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Virginia Tech football: Defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton has a message for all recruits

Hamilton gets it.

Virginia Tech v NC State
Former Virginia Tech defensive back and current defensive coordinator, Justin Hamilton
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In case you haven’t heard, the Virginia Tech Hokies missed out on another high-profile in-state player on Friday night, when Treveyon Henderson of Hopewell chose Ohio State.

Henderson, a five-star running back, is listed as the No. 2 running back and No. 17 overall player in the class of 2021, per 247Sports.

The Hokies were thought to be a part of Henderson’s final group.

Make no mistake, Henderson never seriously considered the Hokies or arch-rival Virginia. His recruitment was set to take him out of state once it was clear he was going to be an elite recruit.

Sure, there was that nice moment earlier in March when Henderson visited Blacksburg and things went quite well. Unfortunately for the Hokies, his mind was made up before he ever came on the trip.

This is meant as no disrespect toward Henderson or Virginia Tech, but why would any player in his shoes choose to stay and play for Virginia Tech or Virginia right now when they have offers from schools such as Ohio State, LSU, Clemson, Georgia or Alabama?

New defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton has the answer.


Hamilton, in three sentences, sent a message not only to recruits in the state of Virginia, but to Virginia Tech fans.

This program was built on players who worked hard, wanted to represent their home state and not afraid of a challenge. Michael Vick, Cornell Brown are two former blue-chip recruits who created their own path.

They aren’t the only ones.

Hamilton, and new defensive line coach Darryl Tapp, understand this mindset. They could’ve went elsewhere, yet chose to come to Blacksburg and left with lasting legacies. Tapp was an All-American who went on to a long career in the NFL, while Hamilton had a short career in the NFL before embarking on a coaching career that has him succeeding the legendary Bud Foster as Virginia Tech’s defensive coordinator.

Hamilton also had this to say on Sunday morning, when some thought Tech was upset about Henderson’s choice.

Coach Hamilton has this Twitter thing figured out. He’s real. He gets it. You don’t stop going for the top players because you miss on a few. You keep pursuing because one time that elite, game-changing talent will want to make a difference in his home state. He will want to come to Blacksburg and create his own legacy, instead of just being another guy at one of the college football powerhouses.

Fans will criticize Justin Fuente and his staff for missing on recruits. Some is fair, some is not. We all know of the economic challenges facing these coaches. This is not the place to debate those.

This staff is working hard on the recruiting trail. Hamilton and Tapp know what it’s like to be Hokies and how to deal with the modern athlete and social media.

Other coaches, like new running backs coach Adam Lechtenberg, offensive line coach Vance Vice and others, are going to win their share of battles on the recruiting trail.

Fans should be excited about the direction of Virginia Tech football. The 2020 season is a big one for head coach Justin Fuente and his newly-assembled staff. But remember, all is not lost when one player — one who was never coming to Virginia Tech — chooses to go elsewhere.