Top 50 Hokies Spotlight: Mike Burnop
Mike Burnop is about as much of a Hokie as they come.
The Salem, VA native has been a resonating voice for the Hokies for 38 years and counting. But his life as a Hokie started long before he entered the press box.
Burnop was a star tight end for the Hokies from 1969-72 and a favorite target of longtime NFL quarterback, Don Strock. In 1971, Burnop hauled in 46 passes, a school record that held until 2016 when Bucky Hodges grabbed 48. He finished his career with 90 receptions for 1,141 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
Burnop had short stints as a pro player before returning to the New River Valley to attend graduate school at Tech. He later began working with a friend at New River Office Supply, a company which Burnop currently owns and operates.
But it’s what Burnop has done on the airwaves that have ingrained him into the Hokie Stone around campus. He had no prior experience with radio broadcasting when he commented on his first game for the Hokies in 1983. But a smooth voice and a football mind made Burnop an instantly likeable figure. In 1996 he made the jump to calling men’s basketball games as well, making him one of the few major collegiate announcers to commentate on the two major sports.
Burnop has been there through it all. The highs of the late 90’s to 2012, the lows of the pre-Beamer era and recent struggles, he’s seen it all. He’s seen Lane Stadium grow by 32,500 seats, the entire Frank Beamer era, and the entire bowl streak. He’s been wowed by the magic of Michael Vick, the power of Bruce Smith, and the energy of Lane Stadium. No one has been as much a part of the Hokies for longer than Burnop.
Burnop has been praised for decades throughout the industry for his performance in the booth as well as in postgame interviews. In 2019, Burnop was named State Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. The relationship he’s built with players and coaches of Virginia Tech facilitates unique and honest responses, even in the toughest of post game interviews.
Burnop is entering his sixth decade as a Hokie. For a man who has built an illustrious career off of talking into a mic, his dedication and love for the Hokies leaves you speechless. If you’re telling the story of Virginia Tech athletics, you have to mention Mike Burnop. In fact, he’d probably be the narrator.
(title image via Virginia Tech Athletics)