Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum has informed coaches that he will return to for his senior season, the school announced Wednesday afternoon. A redshirt junior from Glen Allen, Va., had submitted paperwork with the NFL draft advisory board after earning second-team all-ACC honors from both the league’s coaches and reporters.
Exum was Virginia Tech’s most improved player over the course of this season and developed into the team’s best cover cornerback. After switching from safety to cornerback last spring, he finished with an ACC-high 16 pass breakups, a team-high five interceptions and 46 tackles.
He was also named the most valuable player in the Hokies’ Russell Athletic Bowl win over Rutgers last month.
With Exum back in the fold, Virginia Tech’s defense will have at least eight starters returning next year. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s unit started the season off slow, but ended up ranked No. 18 in the nation in total defense. The Hokies capped off the season by holding Rutgers to just 196 total yards and no offensive touchdowns.
However, Exum’s return also means Virginia Tech’s 14-year streak of having a defensive back chosen in the NFL draft will come to an end this year.
Both quarterback Logan Thomas and defensive end James Gayle are also exploring their professional options and could forgo their final years of eligibility by declaring for the 2013 NFL draft before Tuesday’s deadline. Neither has announced a final decision yet.