It had been 20 years since Virginia Tech failed to have a player selected in the first five rounds of the NFL draft, but two were picked in a matter of moments once the sixth round began Saturday.
Wide receiver Corey Fuller and offensive tackle Vinston Painter, both of whom were first-time starters as seniors this past season, became the first two Hokies players to come off the board in the 2013 NFL draft.
Fuller, a Baltimore native, was picked by the Detroit Lions with the No. 171 overall selection in the sixth round. Two picks later, Painter was selected by the Denver Broncos with the No. 173 overall pick. It’s the lowest the first Virginia Tech player has been selected in the draft since 1993, when none were taken.
Fuller began his college career as a track and field athlete at Kansas before transferring to Virginia Tech as a walk-on football player in 2010. He played sparingly until this past season when he emerged as one of quarterback Logan Thomas’s favorite targets. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound Fuller finished with 43 catches for 815 yards and six touchdowns.
“It’s a little different for me because I only had one real year of college football under my belt,” Fuller said in a conference call with reporters. “When I transferred back over, I said, ‘I’m going to put everything into it to get to where I am today.'”
Fuller is the second person from his family to be selected in the NFL draft, joining his older brother Vincent, a former NFL defensive back who played under Lions Coach Jim Schwartz when Schwartz was the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. Fuller’s younger brother, Kyle, is a cornerback at Virginia Tech. His youngest brother, Kendall, was the All-Met Player of the Year at Good Counsel and will join the Hokies this fall.
That, though, didn’t make waiting to hear his name called any easier.
“I was getting a little frustrated. Then came the sixth round and the Lions called me and it just made everything great,” Fuller said. “I kept ducking off trying to just get by myself, but then I wanted to be around my family because they made it just a little bit easier for me. So, I was just pacing back and forth a lot.”
Painter was a highly touted recruit coming out of Maury High in Norfolk, Va., but struggled to fulfill that potential during his first four years at Virginia Tech. But as a redshirt senior in 2012, he finally emerged as a starter and earned honorable mention all-ACC honors at right tackle.
The 6-foot-4, 309-pound Painter elevated his stock with an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
With our pick of Vinston Painter from Virginia Tech, he’s a hard-working, physical tackle. We like his potential.
— John Elway (@johnelway) April 27, 2013
More draft coverage from The Post:
The Early Lead: Chip Kelly and the Eagles draft Barkley in Round 4
The Early Lead: After horrific knee injury, Lattimore is drafted by 49ers
The Early Lead: Smith goes to Jets, has Sanchez in his sights
The Early Lead: Te’o goes to Chargers in Round 2
The Early Lead: Honey Badger says Patrick Paterson helped him get to Arizona