Top 50 Hokies Spotlight: Frank Loria
Have you ever noticed that no Hokie football player ever wears number 10? Well, there’s a reason for that.
The subject of our next Top 50 Hokies Spotlight, Frank Loria, is one of four Hokie football players to have his number retired, along with Carroll Dale (84), Bruce Smith (78) and Jim Pyne (73).
Loria was a standout safety for the Hokies, starting every game from 1965-67. Standing at only 5 foot 9 and 175 pounds, Loria overcame his smaller stature with a combination of hard work, tenacity, speed and instinct.
One of the smartest players the Hokies have had, Loria was often referred to as the “Coach on the Field” by his teammates.
In Loria’s three years on VT’s varsity squad (freshmen played on a separate team during that time), he was a First-Team All-American twice and an Academic All-American once.
Loria had a knack for anticipating where the quarterback would throw the ball. He was seemingly always one step ahead of the opposing offense.
In addition to being a star safety, Loria was also one of the most efficient punt returners in Hokie history.
Loria returned 61 punts in his career for 813 yards, an average of 13.3 yards per return. That average is third-best in school history.
Additionally, he returned four punts for touchdowns, including three in the 1966 season, which is tied for most in a season in school history.
However, Loria’s life ended in tragedy.
On November 14, 1970, a plane carrying most of the Marshall University football team and coaches crashed transporting them back from a game against East Carolina in Greenville, NC.
All 75 passengers were killed, including Loria, who was in his first season as the Thundering Herd’s Defensive Backs Coach.
Loria was just 23 years old.
The tragedy leads many to wonder what could have been with Loria’s coaching career just getting started.
Not many 23-year-olds get Division I position coaching jobs. The sky was the limit for Loria as a coach.
As pointed out earlier, Loria’s teammates saw him as a coach on the field. One of those teammates was legendary Hokies head coach Frank Beamer.
During one of his many days coaching the Hokies, Beamer spoke to the media about Loria.
Beamer brought attention to just how tragic his loss was, and even speculated that had the crash not happened, Loria would likely be Virginia Tech’s head coach with Beamer as an assistant.
That is high praise, especially from a coach who won 280 football games.
Loria was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999, as well as the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and the inaugural class of the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.