ROANOKE, Va. – They both declared for the NFL Draft on the same day and just over five months later, James Mitchell and Amare Barno were drafted on the same day-- just about 30 minutes apart.
Often referred to as the ‘Governor’ and ‘Pride of Big Stone Gap’, James Mitchell will be heading to Detroit to suit up for the Lions.
Welcome to #OnePride, @j_mitch82!#LionsDraft | @powerhomesolar pic.twitter.com/AImgOofmqM— Detroit Lions (@Lions) April 30, 2022
The Virginia Tech tight end had his 2021 season end early due to an ACL injury in week 2 versus Middle Tennessee State. But Mitchell proved to be a pivotal piece of the Hokies offense well before that. During his time in Blacksburg, Mitchell tallied over 800 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He rushed for 5 career touchdowns, three of them coming in 2019 alone.
Earlier in the week, Mitchell said “This has been a dream of mine since I’ve been a kid. Being a professional athlete has always been a dream of mine it’s kind of crazy feeling and one second it hits me and one second it’s just like normal but it’s just been a whirlwind right now. But, I’m very excited very blessed to be in this position.”
Mitchell, the first Virginia Tech player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, will join standout tight end T.J. Hockenson in the Motor City.
Not long after that selection, the Carolina Panthers made a move up to draft defensive end Amare Barno in the sixth round at 189 overall.
.@Ayye_Barno making the trip up 77-N pic.twitter.com/vtnBFZDEMd— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 30, 2022
Barno wreaked havoc, racking up 10 sacks in 21 career games in Blacksburg. He also tallied 78 tackles and forced three fumbles. Barno turned heads after he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, the best among defensive ends in well over a decade.
In Round 6, the Buffalo Bills added another Hokie to its roster in tackle Luke Tenuta. The Western Albemarle High School grad was the third Hokie selected at 209 overall. The 2021 All-ACC Honorable Mention made 26 starts in Blacksburg after redshirting in 2018.
New guy on the offensive line. 💪— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) April 30, 2022
Welcome to Buffalo, @Luke_Tenuta! #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/sdHF5S9MMh
He wasn’t the only Virginia Tech offensive lineman to get the call. Just six picks later, guard Lecitas Smith was drafted at 215 overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Smith started in 38 of 45 games he played in for Virginia Tech. After redshirting in 2017, Smith quickly became a key piece to the Hokies puzzle up front. In 2020 he was an anchor on the line that led the Hokies to the top rushing attack in the ACC with 240 yards per game.
With the 215th pick in the 2022 Draft, the Cardinals select OL Lecitus Smith. pic.twitter.com/0qvCX95LvM— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) April 30, 2022
Six other Virginia Tech football players will get a crack at the NFL by way of being undrafted free agents. Here’s an updated list of those players:
-Brock Hoffman (OL): Cleveland Browns
-Changa Hodge (WR): Arizona Cardinals
-Tre Turner (WR): Las Vegas Raiders
-Jordan Williams (DL): Miami Dolphins
-Raheem Blackshear (RB): Buffalo Bills
-John Parker Romo (K): New Orleans Saints