In less than a minute on Monday night, Bruce Taylor went from a hard-hitting Virginia Tech linebacker to a teammate overcome with emotion.
Following the Hokies’ 20-17 win against Georgia Tech in Lane Stadium, Taylor grabbed kicker Cody Journell’s head in the palm of his enormous hand and planted a big kiss on him.
Now that’s what you call love.
Journell got two second chances this week -- one when he was allowed back in a game for the first time since serving a suspension for his arrest on felony breaking and entering charges, and then another after he missed his first field goal attempt against the Jackets. Journell returned to kick the game-tying and game-winning field goals in a critical Coastal Division matchup -- a public redemption for his highly publicized off-field mistake that got him suspended for the Sugar Bowl. It was the first game-winner Journell had kicked in his collegiate career, and it came after he missed a 38-yard attempt wide left in the fourth quarter with the Hokies trailing 10-7.
“He had me worried for a little while, but I’m so proud of that kid with all he’s been through,” Taylor said. “It means a lot to me that he came out, that he stuck with it with all that he’s had to deal with in the past couple of months. To come out and make a big-time kick like that, it almost brought tears to my eyes, I’m not even going to lie.”
Journell “has agreed” not to talk about last year, and he doesn’t have to -- his teammates and coach Frank Beamer are more than willing to do the talking for him.
"Cody made a bad mistake and he paid, I thought, a tremendous price," Beamer said. "The publicity of it was more than most people get. When you're a Virginia Tech athlete and you mess up, that's what's going to happen. I think he knows this is his family and we're all pulling for him."
Journell, who was reinstated to the team by athletic director Jim Weaver in late July, kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime, then made a 17-yard field goal in the extra period.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” quarterback Logan Thomas said. “We’ve always had his back, never said a bad thing about him. He came in with me, was one of my good frineds. I went and gave him a big hug. Right before he kicked to tie it up, I said, ‘Hey man, you’ve got this. We’ve all got your back. We believe in you. The next one, the same thing, I knew he had it. I’m extremely proud and excited to have him back.”