Tonight, I saw a crystal ball from Evan Watkins on 247 for a recruit committed to a smaller college. Wondering what this was all about, I looked at his tape, and huh, as I suspected- and Lord knows like they need my approval- Coach Fuente and Coach Wiggins know what they're doing. We were lucky enough to sit down with him on this the time of the news breaking, and jotted down the following interview with new VT Target Jaelon Darden:
GC: Jaelon, it's a pleasure to get you on such short notice. How long has Virginia Tech been recruiting you?
JD: Well, they have been in touch for about a month or so.
GC: Your recruiter is Holmon Wiggins for a spot at WR, right?
JD: Yes, sir. He came to my school to see me in person and to run routes and catch the ball in 1 on 1 situations with DBs.
GC: What was your impression of Coach Wiggins? Was it a surprise he was down there for you?
JD: Yes, I was shocked, but yet I was willing to make a statement to why he came to see me and show him what I can do.
GC: Do you look forward to playing WR in college?
JD: Yes, sir.
GC: What do you know about Virginia Tech as a college or a football program?
JD: The ACC is the conference they play in. Some big time schools are in their conference. I haven't done much research academically, but I will be doing that soon.
GC: What would you want to study in college?
JD: I would like to major in accounting.
GC: So what exactly are you looking for in a college, Jaelon?
JD: A place that can be my second home, and coaches that I can connect with not only on the field with football but in life, also.
GC: I know you are currently committed to McNeese State, but do you plan on taking a visit to Blacksburg sometime this summer or fall?
JD: Yes, sir. They will be one of my official visits.
GC: What other colleges are currently interested in recruiting you?
JD: UNLV, Fresno State, North Texas, U of H, Texas State, and Rice.
GC: So it doesn't bother you or your family that Blacksburg's a far piece from Houston?
JD: No, sir. My family wants me to do what's best for me.
GC: How are you and your family taking this whole process?
JD: Day by day; I'm very grateful.
GC: What're the things that you want to improve upon in your senior year?
JD: Receptions, and kick and punt returning.
GC: Your coach going to give you more looks at WR by replacing you at QB, or is that still up in the air?
JD: I will be playing all around the field this year.
GC: And, lastly, do you have a favorite pro team or a player you'd like to emulate?
JD: Tavon Austin, Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham.
We'd like to thank Jaelon for this interview, again, on such short notice. Now, onto the tape review.
Jaelon Darden (Houston, TX. 160lbs, ~5'-9", Wide Receiver)
Darden is called a sleeper by Rivals, and I have a feeling that with more reps at wide receiver, he'll catch more eyes. He's a slightly taller version of Kalil Pimpleton, or at least, in that same mold. Currently committed to McNeese State, it's obvious that he's eventually going to outgrow that college if more and more schools like Virginia Tech keep knocking. Darden's elite skill is his agility- the guy has absolutely gutting moves that'll leave a defender's eyes spinning in his head. His speed is high quality, but it's his unique burst and acceleration out of his moves that are really the driving force behind interest in him. Yet another quarterback that Coach Fuente's looking to move around, he's starting to show that Fuente's more interested in the smaller, quicker guys for his screens-and-shorts-based offense. Makes sense, you need guys that can corral the ball (taller guys like Deablo and Kumah, tight ends like Keene and Deiuliis), and guys that can break free and grab more yards (Guys like Pimpleton, Patterson, Bradshaw, and others. Cam and Isaiah are good general-purpose WRs). Darden is rated as a 3 star by Rivals, but unranked by 247 and has no profile on ESPN or Scout. Again, I think we're getting into the territory of ‘he doesn't have enough P5 offers and is playing out of position' land for his recruitment, so we'll see how things develop over the summer and fall in terms of his recruitment. Either way, I look forward to seeing him be used like he said in the interview. It could really help reinforce what kind of skills he has to see him returning kicks, and getting more reps at WR will help with consistency.