Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller
When Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller went down with a torn ACL just three games into his junior season, his future in the 2016 NFL Draft was uncertain. Fuller was named Defensive Rookie of the Year his freshman season, and continued to impress coaches and media outlets with All-American honors.
Before his season-ending surgery, many believed Fuller had the potential to be a first-round pick. Despite his injury, he was selected by Washington’s NFL team in the third round on the draft with the 84th overall pick.
Fuller was born and raised in the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) area, so it is fitting that he stayed close to home. The Baltimore native was a five-star recruit at Our Lady of Good Counsel (in Olney, Md.) He grew up with three brothers—Vincent II, Corey and Kyle—who all played football for the Virginia Tech Hokies.
The 21-year-old is actually the fourth Fuller brother to reach the NFL. Vincent was a reserve safety for the Titans and Lions. Corey is a fourth-year wide receiver for the Lions, while the Bears drafted Kyle, a corner, in the first round of the 2014 draft.
“Just being able to watch them, they definitely said something when they needed to, shared some knowledge and influence when they needed to,” Fuller told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “They knew I was watching, so they knew they had to carry themselves right because they didn’t want me to follow in their footsteps if they were doing the wrong thing.”
Being the youngest in a football family proved to be an advantage for the 5-foot-11, 187-pound Fuller; he’s the only brother who was developed enough to declare early for the NFL, according to Sports Illustrated. And he did, putting his degree completion on hold.
Minutes after Fuller was drafted, Washington defensive back DeAngelo Hall congratulated his new teammate, tweeting: “You know we love our VT guys. I played with his older brother (Vincent) and he taught me a lot. I can’t wait to coach up this Fuller kid. #PayItForward.”
Washington believes Fuller is worth the risk, and General Manager Scot McCloughan has expressed his trust in team doctors to facilitate a successful rehabilitation. Although Fuller will not participate in this week’s rookie minicamp, it is possible he could be healthy in time for offseason workouts this summer. According to the team’s official website, head coach Jay Gruden said the worst case scenario would be Fuller not returning until training camp in August.
“He’s too talented of a player to pass up,” said Gruden. “He’s got great, natural football instincts at the nickel or corner position. Obviously he’s got great bloodlines. I think it’s a great pick.”
Although Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland will likely be the team’s starting cornerbacks, once healthy, Fuller will develop into a heavy-impact player.