Cornell Brown became the first Virginia Tech football player to gain consensus All-America honors as a junior when he was named to five first teams in 1995. Brown was a first-team A-A pick by AP, UPI, the Football Writers Association, The Sporting News and Football News. He finished the year with 103 total tackles, including a BIG EAST-leading 14 sacks. He was selected National Defensive Player of the Year by Football News and was one of five finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year. In 1996, Brown missed three games, but still earned first-team honors from Walter Camp and second-team recognition from AP. He posted eight sacks, five other tackles behind the line, 19 quarterback hurries and 58 total tackles during the '96 season.
Brown had his jersey retired on Nov. 20, 2002, during the West Virginia game.
In 2002, the Virginia Tech athletics department developed a new policy on retiring jerseys. This special honor is bestowed to acknowledge an individual who has won an established national award in their sport, while allowing the number to continue to be worn by others. Tech will no longer retire numbers.