The Virginia Tech Hokies football team has a long and illustrious history of developing and nurturing top footballing talent. NFL teams have drafted almost 150 Virginia Tech Hokies since the league began holding drafts in 1936. Some 23 former Hokies are playing in the NFL in 2022, including the likes of five-time Pro Bowler Duane Brown, Tyrod Taylor, Kyle Fuller, and Logan Thomas.
Over the years, there have been two former Virginia Tech Hokies that NFL teams selected first overall, and 11 in total chosen in the first round. Some drafted players went on to achieve greatness in the game, lighting up the NFL with their skills, and some were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bruce Smith – Defensive End
Bruce Smith is not only one of the greatest ever former Hokies players but one of the best to ever grace the turf as a professional football player. Smith was born in Norfolk, Virginia, so accepting an athletic scholarship from Virginia Tech was always on the cards. He finished his Hokies college career in 1984 as the most honored player in the team’s history, enjoying 46 sacks and 71 tackles for losses of 504 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Had the sites listed in the bet online reviews existed when Smith made himself eligible for the NFL Draft, he would have been one of the favorites to be a number one overall pick.
The Buffalo Bills drafted Smith with the very first pick of the 1985 NFL Draft, and he immediately became a starter. Smith finished the 1985 season with 6.5 sacks and 48 tackles. Smith got better and better as he gained experience, racking up sacks and tackles like they were going out of fashion.
After 15 seasons with the Bills, Smith joined Washington as a free agent. He played for four seasons, finally retiring in 2003. Smith made 1,224 tackles during his career and is the only player in NFL history to reach 200 career sacks.
Smith is an eight-time First-Team All-Pro, an 11-time Pro Bowler, and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What a guy.
Michael Vick – Quarterback
The controversial Michael Vick is the only other former Hokies star that was drafted first overall in the NFL Draft. The Atlanta Falcons drafted Vick in 2001 on the back of the quarterback passing 3,279 yards for 21 touchdowns in only two college seasons. Vick scored 17 rushing touchdowns for the Hokies and was one of the first so-called dual-threat quarterbacks.
Vick found playing time limited during his rookie season, but the Falcons made him the starting quarterback in 2002. However, he broke his leg in a preseason fixture with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003, causing him to miss the first 11 games. Vick looked to be hitting his stride in 2004-2006, including becoming the first quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season, one of the reasons he became a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
However, in 2007, Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation. The NFL suspended Vick indefinitely, and a judge sentenced him to 30 months in prison. He signed for the Philadelphia Eagles after his release in 2009, staying in Philly for five seasons before moving to the New York Jets and then the Pittsburgh Steelers before calling it a day.
Vick rushed for 6,109 yards for an average of 7.0 yards per carry, an NFL record for a quarterback which still stands today.
Antonio Freeman – Wide Receiver
Antonio Freeman is living proof that you do not need to be drafted in the first round to become an NFL legend. Freeman was a Virginia Tech Hokie from 1991-94, catching 121 passes for 2,207 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns. His impressive on-field performances resulted in Freeman being inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
The Green Bay Packers selected Freeman in the third round as the 90th overall pick in 1995. All Freeman did from the moment he joined the Packers was overachieve. After only eight receptions during his rookie season, Freeman made the wide receiver position his own and was often the go-to man for Brett Favre.
Freeman spent seven seasons with the Packers, winning the Super Bowl in his second campaign. He headed to Philadelphia Eagle for one season before returning to the Packers in 2003, when he retired. Freeman’s career figures of 477 catches, 7,251 yards, and 61 touchdowns are most impressive, especially considering he was a third-round pick.