News came across the wire today that Virginia Tech will lose two current players to transfer, Holland Fisher and Shawn Payne. Holland Fisher was a redshirt freshman whip, and Payne was a redshirt freshman cornerback. Payne was rated three stars by 247sports, but only received another offer from Charlotte. Fisher, on the other hand, breeds a cautionary tale about recruiting.
Ever school tries to fit kids in under the line. Talented kids that want to play at FBS level often have grade issues- either their athletic prowess had allowed them to skate through school and they expected it to pay off, or they had received one kind of gift from God (or whoever is out there, or not) and not another. But Fisher had been recruited by plenty of national programs- Alabama, Ohio State, North Carolina, Tennessee, and more. He had talent, alright, that was apparent. But he was always at a risk to head off to prep school, and when he failed to qualify in 2013, he went off to Fork Union Military Academy to academically advance in order to play. He, to his credit, did stay committed to Virginia Tech. However, with this transfer, it is obvious that he still could not make the grade. Some of it was likely performance. He was originally slotted at safety, then moved down to whip while losing 20 pounds, somewhat inexplicably.
But it's illustrative to a point. While I as a recruiting geek continue to be less than impressed with Virginia Tech's recruiting level and effort, I understand that a lot of the highly ranked high-school players come with certain reservations that might force the player to go elsewhere due to academic or behavioral failings. Do I think we stop taking those risks? No, it's just part of the game: you take some calculated risks on talent. That there's no acrimony and they're allowing them to transfer in peace means that it was simply a ‘you didn't hack it here, thank you, but please, if you want to play, you'll have to do it at another university'. Due to how the NCAA structures its academic requirements, I'm sure that Fisher will be able to find another university that does not have Tech's standards, and I honestly wish him, and Payne, the best going forward in their lives. As fans, however, we're left with yet another talented player leaving the program and the coaches are left holding the bag with two players leaving depth gaps in the roster. Were either of them likely to play this year? No. But who knows. And college football is a 4.5 year game. Losing a depth player now means losing a starter in two years. Two more defensive back scholarships likely opened up for the 2016 recruiting class.
Again, best of luck to Holland Fisher and Shawn Payne, I wish them the best. I'm simply sorry it didn't happen in Blacksburg.