The legend of Danny Coale continued to grow Thursday. Less than a week after the Hokies wide receiver doubled as a punter in Virginia Tech’s win over Virginia, Coale was awarded the Jim Tatum Award by the ACC for being the league’s top senior student-athlete on the field and in the classroom.

Coale, an Episcopal High graduate, carried a 3.3 grade-point average and received an undergraduate degree in finance in the fall of 2010. He’s currently working on a second undergraduate degree in marketing management.

But Coale also has become a fan favorite, starting 52 games during his career in Blacksburg. He ranks second on the school’s career receptions and receiving yards lists behind teammate Jarrett Boykin. This season Coale has set career highs with 50 catches, a team-high 776 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

He also had a career-high 143 receiving yards in last year’s ACC championship game win over Florida State.

Perhaps more impressively, Coale has received playing time this year as a wide receiver, punter and punt returner. After Coach Frank Beamer told him in pregame warm-ups last Saturday that he would be punting for the first time since a win over Marshall in September, Coale averaged more than 48 yards per kick and had a crucial 52-yard effort from his end zone in the first quarter when the game was still in doubt.

Beamer would not say whether he planned to use Coale at punter in this week’s ACC championship game against Clemson, but chances are the coach will once again go with Coale because of his experience playing in so many big games over the years.

“Danny is running down the field wide open more than anybody I can remember. It’s amazing,” Beamer said, alluding to a movement amongst Virginia Tech fans who claim Coale is always open. “I think it is a credit to his effort, a credit to his instincts and a credit to his ability to fine the open area. And for as good a player as he is, he is an even better person. He is the perfect example of what you are looking for. He gives you all he’s got on the field, he has great character and he excels academically. He is just a well-rounded student-athlete. He has meant a great deal to this program.”

Coale is one of this year’s captains and was credited by teammates with delivering an inspirational speech in the team’s hotel before last week’s Commonwealth Cup victory over Virginia. He is the first Virginia Tech player to ever win the Jim Tatum Award, which is named after the former Maryland coach.

Though the Hokies felt snubbed when the all-ACC teams were announced Monday, they’ve dominated the league’s season-ending awards. On Sunday, right tackle Blake DeChristopher received the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, and Wednesday, running back David Wilson was named the league’s overall and offensive player of the year.