Below is the list of nominees for the ten greatest players in Virginia Tech football history along with a brief description on their career with the Hokies. The results will be revealed in the Nov. 4 (Election Day) edition of the Collegiate Times.
Vote for the top ten here.
Cornell Brown - Defensive end
As a true freshman in 1993, Brown started ten games, and played more snaps than any other defensive lineman on the team. In 1994, he led the team in sacks and was fourth in tackles. His junior year was his most prolific - he led the Big East in sacks and tied for third nationally in both sacks and total tackles for loss. He helped lead Tech to a 10-2 mark, a Big East title and a Sugar Bowl victory. Brown was a first team All-American, National Defensive Player of the Year by Football News, and Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Despite having arthroscopic knee surgery and missing two games, Brown was a first team All-American and one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award in his senior season. His jersey was retired in 2002 and he was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Gene Bunn - Cornerback, safety
As part of the Tech secondary in the late 1970s, Bunn still holds the school record for most career interceptions with 18. As both a cornerback and a safety, he led the Hokies in picks for three consecutive seasons (1976-78). Bunn's season high was seven in 1977. That same year, Bunn was an honorable mention for the Associated Press All-American team. In 1978, he was the team leader in punt return yards.
Hunter Carpenter - Halfback, kicker
Coming into college weighing in at a measly 128 pounds at the start of the 20th century, Carpenter was not your average football star. His father forbid him to play the sport, so he changed his name to the alias Walter Brown. In 1905, he scored 82 points to help his then VPI team to a 9-1 record. That season, the Gobblers outscored their opponents, 305-24. Although at the time it was more difficult for players to be named All-Americans because scouting was difficult, Carpenter's coaches put him on the pedestal describing him along the likes of Jim Thorpe and Red Grange.
Eugene Chung - Offensive tackle
As an offensive tackle, Chung started as a freshman at Tech and was voted the team's best lineman in 1990. During his collegiate career, he was a four year letterman and allowed one sack in 730 plays for the Hokies in 1991. Chung also became the first Hokie offensive lineman to win first-team All-American and All-Big East honors in 1991. Chung became the first Asian American ever taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Billy Conaty - Center
When all-time great Jim Pyne graduated in 1993, Conaty had some pretty big shoes to fill. Pyne was not only an All-American, but also arguably the best lineman Tech had ever seen. But Conaty was up to the challenge, and eventually became an All-American himself, earning the honor his senior year in 1996. Conaty, a center, was the anchor of the 1995 team who beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl in one of the biggest games in Tech history. The 1995 team finished the season with the highest ranking in Tech history at the time.
Roscoe Coles - Running back
Coles was a major factor in the Tech backfield during the 1970s. He led the team in rushing for three straight years, from 1975 through 1977. In 1975, Coles rushed for 1,045 yards and 10 touchdowns and helped lead Tech to an upset over Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium. In that game, Coles ran for an 89-yard score in the Hokies 23-16 win. The next year was his best statistically - helping him garner an honorable mention nod for the All-American team. He accumulated 1,119 yards on 209 carries and found the end zone nine times on the ground. Coles also had his career-best rushing day that year with his 214-yard effort against Tulsa. He finished third on the all-time Tech rushing list with 3,459 yards as well as third in games of 100 or more yards.
Carroll Dale - Wide receiver, defensive end
Dale was a wide receiver and defensive end for Tech from 1956-1959. Mostly known for his great receiving ability, Dale earned second team All-American honors two years straight in 1958 and 1959. He led the Hokies in receiving in each of his 4 years here and finished his career with 67 receptions for 1,195 yards and 15 touchdowns. Dale was inducted to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1976 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
Andre Davis - Wide receiver
Davis was a highly talented wide receiver at Tech and is third in career receiving yards with 1,986 coming in 103 grabs. He is second on the all time receiving touchdown list with 18 catches for scores. Davis was named first team All-Big East after his senior season. During that season, he had 623 receiving yards with 39 catches and seven touchdowns. Davis was also a three-time academic All-Big East selection. During his stellar senior season, Davis averaged 116 all-purpose yards per game while returning punts, kickoffs, and receiving.
Jim Druckenmiller - Quarterback
One of the most memorable Tech quarterbacks, Druckenmiller was the driving force behind the Hokies' outstanding 1995 season. After dropping the first two games in that season, Druckenmiller led Tech to its first Big East title, the first ever victory over Miami, a thrilling comeback win over arch rival Virginia, and a Sugar Bowl win over Texas. The next year, Druckenmiller led the Hokies to a second straight 10-2 season and a trip to the Orange Bowl, helping make Tech a household name in college football.
Brandon Flowers - Cornerback
In his three full seasons with the Hokies, Flowers was a two-time All-American as a cornerback. In 2006, Flowers led the ACC with 18 passes broken up and tied for the team lead with 3.5 sacks. He outdid himself statistically in 2007 when he produced a career-high 86 tackles and five interceptions. He will perhaps best be remembered for his playmaking abilities and his big-time hits from which several of his pass breakups have resulted. Flowers left Blacksburg after his junior season, selected by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Antonio Freeman - Wide receiver
A 2006 Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Antonio Freeman played wide receiver for the Hokies from 1991-1994. As a Hokie, Freeman was the team's leading receiver for three straight years, setting school records in receptions, receiving yardage, and touchdown catches along the way. Freeman also has the school record in punt return yards with 164, put up against Pittsburgh in 1994.
Shayne Graham - Kicker
Graham made 68-of-93 field goal attempts (73.1%) in his four-year career with Tech. As a senior in 1999, he led the conference and broke Tech's single-season scoring record with 107 points on 56-of-57 extra points and 17-of-22 field goals, earning him Big East Special Teams Player of the Year honors. Graham also set the Big East and Tech records with 97 consecutive PAT's. Graham finished his career as the leading scorer in Big East and Hokie history with 371 points. He is one of two players to be named First team All-Big East four consecutive years, the other player being Donovan McNabb.
Jake Grove - Center
Grove had his jersey retired in 2006 for good reason. A Rimington Trophy winner, given to the country's best college center, Grove was the anchor of the offensive line. His senior year in 2003 was considered his best, winning the Rimington, and being a nominee for the Lombardi and Outland Awards, both given to elite lineman, and a First team All-American. Throughout his career, he helped protect several quarterbacks including Grant Noel, Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick.
DeAngelo Hall - Cornerback
An integral part to the 31-7 upset of Miami in 2003, Hal was one of the best defensive players to ever dawn a Hokie uniform. His college career ended with 190 tackles, eight interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and even seven receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown. Hall contributed his talent on special teams as well, returning 56 punts for 839 yards and five touchdowns. He was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2003 (best defensive back), a Nagurski Award nominee (best defensive player overall), and a First team All-American.
Billy Hardee - Cornerback
Hardee was a factor both on defense and special teams. At cornerback, he had 10 interceptions in his Hokie career - leading the team with seven in 1975. Hardee also returned punts and kickoffs. He led Tech in punt return yards from 1973 through 1975 and topped the Hokies in kick return yards in 1973 - including one run back for a touchdown. His total of 758 that year was the most by a Tech player in a single season. During his time with Tech, Hardee averaged 22.5 yards on kickoff returns and was named to the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 2005.
Kevin Jones - Running back
One of the mostly highly rated recruits, Jones didn't disappoint during his freshman season. He rushed for a freshman record 957 yards and five touchdowns on 175 carries, including an 87-yard run against Temple. His effort earned him Big East Rookie of the Year. As a sophomore, Jones split time with Lee Suggs, but that didn't stop him from putting up a 5.5-yard average by the end of the season. Jones wrapped up his third and final year with Tech with 1,647 yards, enough to break the previous single-season rushing mark by over 200 yards. After receiving the Dudley award, given to the best athlete in the state of Virginia, he entered the NFL draft.
Cyrus Lawrence - Running back
Lawrence had a terrific career carrying the football as a tailback for Tech from 1979-1982. Lawrence finished his career as the program's leading rusher with 3,767 career rushing yards. Held the single season rushing record with 1,403 yards until Kevin Jones broke it in 2003. Lawrence had that rare combination of size and speed, which allowed him to run over or run through defenders. He showcased his talent in the 1981 Peach Bowl against Miami where he ran for 134 yards and the Hokies' only touchdown.
Frank Loria - Safety
Loria played for Virginia Tech from 1965-1967, starting every game as a safety and punt returner. He earned All-America honors his junior and senior seasons, becoming Tech's first ever consensus All-American in 1967. By returning three punts for touchdowns in 1966, he helped the team to an 8-1-1 record and trip to the Liberty Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes, a game Tech would go on to win. He still holds the records for most punts returned for a touchdown in a season and career, including the longest punt return for a touchdown in school history--a 95-yarder against Miami in 1967. His number is one of only four numbers to be retired by Tech.
Corey Moore - Defensive end
Moore played defensive end for Tech during the 1999 season when the Hokies reached the National Championship Game. Moore earned the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 1998, the Lombardi Award, Nagurski Trophy and Big East Defensive Player of the Year again in 1999. The Lombardi Award is given to the lineman or linebacker in all of college football and the Nagurski Trophy is given to the best defensive player in the nation according to the Football Writer's Association of America.
Jim Pyne - Center
As a center, Pyne was the first Hokie to be chosen as a unanimous All-American. The four-year starter is one of only four Hokies to have his number retired by the school. Playing at Tech from 1990-1993, Pyne was awarded the Dudley Award in 1993, given to Virginia's most outstanding player. Pyne was also a finalist for both the Lombardi and Outland Trophys his senior year. In 2000, he was named to the Big East Conference's all-time team, and is in the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame.
Bryan Randall - Quarterback
Randall was a prolific player at Tech from 2001-2004. In 2002, his sophomore year, Randall threw for 2,134 yards and 12 touchdowns, posting the tenth best passer rating in the nation (143.09). He also rushed for 507 rushing yards with three touchdowns. The next year, he was used in a two-quarterback system, splitting time with Marcus Vick. Randall still managed to throw for 1,384 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 366 yards and four scores. Randall was named the sole starter for his senior season in 2004 and made the most of it. In Tech's first year in the ACC, Randall threw for 2,264 yards and 21 touchdowns, leading the Hokies to the conference crown.
Eddie Royal - Wide receiver
A 2008 graduate of Tech, Royal immediately made an impact. As a true freshman in 2004, he led the team with 470 total yards and three touchdowns on offense. This wide receiver, kick/punt returner extraordinaire also played in two Atlantic Coast Conference Championships - in 2004 and 2007. One memorable performance was in 2007 at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, when Royal, a former high school quarterback, completed a 53-yard pass to a tight-end Sam Wheeler for a touchdown. He was voted first team All-ACC his junior and senior seasons. In 2007, he led the ACC in punt return yards and left Blacksburg first in career all-purpose yards in school history with 4,686.
Bob Schweickert - Running back
Schweickert was known as "Mr. Outside" during his time spent at Virginia Tech from 1962-1964. During the 1963 season, Schweickert ran for 839 yards to set a Southern Conference record, and lead the Hokies to an 8-2 season and the Hokies' only conferenc title. During his sophomore year Schweickert achieved third team All-American status. In his final season as a Hokie, he and threw for a total of 1, 409 yards and gained the title of first team All-American. During Tech's biggest game of the season against FSU, Schweickert punted eight times averaging 47.4 yards a punt, helping to push Virginia Tech past the Seminoles 20-11.
Bruce Smith - Defensive end
As a defensive end, Smith has been honored more than any other Tech player in history. Smith won the Outland Trophy as America's top lineman in 1984. In his junior season in 1983, Smith recorded 22 sacks and was a first-team All-American. During his collegiate tenure, Smith's 71 tackles for losses amounted to 504 yards. Smith's performance at Tech led him to being selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.
Don Strock - Quarterback
Strock was a quarterback for the Hokies from 1969 to 1973. In 1972, Strock led all of college football in total passing and total offense, finishing ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Strock holds the record for most yards passing with 527. He also holds the record for most passing attempts, 53, and best total offense by a player, with 516. All of these records were set in one game against Houston in 1972. He was inducted into the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 1985.
Lee Suggs - Running back
The Roanoke native began his Tech career in 1998. After redshirting Suggs began play in the fall of 1999 - scoring his first collegiate touchdown against the University of Alabama-Birmingham. During his sophomore year, Suggs re-wrote the Tech record books with 222 carries for 1,207 yards and 28 touchdowns, that same year he lead Division I-A in both scoring and touchdowns. After overcoming a knee injury from his junior season, the running back ended his Tech career as the all-time Tech and Big East leader in rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns at 53 and 56, respectively.
Darryl Tapp - Defensive end
A Chesapeake native, Tapp was one of the most outstanding defensive ends Tech has ever seen. In 2005, he was a candidate for the Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end, along with many other national collegiate awards. Tapp was an influential leader on the Hokie team from his first season in 2002, through his senior year in 2005. He started out as a true freshman and played in every game throughout his four year career at Tech, finishing as an All-American pick by Athlon and a first team All-ACC pick before entering the NFL draft.
Michael Vick - Quarterback
Vick led the Hokies to their first ever 11-0 regular season and guided his team to play for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl against No. 1 Florida State. When Vick graduated after only two seasons, he finished his career as the only 1,000-yard rusher in school history with 1,202 yards. Vick also accrued 3074 passing yards and 4276 total yards of offense landing him seventh and sixth respectively in career stats at the time. Vick was an All-American, All-Big East offensive player of the year and rookie of the year after his freshman season. Vick set school records for highest passing yards per completion and highest yards per attempt. He also set an NCAA record for highest completion percentage efficiency as a freshman.
Mike Widger - Linebacker
Widger was a star linebacker for the Hokies from 1967-69. A former teammate of Frank Beamer, Widger is currently ranked sixth on the all-time interceptions list with 12. Despite only weighing 195 pounds, the Associated Press named Widger a First Team All-American during his junior season. To culminate his legacy at Tech, Widger was inducted into the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 1988.
Jimmy Williams - Cornerback, free safety
Williams played defensive back for Tech from 2002-2005. After beginning his career at free safety in 2002, Williams moved to cornerback in 2004. Williams was a key part of a defense that won Tech's first Atlantic Coast Conference championship and earned an appearance in the Sugar Bowl. In 2005, Williams anchored the Tech defense on its way to an appearance in the first ever ACC Championship game. At the end of the season, Williams was voted a unanimous All-American and was drafted 37th overall by the Atlanta Falcons.