Alright, so this week I promised a deeper dive on some of the more unfamiliar or out-of-area names on Virginia Tech's recruit list. Well, due to the amount of ping-pong balls in the air (hurray for week-too-late lotto jokes), we're also going to get a name or two in the mix that you guys have seen me type up before. This is a complete blitz, so I'm going to be as short as I can with my evaluations and notes this week as possible to give you guys as much information without eating your time as possible.
Jaquan Yulee (Chesapeake, VA. 252lbs, 6'-0". Inside Linebacker)
Yulee is Tavante Beckett's teammate at Indian River down in Chesapeake, a four star linebacker (ESPN, Scout, and Rivals) or three star linebacker (247). I'd say he's probably rated higher mostly due to his offer list and his more NFL-style size. He's already a robust 250 for a high school linebacker. Yulee offers a lot of the same talents as Beckett does- hard hitting, explosive plays, tackling power- but with a touch more size and athleticism. He is a former Alabama commitment, and Virginia Tech has faded in and out of his recruitment picture, and as of this writing, we're supposedly squarely back in. He's visiting Maryland this weekend with Devon Hunter, a big 2017 recruit from his school as well. We'll see what the future brings, but from what I've also heard, grades might still be a concern with him. Unclear though- that information has been as foggy as his outlook, even after he committed to Alabama.
Bad note: A prediction just came over for Beckett to flip to Maryland, so watch out for the potential for Yulee, him, and Hunter next year to commit to them as a sort of three-pack. That's kind of what the Hokies are trying to do. As of now I've heard that Tech still leads, but recruiting being recruiting, who knows how much that counts for.
Dominique Ross (Jacksonville, FL. 210lbs, 6'-3". Outside Linebacker)
Ross is a bit of a late go-after for our crew. He's an outside linebacker from Trinity Christian Academy- where Isaiah Ford went to high school. He's rated as a three star by 247, Rivals, Scout, and ESPN. He's up on an official on the 22nd, and Bud and Charley visited him the other day. Probably just to make sure that he made an official- if only because he was supposed to have one for Miami this weekend and it flipped to going to UNC, where he's officially committed as of this moment. Right now he mostly plays as a stand-up defensive end. I'd say outside linebacker, but the highlight tape shows no hint of any coverage ability. Granted, that's because what you see is him making a lot of unblocked plays in the backfield. He's definitely long and athletic, and a dogged pursuer of the football, which are great traits to have. But he's going to have to learn to cover and bulk up to play outside linebacker. Do note that's of his junior year, his senior tape is sparse.
Keith Simms (Bethesda, MD. 220lbs, 6'-3". Outside Linebacker)
Simms isn't committed yet but at this point a lot of people have him as a foregone conclusion UNC commitment. Since he isn't actually committed yet, I'll feature him here as he's been in and out of VT consciousness and we still have a theoretical shot. He's a four star on Rivals and Scout, and a three star on 247 and ESPN. He's got more of a body than Beckett but less than Yulee. I appreciate that his tape has a lot of special teams highlights- there are a LOT of blocked extra points/short field goals. He's got good speed and hits hard, which you'd expect of a D-I prospect. I like his work as a tight end as well, but he's definitely more suited for the defensive side of the ball. He just takes great angles and sees the ball well. Doesn't seem to matter who's trying to block him, either. Here's hoping there's still a chance.
Tyrrell Pigrome (Pinson, AL. 180lbs, 5'-11". Athlete/Wide Receiver)
Pigrome played quarterback at his high school, but it's apparent that will not happen here at Tech. He participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, and is choosing between Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Tulane. He visits the Green Wave this weekend, us on the 22nd, and Maryland on the 29th. He's the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama, accounting for over 4,000 yards of offense- check the highlight tape. 3,080 passing yards and 1,349 rushing yards with 62 total touchdowns. Holy. Smokes. Pigrome's got some moves, too. He's not afraid to run, and he's dang good at it- but he's not run-first at quarterback, which means he's got a head on his shoulders and doesn't panic. Also, BOY can he sling it and stop and start. If this guy was 6'-4" and 230lbs he'd be a for-sure four-to-five star prospect. As it sits, I think Tech's got a good shot with him, and if that's the case, he's going to be an interesting piece for Fuente to run gadgets with. Maybe he ends up being a quarterback, but that's unlikely barring a growth spurt- Fuente in his history has liked larger guys in his backfield. I think Pigrome could be an under-the-radar steal of this class. He's a three star on 247 and Rivals, and not rated on ESPN and Scout. Kind of weird that a kid like that comes out of nowhere to blow up SEC country and no one bats an eyebrow.
Dylan Powell (Hannibal, MO. 270lbs, 6'-3". Offensive Guard)
Powell is a former Purdue commitment that recently got a heck of a lot more attention from other schools, including us. Coach Vice offered him on the 20th, followed shortly by Iowa State, Rutgers, and Georgia Tech. This weekend he's visiting Iowa State, and next he's visiting us. No leaders at this time, though. So what's all the sudden fuss about and why are we screwing with Purdue? Well, because Powell is a mauler. Dude's just out to beat up whoever's in front of him. It's obvious that who he's beating up is overmatch. I'll say I do note a potential issue with him, and that's his handwork gets lax and he'll be in position to be called for holding that just is missed. I like how he handles combo blocks and getting to the next level, though, and he's definitely a ‘block to the end of the whistle' guy. As a former offensive lineman, though, I can appreciate a guy who's got it in his head he wants to just flatten anyone in front of him and block him to the end of the field and through the end zone. He's a low three star on 247 and ESPN, a two star on scout, and a mid-range three star on Rivals. He needs to put on about 20-30 lbs of muscle, and he could be a really good guard- even though he plays tackle at the moment, that's definitely not going to be his college position. Too short and doesn't have those kind of pass blocking skills, though his are alright.
Nygel King (Spring, TX. 175lbs, 6'-1". Cornerback)
King's a former Houston commit that decommitted a day before receiving a Tech offer. He's a 3 star on 247 and ESPN, and a two star on Scout and Rivals. ESPN still has him committed to Houston, but the other three services have him as decommitted. Right now I think the fight is between us and Utah of all people. Note- That's ABSOLUTELY nothing against the Utes (they're more successful than we are at the moment), but since when do we compete with them for recruits? Just strange. He's out there in Salt Lake City this weekend, but he'll be coming to Virginia Tech on the 22nd. King's best trait is his willingness and ability to come down and tackle from his corner position, but I'm not a fan of a couple of pursuit angles he takes- though his speed is better than advertised, I believe. Personally, while he does fit the mold of a taller cornerback type that we're trying to go after, I think he'd be better off becoming a free safety or a rover rather than a corner. His ball skills are alright, but I'd think that he'd be moving to the back in college.
Eron Carter (Palatka, FL. 220lbs, 6'-2". Outside Linebacker)
Carter has a lot of offers, alright, but they're from FCS schools and lower level FBS schools. You know he's not a knucklehead type, though, considering he's got offers from both Air Force and Army, but his other offers include Massachusetts, Tulane, UCF, and HBCU schools Alcorn State and Bethune-Cookman, among others. So who is this kid and how did he suddenly pop up on our radar? He's rated by only one recruiting service- Rivals, at 2 stars. They don't even have us as offering him. So what's good about him? Well, I like his head. He's instinctive and tracks the football well. He's got good timing and good awareness. You don't see him take a bad angle. His body isn't what that 220lbs says it is, I'd think. He's kind of tall and skinny for that. His athleticism doesn't jump off the tape, but he's definitely using what he has well. If you're looking for reach linebackers, get a heady guy out of Florida with room to put meat on his frame.
Next week, hopefully the site will be alight with recruit commitment announcements. The 22nd is going to be popping in Blacksburg. Let's all hope/pray/ask the cold and unfeeling universe that it doesn't snow.