Kicking off our countdown is someone Hokie fans from recent years should know very well. Number 99, James Gayle, played for the Hokies from 2009-2013, redshirting his first year before becoming a key contributor his second season on campus.
A 6’4”, 250-pound defensive end from Bethel High in Hampton, Gayle was a three-year starter for Bud Foster and finished his career in Blacksburg with 138 total tackles, including 79 solo, 40.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks. He would receive second-team All-ACC honors in both 2011 and 2012 and honorable mention All-ACC in 2013.
Gayle would be eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft and, after a solid combine in addition to a good career for the Hokies, it certainly appeared Gayle would at least her his name called in the middle rounds. Gayle measured in at 6’4” and weighed 259 pounds, ran a 4.7 40-yard dash and did 26 reps on the bench press.
Unfortunately, Gayle wasn’t selected in the 2014 NFL Draft and instead would sign with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent. Sadly for Gayle, he underwent shoulder surgery right after signing with Tennessee and never caught on with the Titans. He was released and in January 2015 signed a futures contract with the Washington Redskins.
Gayle again battled injuries for over a year, never playing in a game for the Redskins and was released in 2016.
Hokie fans remember Gayle well for not only how good of a defensive end he was, but his hatred of UVa.
UVA's countdown clock to play Virginia tech is considering retirement After 12 years of let down and 10,000 duracell batteries.— James Gayle (@JGayle99) November 20, 2016
Just 99 days until the season opener.