Leads NCAA In Interceptions
Former Northgate star Facyson making impact for Virginia Tech
by Doug Gorman
When it came time for Northgate graduate Brandon Facyson to choose where he wanted to play college football, it came down to two ACC schools that just happen to have Tech at the end of their name, the one a short drive from his Newnan, or the other six hours away in the mountains of Virginia .
When the recruiting dust settled, Facyson decided he wanted to be a Hokie rather than a Yellow Jacket, a decision that may have made an immediate impact on Thursday night.
In his second trip back home already this season, the true freshman showed why he has turned into an immediate impact player who entered Saturday as the NCAA leader in interceptions.
Facyson caused a fumble and later picked up his fourth interception of the season inside the red zone in a 17-10 victory over Georgia Tech. The four picks in his first four games already has tied a school record for interceptions by a freshman.
In town after the victory, the former Viking got permission to stay for the weekend, visiting high school classmates and then watching from the stands in his Virginia Tech colors as his alma mater pull out an exciting 17-14 victory at Union Grove Friday on James Skalski's game-winning kick as time expired.
'I knew I wanted to make an immediate impact when I got here, but I wasn't really expecting this,' he said Friday night at half of the Northgate-Union Grove game. 'I am thankful for it, and I am thankful for the coaches for giving me the chance.' Northgate head coach Tommy Walburn was proud of his former player. 'It was great to see him,' Walburn said. 'He is doing a fantastic job, and we are proud of him.'
Facyson isn't too sure what to make of his fast start into the world of big-time college football, which only came after injuries to veteran cornerbacks pushed him immediately into the starting lineup.
On Thursday, his diving interception on a ball that looked destined to hit the turf along the sidelines made the holy grail of highlights among the Top 10 plays on ESPN's SportsCenter.
'I read the pass and I saw the quarterback rolling out,' he said. 'My first thought was to follow the receiver, and I dove for it and laid out for it. I caught it and cradled it.'
Although the play was reviewed, it was ruled Facyson maintained possession, and the ball went over to Virginia Tech.
The Virginia Tech coaching staff can't believe they are watching a freshman.
'He's not a freshman. He is not,' Virginia Tech assistant coach Jack Tyler told the Roanoke Times after Thursday's game. 'He is so far ahead of what most freshmen are at this point. Just football IQ-wise, skill wise, he is a heck of a player.'
Facyson has dreams of one day going to medical school to be a cardiologist when his playing days are over and admits juggling an freshman tough course load that includes chemistry with playing Division I football leaves him little free time.
'It's tough sometimes, but I am handling it well,' Facyson said. 'It's all going to work out fine.'
The first-year college football player says he had some nerves coming home to face a Georgia Tech offense that until Thursday had kept teams off balance with its triple option.
It didn't help that the Hokies only had a short time to prepare for the the Yellow Jackets' unorthodox offense. Facyson and his teammates rose to the occasion, holding the normally potent triple-option to just 126 yards offense, close to 200 below its average.
'They are a different type of offense,' Facyson said. 'They are hard-nosed. They are different from a lot of offenses we are going to face. You have to do a good job of reading your keys. They can score a touchdown quickly. We had a short time to prepare, and we had to buckle down and watch a lot of film. All in all it went well. We did a great job.'
Facyson was happy to get a chance to see his high school alma mater play.
'It was great playing at Northgate,' he said. 'Coach Walburn and all the coaches were great. I just want to thank them for giving me this opportunity to play at a Division I school.'
Facyson is excited about the rest of the season, including the chance to earn ACC Freshman of the Year honors.
'That's the goal,' he said. 'We will just have to see what happens.'