The 2021 recruiting class could go down as what might have been for the Virginia Tech Hokies. In Nov. 2019, this class looked like it could be special when four-star quarterback Dematrius Davis committed to Virginia Tech.
Davis appeared solid for months, insisting he was one-zillion percent committed to Virginia Tech (or something like that) until those around him convinced him he was bigger than Virginia Tech.
In May, he backed off his pledge to the Hokies and instead chose the Auburn Tigers of the SEC.
Following Davis’ decommitment, other players committed to the Hokies, such as Latrell Neville and Tyas Martin, ended up backing out of their pledges, too. Four-star linebacker Aaron Willis committed to the Hokies as a sophomore and decommitted long ago, and he ended up with Tennessee.
Tray Curry and Shawn Asbury were other commitments who backed out of their pledges. Canon Boone was the last decommit as he flipped to Mississippi State on Wednesday.
Look, Davis and, perhaps Willis, were the only difference-makers in this group. But losing Davis was big. And you really can’t blame the Hokies on that one. There are certain battles where it is impossible to win.
Now, enough about the kids who chose to go elsewhere, and let’s focus on the 2021 recruiting class, which is large in numbers and full of potential. We will only include the players who signed in this review and start on offense first.
In the coming days, we will look at the strengths and weaknesses of this class and problem areas moving forward.
After swinging and missing on Davis, the Hokies picked up Tahj Bullock out of New Jersey. Bullock has outstanding size and is the preferred dual-threat quarterback this staff likes.
Much like many in this class, the pandemic hurt Bullock’s chances to be seen by other schools. He couldn’t visit, and there were no camps, limiting his visibility. I like the prospect but I struggle with trusting this staff to properly develop him.
I do believe Bullock will redshirt in 2021.
The Hokies signed several backs in this class: Chance Black, Kenji Christian, Elijah Howard, and Malachi Thomas.
I like this group as a whole. Virginia Tech was fortunate to hang onto Christian, who was garnering SEC interest late. At one time, the defending champion LSU Tigers were monitoring Christian.
Christian is a big back at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. He is a powerful runner with good speed.
Thomas has plenty of speed and good vision.
Howard was a late flip and could end up at cornerback for the Hokies. He was previously committed to Tennessee, and his athleticism will give Tech plenty of options. After watching some of his film, I do like Howard on defense.
Black is a hidden gem. When he committed to VT earlier this year, I watched him and couldn’t help get excited about his potential. His speed and quickness would make him an ideal slot receiver at the next level. The great thing about Black is he could have many roles on offense.
Under Justin Fuente, the Hokies always seem to take a lot of receivers. Unfortunately, many of them do not work out for various reasons and are gone. While this group doesn’t possess one elite talent, there are several talented kids in this group.
Jaylen Jones of Richmond is a natural receiver who could help the Hokies early in his career. He has solid size and good hands.
Da’Wain Lofton is my favorite receiver in this class. I was relieved he stuck with the Hokies after hometown TCU tried to flip him. Lofton can play outside, but he seems destined to play the slot for Virginia Tech. I believe he could be the one receiver in this class who could play in 2021.
Christian Moss and DJ Sims were both late additions to the class. I like them both. Both players are 6-foot-3 with lean frames. Moss is outstanding at tracking the deep ball and possesses good speed. I like pulling good players from Georgia. Moss fits that description.
Sims has the frame to add plenty of muscle and be a stout outside wide receiver. The Hokies need big, strong outside receivers with good hands. Sims can be that guy.
What I like most about this group is the staff is actually targeting wide receivers instead of quarterbacks moving to wide receiver. These are natural receivers who are less of a project and can help you earlier in their career.
Black could be listed with this group as well.
The Hokies only signed two tight ends in this class in Jared Gibble and Jack Hollifield. Hollifield could play offense or defense, but it is clear this staff likes him more at tight end.
The Hokies had other targets, too, which is why they sent out an offer to Gibble.
Dalton Keene is long gone, and James Mitchell could be gone after this season. This position needs to be a major priority in the next two classes.
Both Gibble and Hollifield offer great size. Both are big-bodied players who can add more muscle. Gibble is the more natural tight end, while Hollifield offers more upside.
This is another area to monitor as the Hokies only signed two offensive linemen in this class. Losing Boone late hurt as he was the only tackle in this class.
I love the potential of both of these guards. Miletic, who is from Germany, was recommended by longtime NFL offensive line coach Paul Alexander. Alexander raved about Miletic and said he would be a five-star recruit if he played in the United States.
Miletic is another hidden gem in this class.
Bryce Goodner is another under-the-radar signee. He already has college size and plays nasty on his highlight reels. He is a big, strong country boy and fits the mold of what offensive line coach Vance Vice seems to like in guards.
While I like these two players a lot, Tech needs more, especially at offensive tackle. Expect the Hokies to be active until February with other high schoolers, JUCO offensive linemen, and the transfer portal.
This class is full of projects and potential. On paper, that can be a good thing when you have a veteran team and don’t need any of the young players to contribute immediately.
The Hokies do not have that luxury. With so many players hitting the transfer portal, Virginia Tech needs players to step in right away, which is why I would expect head coach Justin Fuente to be very active in the transfer portal again, too.
There is going to be a major drop off in talent the next few seasons due to some subpar classes. It is more important than ever this coaching staff develops these kids, because there is some real talent with many of these young men.
I personally do not have a lot of faith in the offensive coaching staff, because we’ve seen some talented players either regress or never develop.
We will have another article out soon taking a closer look at the defense.