Virginia Tech Football: 20 Best Defensive Players in School History
Virginia Tech has had a history of bringing in offensive stars. Players like Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones have made their way through Blacksburg.
Despite the marquee names, the fans know that the Hokies are a defensive team.
Virginia Tech’s success of the past two decades stems from defense, and there have been a lot of stars who have played on that side of the ball. It seems that you can’t throw a stone at a Hokie defensive unit without hitting an All-American.
The following is a list of the 20 greatest defensive players in Virginia Tech history. Some may surprise you or bring up a name that you have forgotten about, but every name on this list has made the Virginia Tech football program what it is today.
20. Eric Green, CB
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Green was a Hokie from 2002 through 2005. During Green’s career he played across from players like DeAngelo Hall and Jimmy Williams.
During his career, Green made 143 tackles and intercepted the ball eight times. He also deflected 25 passes.
Green is far from the biggest name on this list, but he had a good career for Bud Foster.
19. Billy Hardee, CB
Hardee was a cornerback for the Hokies in the 1970s.
He had 10 interceptions in his career, but his best year was 1975 when he picked off the ball seven times. Hardee was also a major threat on special teams. In 1973, Hardee had 758 return yards, which is a school record that stands to this day.
Billy Hardee was inducted into the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 2005.
18. Jayron Hosley, CB
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2011 was Hosley’s last season as a Hokie, but he made an impact during his three-year career.
His most productive year came during his sophomore season. Hosley led the country in interceptions with nine. He was named a second team All-American.
His interception total went down in 2011. That could be blamed on injuries or a position change or possibly a combination of both. He didn’t excel in man-to-man coverage like he did in the zone, which has led many to believe that he could have gained a lot by staying for his senior season.
Despite Hosley’s early departure, he will go down as one of the best corners in the history of defensive backs university (DB U).
17. Macho Harris, CB
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It is no coincidence that the first three names on this list are cornerbacks.
The Hokie defense has a good history, and a large portion of that comes from the corner position. Macho is in line with this history. He had a personality that fit the Hokies defense to perfection.
He was athletic and tough (with the name to match). Macho was a member of the All-ACC first team during his junior season. He intercepted 15 passes during his career, and he returned four for touchdowns.
For good measure, he added a fifth touchdown returning a kickoff for a touchdown against Clemson.
16. Kam Chancellor, S
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The first player on this list who isn’t a corner is a safety. I’m guessing you're starting to see a pattern here.
Chancellor may not have had a whole bunch of personal accomplishments, but he's one of the best safeties to ever play for Virginia Tech.
Chancellor was in Blacksburg from 2006 to 2009. Chancellor was a big playmaker for the Hokies and an even bigger hitter.
Opposing receivers had second thoughts about going across the middle when Kam was on the field.
15. Willie Pile, S
Pile may have been the beginning of DB U.
He was a safety for the Hokies from 1999 until 2002. He was an All-American while at Tech. He finished his career with 267 tackles and 14 interceptions.
Pile had an excellent career in Blacksburg. However, during his senior year, there was a Willie Pile 2.0 waiting in the wings by the name of Jimmy Williams.
Williams eventually moved to corner and became an All-American in his own right, but Pile was one of the founding members of DB U.
14. Vince Hall, LB
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Many of you are probably relieved to finally see someone on this list who isn’t a defensive back.
Well, when it comes to Hokie greats at other positions, Vince Hall isn’t a bad place to start.
During Hall’s time in Blacksburg, he was the heart of Foster’s defense along with his partner in crime Xavier Adibi.
Hall played for the Hokies from 2004 until 2007. During his career, he made 404 tackles as well as 8.5 sacks. Hall had some injuries during throughout his career, but he has had an everlasting effect on the linebacker position at Virginia Tech.
13. Jason Worilds, DE
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Worilds was a Hokie from 2007 until 2009. He was a fast and powerful defensive end who could get to the quarterback.
During the 2008 season, Worilds had eight sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. His production went down some during his final season because of injury, but it didn’t slow him down too much. He had 4.5 sacks and hurried the quarterback 32 times.
Worilds was an excellent talent at Virginia Tech, and he now appears poised to become the next great Steelers linebacker.
12. Cody Grimm, LB
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Grimm was only a starter for one season at Virginia Tech, but he made the most of it.
He was named a third-team All-American in 2009. Grimm is well known as the son to Russ Grim (a member of the NFL Hall-of-Fame), but in Blacksburg, he made a name for himself.
Grimm had a very high football IQ. He desperately needed that because he was quite small for a linebacker. During his career, he had 214 tackles (26.5 of those for loss), 11.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Cody’s football IQ helped him become a starting safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
11. Xavier Adibi, LB
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Alas, the other half of 9-11 (along with Hall).
Hall and Adibi may have been the best linebacker tandem in Virginia Tech history. Adibi and Hall were an unstoppable force up the middle. Xavier also proved to be a valuable backup behind Hall later in their careers.
Adibi was named to the All-ACC team during his junior season, when he recorded 62 tackles and three sacks. He followed that up with an All-American performance.
When Hall went down during his senior season, Adibi stepped up. He had 115 tackles and three sacks. Hall and Adibi truly were the glory days of the VT linebacking corp.
10. Gene Bunn, CB
Bunn holds a special place in the hearts of Hokies, in Blacksburg interceptions are a way of life and Bunn is the king.
Bunn was a Hokie in the late 70s who holds the record for most career interceptions. He had 18 of them.
Bunn had seven interceptions in 1977 which led to an honorable mention for the All-America team. His interception record has lasted for over 30 years; some have come close, but none have been able to surpass.
9. Mike Widger, LB
Mike Widger was a Hokie from 1967 up until 1969.
He was the college teammate to a young man named Frank Beamer. During Widger’s career, he had 12 interceptions; he was an All-American during his junior season.
Back in those days, Virginia Tech was far from a national power, but Widger was a star in a football program that didn’t have much history.
Widger was enshrined in the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 1988, one year after Frank Beamer was named the Hokies’ head football coach.
8. Frank Loria, S
Loria played safety for the Hokies from 1965 through 1967. He was another teammate to Frank Beamer.
The safety was honored as an All-American for both his junior and senior seasons as a Hokie. Loria’s life was tragically cut short on November 14, 1970.
He was a defensive backs coach for Marshall and sadly passed away in the Southern Airlines Flight 932 plane crash that killed most of the staff and team.
Loria’s No. 10 is one of only four numbers that has been retired by Virginia Tech. He was placed in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
7. Darryl Tapp, DE
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Tapp was one of the best defensive ends for Virginia Tech (which is saying something).
He had an excellent career that spanned from 2002 to 2005. He was named an Athlon All-American. His junior and senior seasons were remarkable. He had 8.5 sacks in 2004 and 10 sacks in 2005.
Tapp has turned his college success into a long and productive career in the NFL. Tapp has had a lasting impact on Virginia Tech.
He would be a starter on the defensive line for the all-time Hokie team (which would be made up of four defensive ends).
6. Jimmy Williams, CB
Williams was once the backup for Willie Pile. When Pile graduated, Williams quickly made a name for himself and eventually surpassed Willie.
During his career, Williams had nine interceptions, and he returned two of them for touchdowns.
In 2004, Williams had five interceptions which led the ACC. He was voted a unanimous All-American as a senior in 2005.
Williams shared the secondary with names like Green and DeAngelo Hall, but Williams was still able to distinguish himself as a Hokie great.
5. Brandon Flowers, CB
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Flowers left Blacksburg after his junior season, but three years was more than enough for this young corner to leave a legacy.
Flowers proved himself to be one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play for Virginia Tech.
He was named to the All-America team twice. He shared the secondary with Kam Chancellor and Macho Harris. Flowers may have been the smallest of the three, but he packed quite a punch.
He was a great cover corner but also a big hitter. In his final season as a Hokie, Flowers had 86 tackles and five interceptions.
4. Cornell Brown, DE
Brown was a major playmaker for the Hokies between 1993 and 1996.
He led the Big East in sacks as a junior and was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He was an All-American and was a big reason for the Hokies' turnaround in 1995.
In ’95, the Hokies started out the season 0-2, they won the next 10 games including the Sugar Bowl where the Hokies beat Texas.
Brown’s jersey was retired in 2002, six years after he left Blacksburg.
3. DeAngelo Hall, CB
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Hall is the eighth and final corner on this list. DeAngelo Hall may be the most dynamic athlete that Virginia Tech has had since Michael Vick. He was an All-American cornerback, one of the best return men in the history of college football and a wide receiver to round things out.
Hall was a superstar in Blacksburg; his speed was his biggest weapon. Hall was a ball hawk in every sense of the word. As a Hokie, he had eight interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. His greatest play as a Hokie was a touchdown in 2003 against the undefeated Miami Hurricanes.
Miami receiver Roscoe Parrish caught a pass that DeAngelo Hall stripped and returned for a touchdown, prompting Hokie voice Bill Roth to yell “Give it to me Roscoe, give it to me!”
The Hokies beat the second-ranked Hurricanes 31-7.
2. Corey Moore, DE
The first two players on this list were basically a tossup.
Moore would easily be the No. 1 player on this list if it wasn’t for one Hall of Fame exception. Moore is the most-decorated Hokie in history. Moore played defensive end for the Hokies from 1996 until 1999.
In 1998, Moore had 14.5 sacks and was named the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Year.
In ’99, Moore had 17 sacks (a Big East record that lasts to this day) and was named an All-American. The Hokies had a perfect regular season in 1999; it was the only time in school history. The credit for that goes to two people—Michael Vick and Corey Moore.
Moore was named the Big East’s defensive player of the year again, but that was far from the last award he would win that year. Corey also won the Lombardi award, which is given to the best linebacker or lineman in college football, and the Nagurski Trophy, which is given to the national defensive player of the year.
The final accolade for Moore as a Hokie came on October 23, 2010, when his jersey was retired.
1. Bruce Smith, DE
Did you have any doubts about this one?
“The Sack Man” was an All-American in both his junior and senior seasons.
Smith was the most-decorated Hokie of all time until Corey Moore took his place. He had 46 sacks during his Hokie career. He had 22 sacks during the 1983 (his junior) season.
Smith won the Outland Trophy in 1984, which is given to the country’s best lineman. He didn’t do much after that. He was just the first overall pick in 1985 and retired with more sacks (200) in the NFL than any other player that ever played the game.
Bruce Smith has been enshrined as a Hall of Famer in Canton, but he is still proud of his Hokie roots. He can often be seen on the sidelines at Lane Stadium.