When he was a star defensive back at Virginia Tech, Willie Pile took pride in being at a school with an elite football program.
After the tragedy that unfolded yesterday at the school, the first-year Argo knows his alma mater will forever be remembered for something more sombre.
"It's so sad, you feel terrible for all of the people involved," Pile said yesterday from Texas. "Even though it's just a random event, it will be forever associated with the university I got my degree with.
"Because of this terrible tragedy, it will be known now as 'Virginia Tech, home of the mass shootings.' "
As a four-year starter with the Hokies, Pile was well-acquainted with the campus and specifically the dormitory where the shootings began. Pile walked by the student residence every day on his way to and from the athletic dorm.
"You can't imagine this happening at a place like that," Pile said. "It's a nice, quiet campus. I never had any problems while I was there. Where I lived, it was just 50 yards away from where the shootings took place."
Pile was planning to return to the campus this weekend with his younger brother Ben, who is being recruited by the Hokies, for the annual spring intra-squad game.
"With all the grieving and mourning, I don't know how a football game can be on anybody's mind now," Pile said.
"It's such a tragedy ... Nobody can understand why it happened."