With the same captivated devotion of a woman watching "The Bachelor," Dee Virgin has spent countless hours bleary-eyed in front of a video screen. Knowing the stout challenge he is about to face, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore cornerback has studied as many highlights of Central Michigan star receiver Titus Davis as possible.
"It's been multiple films every day," Virgin said. "Even back when we were in camp I was studying him. Once I looked up his stats and saw he's a good player, I wanted to get as much on him as I could.
"I always study a lot of film, no matter who I'm going against, because I can't underestimate anybody. He's a nice player, for sure. But I'm just going to go out there and be me and try to make plays the way I always have."
The Mocs open their season Thursday night at Central Michigan, and while the Chippewas have all five offensive linemen returning and are predominantly a power running team, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Davis give them a home-run threat on every snap.
For the second straight preseason Davis is on the Biletnikoff Award watchlist, given to the nation's top college receiver, and his 18.2-yards-per-catch average last year leads all returning receivers nationally.
The secondary is the Mocs' most inexperienced defensive group, with the 5-10, 195-pound Virgin the only corner in the rotation with starting experience.
Because of Davis's big-play potential, the Mocs likely will have safety help deep for Virgin or any corner lining up against him. Virgin, who had a team-high nine passes defended and two interceptions last year, should be helped by going against a group of Mocs receivers each day in practice with similar body styles as Davis, including 6-1, 190-pounders Alphonso Stewart and Wil Young.
"That helps a lot because these receivers we've got work me real hard at practice," Virgin said. "That helps with techniques and fundamentals for going against those type big guys.
"It's going to be a challenge for us, no doubt, but I'm just looking forward to going out there and competing."
Last season Davis, who's a three-time All-MAC performer, had 1,109 receiving yards, and he ranks second in CMU history with 24 touchdown catches. He has more than 2,700 career receiving yards.
"You don't need me to tell you. Everybody in the world knows about him. He's a great football player," UTC defensive coordinator Adam Braithwaite said. "He's a complete player, an NFL talent, and he poses a real challenge.
"Central Michigan is a complete football team. They have a big, veteran offensive line and a Midwest mentality where they want to come out and pound you. You know you have to try and find a way to stop the run game, but also prevent him from lighting you up, too. It's a real challenge for any defense against him."
Mocs hire Altizer
UTC announced Tuesday that it has hired Scott Altizer as senior sssociate athletics director for internal operations.
Altizer was most recently the director of football relations at Tennessee and will oversee all event game operations, recruiting operations, internal communications, facilities and facilities planning. He had a 20-year tenure at Tennessee, including the day-to-day operation of the recruiting office.
The Morristown, Tenn., native was a four-year baseball letterman at Furman.
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Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...