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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

Another Year, Another Hokie Defensive Back

The year is 1998. In the fourth round of the year’s draft, Tampa Bay selects Virginia Tech center Todd Washington. Five picks later, also in the fourth round, Oakland takes offensive guard Gennaro DiNapoli, also of Virginia Tech. A pair of Hokies come off the board in the seventh round, both running backs, over back-to-back picks: Ken Oxendine — remember him? — and Marcus Parker. That was it for the Hokies: four players, all on offense, two linemen, two running backs. If you have a hard time keeping that draft class fresh in mind, you can always remember it as the last class in which at least one N.F.L. team didn’t draft a defensive back out of Virginia Tech.

Thanks in part to a recent off-field misstep, Jayron Hosley fell from perhaps a late first-round or early second-round pick to the latter stages of the third round. He was scooped up by the New York Giants with the 94th overall pick, the second-to-last pick of the round.

The slide comes with a diminished rookie contract, but Hosley was able to avoid the long and agonizing wait that accompanies that draft’s third day — or second day, during the old two-day format. Instead of chewing his fingernails as names come off the board more and more rapidly during the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, Hosley can rest easy. Then get to work, of course.

This isn’t only about Hosley. It’s about Hosley and the dozen-plus defensive backs that have preceded him at Virginia Tech; he’s just one cog in the line of cornerbacks and safeties that have come out of Blacksburg in recent years, albeit the most recent cog. The full list, beginning in 1999, goes as follows:

1999 Pierson Prioleau (4th round, 110th overall)
2000 Ike Charlton (2nd round, 52nd overall)
2000 Anthony Midget (5th round, 134th overall)
2001 Cory Bird (3rd round, 91st overall)
2002 Kevin McCadam (5th round, 148th overall)
2003 Willie Pile (7th round, 252nd overall)
2004 DeAngelo Hall (1st round, 8th overall)
2005 Eric Green (3rd round, 75th overall)
2005 Vincent Fuller (4th round, 108th overall)
2006 Jimmy Williams (2nd round, 37th overall)
2006 Justin Hamilton (7th round, 222nd overall)
2007 Aaron Rouse (3rd round, 89th overall)
2008 Brandon Flowers (2nd round, 35th overall)
2009 Macho Harris (5th round, 157th overall)
2010 Kam Chancellor (5th round, 133rd overall)
2011 Rashad Carmichael (4th round, 127th overall)
2012 Jayron Hosley (3rd round, 94th overall)

There you go. In terms of ranking Virginia Tech’s streak, you’d put this well behind the 14th straight years with a first-round pick out of Miami (Fla.), for example. Or behind Alabama’s current run, which includes, over the past two years, six first-round picks out of the same recruiting class. Or how the Hurricanes had 11 first-round picks over a two-year span, from 2003-4, or six alone during the 2003 draft.

But Virginia Tech’s consistency deserves some sort of commendation. The Hokies have had at least one defensive back selected in each of the last 14 drafts. Not 14 defensive backs taken over a 14-year span, mind you; this has happened elsewhere, thanks in some part to one year with three players selected, another with three, and so on. The Hokies have had at least one cornerback or safety taken in every draft for 14 consecutive years.

Recruiting and coaching make N.F.L. draft picks. Talent isn’t made as much as honed; Frank Beamer and his staff don’t make bad players good, but good players great. It’s often the case that Tech’s best athletes are in the secondary, whether because the surrounding area in Virginia is loaded with high-test athletes or because the Hokies will convert offensive skill players into defensive backs.

Don’t look for the streak to end anytime soon. Two juniors, Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller, will join Hosley in the N.F.L. at some point within the next 24 months. More will follow. After 14 years, who’s to say when Virginia Tech’s streak will end?

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  1. Matt Rob says:

    It will be fascinating to see what happens to Virginia Tech when Frank Beamer (one day far off) retires from coaching.

  2. Hokieshibe says:

    I think Torian Grey (our secondary coach) is one of the most underrated assistant coaches in the country. All the guy does is produce NFL caliber players!

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