The Hokies wide receiver was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday with pick No. 152.
Coale was the third Virginia Tech player taken in the draft, joining running back David Wilson and cornerback Jayron Hosley, who were picked by the New York Giants on Thursday and Friday in the first and third rounds, respectively.
A Lexington native who was a fan favorite, Coale finished his Virginia Tech career second on the school’s all-time list in receptions (165) and receiving yards (2,658), trailing only classmate Jarrett Boykin in both categories.
Coale is the first Virginia Tech receiver to be drafted since the trio of Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan and Justin Harper were all selected in 2008.
“He’s the blue-plate special player in this draft,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said on TV after the Coale pick was announced. “I just love the way this guy plays the game. He’s quick off the line, he’s competitive, he catches the ball in traffic. He’s tough, he has better than average speed.”
McShay said that former Bills, Panthers and Colts general manager Bill Polian thinks the 6-foot, 201-pound Coale has many similar qualities to New England’s Wes Welker, another undersized receiver who has made four Pro Bowls.
Coale joins a Cowboys receiving corps that has Dez Bryant and Miles Austin as starters. Former Virginia receiver Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Raymond Radway and Andrew Holmes are also on the roster.
Coale was Dallas’ first offensive pick this year. The Cowboys took defensive players with their first four picks.
The Hokies haven’t had a player selected by the Cowboys since tight end Bob Slowikowski in 2002.
Virginia Tech’s three draftees matches the number it had last year when running back Ryan Williams, cornerback Rashad Carmichael and quarterback Tyrod Taylor were taken.
I got Coale on the phone for a few minutes right before he was off to take some family pictures with his brother, whose prom is tonight. Here’s what he had to say:
Take me through the moment you got drafted.
“I was sitting there watching it and … you kind of go in your head which teams had shown interest and which teams had talked to you at the combine, and I saw the Cowboys were coming up. And my agent and I, when we were going through rosters, we thought Dallas would be a great fit, given the opportunity there and their roster. I was thinking Dallas is coming up soon, maybe they might need a receiver. We’ll see what happens. And when the team before them was on the clock — I couldn’t even tell you who it was — but my phone came up, it said a Texas call. And I was put on the phone with Jerry Jones first. He just wanted to congratulate me. That was pretty awesome. That was unreal. Unreal. You know, you kind of worry at first if it’s a real call, especially with what happened with the prank call the other day. But when you talk to Jerry Jones, you hear his voice and know it’s him, it’s such a thrill. It’s so awesome.”
So you talked with Dallas at the combine?
“I saw down with a few teams from the combine and the Cowboys were one of them.”
Who did you talk to?
“Some front office people, Jason and John Garrett, were both in there. Jimmy Robinson, their wide receivers coach, was in there. All the meetings were 15 minutes. So we talked the first part about myself and then we put on film and we went through a few plays with coach Robinson on film. So we talked football for a few more minutes before time was up and I remember coming out of that meeting and I remember telling my dad and said, ‘I just met with the Cowboys and loved it.’”
Talk to Garrett again today?
“Yeah, after Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett got on the phone and then Jimmy Robinson got on the phone after that and I talked to those three and that was it.”
The Cowboys have Tony Romo at quarterback and Dez Bryant and Miles Austin at receiver. What do you think of the passing game you’re going into?
“It’s an unbelievable situation. You have an unbelievable quarterback, one that I can learn so much from. I’m so excited about that. So excited about that. And Miles Austin and Dez Bryant have been in big games, some great receivers that I can learn from. And they’ve got some other guys back, but it should be a good competition. But I’m really just so excited about the opportunity to have these experiences with these players.”
Have you been to Dallas before?
“I have never been to Dallas, no.”
Are you excited to see that stadium in person?
“Absolutely. You need like 3-D goggles to enter it or something. But I’m just blessed with such a great opportunity with a great organization.”
Were you sitting at home when you were watching today?
“I was sitting at home watching. We’re actually leaving in about five minutes. My brother is taking prom pictures. I’m going to take some of those. We’ve just kind of been hanging around. We went for walks, a couple runs this morning and then just sitting around after lunch and watching.”
You’re from Lexington originally. That’s kind of Redskins country. We you a Washington fan growing up?
“No, I wasn’t really. My friends were. And you can either go for the Redskins or you can go for the Panthers, it seems like. But with my mom being from Boston and my dad being from Baltimore, I never really had a favorite team. But if anyone asked me that question growing up, I’d be like, either the Patriots or the Ravens. So I wasn’t a ‘Skins fan. No.”
How are you friends who root for the Redskins going to resolve you playing for the Cowboys?
“I’ve spoken with a few and they’re just so happy. They’re ready to jump ship.”
What’s next for you?
“There’s a rookie mini-camp here next week. I got to that next weekend. I’m waiting to get in touch with their PR person and I’ll get the details. I know I’ve got that next week and I’ll find out more then I think.”