BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The chain reaction started when they were young.
Trey Edmunds was the trailblazer, and he loved football. His younger brother, Terrell, was always close behind. Terrell, two years Trey’s junior, was the middle brother, always a little louder and more outgoing. He had a nickname growing up: The “Me Too” Brother.
“He’d always say, ‘I can do it, too,’” their mother, Cookie, remembered, “so anything Trey did, he wanted to do, too.”
A year behind Terrell was Tremaine, and Cookie fondly remembers the moment she realized football was in his blood, too. They were at a Pee Wee practice for Trey and Terrell, and a 4-year-old Tremaine perched himself near the sideline, squatting on his knees with his chin resting on his hands. For a while, he was transfixed. Then he turned to his parents with a proclamation.
“I can’t wait to play football so I can knock somebody’s head off,” he said.
And so it’s gone for the Edmunds family. One after the next, football became an obsession, and while they’ve each paved his own way to success -- Trey as a running back, Terrell as a defensive back, Tremaine as a linebacker -- their success has always come as a team.
So it’s no wonder that when it came time to pick a college, they all ended up together at the one place where football and family have always been intertwined. At Virginia Tech, the Edmunds brothers were the 26th and final set of brothers to commit to play for former coach Frank Beamer. And while Trey has moved on to Maryland, Terrell and Tremaine are now ready to start a new tradition under Justin Fuente, bridging two eras of Hokies football with the same focus on family.
“They did not necessarily go to Virginia Tech because the other brother was there,” Cookie said. “They really first and foremost went there because they thought it was a good fit for them. But it was a bonus that your brothers are there.”
Beamer didn’t set out to build a legacy of brothers at Virginia Tech, either, but he couldn’t help himself. He’d go scout a top recruit and often he’d find there was just so much to like about the entire family. Beamer didn’t have an advanced degree in genetics, but it seemed reasonable enough to think that if the oldest brother had talent, a few more in the family might, too. In the end, 25 sets of brothers played for him during his time in Blacksburg.
“I probably offered some scholarships just on the fact that I didn’t think the apples fell too far from the tree,” Beamer said.
That’s how the Virginia Tech gene got passed through the Edmunds family. The patriarch, Ferrell, starred at Maryland before a career in the NFL. He always encouraged his sons to make their own decisions and didn’t push them toward his alma mater, and when Beamer went to Danville, Virginia, to recruit Trey, he won over the whole family.
Trey had a basketball game Beamer came to watch, but the JV team featuring Terrell and Tremaine came first. Beamer was impressed, and he told the Edmunds family he’d love to have all three of them at Virginia Tech.
“That was a big thing at the time,” Terrell said. “Coach Beamer was speaking directly to me, and I was only in eighth grade.”
Trey’s commitment was a big get for Beamer, but he said he never pushed either of his brothers to follow in his footsteps. Instead, he told them to look around, explore their options. But he did sing Virginia Tech’s praises, and that’s what makes the family lineage on the Hokies’ roster so significant, Fuente said.
“I think it’s maybe the most impressive statistic we have,” Fuente said. “It’s not the ACC championships or 23 straight bowl games, but that 25 big brothers went home and told little brothers this is a good place.”
It offered a dream come true for the Edmundses, too, when in the 2015 opener, all three brothers were on the kickoff team against Ohio State.
Beamer informed the brothers about a week before the game, and word quickly spread throughout the clan. Looking back, the kickoff is something of a blur.
“It was loud, I remember that,” Trey said. “I didn’t even have words for it. I could just smile and be excited to be together.”
The season didn’t unfold entirely as expected after that kickoff, however, and when Beamer announced his retirement midseason, it signaled an end to the brothers’ brief stint together. Trey transferred to Maryland, Fuente took over as head coach, and the family dynamic at Virginia Tech shifted -- just a bit.
Terrell and Tremaine are still inseparable. They live together, start together on the same side of the defense, talk shop after every practice. Before games, they’ll sit across from each other, headphones on, Terrell singing aloud and Tremaine nodding along.
“I whoop him in Madden,” Terrell said, “but we’re together all the time and we never never get sick of each other.”
That connection has been a revelation for the Hokies’ defense, too. Tremaine is second on the team with 54 tackles, and Terrell is fourth with 37. After last week’s win against Miami, Tremaine was named the ACC’s linebacker of the week, and Terrell earned top honors for defensive backs. Trey watched the game -- if Maryland plays at the same time as the Hokies, he has his parents send him highlights -- and was thrilled to see his younger brothers steal the show.
Trey may have moved on. Beamer, too. But there’s still a legacy the Edmundses want to uphold here. They’re the 25th set of brothers, but they’re also the first.
“We have the opportunity to be coached by another great coach,” Tremaine said.
“And start a new tradition,” Terrell interjected. “Hopefully more brothers come along and keep it going.”