Five named to Tech Hall of Fame
Cornell Brown headlines 2007 class
August 12, 2007

BLACKSBURG, Va. - All-America defensive end Cornell Brown, who proved to be one of the most significant football signees of the Frank Beamer era, is one of five former student-athletes selected for the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

Joining Brown as 2007 inductees are:
  • Ace Custis, a crowd favorite at Cassell Coliseum during the mid-1990s when he became just the third player in Tech men's basketball history to accumulate over 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.

  • Oliver Mayo, who became Tech's first tennis All-American in 1996 and is still the only Tech men's tennis player to be named the team's MVP in four consecutive seasons.

  • Trey McCoy, a baseball slugger who blasted 69 home runs in three seasons on the way to a school record .835 career slugging percentage that still ranks seventh all-time among NCAA Division I players.

  • Jenny Root Price, a standout center on the women's basketball team whose record-setting play helped the Hokies to three straight 20-win seasons and their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

The five new honorees will be inducted at a Hall of Fame dinner on the Tech campus on Friday, Sept. 21, the evening before Tech's home football game against William & Mary. Each of the inductees also will be introduced to fans at halftime of the football game.

The new inductees will bring the total number enshrined to 136. The Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1982 and is currently located near the Bowman Room on the fourth floor of the Jamerson Athletic Center. Hall of Fame plaques engraved with portraits of all the members are displayed there. Under Tech Hall of Fame guidelines, persons are not eligible for induction until they have been out of school for a period of 10 years.

Cornell Brown was considered by many to be the first high-profile recruit of the Frank Beamer era. Brown was rated the No. 1 prep player in Virginia following his senior year at Lynchburg's E.C. Glass High School. He picked Tech over a host of other schools in the winter of 1993, despite the fact the Hokies had suffered through a 2-8-1 season the previous fall.

Things changed dramatically during Brown's four seasons as a starting defensive end. During that span, he helped the Hokies to a 37-11 overall record, four-straight bowl games and a pair of BIG EAST Conference championships.

Brown started 10 games, including an Independence Bowl win against Indiana, as a true freshman in 1993. He played more snaps than any other defensive lineman on the team that season, finishing fifth in tackles with 57 and registering a team-high 24 quarterback pressures. His play earned him second-team freshman All-America honors from Football News.

After leading the team in sacks (11) and finishing fourth in tackles (84) as a sophomore, Brown became the most honored junior in Tech football history in 1995. That year, he led the BIG EAST in sacks with 14 and tied for third nationally in both sacks and total tackles for loss (25). He also had 103 tackles and an amazing 48 quarterback pressures as the Hokies capped a 10-2 season with their first BIG EAST championship and a Sugar Bowl win over Texas. Brown was a first-team All-America pick on five teams, making him the first Tech junior to earn consensus A-A honors. He was also named the National Defensive Player of the Year by Football News, the BIG EAST Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was one of the five finalists for the Football Writers' Association Defensive Player of the Year.

As a senior, Brown won first-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation and was one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award even though he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and missed two games during the second month of the season. He was also named second-team All-America by The Associated Press and was a first-team BIG EAST pick after helping Tech to a share of the conference title and a berth in the Orange Bowl. Brown's eight sacks during the season brought his career total to 36, which still ranks him second all-time at Tech behind Bruce Smith.

A sixth-round NFL draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 1997, Brown played seven seasons with the Ravens, earning a Super Bowl championship ring in the process. In 2000 he returned to Tech to finish his undergraduate degree and he is currently working to complete a master's in health promotion. Brown, who has coached in the NFL's European league the past three summers, lives in Blacksburg and is a graduate assistant football coach for the Hokies.

Ace Custis continues to rank as one of the most popular athletes in Virginia Tech history. Custis finished his Hokie basketball career with 1,706 points and 1,777 rebounds, joining current Tech Hall of Fame members Chris Smith and Bill Matthews as the only players in school history to reach or surpass the 1,000 mark in both points and rebounds. That feat helped lead to Custis becoming just the third Tech men's basketball player to have his number retired when his career ended in 1997.

Shortly after Custis arrived in Blacksburg from tiny Eastville on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, it looked like his Tech career might never get off the ground. Just when it appeared Custis had won a starting position as a freshman in the fall of 1992, he suffered a serious knee injury in preseason workouts. Surgery followed, and Custis was sidelined for the entire 1992-93 season.

After being granted a medical hardship ruling from the NCAA, Custis started anew in 1993-94 with four years of eligibility. The 6-foot-7 forward reclaimed his starting position and became the first Tech player in more than 33 years to open a season with four consecutive double-figure rebounding games. Custis went on to earn a spot on the Metro Conference All-Freshman team after starting every game. He led the Tech squad in rebounding (9.1 rpg) and set a school freshman mark for rebounds in a season with 255. Custis averaged 10.9 points per game and carried a team-high 52.3 field goal percentage.

The following year, Custis helped the Hokies to a 25-10 season and the 1994 NIT Championship, averaging 15.8 points and a team-high 10.5 rebounds per game. He was named first-team All-Metro Conference and finished second by three votes in the balloting for the Metro Player of the Year. Custis became the first Hokie to average double-figure rebounds in a season in over 20 years and was the first to post 100 or more (135) offensive rebounds in a season since Tech started keeping the stat in 1978.

Custis led the Hokies in practically every major offensive category in 1995-96 as they posted a 23-6 record and made their first NCAA appearance in 10 years. His performances helped him to first-team honors in Tech's new conference, the Atlantic 10.

Custis repeated on the A-10 first-team as a senior in 1996-97 after leading the team in scoring (14.7), rebounding (9.0), steals (53) and blocked shots (22). He was a finalist in the voting for the Boost/Naismith Award, which goes to the National Player of the Year.

Over his Tech career, Custis started 123 consecutive games. He finished No. 3 in career rebounds, No. 5 in career rebounding average, tied for No. 6 in field goals made and was No. 7 in scoring. He still holds the same ranking in each of the first three categories and is No. 8 in scoring. Custis also ranks eighth in career steals and 11th in career blocked shots.

After graduating from Tech, Custis played on NBA Summer League teams before beginning a highly successful professional career playing in Japan. He resides in Suffolk, Va., during the offseason.

Oliver Mayo came to Virginia Tech from Canberra, Australia, where he was ranked the Aussies' No. 6 Juniors player. Mayo made an immediate impact on the men's tennis program, taking over the No. 1 singles spot as a freshman and holding it for four years.

During his freshman season in 1993-94, Mayo compiled a 22-11 singles record. He climbed as high as 54th in the International Tennis Association national rankings before injuring both ankles late in the spring. He earned first-team All-Metro Conference honors and was voted the league's Rookie of the Year.

As a sophomore, Mayo was ranked No. 71 in ITA national rankings at season's end. He contributed a 22-8 record in singles and had a 15-9 overall record in doubles, including an 11-4 mark when teamed with Marek Pfeil. He was named first-team All-Metro for the second-straight year.

In 1995-96, Mayo received first-team all-conference honors for the third year in a row, only this time it was in the Atlantic 10. Mayo helped the Hokies to a conference title during their first season in the new league, winning the A-10's Most Outstanding Performer award. He posted a 29-10 record in singles play, advancing to the quarterfinals in the Region I NCAA tournament. He was ranked 49th in the nation at the conclusion of the season, earning All-America honors.

Mayo helped the Hokies to unprecedented success as a senior captain in 1997. The team set a school record for victories with a 22-6 finish, winning its second-straight Atlantic 10 championship and stunning three top-20 teams, including No. 2 Boise State. The Hokies advanced to the finals of the NCAA Region I tournament with two wins - their first-ever wins in NCAA competition. At one point, Tech was ranked as high as No. 21, and its No. 28 finish still rates as the best for the program.

Mayo, meanwhile, qualified for the NCAA in both singles and doubles. He compiled a 28-10 singles record and a No. 32 national ranking. For his part in Tech's success, Mayo was named the Region I NCAA Senior Player of the Year. He was also first-team all-conference and won Tech's Cupp Award, given to the toughest player on the team.

Mayo's work in the classroom, where he majored in finance, was also honored during his career. He was selected a member of conference all-academic teams each of his last three seasons. He still stands as the only Tech men's tennis player to be named team MVP four-straight seasons. The award now bears his name.

Mayo currently lives in London, where he is an associate director for Barclays Capital, running the Exotic Interest Rate Middle Office.

During his Virginia Tech baseball career, Trey McCoy's given name - Homer - proved to be quite appropriate. The son of a former Tech basketball player, McCoy started all 168 games during this three seasons in Blacksburg, playing mostly in left field, but also seeing some starting time at third base, first base, designated hitter and catcher.

McCoy got off to a fast start during the spring of 1986, batting .341. He set school freshman records for games played (59), runs scored (62), hits (72), runs batted in (79), walks (38), doubles (16), home runs (24) and total bases (160) on the way to freshman All-America honors. McCoy tied an NCAA season mark with four grand slams that season, and during a double-header at Louisville, he hit home runs in four consecutive at bats.

During the summer of 1986, McCoy played first base for the U.S. Senior Baseball team. The Virginia Beach product tied for the squad lead in home runs with six.

As a sophomore, McCoy led the Hokies in 11 offensive categories, batting .406 with 16 doubles, 21 home runs, 66 runs batted in and 48 walks. He won the Metro Conference Triple Crown, leading the league in batting, home runs and RBIs. McCoy finished the season ranked seventh nationally in home runs, sixth in slugging percentage and 14th in RBIs, gaining third-team All-America honors from the American Association of Baseball Coaches.

McCoy led the Hokies in batting during the 1988 season with a .381 average, contributing 24 homers, 20 doubles and 69 runs batted in. His .876 slugging percentage ranked fourth nationally, while his home run total ranked eighth.

After being picked in the ninth round of the amateur draft by the Texas Rangers, McCoy decided to pass up his senior year at Tech and signed with the Rangers during the summer of '88. His .374 career batting average still ranks as the highest at Tech over a three-year career, while his school-record .835 career slugging percentage continues to stand as the seventh-best in NCAA history. He is second all-time at Tech in home runs (69), RBIs (214) and total bases (476).

McCoy spent nine years in the professional ranks before returning to Blacksburg in 1997 to complete his Tech degree. He worked in the Virginia Tech Development Office for four years and with the Hokies' Athletic Fund Office for two. He currently lives in Roanoke, where he works for State Farm Insurance. He was inducted into the Roanoke-Salem Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Jenny Root earned a great deal of attention for her play as a center on the Virginia Tech women's basketball team, but she also made the most of her college experience from more than one perspective. Along with her basketball success at Tech, Root also excel in the classroom as a Dean's List student in civil engineering, and she even found time to experience a social life as an enthusiastic member of Delta Delta Delta sorority.

As a freshman in 1991-92, Root played in all 28 games for the Hokies, including a start against the University of North Carolina. Tech struggled to a 10-18 record that season, but Root showed flashes of what was to come with a 29-point outing against Radford and a 26-point game versus Youngstown State. She finished the season ranked second in the Metro Conference in blocked shots with 27.

The following season, Root and her classmates led Tech to its first 20-win season in women's basketball. It would be the first of three-straight 20-win seasons for the class.

Root, who came to Tech from Washington High School in Pensacola, Fla., moved into the Hokies' starting lineup in 1992-93. She averaged 14.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game that season, while shooting a then school-record 58 percent from the field and 73.2 percent from the line. She enjoyed a career-best 32-point, 13-rebound performance at Morehead State. Root was named second-team All-Metro Conference after finishing eighth in the league in scoring, fourth in both blocked shots (39) and rebounding and third in field goal percentage. She earned a spot on the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival East team.

In 1993-94, Root became just the second player in Tech history to reach the 1,000-point mark during her junior year. She hauled down a personal-best 15 rebounds and scored 27 points in a win over Mississippi State. Root went on to average 13.9 points and 7.3 rebounds as Tech posted a 24-6 record, won the Metro Conference Tournament and earned the program's first NCAA bid. She was named first-team All-Metro and was selected the league's female student-athlete of the month for February.

Tech opened 1994-95 in the women's preseason NIT with Root contributing 18 points and 13 rebounds in a victory at Maryland. She went on to enjoy her best season, averaging 16.5 points and grabbing 8.2 rebounds a game. Root ranked second in the Metro in scoring and third in rebounding on the way to being named the conference's player of the year. She was a finalist for the 10-member Kodak All-America team and earned honorable mention All-America recognition.

Root finished her four seasons at Tech ranked first in career rebounds, rebounding average and field goal percentage, and second in points, scoring average and blocked shots. She still ranks fourth all-time in points and third in rebounds at Tech and holds a spot among the top four in seven career categories.

After graduation, she spent seven years as a Project Engineer for Draper Aden Associates in Blacksburg and then headed the Environmental Engineering division for the City of Roanoke. Jenny Root Price currently lives in Harrisonburg, Va., where she is a stay-at-home mom. She is married to former Tech football All-American J.C. Price.

Enshrined earlier in the Tech Hall of Fame were: Carroll Dale, Chris Smith, Bob Schweickert, Allan Bristow, Leo Burke, Tim Collins, Madison Nutter, Don Strock, John Wetzel, Harry Bushkar, Howie Wright, Dickie Beard, Glen Combs, Tom Beasley, Brandon Glover, Mike Widger, George Foussekis, Stuart Johnson, Leland Melear, Jerry Gaines, Ken Whitley, Bill Grossman, Jack Burrows, Mac Banks, Lewis Mills, Franklin Stubbs, Keith Neff, Howard Pardue, Lucy Hawk Banks, Roy Beskin, Bill Matthews, Jack Prater, Dale Solomon, Ginny Lessmann Stonick, Neff McClary, Mike Johnson, Linda King Steel, Tony Paige, Bruce Smith, Dell Curry, Connie Sellers, Dick Arnold, Frank Beamer, Renee Dennis, Cyrus Lawrence, Rick Razzano, Jim Stewart, Sterling Wingo, Robert Brown, Berkeley Cundiff, Don Divers, Loyd King, Kenny Lewis, Ken Barefoot, Bob Phillips, Steve Taylor, Ted Ware, Mike Burnop, Bimbo Coles, Ken Edwards, Ki Luczak, Lori McKee Taylor, Amy Byrne Feathers, George Canale, Don Oakes, Ricky Scales, Margaret Soulen Gilbert, Sherman VanDevender, Gene Breen, Mickey Fitzgerald, Bob Grossmann, Chuck Hartman, Judy Williams, Ron Davidson, Anne Jones Thompson, Wayne Robinson, Dennis Scott, Lisa Pikalek Karlisch, Jim Pyne, Mike Williams, Bob Wingfield, Billy Hardee, Robin Lee, Mark Stickley, Terry Strock, Armand Taylor, Ray Crittenden, Antonio Freeman, Marcus Kramer, Charles Moir, Christi Osborne Vest; and the following persons who are deceased: C.P. (Sally) Miles, Frank Moseley, Frank Loria, Hunter Carpenter, Frank Peake, Herbert McEver, Greene (Red) Laird, Paul Dear, Monk Younger, Henry (Puss) Redd, Mel Henry, George Parrish, Hank Crisp, Ed Motley, Sonny Utz, Wilson Bell, Herb Thomas, Bob Ayersman, Bill Buchanan, Dick Esleeck, Al Casey, Joe Moran, William Grinus, Jr., Earl (Bus) Hall, H.V. (Byrd) Hooper, James Franklin Powell, Bucky Keller, Milton Andes, Richard Bullock, Waddey Harvey, Frank Teske, George Smith, Eddie Ferrell, Jerry Claiborne, Dick Redding, Johnny Oates, Bobby Smith, George Preas, Louis Ripley and Wendy Weisend.