Hokies Signing Day Hopes Dashed Before Day Even Begins

With Derrick Hopkins gone, and Derrick Nnadi going to FSU, who will anchor the DL? - Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

9:50 AM Update: Derrick Nnadi to 'Noles and Isaiah McKenzie to Dawgs.

7:45am, Wednesday

This morning I had plans to turn on the TV at 8am, well-prepared to endure the defection of more in-state talent. Derrick Nnadi was to announce his decision and sign a letter-of-intent, likely with Florida State. But the Hokies been the early front-runner in his recruiting and had not yet been ruled out. So, at least there was that.

As I said last night, a bit of free publicity never hurts. Even though Virginia Tech is always the bridesmaid in such affairs, it's nice to be mentioned in so many signing day tussles. It is the sincere hope that maybe with a little persistence, we can formulate a strategy to get more elite talent late in the recruiting cycle.

Nnadi was scheduled to sign at 8, but it didn't even get that far, because at 7:47 I get a text from RtD telling me that the deal was done, the dream was dead. Nnadi was the #4 player in Virginia per the Roanoke Times, and would have provided sorely needed depth to a defensive line that is re-building after losing three long-time contributors in James Gayle, J.R. Collins, and perhaps most importantly: Derrick Hopkins, and his steadying presence anchoring the middle of the line. The unit also loses Tyrel Wilson. Hopefully, incoming recruits Steve Sobczak and Ricky Walker can ready themselves for the season and be prepared if needed.

This failure is magnified due to the narrative it places on the recruiting battle in the state of Virginia. Personally, I don't care where we get players from if they can deliver. But the fact that an increased recruiting travel budget eats into other areas of program development when it could be avoidable is a concern. The team did well in Richmond, signing four recruits from the city and surrounding area, including Ramon Minor who apparently couldn't wait though he said last night on Twitter that he'd be signing at 11am in the Benedectine school library.

8:25am, Wednesday

Waiting for Isaiah McKenzie to announce. He's 10 minutes late. What a tease this has been. The #36 ranked athlete in the country (by ESPN) was a late flirtation that raised the VT recruiting profile. He had committed to Notre Dame, and all of a sudden re-opened his commitment to Virginia Tech and Ole Miss, with VT reported to be the heavy favorite for a few weeks.

But ultimately, warm weather prevailed, and McKenzie moves from Fort Lauderdale to neighboring GA, to become a Georgia Bulldog. As of last week I was seeing Florida and South Carolina in the mix along with Ole Miss. Naturally, that raises the hair on your neck when you see VT matched up with SEC schools in such scrums, but it was nice to be hanging tough. But after coming North, and probably having to purchase a coat just for the weekend, McKenzie probably had us eliminated by the time he set foot on the tarmac in Roanoke.

The reality is, we had a fair shot, and the player had his own set of priorities. That's what this is all about. Additionally, VT didn't expend much in his recruitment. We haven't been putting coaches up in Days Inns in Florida for weekends at a time since _______. We'll take the publicity boost, and thank him for the consideration.

Other News and Notes

  • ESPN is not doing our coverage justice. They have a five-recruit list to the right that you can't discern a subset from. It's not our top five, it's not guys who have signed today, it's not remaining targets. They have WR Javon Harrison listed, but he's not scheduled to sign until early this afternoon. I've seen 12:30 on the Twitter machine.
  • ESPN also has the class ranked 29th. 247 Sports has us 23rd as of right now, up from 27th. With the expected signing of Isaiah Ford later this afternoon, I expect VT to stay put at 22 or 23. Had we secured one more of these players, we could've challenged for top 20.
  • UVA is ranked 21st, and two spots ahead of VT in the ACC. That's what 2-10 gets you.

We'll be back later with a little more, as the day shakes out with Javon Harrison and his interest in FSU being worrisome. If he sticks with his verbal commitment and VT signs Ford, it'll be a positive day in the end.

10:33am Update

The Hokies have 19 of 28 letters-of-intent completed.

Still outstanding: Holland Fisher, D.J. Reid, Cameron Phillips, Xavier Burke, Jaylen Bradshaw, Steve Sobczak, Shawn Payne, Tyrell Smith, and as previously mentioned: Javon Harrison.

We'll be back later in the day with more coverage, as the letters continue to roll in! Follow us @GobblerCountry all day too where we're having a grand time.




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