Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Yesterday, we looked at part 1 of our top 6 football player candidates for the 2020 Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. We've already mentioned how Bud Foster should headline this class, but here's a look at the top 3 football players, at least one of whom should join him this year.
3. Macho Harris
Coming in at number 3 is one of Virginia Tech's best defensive playmakers of the early Hokie ACC era, Victor "Macho" Harris.
Harris is undoubtedly one of the greatest cornerbacks in program history ranking third all time in program history with 15 interceptions, and 22 pass breakups as a three-year starter who played in 53 games, starting 40 during his time at Virginia Tech. Additionally, Harris was a playmaker returning 4 interceptions and 1 kickoff for a touchdown while also operating as Tech's punt returner his senior season.
His dominance led to Harris earning All-ACC First Team honors in 2007 and 2008, another example of the greatness and longevity that Harris showed as a dominant cornerback for his final two years.
Harris may not be as big of a name as other great 2000s Tech defensive backs like DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Flowers because he didn't have the same NFL career as those guys, but Harris was absolutely one of the Hokies' best defensive playmakers of the Bud Foster era.
Harris' VT Sports Hall of Fame induction time is coming soon and should happen within the next couple years.
2. Torrian Gray
At number 2 is a man who has earned his spot as a future Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Famer both as a player and a coach, Torrian Gray.
As a player and coach, Gray helped transform Virginia Tech into DBU earning three All-Big East honors and starting 37 of his 44 games during his four years in Blacksburg. For his career, Gray had 9 interceptions and 19 pass breakups during his four years as a ball-hawking safety that could also be relied on to get the job done. More importantly, Gray's time in Blacksburg saw the Hokies begin their rise as they reached the first four bowls in their long bowl streak while also winning 8+ games each season including 10-2 records as a junior (1995) and senior (1996).
After his playing career, he became the highest drafted safety in program history (1997 2nd round, 49th overall) until Terrell Edmunds was selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He's also listed by Virginia Tech as the first safety to be drafted in program history, laying the ground work for Tech not only producing great cornerbacks but also great safeties including Pierson Prioleau, Aaron Rouse, and Terrell Edmunds
As the Hokies' defensive backs coach, Gray coached numerous future NFL star defensive backs from Brandon Flowers to Kyle Fuller with 10 total defensive backs coached by Gray drafted during his time in Blacksburg along with a few more defensive backs who started their career being coached by Gray.
Bud Foster built the Lunch Pail brand, but Torrian Gray built and established the DBU brand at Virginia Tech that continues to live on and grow even after Gray's time in Blacksburg. Inducting one of Foster's best players and assistants with him in the 2020 class would be a more than fitting way to honor the defensive foundation that helped make Virginia Tech a national power.
1. Tyronne Drakeford
If it wasn't for missing half of his senior season in 1993, Tyronne Drakeford would likely be the Hokies' all-time leaders in interceptions and easily in the VT Sports Hall of Fame. Instead, Drakeford is second on that list with 16 career interceptions and a player who should have been inducted years ago.
However, it's better late than never and among the players that are eligible, he should be at the top of the list.
Drakeford started 31 games over his Virginia Tech finishing with 16 interceptions and 23 pass breakups including 1 for a touchdown and 1 in the final game of his career, the 1993 Independence Bowl, which kicked off VT's renowned bowl streak. Additionally, Drakeford was a two-time All Big East First Teamer before being selected in the 2nd round of the 1994 NFL Draft and winning a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers.
Guys like Drakeford may not be as well known as other, more recent great defensive backs including the ones mentioned on this list like Macho Harris. A player of Drakeford's caliber should absolutely be in not only because of his career, but because of the foundation that he helped lay to take Tech to levels that were unimaginable prior to Tech's rise during the 90s.
Drakeford was one of the first great defensive backs of the Frank Beamer era that launched Virginia Tech as DBU and is overdue for a spot in the VT Sports Hall of Fame.