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WR Corey Fuller goes to Detroit and Denver tabbed lineman Vinston Painter in a span of three picks.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Receiver Corey Fuller (83) was one of two Hokies drafted on Saturday. Photo by Daniel Lin and shot on 11/08/2012.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Lineman Vinston Painter is the 173rd pick.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Virginia Tech fans waited and waited and waited Saturday for one of their players to finally come off the board in the NFL Draft. Then, in a matter of minutes, two Hokies were gone.
The Detroit Lions picked Hokies wide receiver Corey Fuller and the Denver Broncos selected offensive tackle Vinston Painter in a span of three picks early in the sixth round.
It was the longest wait for the first Hokie to come off the board since 1993, the last time Virginia Tech didn’t have anyone selected. But it didn’t spoil the moment for either Fuller or Painter.
“It feels great. It’s hard to breathe right now,” Fuller said, an hour after he’d been selected. “I don’t know if I’m still dreaming or what.”
Fuller, the second-oldest of the four football-playing brothers from Baltimore who have attended or will attend Virginia Tech, had grown tired of watching on TV and walked outside for a break when he got a call from a Michigan phone number. It was Detroit coach Jim Schwartz.
Fuller hadn’t spoken with the Lions in the lead-up to the draft, but Schwartz coached Corey’s older brother, Vincent, as a defensive coordinator with Tennessee and later as head coach of Detroit.
“He was just saying that he’s been following me since high school,” Corey said. “He wants me to have the type of character that [Vincent] has, come in and work hard and do everything I can do to help out the team. ...
“I just know Detroit is a city where you roll your sleeves up and get to work. And that’s what I’m ready to do.”
It continues a meteoric rise for the 6-foot-2, 204-pound Fuller, who originally ran track at Kansas, transferred to Virginia Tech in 2010 to play football and didn’t emerge as a solid threat until his senior season, when he caught 43 passes for 815 yards and five touchdowns.
“This time last year, I would say even the start of the season this year, my mindset was hopefully I can get a shot at free agency, hopefully I can have a pretty decent year,” he said. “I came in when my name was called, I took advantage of it and now I’m here.”
Painter was selected two picks later at No. 173 overall, rising up draft boards after starting one year in college and turning in an impressive combine performance, where he put his size (6-4, 306), physical skills and football smarts on display.
“It’s just a big relief, man, I can tell you that much,” Painter said.
Once one of the top recruits in the state coming out of Maury High School in Norfolk, Painter bounced around several positions before settling in as a tackle. He started all 13 games at right tackle last year, earning honorable mention All-ACC honors by the coaches.
Denver was one of the teams he flew out to meet with after his pro day in March.
“I can’t really say that I got a serious feel that they would take me, but I definitely feel good about it,” Painter said. “It was nice. ... Looked like a good place to go to work.”
Painter talked to several members of the Broncos’ staff when he got the phone call. The third was John Elway, the Broncos’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Did he think his day would include talking to a football Hall of Famer?
“Naw,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t think that’s something that really crossed my mind.”
Several undrafted Hokies agreed to free agent deals Saturday night, including linebacker Bruce Taylor (Bengals), offensive tackle Nick Becton (Chargers), outside linebacker Alonzo Tweedy (Giants) and defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins (Steelers).
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