Athlon ranks the best Virginia Tech players since 1967.
Williams became only Tech’s fourth unanimous All-American in school history in 2006. He was a Thorpe Award finalist after registering 44 tackles, one sack, one interception, and 14 quarterback hurries. His versatility made him a special player – excelling at both safety and corner. He played a huge role in leading the Hokies ot the 2004 ACC Championship. Williams was selected with the 37th overall pick in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
Jones has a unique spot in Hokie history — the first high-profile recruit to pick Blacksburg. Landing Jones was likely the springboard the Hokies needed to get where they are today — contending for ACC titles every year. And Jones was good. After an injury to Lee Suggs, Jones took over and set a freshman rushing record for Tech. His 1,647-yard junior season was a single-season Hokie record. He finished his career with 3,475 yards and 35 TDs — both good enough for second-best all-time in school history in only three seasons of play. He also caught 24 passes for 229 yards as well. Jones was drafted with the 30th pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
In 1993, Pyne became the first Hokie player to earn consensus All-America honors as he paved the way for an offense that set school records for total scoring and total offense. In four seasons along the line, Pyne played more than 2,700 snaps and allowed just one quarterback sack. He started 35 consecutive games and 41 of his 42 total games played. The stalwart was drafted in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Randall made his mark as a sophomore when he took over for the injured Grant Noel and went on to start 12 games, breaking a Big East record with 504 yards and 5 TDs against Syracuse. Although Randall started all 13 games as a junior, Marcus Vick took some of the snaps and ate into his numbers. He finished with 1,998 yards and 15 TDs. As a senior, however, Randall topped off his college career with 2,264 yards passing and 511 yards rushing, leading the Hokies to their first ACC Championship and a berth in the Sugar Bowl. He earned ACC Player of the Year honors and set Tech career passing records with 6,508 yards and total offense numbers with 8,034 yards.
Few players have ever had as good a single season as Suggs had in 2002. Or was it 2000? The stocky back went for 1,207 yards and a staggering 27 TDs in 2000 before an injury halted his ’01 campaign. He bounced back in 2002 with 1,325 yards and 22 more TDs. He set a single-season NCAA record by scoring a TD in 14 straight games that season —building on his career NCAA record of scoring a TD in 27 straight games. His 57 touchdowns are a Tech career record. Had he been fully healthy throughout his entire career, there is no telling the numbers Suggs would have accumulated. Suggs was drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Taylor owns a lot of Virginia Tech records. He set the career wins mark with a 34 Ws, set the school record for passing yards with 6,795, the total offense mark with 8,969 and led the Hokies to two ACC Championships — in which he claimed both MVP trophies. He earned ACC Player of the Year Honors in 2010 while leading an ACC team to the first 8-0 conference record in 10 years. He finished his career with 43 touchdowns passes and 23 rushing touchdowns to go with a 138.3 career passer rating. Taylor was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.
The third unanimous All-American in school history, Grove landed the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center in 2003. He led his team in knockdown blocks with 48 and went on to be a second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 2004 NFL Draft.
The two-time All-American — unanimous in 1999 — posted a Big East-record 17 sacks in his final season in Blacksburg. That followed a Big East-leading 13.5-sack season in 1998. Moore claimed Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors both seasons and was bestowed with the prestigious Lombardi Award and Nagurski Trophy as a senior.
Few redshirt freshmen — or any freshman for that matter — have ever made an impact on a football field like Vick did in 1999. Whether he was flicking the ball 65 yards with ease or making speedy defensive backs look they were running in sand, Vick is unquestionably one of the greatest physical specimens ever to step onto a football field. His 180.4 QB-rating set an NCAA freshman efficiency record as the talented dual-threat led the Hokies to an unlikely National Championship appearance. Vick finished third in the Heisman voting that season and nearly led Tech on an improbable comeback in the title game. Vick battled injuries during his sophomore season and finished his career with 3,279 passing yards, 21 TDs, 1,216 rushing yards and 17 TDs on the ground. Vick was the first overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons — who traded up to select the dynamic passer.
It is hard to top “The Sack Man.” Smith finsished his Hokie career as the most decorated Hokie football player in history. The two-time All-American ended with 71 tackles for a loss and 46 sacks — both of which are school records. His 31 tackles for a loss and 22 sacks in 1983 are both school records as well. After a 16-sack consensus All-America season in 1984, Smith was awarded the Outland Trophy given to then nation’s top lineman. Smith was the first overall pick of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, and all he did was play in four straight Super Bowls and 11 Pro Bowls and set the all-time NFL sack record with 200 career QB sacks.
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