News came over the wire via 247 that current 2017 commit Caleb Farley will be enrolling full time in the spring semester as a Virginia Tech student. The Maiden, NC quarterback was an early commitment in the Fuente Era, so this wasn’t exactly a huge shock that he’d want to get in as soon as possible. I sat down with him Monday night to get an interview in before he’d drop behind the media unavailability/coach speak wall.
I’ll repeat, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s early enrolling- ‘My recruiting was short, sweet, and simple. I fell in love with a school early, and…it felt like it was meant to be, the way it worked out’. When I asked if he really entertained going elsewhere, I got a quick negative: ‘At first I was going to take officials to Indiana and Carolina, but after talking to my dad and Coach Fuente, I was ready to move on and didn’t want to deal with recruiting anymore. The phone calls trying to get me to switch, the text messages…I was sticking with Virginia Tech’. When I asked what drew him here, he said ‘I was attracted to the tradition and loyalty- started hearing freshman year- got a positive vibe around Blacksburg and the coaches’. He was originally recruited by Chuck Cantor (director of Player Personnel) and Shane Beamer, but when Coach Fuente came in, Coach Cantor put his recruiting tape in front of the new coaches, who obviously liked what they saw, and firmed up his offer. He wants to come for football, obviously, but he also wants to come for business: ‘I want to study business – real estate and property management, something in that field’. Pamplin’s a pretty good school to do that. I was kind of wondering why a kid with his ridiculous statistics didn’t have a lot more offers, he sort of corrected the listing on 247. ‘I have 13 offers, including South Carolina, Carolina, Indiana, Duke, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, ODU…I have a couple others, but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head. I’d have to check my mom’s scrapbook for the others’- his mother keeps all of his offers in one.
When I asked about what he wants to improve and what he plans on becoming for this offense, we started with where the coaches said they see him. ‘When I talked to coach Fuente, they talk about wildcat quarterback, receiver…and punt returner. I will be playing offense. Haven’t ever talked about defense, and they’re clear in understanding I want to play offense.’ When asked where he sees himself, ‘My goal is to be a playmaker, go out there and be productive… I’m thinking in being a guy to take the top off the defense, the explosive playmaker type, or take a 10 yard dig and break it. There’s not really a ‘yards after the catch’ type on the team…I want to be the guy that gets Cam the space in the middle and underneath’. I know for a fact he’s fast, but I wondered what his 40 time really was. I got an interesting answer, alright: ‘I never ran an electronic 40, but my record (stopwatch timed) is hanging in the school weight room at 4.25. I tell people 4.35 because they don’t believe me’. He’s realistic about it though, and figures that with an electronic timer it’d be a bit slower. The answer, even if it lies somewhere in-between, is still rather fast. As far as how he wants to improve- ‘I want to get stronger- base stronger- and get a bit more speed’. I remarked that it’d be hard at his level, to which he laughed, alluding to the fact that while that might be true- ‘even another half-step could be the difference’.
He’s surprisingly not really a fan of a major sports franchise, but his favorite football player is Odell Beckham, and his favorite basketball player is LeBron James. When I asked who he models himself after, he gave a very politic response- ‘Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips, and DeSean Jackson- and ODB, why not throw him in there?’. He said that he had to give Ford and Phillips respect- ‘they’re the top five in receivers that’ve been there, they deserve it’. I’d be most encouraged by the fact that he told me he was ‘boring’- ‘I’ve had a dream that’s come true, and I’m trying to do a good job of staying mature. It’s now or never… I want to earn a good degree and grind’. I asked if he was talking with other recruits, and he mentioned that he talked to all of the other commitments, and that he was working on both Devon Hunter and Dax Hollified.
Since Maiden just finished their season, let’s take a look at his most recent highlight tape.
Caleb Farley (Maiden, NC. 6’-2”, 185lbs. Athlete)
I kind of wanted to get into the mindset of how these were put together, so I did ask him a bit on how they handle play selection and editing- ‘I want to put all of it up there, but… I tried to take out the boring stuff’. As a talent evaluator, I mentioned that I’d like to see some of the more difficult 5 yard runs where he’s showing other skills, like bobbing and weaving. He said he understood and sort of agreed with me, but ‘out of a 12-game or 14-game season, it’s hard to find all the 5-yard runs or other things’.
At any rate, as a runner- because the passing isn’t going to be as much a focus on his athletic future I’m not as concerned with that- Farley does do a good job of doing some agility work. But let’s be honest. With him it’s about the speed. He simply accelerates and is gone. He’s got very steady feet already, which is encouraging. But it’s clear he simply doesn’t belong on the field with a lot of the kids he plays with. I notice a couple of things that will get some coaches a bit worried- he’s not super consistent with how he holds the ball on the run. Put simply- you’re always supposed to carry the ball to the outside shoulder, or the one closest to the sideline. He does a good job of putting it away INITIALLY, but he doesn’t switch arms at all, especially with all the direction changes he does. Now, switching arms in TRAFFIC can be a hazardous business, but it’s the extra ball security on runs that he thinks he might’ve gotten away that is important. He can be a bit sloppy with ball handling, and he can have his arms fly about a bit as he’s moving, but it’s not super prevalent. He’s got a bit of a gliding motion, which looks really fluid, but he might be benefited from picking up his feet more- low leg movement leads to ankle and shoe tackles which can wreck legs. Part of his running style is his height, but in traffic he does a good job of keeping running low behind his pads rather than upright, though that shifts some when he gets further into the secondary and starts looking to break away.
Either way, I believe his grade was held down by a couple things- lower level of competition, a very low lack of competition in his recruitment, and the fact that he’d have to make a position switch in college. I think someone of his athletic talent being a low 3-star recruit is silly, but it mostly remains to be seen how he does with routes and route-running, so some of it is justified. We have no idea of his hands, so we’ll see how that goes, but Caleb should be a productive member of the class of 2017. Welcome to VPI, Caleb.