[Ed. Note: Bumped from FanPosts]
Welcome to the Part 2 of my series Virginia Tech Football Recruiting Guide for the class of 2011. I am sorry that I have been so long getting the second part out, but some personal stuff came up and it sidetracked me pretty badly. Compounded with the terrible recruiting luck we've had, I just didn't feel motivated to do it. Trust me, the third part should be out much sooner than the second one came. Of course, that could all be expedited by some good commitments! But let's jump right into it, shall we?
Do you all remember when I said "if we don't have the best football recruiting class in school history it will be a flub-up of epic proportions by the Virginia Tech coaching staff and we should all resort to heavy drinking to cope with it?" Well, ladies and gentlemen, grab your drinks and get ready to congratulate Seth Greenberg for holding up his end of the deal (so far).
Just like in my NCAA football 2011 dynasty (it is so hard to recruit on that game!), the Tarheels have raided the state and we're fighting a losing battle against our in-state red-headed step-children when it comes to football. That's the pessimist in me. The realist says that it is unlikely that the end result of our recruiting haul will make me do anything but cringe. The optimist in me says to consult one of the other two guys. But, in all reality, if we close strong, we can finish up with a recruiting class that will at least be on par with ones we've had in the past. It's just that considering the amount of talent we had in this class, and in this state, we REALLY dropped the buck.
So for those of you who are in the dark on what has happened since my the first recruiting post of this series on June 18th, below is a timeline of all the bad things that have happened to us. Enjoy (with a strong drink of course).
- 6/10 Kameron Mack (remember I started writing in mid-May, but I caught Mack's commitment in time and didn't include him. We really coveted him at rover. He was a three-star athlete) committed to UVA
- 6/25 Kiaro Holts (a four-star OT who did not appear on my list because he committed so quickly) committed to UNC
- 6/30 Nick Vannett (#17a on my list) commits to Ohio State (I refuse to say THE)
- 7/10 David Watford (who was #21 on my list, but we'll see when we get there) commits to UVA
- 7/10 Marquise Williams (#11a on my list) commits to UNC
- 7/11 Landon Turner (#8 on my list and a guy we've been recruiting VERY hard for years) commits to UNC
- 7/30 Mack Crowder (#4 on my list and my personal favorite of this class) Volunteers to play for the uglier orange-colored hicks that we thrashed so badly on New Year's Eve (ah, at least I can still be happy about this)
- Also, officially we have offered 6 quarterbacks, 5 of whom have decided to sign elsewhere. YIKES! Hope Logan Thomas is really our future there!
So not to damper the mood or anything...but here's my recruiting update! Enjoy (again, with drink in hand).
6. Stephone Anthony 6'3" 220 lbs. OLB Anson HS Wadesboro, NC- Okay, I know this is just getting silly now, but yes, linebackers are THIS good this year, and Stephone Anthony is another one of the elites. He has good speed and is SUPER strong! He is really raw because he uses his superior athleticism to bail him out, which is never a given on the next level, so he may certainly need a redshirt year. From watching his highlight tape I gather that he sits in the hole a little too long waiting on the back to come through. Anybody who watched the UNC game last year knows that we fell victim for their Cedric Humes-esque running back who pounded us at the line. He'll have to improve in that respect. It is hard to rate him in pass coverage because the video focuses in on the ball, but he does come down with an inordinately high amount of interceptions...some of them on extremely ill-advised passes, but all in all he has good hands. Call me a hopeless optimistic, but I'm giddy about the possibility of having a core of Curtis Grant, Travis Hughes and Stephone Anthony as our future linebacking core. It would be by far the best in the nation.
As for landing him...it becomes tricky again, because he has an offer sheet from here to Mars, and is ranked #20 in the nation by Rivals.com. However, it sounds like Florida is separating itself from the field with Georgia coming in second. We appear to be in that second tier, but he says that he likes Virginia Tech and that Bud Foster is constantly on him to get him to come back to campus. I'd put us within the 20-30% range to win his services, although I think it's more like a 20% chance.
7. Demetrious Nicholson 5'11 167 lbs. CB Bayside HS, Virginia Beach, VA- After watching 11 videos on Nicholson I consider myself somewhat of an expert on him, and I feel like I've got a good read. Some quick tidbits: He is extremely fluid as a runner. He must improve his tackling form. Catches the ball at its highest point, which is HUGE. I am pretty sure this kid belongs on the offensive side of the ball as a slot receiver or an H-back the way he can be utilized on WR screens and reverses. He takes WR screens and reverses to the house with ONE inside move! Needs to be able to utilize his straight-line speed, which he doesn't get to show in coverage on defense. Is a different kind of fast with the ball in his hands. Is diminutive, even for a CB (a la Cris Hill), and looks anxious in coming up to lay a hit on the ballcarrier. Often just sits on the tracks, which is a big no-no for any of you who are familiar with the saying (I learned it the hard way, when it happened to me in HS football, as the state 2A player of the year, a diminutive 5'7" Caleb Jennings trucked me :( ).
In February, Nicholson was named the NJ Premier Camp Skill Position MVP. Rivals' Mike Farrell was absolutely right when he predicted that just like E.J. Manuel (Nicholson's former Bayside teammate) who won the award his senior year, Nicholson's stock was about to explode. That would be a legitimate assessment considering Nicholson has nearly doubled his offers over the 6 months since then. He has improved tremendously defensively, almost to the point of lockdown corner on the high school level. For instance, I would still like to see to see him get his head turned to the ball a little quicker to prevent completions.
Although I mentioned I'd prefer Nicholson on the offensive side, this is contingent upon several things. One, we must continue to get a good crop of corners to keep coming through to consider moving him to Stiney's side, and two, that might just start with a guy named Kyshoen Jarrett, or maybe a guy named James Farrow...both of which you'll get to see further down the list.
Certainly Nicholson can play both sides of the ball and maybe even be the next kind of DeAngelo Hall all-purpose kind of guy, but the coaches have shown a reluctance to use guys like that, even with the most recent of Macho Harris (and really, what the hell am I talking about? DeAngelo only had like 13 career receptions). So the staff has never been a fan of turning a guy like that completely loose in fear of tiring him, or injuring a key guy, or I don't know, some kind of voodoo, magic 8-ball, fortune cookie or horoscope that told them not to. You take your pick. But for me, you have to have your best playmakers on the field. And DeAngelo said that after a week in pre-season he was physically fit enough to do both all game long.
However, before we consider where to put this kid, we have to make sure we get him. Right now it looks like a two-horse race between our cocky, flamboyantly-colored, trust-fund kids at Chapel Hill and us. It also looks like they have a definite lead, although I haven't heard Nicholson sing their praises since the investigation of UNC began. He also made it very clear that if an SEC school (presumably a power) or USC got involved that they'd be in contention right away (YIKES!). But, he maintains that he has no favorites (which is often B.S.), and that he was a childhood Hokie fan growing up and still roots for them. He appears to be pretty early on in his process and may wait until after the season to choose his school. I think we have about a 35% shot right now if things stay as they are right now. Nicholson wears a lot of accessories on the field...I just hope that come this time next year, he's accessorizing in Chicago Maroon rather than Tarheel Blue.
8. Landon Turner 6'5" 311 lbs. OT Harrisonburg HS, Harrisonburg, VA (STATUS: Committed to UNC)- (When I began writing this article, even this section a few weeks back, Turner was uncommitted and so that's why he still appears on this list). A few weekends ago Landon Turner (the #108th ranked player in the nation and #3 in the state, both of which were previously higher) walked into a crowded room, sat down, and quickly chirped "I'm Landon Turner and I'm a Tarheel." And at that point, I had nothing more to do with him.
Having said that...I still need to give you a review of Turner and to let you know what our defensive ends will be going up against for the next 4 years.
Watching Landon's highlight tape two years ago was a revelation. He was a FRESHMAN, and he was SO physically imposing. He lacked mobility and was VERY RAW, but watching him manhandle his smaller opponents made me dream of having this kid in Maroon and Orange. Manhandle is really not even accurate to describe what he was doing to these kids. It looked like Tech was the leader for his services up until about a week or two before his decision. After all, he was an in-state kid, and we have a pretty good record with keeping those guys. But after a long battle, the Tarheels won the spoils.
Landon missed his entire sophomore year with a broken ankle, but his highlight tape from his junior year shows both growth physically and in his comprehension of blocking as well. He is as strong as an ox and some, but he still displays sub-par mobility for a tackle and relies on his brute force to for lack of a better term (and I know, I know) MANHANDLE his opponents. He is a kid that can immediately come in, never once hit the weight room, and will be a stud on combine day, probably leading all offensive linemen in reps. But, he is also a guy who is going to struggle to adjust to college competition after playing some kids that frankly, had no business being on the same field as him, AND were stupid enough to try and beat him at his own strength...which would be strength in case you were wondering.
Kids continually tried to engage Turner and overpower him to the ball. I was shocked to see that nobody was using setup moves (you know, bait him one way, go the other), or trying to run around him, or stunting...because let's face it, if you get engaged with him you have already lost. I have to feel that stunts and swim moves will seriously bother this kid early on at the next level. He is one of the BEST run-blocking tackles I have ever seen at his age, which is a rarity as most tackles now are used for their pass blocking acumen and their ability to keep the grass out of their QB's facemask. Can he develop into a solid pass blocking tackle? Yes. With the right coaching and footwork, this kid could be one of the NFL's premier linemen in a few years. But he's got a long way to go in that department, and will surely always be better at run-blocking.
As for the competition, my prediction so far looks warranted because of Turner's astoundingly bad performance at the U.S. Army National Jr. combine OL vs. DL. He was continually abused to the outside, and showed that if he couldn't get engaged with his long arms, he struggled to move his feet quickly enough to cut off the defender. He was even toppled over twice by defenders who saw that he was off-balance and came with a powerful shot at Turner. By my count, he was not the only O-lineman to sack his own quarterback dummy once...but twice by being thrown into him, toppling like a rag doll.
Landon was continually blocking to and THROUGH the whistle though, and so he'll earn quite a bit of personal fouls on the next level. I know that some of you will be calling me a hypocrite because I praised Mack Crowder for this earlier in the first article, but the difference is that Mack only made it to the whistle. I love to see that kind of fire in an O-Lineman, but after the whistle becomes problematic for your team. It got to the point where kids out of the play and after the whistle came into the picture and my friends and I all said in sympathy for Turner's next victim "Oh NO! Not him! Not the little one!" Does anyone remember seeing the Blind Side, when it supposedly just "clicked" for Michael Oher and he immediately drive-blocked a guy 70-yards over an advertisement in the back of the endzone. Well Landon Turner is that kind of scary, blocking guys engaged for practically the entire field and out of bounds.
In the end, am I frustrated we didn't land Turner? Yes. Is the Hokie coaching staff REALLY frustrated about it...NO DOUBT! It is even more puzzling that we lost Turner to the Heels because just a few months earlier, the Heels already received a 4-star tackle commit and Hokie target (out of what was thought to be a VT stronghold no less in Warren Central HS in Indianapolis, the home of Darren Evans, and 2011 Tech DT commit Kris Harley) in Kiaro Holts. Losing Turner was a big blow, but contrary to my opening statements, it's not over for us this year. It's not all gloom and doom. Chances Turner stay a Tarheel? Pretty good, although I wouldn't put it at 100% if the NCAA finds something it likes and puts a postseason ban or something of the sort on UNC. Hey, it's been known to happen before. But for now, Landon Turner is a Tarheel, so let's let him be one...I don't want anything to do with him.
9. Kris Frost 6'3" 210 lbs. ATH (DE) Butler HS, Matthews, NC- This kid is a very cerebral, intelligent kid both on the field and off. He is polite, sociable, and very easy to like. I can't tell you how impressed I was after watching one of his interviews. On the field, obviously he is very good, as Rivals.com has him ranked as the #27 player and the #2 athlete in the nation. I think athlete is the correct term for him, because even though he is this high nationally, the kid is a little bit of a project. He is a very good athlete but as of now he is without a true position. He is raw fundamentally in some areas, and his technique suffers sometimes (most noticeably on his pursuit angles and his tackling technique). He tries really aggressive angles that won't work on the next level with the amount of speed D-I players possess. His tackling mantra is going for the big hit, and often at the next level, once again, guys can juke you out of that.
I mentioned he is without a true position right now. Just to show how much that is the case, he has been offered by big time schools at 4 different positions, ranging from WR to DE (also S and LB). He currently plays LB, but from some video I unearthed from the Blacksburg LB camp, he looked to struggle in coverage, and it appeared to be a case of speed working against him. He is a very gifted wide receiver however, winning the jump balls with supreme ease and doing a good job of finding the soft spot in the secondary. He has good hands, there's no doubting that.
The thing is, with all the talent at linebacker this year, it can get too deep (and I don't mean if you land all of these guys), in that if we offer all of these guys at backer, they're not stupid (especially not this guy), and they're going to see the writing on the wall that says "I may not play there." That's one of the reasons why we offered him at DE. So far we are the only school that has offered him as a DE, and we have a history of successfully converting guys to that position. I think with his tall frame and limited speed/coverage skills on the D-I level that this kid is a natural fit at DE. Kudos to Frank Beamer and staff for noticing that. He will undoubtedly have to take a redshirt year to learn the position, but if we get him, this kid is a potential star. He is from Butler HS, which is where current Hokies Jarrett Boykin and Eddie Whitley went to HS, but we have had only tempered success at Butler over the years. Despite landing those two in Jarrett and Eddie, we have missed on almost every major prospect from Butler over the last few years (and there have been a substantial amount), including who I consider to be the top quarterback in this class, Christian LeMay.
In his interview at the Blacksburg camp, Kris mentioned that he has no intention of deciding anytime soon, and mentioned a list of about 10 that he is high on, with VT falling last in his list (don't know if that was chronological or what, but you'd think that the school he's interested in the most he'd mention near the top of the list). I think he's highest on Michigan, and Auburn comes in a close second, but after that it's a dead heat between his home state Tarheels, the Gamecocks, the Cal Golden Bears, Georgia and us. So obviously if we want to land this kid, we've got some ground to make up.
10. Adeboye Aromire 6'0" 192 lbs. CB/S H.D. Woodson HS, Washington, D.C. (STATUS: Committed to VT)- Simply put, Adeboye Aromire is a head hunter! He runs at the ballcarrier with reckless abandon, throwing his body around and putting together a highlight tape with bone-crunching hits that left the recipients down for the count. Even though I only got to watch a full tape and one play of this guy at the U.S. National Army Junior combine, he impressed me so much that he made my top-10! And to my surprise, HE COMMITTED early on!
Though he is still listed as a corner by Rivals, Hokiehaven has him as a safety. This might be more accurate because he was VERY raw in coverage and seemed to struggle there. Either way, getting this guy is a win. If he plays corner for us, think of it as the equivalent of having Aaron Rouse at corner! Yes, he hits THAT hard! He would fit our defensive scheme of having the corner contribute for run support, but not so much for the one-on-one that we ask our corners to take on. If he stays at corner, he will most likely have to redshirt (which is not a big surprise as even the most blue-chip of our recruits usually partake in this ritual, including Ryan Williams and both Vicks) to improve his coverage. He will most likely play rover for us. And in that case, we still win, because we've got a guy like Rouse or Kam Chancellor (and not the FS version of Chancellor, the Rover version...you know, from his sophomore year? The one where he was good). He will be blitzing a lot no matter where he plays on the field, and he has excellent closing speed. He also takes good angles. And trust me, he will be making ACC offensive players lose their appetite when they meet him in a hole. Aromire is certainly one of the gems of the class so far.
I hope you enjoyed this Part 2 of the Virginia Tech Football Recruiting Guide for the class of 2011. Look out for the rest of this series on GobblerCountry over the next few weeks. Also, to check out the Hokiehaven.com 2011 Target Board. However, you must be a Rivals.com member to see this.