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Where are They Now? Catching up with Ken Oxendine Virginia Tech Running Back 1994-1997 (Part II)

By Rich Luttenberger | June 18
Cover Ox Falcons Andrew J Cohoon AP Photo
Photo Credit: Andrew J Cohoon/AP Photo

This is the second of a two-part series chronicling the journey of Ken Oxendine, Virginia Tech running back from 1994-1997.  Click this link to read part one of this series.


After completing an impressive career at Virginia Tech that landed him in the top five statistically in several rushing categories at the time, Ken Oxendine turned his attention to the NFL Draft.  He made the decision to stay in Blacksburg, finish his degree, and train independently for the big day.

The dream came true as Oxendine heard his name called by the Falcons, who selected him with the 201st pick in the seventh round of the 1998 draft.  After playing for legendary coaches Vic Williams and Frank Beamer, Ox was headed to Atlanta to play for esteemed head coach Dan Reeves.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have played for leaders of men, leaders of leaders.”

— Ken Oxendine, speaking about his coaches, Vic Williams, Frank Beamer, and Dan Reeves

The Challenges of the NFL

While the joys of reaching his dream were still fresh, Ken Oxendine did not have much time to celebrate.   The Falcons drafted eight players and signed eight more free agents, leaving him with a lot of competition for roster spots.

He gelled with some players early, but they were cut.  Others liked to party, which was not a match for Ox’s personality. (He admitted that he was never a party guy, which was only reinforced by his memory of Frank Beamer’s mantra, “Only bad things happen after midnight.”)  It was a challenging environment for the somewhat introverted Oxendine.

Despite the situation and the competition, Oxendine earned his way onto the roster. Playing behind Pro-Bowler Jamaal Anderson, who rushed for 1846 yards in 1998, Ox had plenty of time to study the very complex playbook.  He quickly realized that the NFL was his full-time job, and he saw how road games were more like business trips.  It was a grind for sure.

Yet the rookie running back enjoyed the ride, which took him and the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl, an experience he admitted was “phenomenal,” especially for a first-year player.

The following season, he got his break when Anderson unfortunately tore his ACL in the second game.  But the football gods were not kind to Ken Oxendine either, for he also suffered injury – turf toe – after taking over the starting role. 

Taking pain killers and competing through the injury, Oxendine played in twelve games in 1999, starting nine of them.  He rushed for 452 yards before sitting out the final two games.

It was around this time that Ox started to contemplate his future.  “I questioned myself,” he said.  “Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life?”

The NFL scene was, as Oxendine described, a hostile environment.  He was training constantly, with a strict, regimented schedule. Then after his injury, his rest time was lost to treatment.

While most ordinary fans would think the life of a professional athlete is glamorous, Oxendine shed light on the reality, pointing out that “There is hardship unknown to most.”

1 Ox Falcons reunion
Photo provided by Ken Oxendine

A New Opportunity in the XFL

After rehabbing his turf toe in the off-season, Oxendine returned to Atlanta in the summer of 2000, ready to compete again. Unfortunately, the football gods once more had other plans.  “The first practice back,” he recalled, “I hurt the other toe.”   He made it through the entire summer but unfortunately was released at the end of camp.

The Lions then came calling, and Ox went to Detroit to compete to be the “next-man-up” after Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ retirement.  James Stewart won that role, though, and the Lions had no shortage of backups on the roster. It was the end of the NFL road for Ken Oxendine.

However, it was not the end of professional football. A new football league, the XFL, was about to begin, and Ox found himself back on the field in the spring of 2001. Playing for the Los Angeles Xtreme, the former Virginia Tech running back rediscovered his enjoyment of the game. 

“The NFL is like a business,” Oxendine shared, “but the XFL is like college.”  For him, the league was more fun.  He also credits the XFL for being ahead of its time.  Even though the league only lasted that one season, it introduced fans to aspects of the game that would eventually find their way into the NFL. 

The sky cam, mic’d up players, changes in sideline reporting, and feature stories inside players lives were just a few of the XFL’s innovative ideas that Oxendine pointed out.  “They really changed the way people looked at football players,” he reflected.

Even though the XFL was more fun, Oxendine suffered the same fate as he did in Atlanta (and off-and-on in Blacksburg) – yet another injury.  His team won the XFL championship, but, in what would prove to be a glimpse into his future, Oxendine was more of a player-coach for the second half of the season. 

The XFL folded shortly after the final game, and just like that, Ken Oxendine’s playing career was over.

2 Ox LA Extreme Stephen Dunn Allsport
Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Allsport

Life After Football

In his first few years as a retired football player, Oxendine explored several career options.  He initially returned to Virginia Tech, serving as an assistant strength and conditioning coach while earning his Master’s degree from 2002 to 2003.  Later in 2003, he went to Duluth High School in Georgia to coach running backs, where he developed a 1,000-yard rusher, the school’s first in a long time, and he helped the team make it to the playoffs.

However, there was a coaching change at Duluth, so Ox went to work with a friend at Georgia Southern University, taking a position as a wide receivers coach in 2004.  His receivers were among the tops in the league and the team won the Southern Conference, advancing to the Division IAA playoffs.

The next year, Ox moved to NFL Europe, where he was a position coach for wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. He also helped with player personnel and team operations.  It was there in Europe when Ox had another life-changing realization.

“Everything’s about relationships and building relationships.” 

— Ken Oxendine

Time to Settle Down

Having coached for several years now, Ken Oxendine made the observation that his job security was based highly on the success of kids.  “In coaching, I wasn’t in control of anything,” he mused.  “The performance of kids and players was how I was going to keep my job.”

That is when he decided to go into administration. Ox returned to Georgia, where had an opportunity to be part of an exciting opening at a new private school in Duluth.  It was not easy, but Ox was up to the challenge of building an entire sports program from the ground up in the inaugural year of the Notre Dame Academy.

He would stay for 15 years, creating opportunities for kids to play sports and engage in fun activities.  He implemented programs such as tennis and basketball and football, which he noted was a very rewarding aspect of his job. 

Because of his success, other opportunities arose, such as a job offer to coach with Scott Satterfield.  But Ox is a very loyal guy, and he stayed put because he felt a sense of obligation to finish what he started at the Notre Dame Academy. 

He also knew how much momentum he had created at the school.  “I stayed because I saw where I was going with this program,” he said.

The Return Home

Oxendine was very successful in building the sports programs at the Notre Dame Academy.  However, a few life changes occurred, and Ox decided to come back home. In 2019, with his wife and two young daughters, he returned to the Chester area and took a job as a mortgage loan officer. 

He worked in that industry a few years, but it was a difficult business once COVID hit.  Shortly after, he found himself back at his alma mater, working at Thomas Dale High School.

Then in the fall of 2023, a position as the Business Specialist for Family and Community Assistance opened in the Chesterfield County School District – Ox’s home district as a kid – and he landed the job.

Much like his work at the Notre Dame Academy, Oxendine’s new position in the Chesterfield Schools is one where he is able to help kids beyond the fields of competition.

“I go into the different schools and find out what their needs are and find out what resources they have within their schools,” he said.  He then tries to find other resources and build relationships that can further help the schools and help people “connect the dots,” as he put it.

On creating relationships, it comes naturally to Oxendine.  He said, “It’s what I’ve always been doing.”

Spoken just like someone who played for Frank Beamer!

“Opportunities are there.  I want to help guide kids today to those opportunities.” 

— Ken Oxendine

Giving Back (Ut Prosim – That I May Serve)

For Ken Oxendine, “Ut Prosim” isn’t just a phrase printed on his Virginia Tech diplomas, it is a way of life.  The foundation for this was set during his time in Blacksburg, then it grew from his experiences with the Atlanta Falcons.

When Home Depot owner Arthur Blank bought the Falcons, he became a positive community-oriented role model, eventually winning the ESPN Sports Philanthropist of the Year Award in 2021 and recently being honored by the Sports Business Journal with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  Oxendine recognized Blank’s impact, noting the importance of “what an owner does and how he makes a difference in the community.”

An important lesson he learned from Blank is that “It’s not only what you do but how you represent.” 

This was added to what he learned from his coaching staff at Virginia Tech. “(Head Coach Frank) Beamer built a culture, not just a football program,” Oxendine recalled.

Influenced by both men, Blank and Beamer, Ox has found ways to build relationships and to give to others.  Ever since his playing days ended, he has given selflessly through a long tenure of teaching and coaching and athletic support.

He also became a philanthropist himself.  In 2011, Oxendine and his cousin Ken Brown (NOT the former Tech linebacker) created the Brown and Oxendine Sports Group.

“The community really helped me a lot, and I wanted to create a community for kids”

— Ken Oxendine

The BOX Sports Group is a non-profit foundation that serves the youth of the communities primarily in Southern Virginia.  According to its website, “The BOX Sports Group has historically invested in sports and education, youth development and community redevelopment, and leads mentor programs throughout the Southern Region.” 

Oxendine loves his work through the Foundation. He appreciates the many opportunities to give advice to kids and share his experiences.  In particular, he likes to host football camps, which include not just football teachings but also character principals and Christian principals.

His work with the BOX Sports group is rewarding. “It’s all about giving them (kids) the opportunities,” he admitted.  “To give them the tools, and they can use those tools to help them grow.”

A Family Man and a Hokie for Life

Despite all his efforts to help the kids of the Richmond area, Oxendine does spend a lot of time with his wife of eleven years and his two daughters.  The girls seem to be showing signs of inheriting their father’s athleticism, as one is beginning to thrive in soccer and the other is the point guard on his basketball team.  Ox enjoys watching his daughters compete and grow as athletes.

He also finds time to make it back to Virginia Tech for football games, not just as a fan but sometimes as a special guest. 

As is the case with so many of Frank Beamer’s former players, Oxendine fondly remembers the family aspect of his Virginia Tech years.  “The group of coaches (Beamer) had around him really understood what that relationship piece meant,” Ox recalled.  “The coaching staff was an extension of our family, and for some, the only family.”

Beamer in particular knew how to connect with his players.  “When he spoke to us, it wasn’t just all about football.”

Oxendine reflected on the many accomplishments of former players and credited Beamer and his staff with providing the foundation for their success as adults.  He noted how even players who got into trouble while in Blacksburg still became successful adults – because of their head coach.  “A lot of that goes to the seeds that Coach Beamer planted in us and how his coaching staff watered those seeds,” he said.

With Ken Oxendine, Beamer and his staff must have watered the seeds with Miracle Grow.  He was one of the all-time greats as a running back for Virginia Tech.  He played in the NFL and XFL.  He became a successful coach and then a successful school administrator.  And he is a loving husband and father.

In addition to all that, he is the president and co-founder of a charitable organization in his hometown.  Ken Oxendine is the embodiment of Ut Prosim, he carries the torch for Frank Beamer and how to treat people and how to build relationships, and he represents not just himself but also his present and past organizations well.

He is a Hokie legend, and as Hokies, we couldn’t be more proud.

3 Ox honored at VT VT athletics
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics
Screenshot 2023 12 23 at 12 20 07 PM

Born in the Bronx but otherwise raised in northern New Jersey, my Hokie life began in the fall of 1989. I walked on to the baseball team and spent a year and a half as a redshirt catcher. After my stint with the baseball team ended, I finished my time at Tech on the ice hockey team, playing Hokie hockey as a club sport. Despite this pursuit of other sporting interests, my passion became Tech football, and I have been a die hard fan ever since.

When I’m not obsessing over Hokie sports, I enjoy running, traveling, and fostering dogs. And of course, spending time with my wife and three kids. My “real job” is as a high school English teacher, where I have worked for over a quarter of a century (and everyone in the building knows where Mr. Lutt went to school). My daughter is now a Hokie - as if I needed another reason to make the long drive to Blacksburg!

I started my sports writing journey with Gridiron Heroics, covering Virginia Tech football and some college sports news. But I’m excited to join the Sons of Saturday now and I look forward to adding content through my story-telling abilities.

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