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.