One Virginia Tech player is overcoming a family tragedy to play the game he loves.
Like most of the guys ready to take the field tonight, Brent Benedict dreams of playing in the NFL.
But unlike those other players, Brent, an offensive lineman for Virginia Tech, knows too well how difficult that path can be.
And just how close you can get before everything is taken away.
"Heartbreaking, shocking. Really in disbelief,” Benedict said.
Brent Benedict grew up in the shadow, quite literally, of his brother Heath. Eight years older, Heath did everything big.
"He was very outgoing, social butterfly for sure,” Benedict said.
Physically, Heath's 6-foot-6, 325-pound frame made him a standout offensive lineman at Division II Newberry. He was a sought-after NFL prospect and a likely first-day pick at the 2008 Draft.
"That's how he played, very physically and very aggressively. That's how I've always played and tried to apply that mentality to my game,” Benedict said.
But then, just two weeks before the draft, that huge presence in Brent's life was gone.
"He was found in our house in Florida and we were visiting relatives in South Carolina. My dad got a phone call and I remember standing out in the front yard and just wild, just in shock,” Benedict said.
Heath was dead at 24 from an enlarged heart and irregular heartbeat. There were no warnings, not even after the NFL combine -- the most rigorous physicals of his life.
"Somebody so young and healthy and everything else like that. Just something you would never expect,” Benedict said.
Football is what Brent Benedict loves. But it is also a daily reminder of what he has lost.
"Brent is a little more mature than a lot of young men his age. He's had to deal with that tragedy and he's out on the football field every day. I know thoughts of his brother, he has those when he's out on the field,” Curt Newsome, Virginia Tech offensive guards and centers coach said.
Benedict said, "Always say a prayer before games and ask God to have him watch over me.
He still has two years left at Virginia Tech, and then he will try to complete what his brother started -- make it to the NFL.
"My focus right now is getting better at what I'm doing. And becoming the player that I want to be right now,” Benedict said.
Newsome added, "I'd love for him to get that opportunity. He's got two years after this year to play here. If he keeps heading in the right direction I think he will get that opportunity."
Since his brother's death, Brent has undergone routine medical checks on his own heart, and so far so good. On the field, that potential that he has will need to be on full display Thursday night against a talented Florida State defensive line. The Seminoles have 21 sacks this year and lead the ACC in rushing defense.