The book on: DB Antone Exum
Virginia Polytechnic (Tech) Institute Hokies
Glen Allen, Virginia
Deep Run High School
The 2013 season was supposed to be Exum's big season, where he was to join the Fuller brothers, Kyle and Kendall, to form the best cornerback unit in college football. Those plans never materialized, as the fifth-year senior was slow to recover from off-season knee surgery. Once he returned, he played in three games, but suffered a left ankle vs. Miami and was limited to just three appearances during his final campaign.
After switching from safety to cornerback in 2012, he had racked up an ACC-high 16 pass break-ups, a team-high five interceptions and 48 tackles. He was named the Russell Athletic Bowl MVP after making a critical fourth-quarter pick to spark Virginia Tech's 13-10 overtime win over Rutgers on Dec. 28.
But everything changed as Exum lay sprawled across the hardwood after a knee injury suffered in a pick-up basketball game. Barbara and Antone's father, Antone Sr., drove to Blacksburg from their home in Richmond, Virginia, while Antone met with Virginia Tech head athletic trainer Mike Goforth, who summoned a physician to check Antone out. Everyone tried to stay positive. But they prepared for the worst.
After discussing the situation as a family, the Exums decided to set up an appointment with Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Institute in Pensacola, Florida. They flew down to meet with doctors and therapists on Feb. 4, 2013 and after completing some preliminary range of motion exercises, Exum underwent surgery the next day. That's when doctors found out he had not only torn his ACL, but he had also torn his lateral and medial meniscus and suffered a micro-fracture.
ACL tears are ubiquitous in sports, and Exum's thoughts naturally gravitated to recent high-profile cases involving Adrian Peterson, Marcus Lattimore and Robert Griffin III. As Exum quickly found out, however, no two ACL injuries are exactly alike. For someone who had never been seriously hurt -- he had never missed a game in any sport through his junior year of college, according to his parents -- working his way back to the field presented an entirely new challenge.
Before he enrolled at Virginia Tech, Exum attended Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, Virginia. He accounted for 2,357 all-purpose yards and 30 total touchdowns his senior season, including six on returns. He was a first-team all-region, and a first-team selection for the Richmond Times-Dispatch 2008 All-Metro defensive team. He threw for 860 yards and rushed for 658 yards as a junior, scoring 25 total touchdowns, while adding 20 tackles and three interceptions as a defensive back.
In 2009, he red-shirted during his freshman season at Tech. In 2010, he played in 14 games, starting five at free safety but moved around a lot in the Hokies nickel defense. He recorded 45 tackles and had a team-high nine pass breakups for the season.
In 2011, Exum was an honorable mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at safety, after he led the team with 89 tackles, while adding five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception on the season. He also had ten pass deflections, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
As a junior, Exum was moved to cornerback in spring practice. He started all 13 games, recording 48 tackles, including 1.5 stops-for-loss and led the team with five interceptions. He also had 16 pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He capped off his season with an MVP performance in the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Rutgers, and was also named second-team All-ACC.
In January 2013, Exum suffered a torn ACL and lateral meniscus of his right knee during a pick-up basketball game. He missed the team's spring practice and fall camp due to the injury, but was cleared to play on October 1st, 2013 by surgeon Dr. James Andrews, just under nine months since his initial diagnosis.
Despite being cleared to play, Exum opted not to dress the next two games, but returned to start the next three games before he sprained his ankle which caused him to miss the rest of the season, including the Sun Bowl vs. UCLA.
Exum started 35-of-44 games at Virginia Tech – 19 at free safety and 16 at weakside cornerback…Finished with 36 pass deflections and six interceptions for 80 yards in returns, also registering 186 tackles (110 solos) that included 1.5 sacks for minus 14 yards and eight stops for losses totaling 23 yards…Caused five fumbles and recovered two others…His total of forty-two passes defended rank third in Atlantic Coast Conference history and 23rd on the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record chart.
Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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