Today is June 16, 2019, which means we are officially 76 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the 2019 college football season at Boston College.
Yesterday, on day 77, we had a profile lined up for former Hokie great, Tom Beasley, unfortunately, life got in the way and we were unable to get something up. Make no mistake, Mr. Beasley, Chad’s father, was one of the all-time great Hokie defensive linemen and had quite a career in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the era of the Steel Curtain before finishing his career up with three seasons with the Washington Redskins. So, Mr. Beasley, joining his son, Chad, is officially part of our countdown list.
Today, we look back at No. 76, Duane Brown. Brown arrived in Blacksburg in 2003 as a tight end from Hermitage High in Richmond. He redshirted his first season. In 2004, when the Hokies won the ACC, Brown played sparingly at tight end, catching three passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. He showed great promise with his outstanding size, athleticism and blocking ability. That promise led him to the No. 2 spot at tight end before his sophomore campaign in 2005. However, just two weeks before the Hokie began the season, the coaching staff moved him to offensive tackle.
The rest is history.
After just moving to offensive tackle in fall camp, Brown ended up playing in 673 snaps and started all 13 games. He also played in 148 snaps on special teams that season, too. Despite his inexperience at the position, Brown graded out well. He started at right tackle against N.C State that season, a team with three 2006 first-round picks, including No. 1 overall pick, Mario Williams, on its defensive line. Brown acquitted himself quite well.
As a junior in 2006, Brown again started every game at right tackle. He graded out well in every game and at the end of the season, Brown was named as the state of Virginia’s Offensive Lineman/End of the Year by the Richmond Touchdown Club.
In 2007, the Hokies moved Brown over to the left side where his size, nimble feet and raw power projected well to the NFL. He had a terrific season, that ended with another ACC championship for the Hokies. Brown was named second-team All-ACC and again won the award from the Richmond Touchdown Club. Brown served as an outstanding leader and still played some on special teams.
He went to the NFL Combine and measured in at 6’4”, 315 and wowed NFL teams with his short-area quickness and footwork. That would lock him into a spot in the first round where he was selected No. 26 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. In Houston, he would spend nine-and-a-half seasons before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks in October 2017 after a contract dispute. Seattle would give Houston multiple draft picks in exchange for Brown and then sign him to a three-year extension.
During his career, Brown has been named a first-team All-Pro, two-time second-team All-Pro, including in 2018 and a four-time Pro Bowler. He remains one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL today. And he is quite a success story. In terms of career NFL earnings, Brown is among the top Hokies ever. He is another terrific example of the coaches finding and developing a player into a consistent, multi-year starter, a trademark of the Frank Beamer era.
As far as the NFL goes, Brown is the most successful offensive linemen in the history of Virginia Tech. While he may not have had the college accolades of Jim Pyne, Jake Grove or Eugene Chung, his NFL career gives him an outside shot at a potential spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday.
And, he’s still playing at a high level.