former teammates and coaches.
"I loved it out here," he said. "My experience here was great." -- Jeff White
Cavs ban all signs at games
By Brian McNeill
Published: August 19, 2008
The University of Virginia has banned all signs at its athletics events, a move that some are construing as an infringement of Cavalier sports fans’ freedom of expression.
UVa students were notified of the new policy in an e-mail Tuesday. “Beginning this year, signs are not permitted inside athletics facilities,” the e-mail said. “Thank you for your cooperation.”
The new policy comes roughly a year after UVa student David Becker was threatened with ejection from Scott Stadium during a UVa football game against Duke University. Becker drew the ire of stadium officials for holding up a sign in the front row that read “Fire Groh.”
Becker’s homemade sign reflected a view of head football coach Al Groh that was shared by a number of Cavaliers fans at the time.
However, a Scott Stadium official informed Becker that his sign violated a policy banning any signs, flags or banner that contain “derogatory comments, profanity, impede another guest’s view of the field or cover any stadium signage.”
As of Tuesday, that policy had been changed to: “All banners, signs and flags are prohibited in Scott Stadium.”
Becker, who has often held up supportive signs at UVa football and basketball games, said he suspects that last year’s “Fire Groh” incident probably led to the new policy.
“As for relating this to last year, I think it may,” Becker, 20, wrote in an e-mail. “I sincerely regret the confusion over last year’s incident if it did in fact play a role in this decision.”
Becker said he does not believe that the new policy violates UVa fans’ First Amendment rights.
“While it’s disappointing to see all signs banned, I suspect the move was made to avoid any misinterpretation regarding the sign policy,” said Becker, a fourth-year biomedical engineering student from Woodbridge. “I’m not sure it infringes on our freedom of speech, as the athletic department has the power to regulate what is allowed to enter the athletic venues.”
Rich Murray, a spokesman for UVa’s athletics department, said the policy shift came after much consideration and discussion about signs at athletics events last fall. The new policy applies to football and basketball games, as well as all other athletics events.
“The policy change is intended to support and promote sportsmanship in a positive game-day environment for all fans in attendance,” Murray said.
UVa football fans reacted with irritation to the university’s new sign policy on the independent online message board thesabre.com.
“Entertaining creativity stifled again,” wrote one. “Ridiculous.”
“Somebody’s expecting us to have a pretty bad year, I guess,” posted another.
“So much for the 1st Amendment,” wrote a third.
Josh Wheeler, a lawyer and associate director at the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, said that although the new policy is a blanket prohibition on all signs, it ironically raises fewer constitutional concerns than did the old policy because it is both content- and viewpoint-neutral.
“The key factor in determining the constitutionality of a restriction on speech in a public place is whether it is directed at what is being said,” Wheeler said. “In other words, does the restriction apply to all speech, and not just the speech you don’t like?”
UVa Football Preview: Cavs turning to recent recruiting classes
By Andy Bitter
Published: August 19, 2008
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The results from the media’s preseason balloting arrived just before the ACC coaches did in Georgia last month at the conference’s annual gathering. When informed of his team’s predicted finish — fifth in the Coastal Division — Virginia coach Al Groh, as he always does, brushed it off, finding such prognostications useless.
“Our team probably continues to labor to get much respect in this conference,” he said. “We’ll let other people deal with what the perception is. All we deal with is in reality.”
The Cavaliers had many real results to hang their hats on in a surprisingly successful 2007 season, just like analysts had many real reasons to expect a precipitous fall in the standings after a turbulent offseason that involved unexpected attrition on all fronts.
Chris Long was NFL-bound for sure, but UVa took a hit when left guard Branden Albert followed him into the draft. Two key starters — quarterback Jameel Sewell and cornerback Chris Cook — were issued full-year academic suspensions. As a final blow, the player expected to pick up most of Long’s slack at defensive end, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, transferred to Kansas State after academic issues of his own.
Groh, naturally, sees the departures differently, thinking of this as the perfect opportunity for younger players to make a name for themselves.
“When Chris Long and Branden Albert were getting ready to start, I don’t recall there were any people saying, ‘Oh wow, this is incredible. These guys are going to start,’” Groh said. “Now everybody is saying, ‘What are you going to do without these guys?’
“So there are players coming up who are going to have the same opportunity as those players did and go from no-name players in the eyes of people who don’t know to being people everybody is saying, ‘What are you going to do without (them)?’”
The Cavaliers aren’t lacking for candidates. Two years of redshirting almost every member of the incoming freshman class has given Virginia a talent pool deeper than any Groh has had in this, his eighth year in Charlottesville.
Long and Fitzgerald are gone at defensive end, but unproven players like redshirt freshmen Matt Conrath and Zane Parr have shown promise.
Cook had star potential at cornerback, but sophomore Ras-I Dowling, who filled in admirably for him last year, appears to have just as high of a ceiling.
Along with Albert, UVa lost seniors Jordy Lipsey and Ian-Yates Cunningham and must replace its entire interior offensive line. But fifth-year senior Zak Stair, redshirt freshman Jack Shields and sophomore B.J. Cabbell cut their teeth together as a unit on the second team last season and relish an opportunity to get in a game.
Sewell is out at quarterback, but that merely opens an opportunity for sophomore Peter Lalich, the team’s best quarterback prospect since Matt Schaub, to seize the job.
Virginia also welcomes back from injury two offensive playmakers — tailback Cedric Peerman and wide receiver Kevin Ogletree — with all-ACC potential.
The skeptics will wonder if this team can duplicate the same kind of chemistry and numerous clutch plays that were so vital to last year’s success in tight games.
For the gloom-and-doomers out there, consider this: Groh’s only two nine-win seasons at Virginia came when expectations were ridiculously low:
w Picked to finish eighth out of nine teams in 2002, the Cavaliers and ACC player of the year Matt Schaub went 6-2 in the conference, tying for second and going on win the first of two Continental Tire Bowls.
w Picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division last year, Virginia reeled off an unprecedented string of close victories to win nine games and make the school’s first New Year’s Day bowl appearance since 1994.
“I’ve never been on a team like that in my life,” outside linebacker Clint Sintim said. “Just to win the number of games that we did by the amount of points that we did was just ridiculous.
“I’ve got a lot of memories from that team, but it’s a new year, a new day, and we’re just going to try to continue to push and make this year special too.”
UVa quarterbacks still battling
By Jay Jenkins
Published: August 19, 2008
Long after a practice had completed last week at Virginia’s football practice facility, Pete Lalich stayed on the field, firing spiral after spiral to fellow quarterback Riko Smalls.
Lalich, a sophomore, eventually elected to end the tutorial session with the rookie.
“Let’s take it in the house,” Lalich said.
That was as close as media members have been to obtaining a quote from Lalich or any other quarterback in the program.
Scott Deke, a senior in the three-way battle for the spot, attempted to explain the silent treatment earlier this month at the program’s Meet the Team Day, which doubled as media day.
Deke said the quarterbacks collectively decided “that it’s in our best interest to just, you know, keep to ourselves and do whatever is best for this team. And until any of us have done anything in a game worthwhile to be talking about, I think it is in our best interest to stick to ourselves and keep working to be, to do what’s best for our team.”
The hush policy will likely continue until a candidate is named publicly or emerges to take the first snap against third-ranked Southern California on August 30.
The uncertainty is not as a result of poor play, offensive coordinator Mike Groh said Monday. It is quite the contrary in the race between Lalich, Deke and sophomore Marc Verica.
“They have all had good days and bad days, and fortunately for us more good than bad,” Groh said. “They have all done very well. I’m pleased with their development, their progress, their command of the offense.”
That does not mean that the coaching staff does not have a pecking order in mind.
“I think it’s winding down,” Groh said on Monday. “We’re going to start our preparation on [Southern Cal], so certainly he’ll be in place by then.”
The answer could be relayed to the team in today’s practice.
“I could tell you one thing: I won’t be [announcing it],” Groh chuckled. “But I would imagine that if that is the case, coach [Al Groh] will make an announcement to you guys.”
While Lalich remains the likely starter, the younger Groh would only admit that he had an idea of who the signal caller will be.
“Do I have an opinion on it?” Groh said. “Yes, I do.”
For now, the Trojans are left worrying with their own quarterback situation — projected starter Mark Sanchez dislocated his left knee in practice earlier this month, leaving backups Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp taking most of the snaps in practice. They also have little video footage to study on Virginia’s potential starter, as only Lalich has attempted a pass in a game.
It has helped the quarterbacks, Groh said, that they all mirror each other in style. That was not the case last when former quarterback Jameel Sewell, a running threat, and the strong-armed Lalich played in the same contest.
“It’s not like you have one offense for one style of quarterback and another offense for another style,” Groh said. “They are all running the same offense. In that way it is an advantage for those three guys in that they are all getting excellent preparation in the offense that we will play throughout the season.”
By Jason S. Rufner
Source: Loudoun Times-Mirror
TUESDAY, AUGUST 19 2008
Name: Alex Field
Position: Defensive end
Height: 6 feet 7 inches
Weight: 285 pounds
College: University of Virginia
Major: Sociology For three years at the University of Virginia, Broad Run graduate Alex Field has been biding his time by honing his craft, getting bigger and stronger and making the most of his role as a backup defensive end.
When the Cavaliers face the perennially powerful University of Southern California to open the football season Aug. 30, Field's name will likely be announced as a starter.
"It's gonna be a great game," Field predicts.
His declaration pertains to his team in general, but undoubtedly, he hopes the "great game" label also will apply to him. The 2003 Defensive Player of the Year in the Dulles District has been waiting a long time to step into a primary role on the Cavalier defense.
"We have a 'next man up' attitude around here," Field says. After starting defensive ends Jeffrey Fitzgerald, who transferred, and Chris Long, who was taken second overall in the NFL draft, Field is the next man up.
"Those guys are about as good as it gets," Field says of Fitzgerald and Long, raving about their passion and work ethic. "It's infectious when you're around guys like that."
Coming off a junior campaign in which Field played in 13 games, grabbing 11 tackles -- three behind scrimmage -- and hauling down two sacks, he has been on the first rotation during spring and fall practices and is a presumptive starter at the end position.
The time has arrived for Field to get as good as he can get.
During his time as a Broad Run Spartan, Field was an exceptional two-way iron man, earning all-district honors his junior and senior years. Playing as a 6-foot-6, 255-pound high schooler, he was able to physically dominate opponents on Dulles District gridirons, securing a scholarship to an Atlantic Coast Conference program.
He still lives in Ashburn, still visits his old high school, even catching a few games during UVA's bye weeks and dropping into his old locker room to advise and pep up the current Spartans. He does not disguise his robust esteem for Broad Run's recent football success.
"It's exciting to see what they're doing," Field says about the 2007 district champions. "It makes me proud that I was there."
His brother, Will, is still there. Like his older brother, Will is a football and lacrosse player, but a different kind of athlete.
"He's a lot smoother, more graceful than I am," Field says with a chuckle about his younger brother, a rising senior who has committed to play lacrosse at Sacred Heart University.
College has been a learning experience for the sociology major, on the field and in the classroom.
"The game is a lot more technical [in college], a lot faster," Field says. “You really need to be game-aware.”
Field has added an inch of height and 30 pounds of muscle under the UVA training regimen and enters the 2008 season "in the best shape I've ever been in."
"I eat as much healthy food as I can each day," Field says, adding a tad of emphasis to "healthy." "You kind of get sick of eating."
Field is on track to graduate in May, having endured two arduous statistics courses during the summer sessions. His future beyond the Charlottesville campus is still an open question; he has a senior season yet to display his wares to professional scouts.
"I'm doing my best to take this season one game at a time," he says. "I want to play football as long as I can."
The notion of being part of a team to accomplish a goal is an attractive one to Field, who has pondered being on a NASCAR pit crew as a career option, as some of his friends have done.
"I like the team environment, working together to get something done," he says.
When he's not working, Field likes to displace water as a certified scuba diver. He first began diving in New Hampshire during family gatherings, swimming down into "the clearest lakes in the country" to observe strange life forms and small boat wrecks.
But Field also is certified in swimming past linemen in pursuit of ball carriers, a skill he developed in Loudoun. At UVA, Field shares the roster with two other county residents, sophomore punter Nathan Rathjen of Loudoun Valley and freshman offensive lineman John Maghamez out of Briar Woods.
"Yeah, I know them," the ex-Spartan says. “We like to talk about our high school days.”
Field has observed the growth of high school sports in his home area, where more and more Loudouners are finding spots on college rosters in all sports.
"Athletics are really blowing up in Northern Virginia," he says, "especially Loudoun County."