I’m not one to get over-excited about early commitments. Tech has had some not-great history with them, and, well, counting your stars before signing day is usually a rough endeavor. But look, if this one sticks, I think it’s big. Today Virginia Tech nabbed a 2021 recruit from Maryland, Aaron Willis. Willis is actually a Richmond native, though he has moved far afield- he’s a military brat (as a child of two military brats, I get it. Also for those of you not in the military or adjacent to it, that’s not a pejorative). That’s not uncommon for Virginia residents.
I can’t exactly give out much in the way of stars/review of recruiting, mostly because the class of 2021 is barely ranked right now (Tech has an in with at least one highly rated prospect in Jack Hollifield, brother of Dax Hollifileld, but that’s beside the point). ESPN doesn’t even have rankings at all for the 2021 class. Rivals and 247 don’t have him ranked at all. But his offer list currently is impressive enough that it draws attention: Florida, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, UVA, and Maryland. Say what you want about some of those teams, but it’s not a joke offer list this early. I’d probably look for Willis to be a mid- to high-three star if not low- to mid-four star recruit by the time this is all through. Considering there isn’t much else other than an already moderate amount of hype, let’s get right through to the tape. Do remember that the tape in this case comes with a grain of salt since I dislike looking at sophomore and freshman(?!) tape just due to the inexperience of the player meaning that the variability is higher.
Aaron Willis (Baltimore, MD via Richmond, VA. 6’-0”, 200lbs. Linebacker)
…Geez, considering this kid is a freshman he does NOT look like one. It’s obvious he belongs on the field with high school upperclassmen and that’s saying something. He is REALLY quick and has a great nose for the ball coming off the edge of a defense. Granted I’d love to see him in coverage but he’s the kind of blitzing backer that we haven’t had in a while- even Tremaine wasn’t a BLITZER per se. I’d take some of the highlights with a grain of salt- he’s often coming in unblocked off the edge not because he blew by someone but he was unaccounted for in the blocking scheme and not picked up at all by the offense, backs or otherwise. But he has a lot of good fundamentals that I like, including (mostly) sound tackling and keeping an eye on the ball no matter where it’s gone. He’s also got pretty solid open-field instincts and comes off blocks by people his size pretty well. I can imagine him in three or four years down the line- and gaining probably 20-40lbs of muscle and height, hopefully- really being a factor as either a backer or whip in Foster’s scheme. But again, grain of salt for being a big projection.
Welcome to the fold, Aaron, and go Hokies!