- - Saturday, April 28, 2012

Virginia Tech’s Danny Coale thought the NFL draft would be a mystery starting Thursday. It unveiled itself for him on Saturday.

Coale, a 6-foot, 201-pound receiver, was selected with the 17th pick (152 overall) of the fifth round by the Dallas Cowboys.

He was the third Hokie to be drafted, following running back David Wilson in the first round and Jayron Hosley in the third. Both were taken by the New York Giants.

Coale caught 60 passes for a team-high 904 yards and three touchdowns last season. He also can return kicks and punt. He averaged 43.5 yards on 13 attempts as one of three Virginia Tech punters.

Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson was the only Cavalier chosen, going to the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round.

More surprising was that cornerback Chase Minnifield, who was projected as high as a second-round pick going into the draft, was not selected, but he was signed as a free agent by the Washington Redskins.

Minnifield had his knee scoped after missing the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and was unable to recover in time to post good numbers for NFL scouts. Those health concerns seem to have sunk his draft status.

One year ago, Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling was in a similar situation, but was drafted at the end of the first round by New England. He suffered another injury and was unable to contribute to the Patriots in 2011, which may have been a cautionary tale for teams thinking about Minnifield.

Virginia’s other prospects, including wide receiver Kris Burd (Matoaca), will look to sign on with teams as free agents.

Other notable players who are free agents: University of Richmond quarterback Aaron Corp, William and Mary running back Jonathan Grimes, Old Dominion defensive end Ronnie Cameron and Liberty quarterback Mike Brown.

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