Shawn Witten rebounding from injury

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   Standing on the sidelines watching his team in action is something Shawn Witten is not use to. He always wants to be part of the game, win or lose.
   Yet, that is precisely where the junior split-end for the Virginia Tech Hokies spent the majority of his season after breaking a bone in his leg during the Pittsburg loss this season.
   Witten made a remarkable recovery from the injury, as he was ready to participate in the Gator Bowl if needed.
   "The injury doesn't hurt me anymore, it just tends to swell if I stay on it too long," said Witten on a visit to Little Milligan Elementary school, as part of Newspapers in Education sponsored by the STAR, with his brothers Ryan and Jason on Friday.
   "I had practiced hard for the Gator Bowl and the coaches said they would wait and see if the situation dictated me being in the game. The way everything worked out, they decided it was best not to take any chances with my senior year coming up."
   Witten was truly disappointed in suffering the injury, especially since he had started every game up until the time of his injury. He was nearing the level of play he wanted to be at, as he had been named Offensive Player of the Game in his last two starts.
   "Being out for the two biggest games of the year, against Virginia and Miami, was probably what hurt the most. I believe that all things happen for a purpose, and I think it showed a testament of my character that I worked hard to be ready for the Gator Bowl."
   One thing that is easily noticed by anyone within ear shot of any of the Witten brothers is their closeness. Shawn reminded the students during the autograph assembly that they should be thankful to have parents that support and love them.
   Shawn had a privilege that many players don't have, and that was to play for his grandfather, Dave Rider, in high school. Even though he is playing collegiately, Shawn doesn't hesitate to call his grandfather if he needs advice.
   " That's one advantage Jason and I have is that if we need some help, we can just pick up the telephone and call him," he said. "He always gives us the motivation we need to go out and play to the best of our abilities."
   The support that Shawn and Jason receive doesn't just stop at the use of a telephone. " It's always great to look up in the stands and see our family wearing No. 26 or No. 1 regardless if the game is in Blacksburg, Knoxville, Florida or Notre Dame," said Witten.
   When asked how he felt about his little brother's performance in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan, Shawn said, "I knew that Jason was capable of that type of game. He is big and fast. Ryan and I knew he had the tools to compete at the next level."
   Shawn was all smiles when asked if he would like to see his Hokies face off against the Vols next year for the National Championship.
   "That would be a dream come true. Our program wants to be on the same level as the Miami's and Nebraska's. We would like nothing more than to play in a National Championship, especially against Tennessee."
   With the graduation of prolific receiver Andre Davis this year, Witten could very well be the one Grant Noel will look to in passing situations on the field next year.
   "I am going to go back and talk with the coaches and let them know I want to be the player they can count on next season. I want to have that pressure on me because I know I can get the job done."
   If there's one thing the coaching staff knows in Blacksburg, it is the fact that Shawn Witten is a coach's player. Witten always does what's asked of him without any complaints, and with the hardest work ethic of any Tech player.
   Athletics is not the only thing that Shawn is proud of. After his football career is over as an athlete, Witten will most likely enter the education and coaching field.
   " I know that football will not last forever. Education is very important to be successful in life."
   One thing is for sure, with the work ethic that Shawn Witten displays on the football field and classroom, whatever he decides to do will be a success. It's in his blood.