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Virginia Tech football: 10 days til kickoff with a look back at Frank Loria

Loria is one of the five best players in Virginia Tech history.

Frank Loria
Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics

Today is August 21, 2019, which means we are just 10 short days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled former Hokie linebacker Xavier Adibi and his outstanding career.

For No. 10, we take a look back at one of the best players in Virginia Tech history; Frank Loria.

Loria came to Blacksburg in 1965 from Notre Dame Catholic High in Clarksburg, WV. He was a three-sport star in high school. As soon as he arrived in Blacksburg, his impact was immediate.

During a three-year playing career that spanned 1965-1967, Loria played safety and returned punts. Loria led the Hokies in punt returns all three years on campus during his career. For his career, he had over 800 punt return yards, and a then-record four returns for touchdowns. While DeAngelo Hall would later break Loria’s career record for punt-return touchdowns, he still sits atop the list for most punt-return touchdowns in a season with three, set in 1966, tied with Hall and Andre Davis.

If you think Loria was an electric return man, he was an even better defensive back. He played in the same defensive backfield as Frank Beamer for two years. He finished his Virginia Tech career with six interceptions and numerous big-time plays that saved games. For instance, in a 1966 game against Kentucky, the Wildcats were about to score and Loria came through the line for a sack and UK ended up not scoring and the Hokies won the game.

There was also another 1966 game, this time against Florida State. Not only did Loria return a punt 80 yards for a touchdown, Loria also made a game-clinching fourth-down tackle on the goal line to preserve a 23-21 Virginia Tech win. In another game against Kansas State in 1967, Loria was all over the place. He picked off a pass, recovered a fumble, saved two touchdowns with clutch tackles, broke up a touchdown pass while also finishing with a sack.

What player, especially a defensive back, could do all of those things in the 1960s? Loria was ahead of his time. He could do everything, from roaming the secondary to chasing down the quarterback to being a feared hitter, Loria was one of the best college football players of his era.

Unfortunately, most people know Loria for being aboard the 1970 plane crash that killed the majority of Marshall’s football team. He had just joined the coaching staff earlier that year as a defensive backs coach and, much like Beamer, appeared set on prosperous coaching career.

Loria’s accomplishments are numerous. His No. 10 is retired at Lane Stadium. He was a first-team All-American in 1966 and a consensus All-American in 1967. He was named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and was also a member of the inaugural class of the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1982. He was later named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Loria started in every game for his Virginia Tech career.

When you think of Virginia Tech legends, it doesn’t get much bigger than Frank Loria.