In recent years Virginia Tech has flown under the radar on national signing day by locking down its recruits and signing its usual class of solid but not headline-grabbing players. Not so in 2012. From a trio of early morning announcements to a decommitment that played out publicly and offered us a rare glimpse into the recruiting process, the Hokies made news on this signing day.
They also signed a pretty good class, too.
Virginia Tech's class was pretty much set in stone by the time most of the eastern seaboard clocked in to start its workday. Though the day didn't start the way they wanted, the Hokies closed well on signing day, landing two of the three uncommitted four-star recruits they were pursuing.
Korren Kirven, a defensive tackle from Brookville High School in Lynchburg, committed to Alabama over the Hokies and Tennessee at 8 a.m. to start the day. Tech lost out on Kirven, the 206th-ranked recruit in the nation according to Rivals, despite recent success landing Brookville's top talent. In the end, the lure of the defending champions was too much:
"They're national contenders each year, and they play in the SEC, the most powerful conference in college football," said Kirven, who said he will likely play defensive end in college. "I just felt comfortable with my decision."
Virginia Tech's fortune changed 30 minutes later when Joel Caleb from Clover Hill High School in Midlothian, perhaps the best of its remaining targets, committed to the Hokies over West Virginia and Ohio State. Ranked as the top player in Virginia by ESPN, Caleb will likely play wide receiver for the Hokies and could be one of the first members of this recruiting class to contribute.
The last of so-called big three also chose Virginia Tech, though his decision lacked the suspense of the first two. Defensive end Ken Ekanem of Centreville High School chose Virginia Tech over Notre Dame, though it had been widely reported that Notre Dame had backed off its recruitment. The 209th-ranked recruit in the nation according to Rivals did more than just pick a hat off a table, according to the Washington Post:
After thanking his mother and others for support, he ducked beneath the podium and pulled out a Virginia Tech jersey adorned with his No. 4 to reveal his destination as "Enter Sandman" - the song to which the Hokies take the field for home games - played over the loudspeakers.
In the end, the Hokies went two-for-three on its uncommitted targets and lost out on one to a school that has won two of the last three national championships. Not too shabby.
Just when we thought there wasn't going to be any more excitement, this happened.
Jawand Blue switching his commitment from Virginia Tech to Miami wasn't too surprising. The Rivals guys started speculating that it would happen if Miami offered him a scholarship a couple of days ago. What was surprising was that we got a live look-in on what happens when a player decommits, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post's Matt Porter.
Blue signed with Miami, which is fine. Whatever. If anything, I'm impressed he called Virginia Tech's coaches to tell them and let them say their piece. That takes a man and is something he wasn't obligated to do.
But was what Porter did unethical? My feeling on stuff like this is that if you don't want it printed, don't do it. Especially if you think you're on speaker phone and have no idea who might be listening in. But is Porter obligated to tell Charley Wiles he's in the room or that he's going live-tweet everything he hears knowing Wiles doesn't know he's there? I'll leave that up to the J-school professors, though the ones I know will probably find it a little unfair.
The guys who should be ashamed over the whole incident are Blue's coaches, family or whatever adults invited a journalist to listen in on a young athlete's call to a college coach to decommit and then didn't tell the coach the journalist was there. That is really bush league.
As usual, David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press hits the nail on the head when he says no one distinguished themselves in the incident. Blue went back on his word, Wiles flipped out, someone let the fourth estate into the room and that scribe crossed into one of the new gray areas of the profession that has been created by social media. No one distinguished themselves. Not even Al Golden, who scored a commit but still couldn't leave it at that.
As of Thursday night, here's how Virginia Tech looks in the national recruiting rankings:
The SB Nation mothership has the composite rankings, which sees the Hokies at No. 22. Of course, 24/7 has UVa third in the ACC and 20th in the nation, when no other service has it higher than fifth and 26th. So there's that.
Overall this is a good class and I'm interested to see what they can do after they quality and get on campus. I'm sure chicagomaroon will go into greater detail about the players later on. He's more of a recruitnik and will be able to offer better insight into what we can expect from them on the field.
As for signing day, it was a rare eventful one for Hokie fans and produced the kind of class Frank Beamer was looking for when he shook up the coaching staff in the middle of February last year. Shane Beamer was brought to Blacksburg to improve the Hokies' recruiting efforts and he's done just that.
- Sean Bielawski of ESPN Blacksburg (MP3) and Kyle Bailey of SuperSports 101.7 both interviewed Shane Beamer about the recruiting class. Bailey's interview can be found behind HokieHaven's paywall.
- Nathan "Tommie Frazier" Warters of the Lynchburg News-Advance has the transcript of Frank Beamer's teleconference.
- Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times and Norfolk Virginian-Pilot has recruiting coordinator Jim Cavanaugh's comments on the class.
- If you're looking for analysis of what we can see out of Caleb and Ekanem, check French's post at The Key Play.