Three Players selected in the 2014 NFL Draft

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The 2013 Virginia Tech football season was at times a source of great pride and joy, and at other times an unstoppable flow of embarrassment and sorrows. An opening weekend loss to Alabama was expected, but home losses to Duke and Maryland most certainly were not. The year ended on a sour note when the Hokies were flattened by the UCLA Bruins in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. Positive thinking fans are counting down the days until the kick of the 2014 campaign, and three players from the 2013 roster are looking forward to a career at the professional level after being selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Cornerback Kyle Fuller dominated the secondary throughout his time in Blacksburg, and he was rewarded for his efforts by the Chicago Bears, who used the number 14 overall selection to bring him aboard. He became the first Virginia Tech player taken the first round since the New York Giants nabbed RB David Wilson with the 32nd pick in 2012, and Fuller joins an illustrious and exclusive list that includes Michael Vick, DeAngelo Hall and Bruce Smith.

Fuller comes from a large and athletic family with a few representatives already in the professional ranks. A better than average showing at the combine included a 1.50 10-yard-split time and a 10’8″ broad jump. 12 repetitions on the bench press at 225 pounds isn’t going to raise eyebrows, but it represents noticeable strength for a position that is focused on quickness and coordination. A stout defensive unit since their Super Bowl days of the mid-1980s, the Chicago Bears defensive line has been in flux over the past few seasons. The silver lining is that uncertainty gives a player like Fuller an opportunity to get on the field quickly and demonstrate his value to the team.

Many fans had a love/hate relationship with quarterback Logan Thomas over the course of his tenure at the helm of the Hokies offense. Experts were all over the place on where the Lynchburg native would land in the professional ranks, and it ended up being the Arizona Cardinals that took him up on his services in the fourth round with the 120th overall selection. Carson Palmer has had an impressive second career since his knee was shattered in the playoffs several years ago, but he is clearly near the end of his productivity window. This should give Thomas a few years to learn the professional offense and continue to grow his physique.

The final Virginia Tech football player taken in the 2014 NFL Draft was cornerback Antone Exum. It is a long shot that Exum will have any type of impact on the Minnesota Vikings this season, but their lack of depth at quarterback will certainly give him a fair opportunity to make some noise. The three players selected in this year’s draft ties for the most since 2010, when a total of five players were selected, including fifth-round pick Kam Chancellor.


Virginia Tech Snags Eight 4-Star Recruits to Fill Key Positions on Big Signing Day

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Virginia Tech Snags Eight 4-Star Recruits to Fill Key Positions on Big Signing Day

The most well-respected college football ranking websites have placed Virginia Tech’s 2014 recruiting class at somewhere in the #20 – #25 range. It includes a total of eight four-star recruits and 14 three-star recruits, highlighted by some of the most coveted players in the great state of Virginia.

Head Coach Frank Beamer obviously knows how to recruit, and the fact that he is a living legend of college football at this point in time certainly doesn’t hurt his chances when he steps in the living room of a blue-chip high school student. Virginia Tech has had success recruiting defensive players throughout the entirety of Beamer’s tenure, but the lack of consistent offensive production in 2013 certainly created a need for some wide receivers and running backs who can make an impact soon.

Enter Shai McKenzie, a 6’0”, 214-pound four-star running back that tore apart defenses in high school in the city of Washington, Pennsylvania. He is joined by fellow four-star recruit Marchand Williams, a hometown kid out of Hampton who is a few inches shorter and has already put an official 4.57 40-Yard dash time on record. Coaches will certainly be working with these two highly-touted running backs, hoping to implement them into a system that is in dire need of weapons that can bring opposing defensive backs and linebackers closer to line of scrimmage, opening up the holes for big passing gains down the sidelines.

Likely snagging his fair share of those passes in upcoming seasons will be wide receiver Cameron Phillips, a Hyattsville, Maryland four-star recruit with a slim 6’0”, 178-pound frame that he is sure to be adding muscle to soon. The Hokies have landed a collection of three-star wide receivers, and it is very likely that one or more will break out of become top-tier pass catchers.

But as is normally the case for Virginia Tech recruiting classes, this one is highlighted by few stud defenders. Savvy fans in Blacksburg are already talking about CJ Reavis, a lightning-quick 6’0” defensive back with a ripped physique and a knack for shutting down receivers of all sizes. The obvious conclusion is that Virginia Tech will have a “Reavis Island” of their own, although it is spelled slightly different than his NFL counterpart.

On top of all these players, the biggest score in this year’s recruiting class for the Hokies was Raymon Minor, an esteemed and coveted four-star recruit out of Richmond who created mismatches for offenses and defenses alike while dominating both sides of the ball at Benedictine High School as an outside linebacker and tight end. It’s unclear exactly how Virginia Tech will use the 6’3”, 215-pounder, but early indications point to him being the linchpin of the linebacking corps for the next handful of seasons. One scout observed that he “comes off the edge like he’s shot out of a cannon,” an image that gives Virginia Tech fans a lot of reasons to be hopeful about this team’s chances in the ACC in the upcoming seasons.


Virginia Tech Top 5 Players

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Virginia Tech Top 5 Players

The Virginia Tech football team quickly began to evolve from a mediocre team into a perennial powerhouse with the arrival of head coach Frank Beamer in the late 1980s. His style is now stamped all over the modern-day squads, often lead by a ferocious running game, a stingy secondary and marvelous play on special teams. We recently put together a list of the five greatest Virginia Tech football players of all time, and only one came before the arrival of Beamer.

#5 Shayne Graham K 1996-99

It is rare for a kicker to end up on one of our top five lists, and Shayne Graham actually went undrafted after graduating in 1999, but his performance over the course of his career spoke for itself. Graham shattered nearly every previous kicking record held at Blacksburg, including connecting on 97 consecutive extra points over the course of a few seasons. He was 17 – 22 on field goal attempts in his senior year, where he set Virginia Tech’s single-season record by scoring a total of 107 points.

#4 DeAngelo Hall DB 2001-03

DeAngelo Hall was a fierce competitor while playing for Virginia Tech, and opposing quarterbacks only threw in his direction when they were feeling gutsy. Equally capable of making a huge interception and a huge hit, Hall fueled a powerful Virginia Tech defense during the early years of the modern millennium. He was taken with the eighth overall pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, and he has gone on to have a major impact on the professional level.

#3 Kevin Jones RB 2001-03

Running back Kevin Jones shredded defenses throughout the course of his time in Blacksburg, and his chiseled physique got the attention of professional scouts at a very early phase in his college career. Jones put together one of the most impressive seasons running the ball in Hokies history in 2003 when he amassed nearly 1,700 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns while getting about 6 yards per carry.

#2 Bruce Smith DE 1982-1985

Bruce Smith is the only player on this list to come along before the Frank Beamer era, but he is a very worthy recipient of the number two slot. Smith was simply a man among boys throughout his college career, playing the role of both the unstoppable force and the immovable object based on what the situation required.

#1 Michael Vick QB 1999-2000

To make a list of the greatest Virginia Tech football players of all time and exclude Michael Vick would border on a criminal act. It can be argued that Vick redefined the position of college football quarterback throughout his career at Virginia Tech, and dozens of highlight reels showing a collection of jaw-dropping runs against highly ranked opponents will allow fans to recall his glory days.


Virginia Tech Hits High Note To End Pitchy Season

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Virginia Tech Hits High Note To End Pitchy Season

An up-and-down 2013 regular season that disappointed Hokies fans initially before pumping them full of hope in the first few weeks of October has officially come to a close with a 16 – 6 victory over the Cavaliers in Virginia.

After winning six of their first seven games, Virginia Tech has finished 8 – 4 overall and 5 – 3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This was good enough for a third-place finish in a grouping that features the seemingly unstoppable Florida State Seminoles, the constantly competitive Clemson Tigers and the suddenly relevant Duke Blue Devils.

As has become custom for a Hokies team that is long on talent but also deep on drama, this past Saturday’s game was an unusual one. Quarterback Logan Thomas clearly saw the game as an opportunity to go out with a flourish following a season that has likely been a bit less than he expected. The Lynchburg, Virginia native certainly had dreams of putting together an illustrious 2013 season while building serious momentum that could carry him into the top few rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. The reality of the situation is he will probably end up being either a late round pick or a free-agent signing.

Against the typically overmatched yet always feisty Cavaliers team, Thomas completed 13 of his 29 passes for 229 yards in a game that was actually dominated by the kickers. Virginia Tech connected on a 22-yard field goal early in the first quarter, and after Virginia scored a three pointer of their own, Eric Kristensen once again connected, this time from 30 yards to bring the score to 6 – 3.

This game was short on big plays and long on defense, and the teams traded field goals in the initial 30 minutes before Virginia Tech scored the first and only touchdown of the game after Thomas hooked up with Trey Edmonds on a 26-yard scoring strike that put the Hokies ahead 16 – 6.

Folks can be certain that both coaches emphasized the need for defense in the upcoming half during the short halftime break. This was a message that was heard loud and clear by both Virginia Tech and Virginia, and the final 30 minutes were completely devoid of any scoring. Turnovers, foolish penalties and missed opportunities were theme throughout a second half that was forgettable.

Nonetheless, coach Beamer and Virginia Tech will now head into the off-season on a high note, anxious and hopeful of recruiting a player that resembles the quarterback from Newport News, Virginia that inspired and kicked off a new era of Virginia Tech football.

Looking back on the season, there are many reasons for Hokies fans to be happy. A victory over Georgia Tech in late September stands as one of the most impressive feats of the season, and a dispatching of the North Carolina Tar Heels the following week was also impressive. A three-point loss at the hands of the aforementioned Blue Devils came as a shock in late October, but Duke has demonstrated that they clearly mean business. An 18-point victory in early November over the Miami Hurricanes also represents a high-water mark of achievement.


2013 Virginia Tech Top 5 Football Teams

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2013 Virginia Tech Top 5 Football Teams

The Virginia Tech football program has been around since the late 19th century, and they turned themselves into a perennial contender in the mid-1980s after decades of toiling in mediocrity. They finished fourth or better in the Big East Conference every single year from 1993 to 2011. Here is a collection of the five best Virginia Tech football teams of all time.

#5 1986

In head coach Bill Dooley’s final year with the team and one of the University’s final as an conference independent, the Hokies were able to put together a 10 – 1 – 1 season, capped off by a 25 – 24 victory over the NC State Wolfpack in the Peach Bowl. Running backs Eddie Hunter and Maurice Williams combined to create a two-headed monster that was nearly impossible for opposing defenses to stop. Dooley left the team at the end of the season, paving the way for Frank Beamer.

#4 1995

Beamer took a few years to get his feet set in Blacksburg, and once he did the team started rattling off winning seasons on a regular basis. The first banner year that Beamer put together was in 1995, when the team finished first in the Big East and compiled a 10 – 2 record after losing the first two games of the season at home. The campaign ended with an 18-point victory over the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl, and the exposure gave Beamer valuable recruiting leverage.

#3 2009

Virginia Tech continued to post 10 and 11 win seasons following the departure of Vick. The 2008 team was a standout group, and even though they placed third in a very competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, they came up big down the stretch and defeated a very talented Boston College team in early December and a stacked Cincinnati Bearcats team in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.

#2 2000

2000 was superstar quarterback Michael Vick’s second year with Virginia Tech, and it was a year in which the Hokies had the attention of the entire sporting nation. Vick absolutely laid waste to drastically overmatched defenses over the course of the season, running for over 600 yards on just over 100 attempts and firing darts into the hands of wide receivers during various rollouts. The Hokies also played a hard-nosed, scrappy brand of defense, benefiting from blocked punts and field goals on a regular basis.

#1 1999

Of all the great squads led by Frank Beamer, the single greatest was the 1999 team. The season was Michael Vick’s first with the Hokies, and it was the single biggest and brightest year for Virginia Tech football and the city of Blacksburg in the history of the institution. Beamer built the program into a respected force, but it was the talent and highlight reel play of Vick that catapulted the team from the middle of the pack to an elite force in the NCAA.