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Virginia Tech football: 65 days til kickoff with a look back at the 1965 Hokies

The Hokies went 7-3 in 1965 behind a strong defense.

Marshall v Virginia Tech
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Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Today is June 27, 2019, which means we are officially just 65 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled No. 66, Will Montgomery, a former first-team All-ACC selection and 10-year NFL player.

For No. 65, we are going to do things a little different. While there are numerous No. 65’s to suit up for the Hokies, for the most part it was a transitional number. Long snappers wore the jersey, Carlton Powell wore the jersey briefly when he first arrived on campus in 2003 before switching to the No. 99 jersey fans remember him in.

Today, we take a look back at the 1965 Virginia Tech Hokies. A team that featured a few future NFL players and/or Hokie Hall-of-Famers.

Offensively, the Hokies were led by senior quarterback Bobby Owens. Owens was a true dual-threat passer for that era, as he completed 56 percent of his passes for 891 yards, passing for six touchdowns, but also led the Hokies in rushing with 526 yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

Tommy Francisco was Tech’s top running back, finishing second on the team in rushing yards with 504 and four touchdowns. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Wide receiver Gene Fisher led the Hokies with 30 receptions and 387 yards that season. Future Washington Redskin, Ken Barefoot, finished second on the team with 20 catches for 250 yards and two scores. Barefoot, at 6’4”, 230 pounds, had prototypical size for a tight end and would go on to spend two years in the NFL. He was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

It was Tech’s defense that was terrific that season. Featuring George Foussekis, Frank Loria and Don Thacker, among others. Foussekis and Loria are in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame and Thacker, whom we profiled for No 67, was eventually an All-American. Loria is one of the greatest Virginia Tech athletes of all time.

Overall, the Hokies finished 7-3 in that season and were especially stout on defense. It was head coach Jerry Claiborne’s fifth season in charge of the Hokies and that season was third year of six consecutive winning seasons under his watch. Overall, Claiborne spent 10 seasons at Virginia Tech with a respectable 61-39-2 record.

Tomorrow, for day No. 64, we look back at another popular Hokie and former All-American.