A look back: The 1996 UVA game

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For the first time this summer, we’ll take a trip down memory lane and take a close look at a past Virginia Tech game. Today we’ll be focusing on the 1996 meeting with in-state rival UVA.

Back in 1996, this was a huge game. Tech had beaten UVA two of the previous three seasons, but overall this rivalry was dead even. Both programs had some very good players (we’ll go over them later), and they were both well-coached.

Virginia came into the game ranked #20 in the country with a 7-3 record. The Hokies were #17 with a 9-1 mark on the season. The Hoos were a very competitive football team at the time. Take a look at their previous losses from 1996 and 1995:

1996: Clemson 24-16, Florida State 31-24, Georgia Tech 13-7
1995: VT 36-29, Texas 17-16, UNC 22-17, Michigan 18-17

In 1996, the Hoos had already defeated Texas handily, and they also beat a UNC team that went on to finish 10-2. UVA was very talented across their entire roster, and so was Virginia Tech. Here’s a quick look at the Tech starters who went on to be drafted, or who would eventually start games in the NFL despite not being drafted:

QB Jim Druckenmiller: 1st
OG Todd Washington: 4th
OG Gennaro DiNapoli: 4th
RB Marcus Parker: 7th
RB Ken Oxendine: 7th
FS Torrian Gray: 2nd
DE John Engelberger: 2nd
CB Antonio Banks: 4th
ROV Pierson Prioleau: 4th
DE Cornell Brown: 6th
C Billy Conaty: UFA
DT Wavery Jackson: UFA

Tech’s entire interior offensive line went on to long NFL careers. That’s a pretty loaded list of players when you think about it, and it doesn’t even include the backups who would eventually go on to get drafted.

Obviously UVA had some major players as well. Tiki and Ronde Barber had long and good NFL careers. James Farrior and Jamie Sharper were NFL starting linebackers, and Anthony Poindexter was one of the best safeties of his day. Though he didn’t start the game, Aaron Brooks played the entire second half at quarterback. Patrick Kerney was on that team, as was Wali Rainer, Germane Crowell, and others.

Though this wasn’t a conference game back then, this game still potentially played a big factor in which bowl the Hokies would attend. If Miami upset Syracuse the next day, that would create a three-way tie for first place in the Big East. In that scenario, the team with the highest average ranking would get a berth in the Bowl Alliance. That would likely be the Hokies, if they beat