Bud Foster had a long history of finding diamonds in the rough with unheralded recruits who became key cogs in his vaunted Lunch Pail Defense. Luther Maddy, who carved out space in the trenches as a defensive tackle for Virginia Tech from 2011-2015, is a prime example.
However, Maddy’s emergence with the Hokies was almost for naught. If not for linebacker Stephone Anthony spurning Virginia Tech on National Signing Day in 2011, Maddy might have never made his new home in Blacksburg.
Path to Blacksburg
The Delray Beach, Florida product didn’t start playing football until his freshman year of high school.
“It was just something that all the boys did in the neighborhood, so I kind of tagged along,” Maddy said. “My cousins did it. I wasn’t really taking it seriously. I was just there to be there. I did have the size early on, but I didn’t really see a future in it. It was literally just a thing to do.”
It wasn’t until his junior year of high school at Atlantic High School that Maddy caught on to the potential that he possessed in the sport. He homed in on extra lifting and conditioning along with a newfound focus on film work. The budding defensive lineman studied highlights of DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys, and it all clicked his senior year when he collected 80 tackles and 13 sacks.
Suddenly the sport that just got him out of the house became an open door for a future he could have never expected.
“Coach Foster and Coach [Charley] Wiles, they happened to be in town recruiting another local guy in the area,” Maddy said. “They decided to stop by my high school and talk to one of my coaches that they had a connection with. My defensive line coach, he was really in their ear bugging [them] about me and Dadi Nicolas.
“Showed them the film, watched a little bit of film, and they quickly showed an interest in both of us. They had an offer for Dadi. They didn’t have one for me just yet. They were low on the scholarships. Those guys, Coach Wiles kept in constant contact with me. Even though I didn’t have an offer he was still hitting me up.”
Maddy reached out to some former Hokies who also attended Atlantic High School – like Brandon Flowers, David Clowney, and Jayron Hosley – and heard nothing but good things about what was brewing in Blacksburg.
And so with the Signing Day deadline looming, Anthony chose the Clemson Tigers over Virginia Tech, clearing a scholarship opening for Maddy to come onboard and make headway with his counterpart Nicolas.
“There was an offer on the table for me and I ran away with it,” Maddy said. “Our relationship started late, but it felt real. I had a small pipeline from my high school, so the trust was already there. It was comfortable. It was natural. I’m really glad it happened.”
Big Lu in Blacksburg
Maddy arrived on campus and quickly went to work. Despite the lack of stars that showed up on his recruiting profile, Foster instilled confidence in him immediately and Maddy made seven starts as a true freshman. One game still sticks out from his freshman year in Maddy’s mind. It was the 38-35 victory over Miami in front of a raucous Lane Stadium crowd.
“I just remember Lane being super loud,” Maddy said. “It was nuts. Never have I seen anything like that before. Just the way the fans were reacting that game and how loud it was, us coming together and rallying to get that win late in the game, that was a crazy experience.”
It wasn’t until his junior season that Maddy really burst onto the scene. The defensive tackle continually caused chaos in the backfield, compiling 55 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks that season to earn Third-team All-ACC honors.
Following his junior campaign, Maddy constantly weighed the decision of whether he would return for his senior season or enter the NFL Draft where he would likely be a mid-to-late round selection. In the end, Maddy decided to come back for his senior campaign, but disaster soon struck. Maddy played in the first four games of the year before a meniscus tear in his knee required surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the season.
“I was in a dark place,” Maddy said. “It was probably one of the weirdest moments in my life, having a dream right in front of me. I decided to come back and I got hurt. It was a really, really tough situation, but it worked out for the best.”
Maddy applied for a medical hardship waiver, and then the waiting game began. In the midst of that dark place of not knowing if his Virginia Tech career was over or not, Maddy had the constant support of Foster, Wiles, and his teammates who would push him and offer words of encouragement during his rehab.
Ultimately, Maddy was granted the waiver for a fifth season with the Hokies. The time in between, though, helped ingrain a gratitude that lives on today.
“I was definitely one of those people who was impatient and wanted things to happen quickly,” Maddy said. “I always wanted to be ahead of stuff, but when I got hurt the rehab process was a while, so I had to really learn to sit back and let things happen. The biggest takeaway from that was just being patient. I do that now in my profession.
“Having that injury my senior year really helped me a lot. It may seem like a bad thing or something that may be negative, but there’s a lot of positives I took out of that.”
As a result, Maddy’s fifth season in Blacksburg coincided with Beamer’s final ride as head coach. It made for a memorable season even if the record wasn’t what either competitor wanted it to be.
“It kind of felt surreal because [Beamer’s] been here forever, like he’ll never retire,” Maddy said. “It never got to a point where it really hit me until that last home game in Blacksburg. I was like, ‘Woah, this is really coach Beamer’s last game.’ The whole season it didn’t feel real quite honestly. Like, there was no way. Maybe he’ll come back or something, like this is not really going to happen, but it did… It wasn’t a great year that year, but we played with heart. I can tell you that much.”
Maddy remained that lighthearted guy who played with heart and liked to talk a little trash on the field his final year. There was no better place for that than in his final game against UVA where he told Smoke Mizzell to ‘go home,’ pointing to the sidelines.
“They were just talking trash the whole game,” Maddy said with a belly laugh. “I came in my freshman year and I played with my boys. We had Tone [Exum] and James Gayle. Those boys used to talk a lot of trash on the field.
“Me being a Florida boy and me just playing against UVA my freshman year, I always had that kind of hype where you hate UVA and you want to give them our best football. That was instilled in me as a freshman. So whenever I played them, I always had a lot of heart and a lot of passion. It’s always good trash talking, it’s nothing personal. It was just fun.”
Beamer’s final game as a head coach against Tulsa in the Independence Bowl still holds a special place in Maddy’s heart. In a game where defense was optional for the vast majority, Maddy and his Delray Beach mate Nicolas loomed large to send Beamer out a victor in the 55-52 triumph.
“Me and Dadi assisted on the last two sacks of the game to kind of seal the win,” Maddy said. “The sack before the last one, I had half a sack with Tremaine [Edmunds] and then the last sack we ran a stunt and Dadi got the sack. It was just crazy how it ended on a really good note. The fact that we were able to contribute that way and get the win to send coach Beamer out was crazy. I would say that was probably most memorable.”
Return to Blacksburg in New Role
When Maddy’s Virginia Tech career wrapped up against Tulsa, he finished with 175 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, and 14.0 sacks. He played in 56 games over his five seasons, the career leader in games played when he graduated, and cemented his place as one of the more memorable defensive tackles in Hokies history.
It’s why it was only right when Maddy returned to Blacksburg on Saturday’s this fall as the pregame/postgame host for the VT Sports Network (IMG).
“When Laze (Jon Laaser) started at Tech, I believe his first year was my senior year. We instantly hit it off. I was the team captain, so I was doing a bunch of interviews and the media stuff. I just liked him, he liked me a lot, and I was in town one time and he told me about the opportunity.
“It was kind of a blessing in disguise. I’m really grateful that Laze trusted me to do something like that. It keeps me looking forward to watching football, it keeps me watching film, staying in touch with the Hokies, all types of things. It’s been crazy for me. I’m really glad that I’m doing that.”
It also gives the Virginia Tech faithful a voice of someone who’s been there and done that. As someone who’s been inside the program and been coached by several of the coaches who were on the staff, he was able to provide a viewpoint this past year on the radio show that very few could provide.
“That’s the good thing about it. I was actually on the field not too long ago,” Maddy said. “I played for Coach Foster. I’m used to some of the coaches who were on staff, so I’m able to give the fans a little insight into how they’re thinking or what the gameplan might be this week. I always think it’s great when guys who were former players get on the radio or get on TV and start talking football because it’s a different perspective.”
When Maddy’s not diving into the broadcasting world, he can be found working in real estate and property management. His ultimate goal with the properties that he’s investing in is to give back to those who are less fortunate.
“It was me and my five other brothers at one point in time living in one room,” Maddy said. “We’d come back from school and there’s not much on the table to eat. Just really struggling at times. My parents tried to do the best they could, but they just weren’t dealt the right cards.
“I want to provide housing to others and be the best owner or landlord, or whatever it may be, that I can. I think that could really impact others’ lives. Just trying to find different ways to help others. That’s really what I’m all about. Giving back and helping others creatively.”
That’s not the only way that Maddy is giving back. He also started MadAssist LLC in 2018 where he uses his own personal experiences to provide mentorship for those in tough situations, and training for young athletes.
It’s a small business that Maddy is having fun with each and every day. It brings him joy to talk about it. And ultimately, it tells you all you need to know about the man that Maddy has transformed into today from his humble beginnings in Delray Beach and beyond.
“My life experience has taught me a whole lot, I’ve seen a lot, and been in a lot of tough situations,” Maddy said. “It really made me the man I am today. It brought me to the point where I was able to get a scholarship at Virginia Tech. Coach Beamer and Coach Foster taught me even more. I’ve been around a lot of different individuals, so I’m able to relate to all types of people, so with that and the experiences I’ve gained I’m trying to use that and influence others in a positive light. I can’t complain. Things could always be worse. I’m exactly where I need to be in life right now. Just trying to take advantage of every moment.”