BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 17 (UPI) -- After having to cancel an entire day of practices Friday because of a virus affecting most of the team, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer has announced that three players, all fifth-year seniors, have been suspended for unspecified rules violations.
One of them was defensive back Roynell Whitaker, who is expected to be a First Team All-Big East selection again this fall. He was hit with a two-game penalty, which will cause him to miss the season opener Aug. 25 against Arkansas State and the following contest, Sept. 1 against defending SEC champion LSU. Both games will be played at Tech's Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va.
If the Gobblers get past those opponents, Whitaker, a Norfolk, Va., native, is scheduled to return for the campaign's third game, also at home, against Marshall, which includes potential All-American quarterback Byron Leftwich.
Because he is going into his last year and is looked upon as a team leader, Whitaker, who also was suspended for the Temple game last season for a similar violation, was profusely apologetic.
"That's the main reason why I apologized hundreds of times," Whitaker said. "Being a senior, you're supposed to know better. You don't have room for error when you're a senior. I apologized to [his teammates], told them I let them down. I just feel bad for the actions that I took. I let a lot of my brothers down, my teammates, my family. All I can do is learn from this and come back and get ready for the season. I made a mistake. As always, I'm going to get up and come back stronger."
Also suspended, for one game, were defensive end Lamar Cobb from Hurt, Va., and split end Terrell Parham from Bartow, Fla. They will not suit up for the Arkansas State contest.
"All I'm going to say is they broke team rules and that's it," said Beamer, noting that all three players will be allowed to continue to practice and attend team meetings.
Taking Whitaker's spot as a starter will be either sophomore Vincent Fuller or junior Garnell Wilds.