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Joe Palumbo ranks beside Bill Dudley when naming the all-time greats at the University of Virginia. He is considered the best defensive guard ever to wear a Cavalier uniform.

A 1947 graduate of Greenbrier Military Academy, Palumbo went on to attend the University of Virginia where he played three varsity seasons (1949-51) in which Virginia posted a 23-5 mark and recorded seven shutouts. He was selected to the Associated Press and NEA All-American first teams in his senior year of 1951. Palumbo lettered three times for the Cavs as a defensive middle guard and captained Virginia’s 1951 squad and earned All-America honors that season from both the Associated Press and NEA. In 1951, Palumbo received the Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award from the Touchdown Club of Washington, D.C., and was named the state of Virginia’s Athlete of the Year and participated in the Blue-Gray All-Star Game. He is one of six Cavaliers to have his jersey retired (No. 48).

A native of Beaver, PA, Palumbo graduated from Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1952. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers but entered the U.S. Army during the Korean War after graduation. He went on to a successful career as an insurance executive in Charlottesville.

With his strong stature and never-ending love, he was better known as "Big" Joe by his family. He was a charismatic, personable, loyal, driven family man who jokingly prided himself on getting thrown out of more football games than any other player in UVa history.

Palumbo was selected for induction into the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame in 1999. Additionally, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore proclaimed December 7, 1999 as Joseph C.”Joe” Palumbo Day in the Commonwealth. He has been recognized by many as one of the most dedicated and decorated athletes in University of Virginia history.

Joe Palumbo

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