- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 28, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS — There is an uncanny resemblance between brothers Kendall and Kyle Fuller. The only sure way to tell the two cornerbacks apart from their playing days at Virginia Tech is to identify them by their numbers.

Kyle wore No. 17, Kendall opted for No. 11, and that is precisely where the differences give way to a host of similarities. When Kendall joined the Hokies as a freshman in 2013, he wanted to be just like Kyle, then a senior and a star in the Virginia Tech secondary. So, Kendall mimicked everything he did, like the way he broke at the line of scrimmage when blanketing wide receivers and the way he controlled his body to maintain outside leverage to better see the football.

“I think we’re so much alike,” Kendall said. “It’s kind of weird. I’ll see pics from he was at Tech and when I was at Tech. The pictures look identical. Both of us are competitors. Both of us are instinctual. Physical. Ready to come downhill and make tackles. Great ball skills. Things like that. Coming into Virginia Tech as a freshman, I was doing anything he did, so I’m not surprised.”

Kendall Fuller will continue to follow Kyle’s path — as well as that of his other two brothers Corey and Vinny, who hail from Baltimore — toward the NFL. The Chicago Bears drafted 24-year-old Kyle with the No. 14 pick in the 2014 draft and signed him to a four-year, $9.6 million contract. Corey, 25, is a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, drafted in the sixth round in 2013. Vinny, 33, is a former safety who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round in 2005. He played six seasons with the Titans then bounced to the Lions and New England Patriots in 2011.

It is somewhat uncertain where Kendall Fuller will be drafted this spring. Entering his junior season, he was projected to be a first-round pick in a draft class rich with defensive back talent that includes Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander, Ohio State’s Eli Apple, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III and LSU’s Jalen Mills.

However, the former Good Counsel star tore the meniscus in his right knee during the preseason and played the first three games of the regular season with the injury. Fuller sat out against East Carolina, then he and the Hokies’ medical staff decided it was best for him to have surgery. Entering the procedure, Fuller thought he’d return to the field in three or four weeks after having an arthroscopic procedure. It turned out he needed season-ending microfracture surgery, and Fuller declared for the NFL draft in December.

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“I had all intentions of coming back,” Fuller said. “I was just positive about it, still trying to be a leader, especially in the secondary being a veteran guy, helping out our younger guys, getting them in the film room, coaching them up, stuff like that.”

At the NFL combine, Fuller did not participate in any physical drills other than the bench press. He said his knee is at 90 percent.

“My knee doing really well,” Fuller said on Saturday. “I’m doing pretty much everything, doing a lot of drills. Cutting, planting, just working on getting that power back. Other than that, the motions feel really well.”

While he didn’t have the opportunity to impress talent evaluators with his on-field skills, Fuller was prepared to answer any questions about his health in formal meetings and medical evaluations with interested teams. He arrived in Indianapolis on Friday, which marked the start of a grueling examination process that did not finish until approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Fuller also played his sophomore season with a broken left wrist, though it did not prevent him from earning first-team all-ACC honors, and had surgery in January 2015.

“Man, it was rough,” Fuller said of the evaluation process, only to say it wasn’t “too bad” a short moment later. “That’s what I expected coming off the knee surgery and having my wrist surgery. It was MRI exams, CT scans. All of that stuff.”

Virginia Tech’s pro day is March 16, and Fuller, who is projected to be drafted in the second or third round, is optimistic he will be able to participate. If he can’t, he plans to hold his own personal workout for NFL teams.

There is also an opportunity for him to reveal his competitive nature during meetings with NFL front office executives and coaches. Growing up with three older brothers, Fuller said he had to talk the most trash in order to keep up.
“Corey beat up on me the most, but I got it bad when I was younger,” Fuller joked.

Though they all excelled at football, track and basketball, each of the Fuller brothers started picking up other hobbies to pull ahead from one another. There was always a challenge to be beat the other at their own game, and that’s why he started bowling last summer.

“If one person finds [a hobby], even if you don’t like it, you’ve got to try to get good at it so you can beat em,” Fuller said. “Every time we get around each other — we don’t a lot because of them having their schedules and me having my schedule — but every time we get together, we have fun. My hobby, I picked up bowling. They won’t let me hear the end of it. If I lose, I’ll hear it the whole week. Kyle is a big golfer. I haven’t been able to pick it up yet, but my oldest brother, Vinny, he’s at him all the time.”

Fuller hardly shied away from the question when asked who is the most talented and flashed a megawatt smile before delivering his answer.

Kendall Fuller is,” he said. “We all work hard, we’re all competitors. I can say that I’m the best, but I can’t say why, just because I respect all their games just as much as mine. But, I’d definitely say that I’m the best.”

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