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Fuente Week III: Ups and Downs on the Trail, Best Of Awards

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As a wrap on the season before the recruiting dead period, I hand out the 'Best Of' Awards, and give an update on the rest of this week's interesting happenings.

Dear USA Today. New pictures of Coach Fu please.
Dear USA Today. New pictures of Coach Fu please.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

I promised a ‘Best of' and I'll get to that, but right now I'm going to wrap up some news going in and out over the past week. Good news is that we had two commitments.

Phillip Patterson and Jérod Evans both committed to Tech (Patterson was a recommitment). That's a wideout and a quarterback, both of which we need brand new depth at- though I'd more than pin the ‘favorite' tag to Evans at the moment to start due to his eligibility and experience. We lost Victor Greene. Seems like that was more a choice of the coaching staff more than anything- reports were that Greene wasn't hearing from the staff at all after the coaching change, and he was more interested in playing running back (SEE!) than at outside linebacker. I hope the best for him, I think wherever he goes he has a chance to be successful. But that's the unfortunate side of being a borderline prospect (2/3 stars at a ‘maybe' position). In other news, I've heard that Samuel Denmark took an official visit to the University of South Carolina (and had one crystal ball switch over to USCe on 247). I've also heard that unless the sky falls, he's coming to Tech in January as originally planned. Two other wide receivers signed their grant-in-aid paperwork: Eric Kumah and Divine Deablo.

That's two for-sure early enrollees. Other news included our retention of current wide receivers coach Zohn Burden as our new running backs coach.

Odd, yes, but Zohn is there more for a direct recruiting tie to the 757, which is really important in cracking that very dense shell. He's likely going to get the whole area, maybe with some help from Holmon Wiggins. Either way, I like retaining him if for no other reason than it helps recruits and current players like Isaiah Ford stay comfortable.

This weekend in particular was big. Among visitors to the campus this weekend were Maryland linebacker Keith Simms; Texas quarterback Caleb Evans (younger brother of Jérod); Tennessee wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, Jr (Son of THAT Cedrick Wilson from the Pittsburgh Steelers years ago); current commit from North Carolina, defensive end Jimmie Taylor; and Mississippi offensive tackle Demitri Moore. This weekend is the last recruits can officially take visits until January due to the recruiting dead period around the bowl games (lasts from December 14th through January 13th.) Recruiting bylaws are kind of byzantine, but basically there's not to be any contact between coaching staffs and recruits during this period. Coach Fu's going to use this time to sit in on practices, see what he's got going next year, evaluate more recruiting film, and hopefully, move in and spend some time with his kids and wife settling down and getting everything situated with his assistant coaches.

Anyhow, let's move on. Now presenting...

THE BEST OF AWARDS FOR THE RECRUITING CLASS OF 2016

Notes: Jérod Evans is not a high school player, so he's exempted from these awards. It's also hard to award these players for various reasons: Patrick Kearns and Khalil Ladler were injured pretty much if not all year (and Kearns is an offensive lineman). Thomas Jarrett Hopple is an offensive lineman and doesn't have the depth on film (and his only competitor is a hurt guy, so he wins Best Offensive Lineman by default). Jimmie Taylor has no senior film, so defensive end awards would go to Emmanuel Belmar- who is going to play linebacker.

BEST INDIVIDUAL GAME PERFORMANCE

This result is somewhat skewed in the fact that most defenders don't get stats at high school games, and a lot of stats or box scores simply go unreported.

The Award goes to: Jovonn Quillen (Hampton Vs. Maury, week of Nov. 13th)

The Crabbers faced the Maury Commodores and sent them packing in the first week of the playoffs. And by packing I meant kicked them out by the tailpipe without letting them grab their bags. 42-6 in a burning that was fueled by Quillen's ridiculous night. Two touchdown passes, four rushing touchdowns, and a two point conversion pass. He's definitely talented, and it'll be interesting to see him suited up in the secondary. He was first-team all-district on defense, so he's obviously got promise there. Honorable mention goes to Quillen's game vs. Kecoughtan and Eric Kumah's game against Freedom, and Kumah's game against Gar-Field.

MOST IMPRESSIVE STATISTICAL TOTALS

This data is taken from MaxPreps.

The Award goes to: Eric Kumah (VHSL, leads all Virginia in Receiving yards, yards per game, second longest touchdown catch)

Kumah's a monster when he can get free and go to work. For only having 46 receptions, he compiled a fat total of 1,287 yards for a very respectable 27.4 yards/reception. He's a fascinating prospect, and brings a huge outside- or inside, if you really want to screw with the opponent's slot corner- threat to Virginia Tech. As previously said, he's enrolling early. Note: For some odd reason, Samuel Denmark doesn't appear at all in Max Preps' South Carolina stats, which makes me annoyed. Honorable mention to Jovonn Quillen and Joshua Jackson, both having impressive years, but Kumah ran away from the field for not catching a lot of passes.

BEST HANDS

This is a bit of a subjective award, but it depends on what you're looking for in a receiver.

The Award goes to: Phillip Patterson

Patterson. Does. Not. Break. Stride. All of his targets and passes seem to go perfectly as he runs right through the ball. That might lead to drops if he's not paying attention, but at least as far as I can tell? Everything he catches are no-doubt smooth. It's good to have him back on board. Honorable mention goes to Divine Deablo.

BEST ONE-PLAY THREAT

Again, more subjective, but if I've got to throw one Hail Mary to save me, it's going to...

The Award goes to: Samuel Denmark

Denmark's got a little Antonio Brown in him. He's very fast and stronger on his feet than he looks for his size. If I'm going to do something funky or try to do some sort of crazy play or want someone to get open behind the defense, I'm getting the ball to Sam Denmark. Did I mention he's fast? Just put it near him deep- uncork one every once in a while and see what happens. Also, did I mention he actually run-blocks credibly- and cares enough to put it in his highlights? Denmark is still probably my favorite overall recruit from this class, and I think he's supremely underrated. Here's hoping that he's for-sure going to be there when classes open mid-January. Honorable mentions go to Eric Kumah and Jovonn Quillen, who both can make plays on defense as well as offense.

BEST HITTER

We've got a few defenders on the list, but there's one guy I really wouldn't want to have mad at me when playing football.

The Award goes to: Tavante Beckett

Beckett is supposedly the lesser of two linebacking options at Indian River this year, but I don't buy that. Jaquan Yulee does have some impressive tape, but I prefer Beckett? Why? He's angry and he's looking to hit someone. Hard. Due to the two-way nature of high school football, a lot of these guys play defense. But for the more purpose-dedicated, Beckett is a ball of bad intentions. Sometimes he takes it too far, but hopefully that can be disciplined out of him. Honorable mention to Emmanuel Belmar.

RECRUIT WITH NOT ENOUGH PUB

Because they're super quiet, and because most of them instinctively know almost any attention paid to them is bad, you're not going to hear him volunteer a peep. But because he has film to review, and I'm a complete sellout dork when it comes to OL play...

The Award goes to: Thomas Jarrett Hopple

Again, offensive linemen rarely get pub, and Hopple seems like the quiet type. But watching his tape, you can definitely see the outlines of a college left tackle. He's physical, he's HUGE already, and he's somehow only got an offer list that includes JMU, Marshall, Pitt, UVA, Wake, and WVU. Only 2 stars on Rivals? Really? No news since March on that same site? 74 on ESPN? I think it's nonsense. I swear a lot of it is because he plays for Nansemond River, a school that hasn't produced much anyone of recruiting note in a while. So yes, I like his tape that much that I think that he's underrated. I wouldn't say four star, but being a salutary 2-star on Rivals is a joke. Honorable mention goes to Emmanuel Belmar, who's miscast as a defensive linemen and impresses on tape anyhow.

BEST ONE THAT GOT AWAY

We've lost Troy Pride, Conner O'Donnell (that's a weird situation from what I've heard), Myles Wolfolk, and Victor Greene. Based on what we've got in depth and where they'd play...

The Award goes to: Myles Wolfolk (no tape for noncommitted potential recruits)

Wolfolk sure did impress us for a while, didn't he? Suddenly flipped to the Tarheels, then? Ah, well, it's recruiting. You can't win them all. I don't think it's TERRIBLY huge, as we do have a lot of young performers at corner, including DuWayne Johnson, Mook Reynolds, and Terrell Edmunds. We've also got Khalil Ladler entering in the Spring, and I don't doubt that Torrian's in some other recruit's ear. But it still hurts the depth that's coming in this class- I expect Quillen is a safety, and I'd also figure Patterson to be a safety if he does end up moving to defense. Honorable mention to Troy Pride for similar reasons.

BEST RECRUITER OF THE YEAR

The Award goes to: Justin Fuente

Alright, this is admittedly early, but doing what he did- Landing Jérod Evans was huge, but getting Phillip Patterson to recommit and only losing 1-2 recruits (Greene was a drop from what I heard, Myles was a straight flip, Pride never seemed especially happy with being a Hokie) in a coaching transition like that was masterful. Sticking with Zohn, Torrian, Charley, and Bud? Managing to get that together with what he's basically going to be bringing straight from Memphis? Also masterful. We're already getting some returns from our new coach, and it'll be interesting to see where this goes. As of right now, Coach Fu's already put Recruit Fu on this class- and this coaching staff. Take a break this Christmas, Coach, you deserve it.