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Virginia Tech football: 15 days til kickoff with a look back at Don Strock

Strock was Virginia Tech’s career passing leader for over 30 years.

Don Strock
Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics

Today is August 16, 2019, which means we are officially just 15 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled No. 16, quarterback Jim Druckenmiller. Druckenmiller was extremely instrumental in Virginia Tech’s success when the current bowl streak began.

For No. 15, we look back at another quarterback; Don Strock. Strock arrived at Virginia Tech from Owen J. Roberts High in Bucktown, Pa. In his first year, Strock played behind Gil Schwabe and Bob German. He did appear in all 11 games for the Hokies. He struggled during his first year, completing just 17 of 46 passes for 189 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception, but completed only 37 percent of his passes.

Strock took over as Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback in 1971. The Hokies struggled that season with Strock having his ups and downs. He had some big moments, but faced his share of struggles too. Strock completed 195 of 356 passes for 2,577 yards with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. His completion percentage took a big leap up to 55 percent. Tech finished the season with a 4-7 record.

In 1972, Strock’s senior season, he shattered most of Virginia Tech’s passing records. He attempted 427 passes, completing 228 for an average of 53 percent. He passed for 3,243 yards, 16 touchdowns and 27 touchdowns. Passing over 400 times was unheard of during this era. Strock was what you would today consider a gunslinger, meaning he was never afraid to take chances even if meant turning the ball over. The Hokies improved to 6-4-1 in 1972. Strock’s backup that season was Bruce Arians.

After his time in Blacksburg ended, Strock was chosen by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 1973 NFL Draft. He would spend 15 seasons with the Dolphins, primarily as the backup to two Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks in Bob Griese and Dan Marino. After his time in Miami, Strock would spend the 1988 season with the Cleveland Browns before ending up in Indianapolis in 1989. He retired that season.

Strock was on three Super Bowl teams, and was a member of the Dolphins’ squad that won Super Bowl VIII. Strock’s most memorable moment in the NFL came in 1982 against the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Divisional Round. Down 24-0, Strock led the Dolphins back to tie the score in the third quarter. While the Dolphins would lose the game in overtime, it was an epic performance from Strock. He completed 29 of 43 passes for 403 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. It has long been considered one of the best games in NFL history.

For his NFL career, Strock passed for 5,349 yards and 45 touchdowns with a QB rating of 79.4.

After his playing career, Strock turned to coaching. He spent time in the Arena League and World League, before becoming the quarterback coach for the Baltimore Ravens for three seasons from 1996-1998. Strock would later become the first head coach of Florida International University, where he would spend five years.

Many of Strock’s records at Virginia Tech remained for years. He still holds or shares some records, such as most passing yards in a game (527), highest yards-per-game average for a season (294.8), career interceptions (47) and tied for most interceptions in a game with three others (five). He remains No. 4 on the all-time passing list (6,009 yards) behind Logan Thomas, Tyrod Taylor and Bryan Randall. He held that mark for over 30 years until 2004, when Randall first broke it.

Strock was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.