Going pro: Hokies fare well in NFL draft

by Jimmy Robertson

Coming this fall, you may see some familiar faces on an NFL team near you.

A record eight Hokies were selected in the 2002 NFL Draft, which marked the ninth consecutive year that a Tech player has been drafted. André Davis, Ben Taylor, Kevin McCadam, David Pugh, Chad Beasley, Bob Slowikowski, Derrius Monroe, and Jarrett Ferguson stepped up to the pros, snapping Tech's previous high of five draft selections in 1992 and 2000.

"I think there's a reason why that senior class was the winningest in school history," Tech head coach Frank Beamer says. "They're great players and they're great people.

"I think Jarrett said it best when he was quoted as saying that people know how hard Virginia Tech players work," he continues. "That goes back to our players, to Mike Gentry [assistant athletic director for athletic performance] and the work he does, and the way our coaches coach these kids. We've got a little bit of a reputation out there and it showed in the draft."

Davis, a first-team All-BIG EAST selection who led Tech in receiving last season with 39 catches for 623 yards (16 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns, went to the Cleveland Browns in the second round, with the 47th overall pick. Tech's most decorated receiver, the 6-foot-1-inch, 195-pounder owns or shares several school records, including single-season records of receiving yards, yards per catch, touchdown catches, punt return average, and the career record of punt returns for touchdowns.

Cleveland also selected Taylor in the fourth round with the 111th overall pick, which will give the Browns depth at linebacker and also a standout on special teams. The 6-2, 235-pounder led the Hokies with 121 tackles this past season. He finished his career with more than 300 career tackles.

McCadam, Tech's 6-1, 220-pound rover, projects as a safety for the Atlanta Falcons, who took him in the fifth round with the 148th overall pick. McCadam's stock soared during the workouts for the NFL scouts this past spring when he ran in the 4.3-4.4 range.

Pugh, a first-team All-BIG EAST selection, was chosen by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round with the 182nd overall pick, giving Indy four Tech players (Waverly Jackson, Shyrone Stith, and Cory Bird). Pugh, the Hokies' 6-3, 270- pound starting defensive tackle, finished with 50 tackles this past season.

The Dallas Cowboys took Slowikowski in the sixth round with the 211th overall pick. Slowikowski, a 6-5, 255-pound tight end, also figures to help the Cowboys on special teams.

Pugh's sidekick, Beasley, went to the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him in the seventh round with the 218th overall pick. The 6-5, 303-pound defensive tackle becomes a second generation NFL player, following in the footsteps of his father, who was part of the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl dynasty.

Monroe played both defensive tackle and end for the Hokies, but he projects at end for the New Orleans Saints, who chose him in the seventh round with the 224th overall pick. The 6-4, 270-pound Monroe recorded 44 tackles this past season.

And finally, Ferguson, the Hokies' fullback and most valuable player, went in the seventh round with the 251st overall pick to the Buffalo Bills. Ferguson, 5-9, 225, caught 25 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 156 yards and five touchdowns on 35 carries.

As of May, three Tech players had signed free-agent contracts with various teams. Browning Wynn inked a deal with Indianapolis, while Larry Austin and Emmett Johnson signed with Houston and Washington, respectively.