Today is August 3, 2019, which means we are officially just 28 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. For today’s countdown, we look back at Ken Oxendine, a Hokie running back from 1994-97.
Oxendine, from Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va., was one of the state’s top players in the class of 1994. He was also among the top running back prospects in the country as the 6’1”, 215-pound Oxendine had NFL size before he ever stepped foot in Blacksburg.
As a true freshman in 1994, the Hokies had a loaded backfield. Dwayne Thomas, Tommy Edwards, Brian Edmonds and Marcus Parker shared the backfield with Oxendine. The Hokies liked Oxendine so much, they had him in the rotation that season despite having players such as Thomas ahead of him.
Thomas led the Hokies in rushing in 1994 and Oxendine finished fifth on the team with 265 rushing yards. He scored two touchdowns and led the Hokies with a whopping eight yards per attempt. Oxendine showed power and speed that no other running back on the roster possessed and was set for a bright future.
In 1995, Oxendine was featured more prominently in the running back rotation. For a Virginia Tech team that finished 10-2 and won the Sugar Bowl, Oxendine finished second on the team in rushing behind Thomas with 593 yards on 106 carries for an average of 5.6 yards per attempt. He also scored four touchdowns for, at that time, probably the most successful season in school history.
Oxendine became the unquestioned starter in 1996. A freshman named Shyrone Stith was his primary backup and split carries with Oxendine and Parker. Oxendine led the Hokies with 890 yards and 13 touchdowns and again averaged an impressive 5.9 yards per attempt. The Hokies again finished 10-2 and were ranked inside the top 10 at the end of the season.
As a senior in 1997, Oxendine once again led the Hokies in rushing with 912 yards and eight touchdowns. The team took a step back on offense with the loss of quarterback Jim Druckenmiller and much of the defensive focus was on Oxendine. While he still had a strong season, there wasn’t enough on offense around him for the Hokies to get back into the top 10 in ‘97.
For his career, Oxendine played in 45 games, ran for 2,660 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. He was a reliable back for the Hokies who, if he had not split time early in his career, would’ve been much higher on the career rushing list.
Oxendine became a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played two seasons for the Falcons and rushed for 452 yards as a rookie in 1998. He was a member of the Atlanta team that played in Super Bowl XXXIII.
After his playing career ended, Oxendine stayed in the Georgia area. First becoming an assistant with Georgia Southern for a year before going to Notre Dame Academy in Duluth, Ga., where he has spent 13 years in a number of titles, specifically in charge of the athletic department. Oxendine also stays busy with a number of other projects.
Oxendine was an outstanding college player and is often forgotten about when discussing some of the greatest running backs in Virginia Tech history. For anyone who saw him play, you know how special he was.