Today is August 17, 2019, which means we are officially just 14 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Just two weeks, folks. Yesterday, we profiled Don Strock, a two-year starter at quarterback in the early 70s who held numerous school records for years.
For No. 14, we take a look back at former defensive back Torrian Gray. Younger Hokies may best remember Gray for his coaching stint in Blacksburg from 2006-2015. However, he was quite the player for the Hokies in the early to mid-90s.
Gray arrived in Blacksburg back in 1992 from Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Fla. He redshirted in 1992 before finding himself a valuable role in the secondary as a redshirt freshman in 1993. Gray played in all 11 games, making four starts and finishing with 37 tackles and three interceptions.
In 1994, Gray moved into the starting lineup on a full-time basis. He finished eighth on the team in 61 tackles, had two sacks and four interceptions. He was named to the All-Big-East team after the season. As a junior in 1995, Gray finished fourth on the team with 81 tackles and was again named to the All-Big-East team. He was a key starter on the 1995 team that won the Sugar Bowl and finished ranked No. 6 in the country.
As a senior in 1996, Gray again started every game for the Hokies. He finished third on the team with 76 tackles and also picked off two passes. For the third consecutive season, he was again named to the All-Big-East team.
After his outstanding college career concluded, Gray was firmly on the radar of NFL scouts. He became a second-round pick, No. 49 overall, by the Minnesota Vikings. Gray flashed early for the Vikings, but unfortunately suffered a devastating knee injury and his playing career was over after just two full seasons.
Gray quickly decided on a career in coaching and in 2000 took a job coaching defensive backs for Maine. He would remain there for two seasons before taking a similar position with UConn. He spent two years with the Huskies before taking a position with the Chicago Bears in the NFL as an assistant defensive backs coach. Again, Gray spent two years at the position until an opening in Blacksburg was too good to be true.
After Lorenzo Ward left his position as defensive backs coach, Bud Foster quickly turned to Gray. It was an outstanding hire by Foster and Frank Beamer. Gray would spend 10 seasons with the Hokies, developing a host of All-ACC players and future NFL standouts like Kam Chancellor, Kyle Fuller, Kendall Fuller, Macho Harris and numerous others.
Under Gray, and a big credit goes to Foster, of course, but the Hokies held opposing teams to an average of 185 yards passing per game and a rating of 106. Both were No. 2 in the nation over that 10-year span.
After Beamer retired, Gray left Virginia Tech to take the same position at Florida. A big reason for this was a cut in his pay. He spent one year at Florida before he returned to the NFL as the DB coach for the Washington Redskins, where he stayed for two years. Gray returned to Florida as defensive backs coach earlier this year and one would presume he would have to be a major contender for the defensive coordinator position at his alma mater after Foster’s retirement.
Gray is a big reason Tech is known in some circles as ‘DBU’ for his playing career and the job he did as coach for the Hokies.