By Norm Wood
12:44 AM EDT, April 28, 2013
Oday Aboushi will be following in the footsteps of another former Virginia offensive tackle, while former Virginia Tech wide receiver Corey Fuller and offensive tackle Vinston Painter are about to get National Football League opportunities that might've seemed impossible just nine months ago.
Aboushi, a 6-foot-5, 308-pound native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was taken Saturday by the New York Jets with the 141st overall selection in the NFL draft. He was the first player from U.Va. or Virginia Tech selected in this year's draft.
Fuller was the first Tech player chosen, going in the sixth round to the Detroit Lions with the 171st overall pick.
Painter didn't have to wait long after Fuller was selected to get his own draft call. Painter was selected in the sixth round by the Denver Broncos with the 173rd overall pick.
The selection of Aboushi gives U.Va. at least one player chosen in each of the past 30 drafts. Though Aboushi got all 37 of his starts at U.Va. while playing offensive tackle (five at right tackle and 32 at left tackle), ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay projected Aboushi to play offensive guard for the Jets. He gained a little experience at guard early in his career at U.Va.
“I don't think I can put it into words how excited I am to be a New York Jet, to be on my hometown team,” Aboushi said.
“I know (Jets offensive line) coach (Mike) Devlin has got some ideas for me. I'm willing to work with what he's got.”
When the Jets dipped into the talent pool at U.Va. in 2006 to draft offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, they got a guy who has started every game for the past seven seasons and has become a three-time Pro Bowl selection. It remains to be seen if Aboushi can get close to that kind of production.
“Working with a fellow Wahoo is always good,” said Aboushi, who added he lined up at both guard and tackle in his pre-draft workout with the Jets. “I'm sure he'll … continue the brotherhood that we've been taught at Virginia.”
Aboushi was a first-team All-ACC pick last season and a second-team All-ACC selection in 2011. He played in January in the Senior Bowl, where he worked at both tackle and guard.
After barely getting on the field as backups prior to last season, Fuller and Painter both experienced meteoric rises in their stock as professional players very late in their careers.
In the previous 19 drafts, Tech had at least one player selected prior to the sixth round. The last time Tech didn't have a single player taken in the draft was 1993. Receiver Marcus Davis and offensive tackle Nick Becton, who were both considered potential picks in various mock drafts, were not selected.
Fuller, a 6-foot-2, 196-pound native of Baltimore, was second on Tech's roster last season with 43 catches for 815 yards and six touchdowns. As a junior, he had just two catches for 19 yards and played just 57 offensive snaps all season. He transferred in 2010 from Kansas, where he ran track, to Tech as a walk-on football player.
His speed in February at the NFL combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds (seventh-fastest among wide receivers at the combine), helped improve his draft stock. He's the sibling of two other Fuller brothers — Vincent and current cornerback Kyle — who have played at Tech. Kendall, a fourth Fuller brother and a highly recruited cornerback, will join the program this summer.
Painter, a 6-4, 306-pound graduate of Maury High in Norfolk, also helped his stock in the NFL combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.95 seconds (fourth among offensive linemen at the combine), leaped 30 1/2 inches in the vertical jump (also fourth among offensive linemen) and bench-pressed 225 pounds 32 times (fifth among offensive linemen).
He started at right tackle last season, but prior to his senior season, he played just 91 offensive snaps in his first three seasons on the field. He also worked at defensive tackle and right guard during his college career.
“If put in immediately, I'd say right tackle, but I have played both (the left side and right side of the offensive line), so I'm pretty comfortable with each,” Painter said about which position he'd be most comfortable playing in Denver. “This season coming up, I'd say right tackle.”
Several state players landed free-agent deals soon after the draft.
Among Hokies, defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins was picked up the Pittsburgh Steelers, linebacker Bruce Taylor by the Cincinnati Bengals, Nick Becton by the San Diego Chargers and safety Alonzo Tweedy by the New York Giants.
Among Cavaliers, tight end Paul Freedman went to the Dallas Cowboys and linebacker La'Roy Reynolds of Norfolk to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Old Dominion's Chris Burnette, a defensive lineman, signed with the Miami Dolphins. ODU linebacker Craig Wilkins joined the Seattle Seahawks.
Two Richmond Spiders also agreed to free-agent deals: fullback Kendall Gaskins with the Buffalo Bills and quarterback John Laub with the Lions,
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