“Catching” up with Danny Coale

Danny+Coale%27s+controversial+near+catch+in+the+2012+Sugar+Bowl+made+National+headlines.+Photo+courtesy+of+Virginia+tech+Athletics.
Danny Coale's controversial near catch in the 2012 Sugar Bowl made National headlines. Photo courtesy of Virginia tech Athletics.

Danny Coale's controversial near catch in the 2012 Sugar Bowl made National headlines. Photo courtesy of Virginia tech Athletics.

Danny Coale's controversial near catch in the 2012 Sugar Bowl made National headlines. Photo courtesy of Virginia tech Athletics.

Eric Young, Head Sports Editor

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Danny Coale, one of Virginia Tech football’s most prolific and versatile wide receivers in the past decade, had a bright future in football. A native of Lexington, Virginia, the Dallas Cowboys selected Coale in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft; however Coale’s potential NFL career was cut short due to recurring injuries.

“I think about football a lot,” said Coale. “It was a huge part of my life; however, I know those days are behind me. The opportunities in the NFL go so fast, and unfortunately I couldn’t stay healthy to make the most of them. I will be always grateful for my opportunity in the NFL.”

Coale became a standout receiver, punt returner and defensive back for Episcopal school, a private boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia. A three-star recruit, according to 247Sports, Coale drew the attention of multiple Division I schools, but only one school stood out for Coale.

“Virginia Tech followed through with a full scholarship during a time in my recruitment when no other schools would,” said Coale. “My recruiting coordinator, Bud Foster, showed honesty and integrity throughout the entire process and that is all I could have hoped and asked for.”

After redshirting the 2007 season, 2008 was Coale’s freshman season playing for Virginia Tech. The Hokies were already one of the top programs in the country going into the 2008 season, coming off of an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship and an Orange Bowl appearance. Coale emerged as a starter on the team and started all 14 games. Tech would go on to finish the season ranked No. 15 in the nation and an overall record of 10-4 with an ACC Championship and an Orange Bowl victory.

“I had many great memories playing in a Hokie uniform,” said Coale. “Those fans and that community is incredible, wow. I was fortunate to play with some incredible talent, and those guys pushed me to be better every day.”

Coale’s sophomore season saw the team finish with a better final ranking (No. 10) and a better record (10-3) compared to the previous season, but the Hokies were unable to qualify for the ACC Championship game.

In his first two official seasons with the Hokies, Coale played in 27 games, starting 26 of them, and had over 1,000 reception yards. However, Coale’s most memorable season came in 2010.

“I would say my junior year was special,” said Coale. “We started out the year losing to Boise State and JMU back to back, but then went on a streak to win ten games, get back to the ACC Championship and win versus Florida State. We were down, almost out, but found a way to come together as a team. I was so proud of our guys that year.”

Coale finished his junior season with over 700 reception yards and three reception touchdowns, as well as being the team’s first string punter. Following the 2010 season, the Hokies lost their first-team all ACC quarterback Tyrod Taylor to graduation. Freshman Quarterback Logan Thomas stepped in to lead the Hokies into the 2011 season. With Thomas under Center, Coale’s receiving yards for the season totaled nearly 1,000 and the Hokies reached their third ACC Championship game in four years.
In the 2011 ACC Championship game, the No. 5 Hokies, 11-1 overall, faced No. 23 Clemson. Clemson’s defense contained Coale, holding him to just 11 reception yards as Clemson routed the Hokies 38-10. Despite the loss, the Hokies still managed to qualify for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Allstate Sugar Bowl against No. 13 Michigan.

Despite three reception touchdowns and 904 reception yards during the 2011 season, it was in overtime of the Sugar Bowl in which Coale received the most national attention. With the score tied at 20, and the Hokies facing third down, Logan Thomas launched a pass to Coale in the end-zone. Coale appeared to catch the ball with a diving catch, and it was initially ruled a touchdown. However, the call was controversially overturned, forcing the Hokies to attempt a relatively long field goal. Virginia Tech missed the field goal, allowing Michigan to hit a 37-yard field goal the following drive to give the Wolverines a 23-20 victory.

“There is no doubt in my mind that it was a catch,” said Coale. “I respect the officiating and I think they have a very difficult job – but I know that was a catch.”

With his successful collegiate career officially over, Coale began prepping for the NFL. Coale’s NFL Combine performance and highlights at Virginia Tech drew interest from several NFL teams. With the 152 pick overall, and in the fifth round of the NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Coale.

“It was certainly a dream come true,” said Coale. “However, I can’t take sole credit for my success. Many people do not know that my faith is very important to me and God has been with me through the ups and downs. I thank him for that time in my life, but know he has something else planned for me now.”

Coale’s time in the NFL was short-lived, as a multitude of injuries including a torn ACL took its toll on Coale’s body. The injuries forced Coale to bounce around from three different practice squads (Cowboys, Colts, Steelers). Coale never appeared in a regular season NFL game during his time in the league.

“I was fortunate to have a great support system,” said Coale. “My parents always taught me the importance of a strong work ethic — the importance of preparing and trying your best. I had some wonderful youth coaches and teachers from early grade school and throughout college. I was also very fortunate to have an opportunity with the right coaching staff at Virginia Tech – they saw something that many other colleges did not, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Following his release from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Coale began working at PNC Bank in downtown Pittsburgh, where he now lives with his wife and child.

“I have a wonderful education from the Pamplin School of Business at Virginia Tech that I am putting to work,” said Coale. “I currently am working in investment banking at PNC. There are a number of people and things that come to mind. Outside of my faith, I would say my wife is my greatest inspiration. She is rock solid. She is a strong and unwavering believer, a wonderful friend and an awesome mom. We now have a six-month old boy and I’m so proud of her.”

Coale is one of three boys, all of whom played division one sports. Coale’s oldest brother Kevin played lacrosse at the University of Virginia, while his youngest brother Ryan, a 2014 graduate of RCHS, currently plays baseball at James Madison University. Although Coale has not resided full-time in Lexington in a number of years, he still says Lexington played an influential role in his life. Both of his parents Jimmy and Kathy Coale still reside in Rockbridge.

“Lexington shaped my childhood for sure,” said Coale. “I remember running around as a little kid at VMI–where my dad works. Those student-athletes were my role models and I saw what it meant first-hand to be dedicated to sport and community. It is a special place and I will always consider it home.”

1 Comment

One Response to ““Catching” up with Danny Coale”

  1. Webmaster on November 9th, 2017 2:28 pm

    Notice he didn’t go to VMI, even though his father teaches there. Good move.

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