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Virginia Tech football: 17 days til kickoff as we look back at Shayne Graham

Graham is one of the best kickers in college football history.

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Shayne Graham after kicking a game-winning field goal for the Bengals in 2004.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Today is August 14, 2019, which means we are officially just 17 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled No. 18, Brandon Flowers, one of the best defensive backs in Virginia Tech history.

For No. 17, we are going to do things a little bit different, much like we did with No. 25. Today, we will profile multiple former Hokies, the first of which is Shayne Graham.

Graham arrived at Virginia Tech in 1996 after a historic career at Pulaski County High School in nearby Dublin. One of the top kicking recruits in the nation, Graham chose the Hokies over a number of other offers.

During his high-school career, Graham broke numerous school and state records. Considering two former Pulaski Co. kickers before Shayne ended up being Hokies in Chris Kinzer and Mickey Thomas that was quite an honor. He was the starting kicker for all four years for the Cougars and his most memorable kick was his game-winner in the playoffs that helped propel the school to the Class AAA Division 6 state championship in 1992.

As soon as he arrived on campus, he was the kicker. As a true freshman kicker in 1996, Graham made 39 of 41 PATs and connected on 10 of 16 field goals. He helped lead the Hokies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl against Nebraska. As a sophomore in 1997, Graham made 35 of his 36 PATSs and 19 of his 23 field goals.

In his junior season for the Hokies, he was perfect, hitting all 37 of his PATs. Graham was 22 of 32 on field-goal attempts, with several of the misses being from long distance because Frank Beamer trusted him that much. In his senior season of 1999, Graham was 58 of 59 on his PATs and connected on 18 of 23 field-goal attempts.

It was in 1999 that Graham hit the biggest kick in Virginia Tech history. With the Hokies trailing late in the fourth quarter at West Virginia, Michael Vick moved the chains with his legs and got Tech in field-goal range. Virginia Tech’s undefeated season and chance to play in a national championship was on the line.

Enter Shayne Graham.

With five seconds on the clock, Graham splits the uprights from 44 yards out to preserve Virginia Tech’s undefeated and that kick remains one of the biggest moments in school history. The Hokies would go on to play Florida State in the national title game that season.

For his career, Graham left Virginia Tech as a four-time, first-team All-Big East selection. He was also the leading scorer in Virginia Tech history and in the history of the Big East. He was also the most accurate kicker in school history. While Joey Slye broke Graham’s school scoring record, there’s no doubting Graham’s place in Hokie history. He was elected into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

Shayne would go on to the NFL where he would enjoy an outstanding 15-year career, playing for several organizations. His most notable time came with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003-09. He made the Pro Bowl and was also named first-team All-Pro in 2005. For his NFL career, Graham made 277 of his 324 field-goal attempts, which is an average of almost 86 percent. At one time, he was the most accurate kicker in league history and still ranks among the top-15 most accurate kickers in NFL history.

After retiring from the NFL, Graham got into coaching. In 2017, he spent the season as an assistant coaching special teams for Central Michigan. In 2018, he moved to Michigan State where he is today working as a special teams analyst.

Shayne Graham spoiled Hokie Nation from 1996-99. While there have been other good kickers since, there will always be only one Shayne Graham.