As the opening of the NFL season looms on the horizon, a new crop of Hokies have entered an already impressive stable of Virginia Tech alumni in the league.
Former Hokies running back Ryan Williams was selected in the second round of April’s draft, cornerback Roc Carmichael in the fourth and quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the sixth. Additionally, Tech has five undrafted free agents from this year’s draft class currently on NFL rosters – Darren Evans, Steven Friday, John Graves, Davon Morgan and Andre Smith. In all, there are 32 players on NFL rosters from Tech.
Here are some of the notable Hokies who are in the NFL:
Tyrod Taylor, Baltimore Ravens
Taylor, who was the 2010 ACC Player of the Year and led the Hokies to an Orange Bowl appearance this past season, has a legitimate shot at landing the backup quarterback job for the Ravens. After Marc Bulger announced his retirement on Aug. 3, Taylor has been able to take the majority of the team’s snaps and has improved significantly throughout the preseason. After struggling in his first two games against Philadelphia and Kansas City, Taylor came along strong against the Redskins -- completing 11 of 18 passes for 125 yards, including a touchdown with 37 seconds left to win the game.
Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals
Williams, who left his mark at Tech with 2,132 career rushing yards and 32 touchdowns, was selected by the Cardinals with the sixth pick of the second round. However, after just five carries for 27 yards in the preseason, Williams suffered a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee in the Cardinals’ second preseason game and will be out for the season. Williams had surgery on Aug. 22, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt told the Associated Press he hopes to have Williams back before next season’s training camp.
Roc Carmichael, Houston Texans
Carmichael is one of six former Tech players on the Texans’ roster, joining former Hokies Xaiver Adibi, Duane Brown, Andre Davis, Steven Friday and John Graves. Although he hasn’t played thus far due to a shoulder injury, Houston’s penchant for Tech players suggests Carmichael has a good shot to make the team. Additionally, the Texans were abysmal in pass defense last season — they ranked last in the league — so Carmichael is in a position to help a struggling group.
Darren Evans, Indianapolis Colts
Evans, who left Tech with one year of eligibility remaining, was not selected in April’s draft. After 136 days, his chance in the NFL was finally realized after he was signed by the Colts. Evans is a native of Indianapolis and attended Warren Central High School. So far, he has rushed 12 times for 66 yards in two of the Colts’ preseason games.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
The former Tech superstar seems to have battled through his personal issues, as he was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in his second year with the Eagles. Vick posted career highs in passing yards (3,018) and touchdowns (21) in just 12 games after taking over for a concussed Kevin Kolb in week one. Vick is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and is in negotiations with Philadelphia on a long-term contract
DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins
Hall is in his second season with the Washington Redskins after spending time with the Falcons and Raiders. He finished the season with six interceptions, four of which were recorded against the Bears in week seven to tie the NFL record, and two fumble recoveries. The season was good enough for Hall to earn a spot in his third Pro Bowl, where he was named the game’s MVP.
Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs
Flowers was the third overall pick in the second round by the Chiefs in 2008 and is possibly the most successful of the Hokies cornerbacks in the NFL. Flowers has posted 50 pass deflections, nine interceptions and four forced fumbles in his short career with the Chiefs, who made it to the playoffs last season for the first time since the ’06-’07 season. Furthermore, he was ranked the No. 22 player in 2010 by Pro Football Focus, a site which uses a combination of conventional and metric statistics to analyze player performance. Flowers also hosted several charity football camps and tournaments this summer in his hometown of Delray Beach, Fla.