In an alternate universe, Danny Coale is currently playing lacrosse at the University of Virginia.
Yes, the 6-foot, 200-pound receiver with a knack for getting open and making the big catch for the Hokies could just as easily be in Charlottesville preparing to defend a lacrosse national championship.
Coale spent his high school career at Episcopal excelling in both football and lacrosse. On the gridiron, he played wide receiver and defensive back, earning all-state honors three straight years. However, Coale earned the same accolades in lacrosse.
For the latter, Coale — who grew up a UVa fan — was offered a lacrosse scholarship from the school and seriously considered going. His brother Kevin was also an influence, as he played lacrosse for the Cavaliers from 2005-08.
However, after being recruited by Bud Foster and attending a one-day summer camp for the Hokies, he was offered a scholarship to play for Virginia Tech. As soon as he was given the offer, he knew he had to take it.
“Football is what I always wanted to do,” Coale said. “It is what I wanted to do since I was a little kid. Lacrosse just felt more like a sport that I picked up to play because I liked it. Football was my passion.”
Since that decision, Coale has done nothing but prove he made the right call.
Coale redshirted his first year in the program and took the time to improve himself both on the field and in the weight room as he earned “Iron Hokie” honors. With future NFL receivers Josh Morgan, Justin Harper and Eddie Royal to use as mentors, the young receiver learned a lot of the skills necessary to be successful at the collegiate level.
“He’s come a long way since he came here and we redshirted him,” said wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman. “He came in with a group that was pretty good. He saw how those guys worked and developed and stepped up to make big plays.”
Coale came out as a redshirt freshman and immediately shined as the go-to receiver for Tyrod Taylor, leading the team in receptions. He then proceeded to start all but one game over the next two years, while racking up big numbers and playing a key role for the Hokies offense.
“Danny is just one of those guys who works hard every day in practice and pushes the other guys,” Sherman said. “The most important attribute about him is that he is consistent and dependable.”
Now, Coale sits second on the all-time list at Virginia Tech for both receptions and receiving yards. He has 155 career receptions for 2,530 yards. However, with two games remaining in his career, he hasn’t had time to reflect much at this point.
“I really haven’t sat back and thought about it too much,” Coale said. “You get media attention for it. They’ll ask questions like, ‘What is it like to pass this guy?’ Once they ask you that, you are kind of like, ‘Wow. These are the guys that I work each day to be like.’ It’s an honor and I’m really thankful that I got the opportunity.”
The guy ahead of Coale in both categories happens to be playing in his final season with the program as well. Senior Jarrett Boykin is arguably Tech’s best receiver of all time and one of Coale’s closest friends.
“I’m pretty fortunate to have a guy like him next to me and be able to go through these past four years with him,” Coale said. “We are kind of similar in our approach to the game. We work hard and try to help each other out. He’s just a good guy to be with.”
Boykin says that having Coale on the field with him every day only helps make both of them better.