How ‘Enter Sandman’ became the most electric entrance in college football

The history behind Virginia Tech football’s iconic tradition.

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It's a Saturday night in Lane Stadium, just minutes before kickoff.  

Players begin filing into the narrow tunnel. Anticipation is building among the thousands of excited fans packed in the stands. Cheerleaders hold up "LET'S GO" and "HOKIES" signs as the crowd chants. 

Then, the first note of heavy metal band Metallica's Enter Sandman plays, and the crowd erupts with excitement as the entire stadium jumps in unison. The Hokies' head coach takes a deep breath, reaches up to touch the legendary Hokie Stone above the tunnel's exit, and finally – it's time.  

The team bursts out of the tunnel and onto the field while fireworks and pyrotechnics ignite, electrifying the crowd and sending waves of exhilaration and goosebumps through every person in the stadium. 

"It's just a different type of feeling," wide receiver Ali Jennings explained when describing the experience. "I get chills every time I think about it ­­– the stadium actually shakes." 

Virginia Tech’s Enter Sandman Entrance vs. West Virginia

Regarded as college football's greatest entrance, ’Enter Sandman dates back to Aug. 27, 2000, when Virginia Tech installed the first videoboard in Lane Stadium. A new videoboard means a new walkout song, and Enter Sandman won out over Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses and Sirius by The Alan Parsons Project. 

However, the first time the team actually used it in a game was against Georgia Tech, and the game itself was delayed then canceled due to thunderstorms. In fact, ESPN analyst Lee Corso's rental car was struck by lightning as the announcer was preparing for the game. 

Enter Sandman got its "jump" start a few years later on a chilly night when one band member started jumping to warm up. Before long, several other band members joined in, and the spontaneous act evolved into the legendary entrance.   

"The next thing you know, the whole band is jumping up and down, and then the next thing you know, the whole stadium is jumping up and down," former director of the Marching Virginians David McKee said in an interview with the Washington Post in 2009. "It was one of those accidental traditions." 

What started as a few band members jumping up and down led to an entire stadium of 66K bouncing fans – and seismographs have actually registered the shaking and noise.  

In 2011, against major ACC rival, Miami (Fla.), a seismograph detected noticeable activity centered around when the team entered the stadium. Similar situations occurred in 2015 during a game against Ohio State and again in 2021 during the home opener against the nationally ranked North Carolina.  

While the readings weren't quite at the level of an earthquake, it's safe to say that Hokie fans were loud. 

Enter Sandman eventually carried over to both the men's and women's Virginia Tech basketball teams, and even some graduations. The excitement behind the movement took a turn when the Hokies hosted the first round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Cassell Coliseum in 2023. 

Due to the NCAA tournament being viewed as a neutral site game, Enter Sandman was banned from being played by the NCAA at the event to keep the game as neutral as possible. However, that didn't stop Hokie Nation from singing the lyrics themselves to create a home-court advantage. 

Even Metallica has expressed its support for the iconic tradition. Prior to football's 2011 Miami game, the band recorded a video that was placed alongside the entrance hype video and music.  

"The stadium was ... probably as loud as it has ever been," Virginia Tech football’s legendary former coach Frank Beamer said. "I appreciate that part." 

Now entering its 25th year of existence, the iconic Enter Sandman has become synonymous with Virginia Tech football and Hokie pride. The hype-filled walkout energizes the crowd of Hokies, intimidates opponents and helps create a gameday experience unlike any other. 

"It all starts with Enter Sandman," current head coach Brent Pry said. "There's no better entrance in college football." 

Want to be a part of Lane Stadium's unforgettable atmosphere during the highly-anticipated 2024 season? Experience Lane Stadium for yourself and start making memories!