Quarantine brain has us all thinking about the past. For me, it started with watching the ACC Digital Network's highlights of every 2019 Hokie football win, and then promptly devolving into a highlight binge going back to the early 90s. I can't help myself, I need to go to a happy place, and my personal happy place involves Tyrod Taylor touchdowns and 2007 defensive onslaughts.
Luckily for me, some of my fellow TKP staffers felt the same way. So we came up with an idea to help us deep dive into nostalgia — have a draft to build our all-time Virginia Tech football teams.
Four writers. 28 rounds. Bring your own schemes (you can choose your own offensive and defensive strategy, aka we can finally put Vick in a spread attack) and team building philosophies.
So Pierson, Sam, TheFifthFuller, and I sequestered ourselves and slapped together our own personal Hokie draft boards.
Here's the process: We're choosing a starting 11 on both sides of the ball. One QB, two RBs (or a fullback, dealer's choice), two WRs, one TE, five OLs (position matters less, but think of it as a real team. If anyone drafts five centers, things probably won't work out.) Four DLs (same note), three LBs, 4 DBs, 1 K, 1 P.
We'll also throw in two extra players on both sides of the ball, which can fill any position we choose. We're not specifically drafting returners, which has to be kept in mind as we draft skill players.
And with that, your first annual Virginia Tech draft is underway.
Pierson is on the clock.
1. Pierson: Michael Vick, QB
I don't feel like this requires a ton of explanation. Vick left an indelible mark on both Virginia Tech and the quarterback position, shattering the barriers that defined the limitations of each. What Vick did on the football field was electric. Even if this draft goes to hell-in-a-handbasket for me, I could go all Madden 2004 and roll out with MV7 Every. Single. Play. And we would probably still win.
2. Sam: Bruce Smith, DE
One of the most dominant defensive players in NFL history. Bruce Smith is a timeless football player. Speed, aggression, skills, size, he's the ultimate edge rusher. You can't gameplan for him. Smith racked up 200 career sacks in the NFL, the league record. I don't think that record will be touched any time soon. He is, without a doubt, the most accomplished and dominant football player in Virginia Tech history.
3. Brian: Tyrod Taylor, QB
Look, this is a three player first round. You have a program-altering talent (Vick), one of the best pass rushers in the history of the sport (Smith), and the best all-around quarterback in Virginia Tech history. Give me Tyrod, give me a spread offense, and let's get this thing going.
4. TFF: Kevin Jones, RB
Wow, Brian, I'm going to let the best recruit in Virginia Tech history, consensus All-American part of The Untouchables, and Hokie Hall of Famer know that you just don't think he's top shelf talent. While Tech could have dropped off of a cliff after Vick left for the NFL, KJ — along with Lee Suggs — made sure the Hokies weren't a two-season flash, they kept standards high and set the stage for the 10-win season streak.
1. TFF: Corey Moore, DE
Football is won in the trenches, and aside from Bruce Smith, Corey Moore was the best defensive lineman Tech's ever had. While Vick was the spark for the National Championship game run, it wouldn't have happened without the suffocating defense led by Moore. The anointer of the Terror Dome, the man who gave the crazy interview in New Orleans to take the pressure off MV7, the scariest eyes in football aside from Mike Singletary. Plus, a genuinely good dude, strangers would walk up to him on campus to say hello and he'd make them feel like he'd been waiting to see them all day.
2. Brian: Vince Hall, LB
Wow, a RB in the first round? Very Dave Gettleman of you. Not to give away the big board that I put way too much time into, but in my eyes there are three positions that significantly fall off after the top one-to-two guys. One of them is quarterback (which I took care of), and another one of them is mike. Just go ahead and give me the best linebacker to ever play under Bud Foster, and I'll figure out the rest later.
3. Sam: Jake Grove, C
It's not a sexy pick, but Jake Grove has his jersey retired for a reason. The center is the leader of the O-Line, and Grove backed up his leadership with incredible skill, and he had the athleticism to pull as a center as well as get to the second-level and block. He was the key to so many incredible rushing performances in the early 2000's, and I think he'd fit perfectly in a more modern spread offense. My offense is based off of a run-n-shoot scheme, so it requires athletic lineman, and Jake Grove was the best to ever do it at Tech.
4. Pierson: Jim Pyne, OG
1. Pierson: Duane Brown, OT
Okay, hear me out. Historically, Virginia Tech's skill position players are pretty deep. You could talk yourself into or out of a ton of guys that, at the end of the day, all feel kind of similar. I've got a mobile, cannon-armed southpaw he likes to roll out to his strong side and survey the field. Why not beef up the left side of the offensive line with a left tackle and left guard who are physically menacing and surprisingly athletic (fun Jim Pyne stat, from his Wikipedia page: "He was named three times to Muscle and Fitnesses' NFL all strength team."). A former tight end who had a touchdown reception during his freshman year, Brown played both RT and LT at Tech and earned consecutive Second Team All-ACC honors. Pyne was a unanimous All-American, a finalist for the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy in 1993, and was a nine year NFL veteran.
2. Sam: Kam Chancellor, SS
Tone setter. Playmaker. Puts the fear of God into any receiver coming across the middle. Can come up and play the run like a linebacker, but also has the speed to defend the back end. You need guys like this to lead your defense. Chancellor went from under recruited quarterback to future hall-of-famer strong safety — that's peak Lunch Pail Defense.
3. Brian: Eugene Chung, OT
Tech's reputation as DBU is actually hurting the stock of all (or most) of the defensive backs in this draft. There are just so many of them, it's tough to spend a high pick when quality will be available later. I'll take Chung, the number two tackle on my board. He was a stud, 6'5", 290 and fast enough to lead block on screens. He's the perfect modern tackle, not to mention an eventual first round pick and the only OT in Tech history to be named first team All-American.
4. TFF: Kendall Fuller, CB
If you didn't see this coming, then you haven't been paying attention to me, ever. This pick is probably too early, but I would be shamed out of the Fuller clan if I didn't nab Kendall. The Hokies latest five-star recruit, Kendall was the jewel in the crown of the greatest family to ever play for the Hokies.
1. TFF: Xavier Adibi, LB
You may have noticed that I am following the philosophy of the last decade, where the Hokies don't bother with an offensive line, let the running back figure it out on their own, and defer to the defense to carry the team. Adibi was a bad man, partnered up with Vince Hall, and I've got a standout at all three levels of the defense.
2. Brian: DeAngelo Hall, CB
At some point, you just have to pick the best player on the board. There's a very good case to be made that DeAngelo is the best all-around football player to ever come to Blacksburg, and I get him as a corner and a punt returner. It's easy to overlook Hall in the wave of DBs to play for Bud, but there's a reason he was drafted in the top-10. There's a reason he ran five punts back for scores in two seasons as a returner. There's a reason he was the one to rip the ball from Roscoe Parrish. It's not an accident. He's one of the best Hokies ever.
3. Sam: Eddie Royal, WR
The perfect run-n-shoot slot WR, Royal has the speed and elusiveness to take short, quick routes and turn them into big games. He can stretch defense down the seam, and can even run a mean jet sweep. One of the keys to the run-n-shoot is attacking the area between the safeties and linebackers. To do that, you need to be able to stretch out the safeties and also give the illusion that you can either run or do a quick route near the line of scrimmage on every play. Royal is perfect for putting a defense on their heels like that. I think he is one of those players that just came along a few years too early, he would've flourished in a more wide open offense. I'll also be able to use him on special teams, which is a big plus.
4. Pierson: Cornell Brown, DE
I'm continuing my theme of gobbling up strong players at historically shallow positions. Cornell Brown is the pick here to man the Stud position for my squad. A two-time All-American for Frank Beamer's 1995 & 1996 teams, Brown was an absolute force on the edge during his time in Blacksburg. His 36 career sacks rank second all-time at Virginia Tech, and his 14-sack season in 1995 is bested only by Bruce Smith and Corey Moore.
1. Pierson: Darryl Tapp, DE
Before he was lighting up the Twittersphere as the Hutch to Bill Teerlinck's Starksy, Darryl Tapp was a two-time All-ACC player on some of Virginia Tech's most talented defensive teams. Playing the End position in Bud Foster's scheme, Tapp terrorized opposing defenses and provided a steady presence opposite Chris Ellis. He arguably epitomized the Lunch Pail Defensive attitude as well as any other player under Foster. His brute strength on the field ran counter to his bookish appearance off of it. It's my favorite part about Tapp. He's so damn likeable. A genuinely nice guy that always knew how to flip the switch under the bright lights and become a mean dude.
2. Sam: David Wilson, RB
2011 ACC Player of the Year, Wilson was maybe the most electric back, along with KJ, to ever play for Virginia Tech. He excels in running out of the spread formation and is an excellent pass catcher, which fits my offense well. Wilson finished his career with 2,662 yards rushing and 18 rushing touchdowns in just 3 seasons. He amassed over 3,000 total offensive yards, averaging almost 6 YPC and 10 YPR. Without a gruesome neck injury, he would've been a really solid NFL player for the Giants and sure-fire bet to help you win your fantasy league.
3. Brian: Brandon Flowers, CB
Should I panic-grab a pass rusher now that my top four are all off the board? NOPE. If there's one thing I won't do it's let Pierson, of all people, get in my head. Let me just go ahead and grab the second best corner in Tech history and pair him with the best corner in Tech history. We're a no-fly zone, and we'll figure out the pass rush later.
4. TFF: Blake DeChristopher, OT
Almost as an afterthought, I have an offensive line I need to flesh out. I almost forgot about DeChristopher, a four year starter and a road-grader for the three headed monster of Darren Evans, Ryan Williams and David Wilson. Plus, the beard!
1. TFF: Wyatt Teller, OG
On the other side of the line, Teller was an ornery dude with an attitude that he took out on opponents. Plus, I am now ensuring that my team is well fed with a healthy diet of pancakes.
2. Brian: Tremaine Edmunds, LB
While I would obviously prefer to have Adibi here, pairing Tremaine with Vince Hall gives me an unrivaled linebacking core. While Vince is there to plug up the middle, Edmunds was created via genetic mutation to be the best possible linebacker against the spread. Let's go sideline-to-sideline and hit people.
3. Sam: John Engelberger, DT
A Edge/Tackle hybrid, Engelberger was one of the primary reasons that the '99 Hokies were so dominant on defense. He's one of those sneaky strong players that can take advantage of larger, more cumbersome lineman. He was a second round pick in the 2000 NFL draft, and was a second-team All-American in 1999.
4. Pierson: Torrian Gray, Safety
The patriarch of DBU, Torrian is going to be the quarterback of my defense, much the same way he was for those early Bud Foster units. The fact that he has gone on to be a highly successful coach should be enough, but Gray was a standout safety during his time in Blacksburg. A three-time All-Big East selection, Gray combined his football acumen with a heavy shoulder to win two conference titles, the 1995 Sugar Bowl and help propel the program to new heights.
1. Pierson: Lee Suggs, RB
Here's the case for Suggs: Ranked 5th all-time in career touchdowns (53) and the only non-quarterback on the list; his 27 touchdowns in 2000 are 5th most in a single season (again, only non-quarterback in that group); scored 5 touchdowns in a game in 2000 against UCF; ranks 6th in Tech history in rushing yardage; epitomized the BeamerBall mindset, often playing special teams despite being the team's starting tailback; and was essentially a battering ram in between the tackles and in the open field. Put simply, the dude was a machine. I considered pairing speed with Vick, but decided to go with the best tailback on the board. I like the flexibility it provides.
2. Sam: James Anderson, LB
In my mind, one of the more underrated players under Bud Foster ever. Anderson racked up 218 tackles in only 28 starts from 2002-04, and then became a third round pick of the Panthers and was in the NFL until 2015. In 2012, Anderson recorded a Panthers franchise record 20 tackles against the Giants. For my squad, he's a solid OLB and a tackling machine.
3. Brian: Ryan Williams, RB
Look me in my virtual, quarantined eyes and tell me that 2009 Ryan Williams wasn't the most dominant season from a Virginia Tech running back we've ever seen. 1,655 yards, 5.6 YPC, 21 TDs, and allowed Tyrod to blossom into the reliable, turnover-resistant QB we love. He was only great for one season, but we only need him at his peak. Pair '09 Williams with '10 Tyrod (something that was painfully close to happening if not for a bum Williams hamstring) and we're looking at a dynamic backfield.
4. TFF: Tim Settle, DT
Settle didn't have eye popping stats in his two seasons for the Hokies, but dude was just a huge slab of disruption up the middle of the line. I've got speed on the outside, and now I just need someone to clog everything up in the middle and force everything out to Moore and Adibi.