So I'm guessing most of you thought I was completely done doing these articles altogether. If you will remember I did this in a five part series a year ago and I started that series on June 18, 2010. But, as I worked in baseball for the first part of the recruiting process for this class, often logging 100+ hour work weeks, it was impossible to devote the time needed to this type of series. Additionally I had some thoughts about how I could better these posts instead of just spewing out 2,500-3,500 words on five players. So for this season at least, you're only getting one recruiting guide and extensive coverage on signing day (AND YOU'LL LIKE IT!). If you would like to call my boss, however, and try to convince him to give me enough time off to do next year's recruiting guides with regularity, feel free to ask me for his number. For everything recruiting 2012 and a primer for National Signing Day, read like a kid trying to meet their Accelerated Reader quota.
The Hokies are also somewhat to blame for my publishing only one recruiting guide after they got the commitments rolling in early, landing 27 commitments (including prep-school players who were commits in 2011 and commits who eventually de-committed). It kind of seemed pointless to do an article on the remaining uncommitted prospects with offers because this year they were already committed...this time to the Hokies!
So, what I have done instead is to list our commitments, give a brief summary of what they do well and why we got them and then move on. I will also do the same for the remaining prospects we are pursuing with confirmed scholarship offers. By the way, don't take there only being one recruiting guide to mean the Hokies aren't doing well on the recruiting trail. To the contrary, the Hokies have reeled in one of their best classes ever if all 27 players sign with the Hokies on National Signing Day (NSD). Even if they don't land a single one of their remaining BIG 3 prospects, this class will rank in the Top-5 in Hokie history on paper. On paper folks. We can't get too ahead of ourselves because until these guys prove it on the field, it doesn't mean squat. For years we've said "If only the Hokies got the same type of players as the big boys on a consistent basis imagine what we could do!" If we sign these 27 players or these 27 and some more, we finally get to put our theory to the test and see if that is what is holding us back.
2/3/11 Davion Tookes 5'10" 179 lbs. CB Creekside HS, Fairburn, GA- Tookes rose gradually on the recruiting scene. Originally looked like a reach, but currently he holds 16 BCS offers. That just shows how skilled Tech is at evaluating talent. If Tech offers a kid previously with no offers, interest in him skyrockets. He is a 3-star prospect and the #25 CB according to Rivals.com.
2/4/11 Donaldven Manning 5'9" 163 lbs. Miami Central HS, Miami, FL- Another example of Tech's great talent evaluation. His recruiting blew up once he committed to Tech. Despite ploys by several teams (ahem, Miami...) he has said on many occasions he remains solid to the Hokies (knock on wood). May be the most important player in this class for Tech as he is slated to replace Jayron Hosley long-term. He is prototypical man coverage corner. Fits Tech's scheme like a glove. Ranked as a 4-star prospect and the #11 CB in the nation and #140 overall player by Rivals.com.
2/26/11 Dahman McKinnon 6'2" 200 lbs. LB South View HS, Hope Mills, NC- McKinnon's recruiting flew under the radar. Either he is the type of gem that we seem to put out yearly or teams saw his commitment and thought that he wasn't the type of player they were going to start a holy war for. Looks like he could play either the Whip or Backer position. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
3/29/11 Dakota Jackson 6'4" 250 lbs. TE Northside HS, Roanoke, VA- Again, this kid just screams Tech. We were the first (and only by my count) FBS school to offer him (see above for possible reasoning). He is unlikely to be a threat in the passing game as far as I can tell. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
4/23/11 J.C. Coleman 5'7" 169 lbs RB Oscar Smith HS, Chesapeake, VA- Diminutive? Sure, but J.C. Coleman doesn't shy away from anything. More David Wilson than Mike Imoh. Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell described him as "a ball of muscle" and "not very easy to take down." While he does cut back a lot, he's decisive in his cuts and he runs with purpose. He's also a pretty patient runner. Will likely be our starting running back by the end of next year. He enrolled in spring classes, so he's already in Blacksburg. With Tony Gregory out until fall or possibly later after having to undergo ACL reconstructive surgery for the second consecutive season, r-Fr. Michael Holmes and and r-So. Dominique Patterson are the only active scholarship tailbacks. Both were 3-star recruits by Rivals and Patterson just switched to HB last summer. By comparison, Coleman is ranked as a 4-star prospect and the #3 RB and #101 overall player by Rivals.com.
4/23/11 Der'Woun Greene 5'10" 175 lbs. DB Woodrow Wilson HS, Portsmouth, VA- Greene committed to the Hokies early and again a player with very little recruiting hype at that point. He is an athlete, but he played on a terrible team (0-10), so it's hard to judge how good he is until he arrives on campus. He may also be given a chance at WR, but as of now he is a 3-star prospect and the #24 S nationally according to Rivals.com. Originally planned to enroll in spring, but was unable to do so due to his school's academic schedule.
4/25/11 Desmond Frye 6'1" 168 lbs. DB Thomas Dale HS, Chester, VA- Another lightly-recruited commitment with very few FBS offers. He is projected as a safety. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
4/30/11 Donovan Riley 6'0" 190 lbs. DB Baltimore Poly HS, Baltimore, MD- Fun fact: in case you hadn't realized 7 of our 8 commitments at this point had first names starting with D. I hope they can play some. Donovan had 6 total BCS offers including Tech. He projects as a safety. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
5/16/11 Jack Willenbrock 6'4" 260 lbs. OL Downingtown East HS, Exton, PA- Fun fact: in case you hadn't realized all 9 commitments at this point had first names starting with either J or D. Jack was a lightly-recruited player, but the Hokies saw something they liked in him. He is a 2-star prospect according to Rivals.com. I'm actually starting to realize that this class wasn't that stellar early on. I've been writing 'lightly-recruited player' a lot. Just wait, it gets better.
6/04/11 Jarontay Jones 6'2" 240 lbs. DE Stephenson HS, Stone Mountain, GA- Even funner fact: This makes 10-for-10 commits with first names starting with J or D. This is the domino that really got our class going. Though he has now dropped to a 3-star and the #23 DE in the country according to Rivals, Jones was in the Top-150 for quite some time, and to be honest I still see him as an elite prospect. The reasons Rivals dropped him so far? Well one, his team is one of the best on paper in the era of recruiting sites. As of early September the team had 12 FBS commitments. TWELVE! The 7 on defense were ALL to the SEC (5) and ACC (2). So when the team fell short of expectations, people never see that maybe it was a confluence of things that can lead to such letdowns: chemistry, high school kids being treated like superstars, players being unpredictable 14-18 year old kids, injuries, and/or good game-planning and talent on the other side (which is certainly true of metro Atlanta area opponents). They were pretty much declared a HS dream team. We saw what happened to the Eagles. We saw what happened to the sure thing championship Miami Heat. So the first thing we think shouldn't automatically be that they weren't as good as we thought they were. Okay, I'm getting off my soap box, but Jarontay Jones was a HUGE get for us, and I still consider him to be a Top-150 talent. So did every major college football program east of the Rockies, which is why he still has standing scholarship offers from them.
6/22/11 Brenden Motley 6'3" 200 lbs. ATH (QB) Christiansburg HS, Christiansburg, VA- I know I'm going to face a lot of criticism for what I write on this kid, but so be it. He is not a quarterback and will never be our starting QB. I know it seems silly to say this now, but I'm that sure. Brenden is also the only QB in this class, so that only serves to raise the stakes of the prediction, but I'm still sure. 1. He was our 3rd maybe even 4th choice QB. 2. It appears that the REAL reason we got him is GT was hot after him to be their next option QB. If they don't get their guy for that don't you think it's worth just ONE scholarship? Sure it is. But to be fair to Brenden, it looks like he's a good athlete who may merit a scholarship...just not at QB. Need more proof? 3. He was 0-4 passing in a state playoff semifinal in which his team won 35-0. If you can't complete a pass against a team you beat 35-0, you're not much of a QB. Also if you can't throw in HS, you can't throw in college. Brenden is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
6/29/11 Deon Clarke 6'2" 205 lbs. LB Lloyd C. Bird HS, Chesterfield, VA- Deon's commitment started to solidify this as a very good class even early on. He will probably play Whip with his size, frame and speed. He is an incredibly solid young prospect, and should he play Whip, he would be the highest ranked recruit to play the Whip for the Hokies in the recruiting site era which has been difficult since it's a tweener position. Deon is a 4-star prospect, the #13 OLB and #162 nationally according to Rivals.com.
7/5/11 Devin Vandyke 6'1" 203 lbs. LB Lorton HS, Lorton, VA- Devin is a legacy commitment (yes the same Vandyke as his brother Ronny Vandyke of a year ago). Devin may be a little slight even for the Whip, so Rover is still a real possibility. Especially with our numbers at linebacker coming in. But he's athletic and a good get. Devin is a 3-star prospect and the #41 OLB according to Rivals.com.
7/6/11 Jawand Blue 6'0" 215 lbs. LB West Boca Raton, Boca Raton, FL- Jawand most likely committed because he thought his scholarship was going to be pulled because of our LB #'s (as evidenced by his day of commitment, one day after Vandyke). He is a good prospect as well, holding 16 FBS offers. Again, most likely a Whip but possibly a Backer. Jawand is a 3-star prospect and the #51 OLB according to Rivals.com.
7/9/11 Seth Dooley 6'5" 230 lbs. DE Glenvar HS, Salem, VA- Dooley was and still is to some degree a very puzzling offer as he had/has no FBS offers. But, he was offered at the Hokies summer camp and the coaches only do that for kids they see that DOMINATE the camp. That's where the unknown, unheard of 15-year old DeAngelo Hall got his offer. So again, with the Hokies record with this, to some degree, we have to trust to process. Dooley committed immediately. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
7/9/11 Alston Smith 6'3" 272 lbs. DT Cox HS, Virginia Beach, VA- Another legacy (yes, the son of former Hokie great Bruce Smith), Smith was also another offer from summer camp. Though he was also a little of a puzzling offer, Smith does have 4 FBS offers to his credit and is the son of a Tech legend. If you offer and he fizzles out at least you made a prominent alum happy and you can stand by your decision on its reasoning. But if you don't offer him and he becomes a superstar elsewhere, you look awful silly (i.e. Seth Greenberg with Seth (who wanted to come to VT) and then Stephen Curry). So trust the pedigree, even if Alston HAS to improve his speed if he is to be even a shadow of his father at Tech. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
7/10/11 Woody Baron 6'3" 252 lbs. DE Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, TN- Woody was another camp commit for the Hokies (defensive line emphasis at all?). He is one of the top players in Tennessee, which is a pretty poor recruiting state generally. Still, see above and abover (yup) for the summer camp bit. Woody is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
7/10/11 Nigel Williams 6'3" 260 lbs. DL Benedictine School, Richmond, VA- Seriously four DL's in three days? Williams was the best of the bunch as well, at least rankings-wise. But again, this commit may be much like Blue's commit and influenced by #'s. He can play both DE/DT much like Corey Marshall. Nigel is a 3-star prospect and the #49 DT according to Rivals.com.
7/12/11 Mark Irick 6'3" 185 lbs. WR Calhoun County HS, St. Matthews, SC- Again, an under the radar kind of guy, but a guy with tremendous size and potential. I think he was insurance for missing out on bigger WR's. His only other FBS offer was from Kentucky. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
7/17/11 Thomas Smith 6'3" 218 lbs. WR Lafayette HS, Williamsburg, VA- Thomas was the first greyshirt commit of this class, meaning he will not count towards this class' total, but will enroll in the spring of '13 with a scholarship. Was a 2-star when Hokies offered and has since jumped to 3-stars on Rivals.com. Again, Hokie recruiting magic at work.
7/20/11 Augie Contie 6'6" 270 lbs. OL Blessed Sacrament Huguenot HS, Powhatan, VA- Augie is another player who it looks like was asked to greyshirt. He has three FBS offers and is a 3-star prospect and the #54 OT according to Rivals.com.
7/22/11 Adam Taraschke 6'6" 270 lbs. OL Riverbend HS, Fredricksburg, VA- Again, Adam is believed to be a greyshirt. Who needs another year to bulk up to FBS size than OL's? It looks like this is how Tech planned on solving the problem of missing out on big name OL's. Adam has 2 FBS offers and had not yet been ranked by Rivals (0-stars) when committing. He is currently a 2-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
8/5/11 Trey Edmunds 6'2" 205 lbs. LB Dan River HS, Ringgold, VA- Trey is the player who really started to put this class over the top. He is likely a Backer or maybe even a Mike backer if he bulks up. He is an exciting, play-making prospect and he might be the Commonwealth's best kept secret since as far as I can tell, he had only 7 FBS offers. He is a 4-star prospect and the #16 OLB and #217 player according to Rivals.com.
9/1/11 Chris Mangus 6'0" 180 lbs. RB Broughton HS, Raleigh, NC- Despite being the lowest ranked of our HB commits, Mangus has talent as well. Known for his speed, Mangus had a slew of offers from East Coast and even Midwestern teams. He is a 3-star prospect and the #30 HB according to Rivals.com.
9/27/11 Drew Harris 6'1" 210 lbs. RB Downingtown East HS, Exton, PA- Few players have ever impressed me with highlight tape as much as Drew Harris. Harris runs like a freight train on steroids. Imagine Darren Evans with Kevin Jones speed. Let that sink in a minute. That's Harris. He makes me salivate more than any commit we have right now. I can't wait to see him on the field. Imagine watching the biggest kid on the field just running away from people a la Marcus Dupree (of ESPN's 30 for 30 The Best That Never Was). But thanks to me you don't have to! I've included his highlight tape for you lucky folks! Enjoy. He is a 4-star prospect and the #22 HB according to Rivals.com. He is also the HS teammate of fellow Tech commit OL Jack Willenbrock (hmmm...make good commit?).
12/11/11 Jerome Wright 6'2" 225 lbs. ATH Highlands Springs HS, Highlands Springs, VA- Wright is another greyshirt apparently, which helps to explain his late offer with so many big uncommitted players left on our board at the time (there were five we were considered to be in play for still in the Top-250). We are his only FBS offer, but again, greyshirt, and both Beamers just oozed about his potential and talent. They thought it was too much not to offer him. Wright is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
1/12/12 Joshua Stanford 6'2" 175 lbs. WR MLK HS, Lithonia, GA- And finally, we're here! The latest Hokie commit. Stanford was a late offer, but after Robert Lockhart de-committed it opened up a scholarship, and with WR an uncertainty past next year, Stanford was offered. He has great size-speed ratio. Again, the Hokies thought he was unheralded and saw something in him, although many others had offered him as well, just not too many BCS schools. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com.
THE BIG 3
The BIG 3 as far as the Hokies are concerned are Joel Caleb, Ken Ekanem and Korren Kirven. Caleb is a 6'2" 201 lb. ATH (WR) from Clover Hill HS in Midlothian, VA. He is a 4-star prospect and the #7 ATH and #84 player according to Rivals.com. Ekanem is a 6'3" 226 OLB (though I don't see him as an LB unless we're switching to a 3-4 anytime soon. He prefers to play LB) from Centreville HS in Clifton, VA. He is a 4-star prospect and the #15 OLB and #209 player according to Rivals.com. Kirven is a 6'4" 272 lb. DT from Brookfield HS in Lynchburg, VA. He is a 4-star prospect and the #16 DT and #206 player according to Rivals.com.
As Joe from TheKeyPlay.com tweeted the other day, Rivals.com unanimously projects Joel Caleb to commit to the Hokies (Ekanem and Kirven weren't included in this segment) and Scout.com unanimously projects ALL THREE to commit to the Hokies. All three have announced their intentions to sign on signing day. Caleb is down to three schools (VT, WVU, Ohio St.), Ekanem to two (VT, ND) and Kirven to four (VT, BAMA, UT, UMD). Ekanem has set his announcement for 9 a.m. I don't have an official time on the other two as of now.
So as you can see, there is plenty left on the line for the Hokies. Get one, you still have a Top-5 all-time Tech class. Get two, and I believe you have a Top-3 class. Get two including Caleb and you have the TOP Tech class of all-time (again, all on paper). Get all three, and BOOM, Tech will have signed a Top-10 recruiting class nationally, blowing any previous Tech class out of the water.
So for sure turn on the TV and keep a tab open with Gobbler Country in your browser as the commitments roll in on NSD. Certainly it will be the most eventful and nerve-racking NSD for the Hokies in some time.