To say the Virginia Tech football program has struggled on the recruiting trail the last two years is an understatement. Per 247Sports, the Hokies finished with the worst recruiting class among Power Five schools in 2020, at No. 76 overall.
In 2021, the Hokies were better, at No. 45 overall.
If the Hokies are ever going to contend in the ACC again, that’s not going to cut it.
If we look back to Tech’s 2019 class, we see a group ranked as a respectable No. 26 overall. In retrospect, that could be deceiving as two of the top three players signed, transferred in the offseason. The No. 2 player signed in 2019 has yet to see the field in Blacksburg due to injuries.
As much as some do not like to admit, stars do matter. Virginia Tech needs to land more high-impact kids.
Fortunately for the 2022 class, the Hokies have a four-star offensive tackle in their own backyard. Gunner Givens is a 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive tackle who is getting attention from some of the nation's top schools. And, as of now, there is a good chance he’ll be a Hokie.
Wait, we’ve heard that before.
Over the years, there have been too many cases of Virginia Tech being in the lead for a recruit, and their parents love the coaching staff, but at the last minute, another school came in and got the commitment.
It’s been happening for several years, dating back to the final years of Frank Beamer’s tenure. Everyone remembers the Josh Sweat fiasco. I can name several more, but what’s the point?
This coaching staff is on the hot seat. Not only does head coach Justin Fuente need to win in 2021, but he also needs to land multiple impact players. Givens would be an outstanding start.
Offensive line coach Vance Vice has done a good job in not only recruiting but developing offensive linemen. Look no further than Christian Darrisaw. How many big-time offers did Darrisaw have coming out of high school?
Darrisaw is about to become a first-round pick due to his talent and work ethic. But Vice deserves some credit in his development, too.
In the aforementioned class of 2019, Vice received commitments from Doug Nester and Bryan Hudson. He flipped Nester from his longtime commitment to Ohio State on national signing day. Losing those players in the offseason hurt, but you can’t argue the offensive line has been a strength in recent seasons.
Givens is an important recruit for Fuente and the Hokies. And Vice has Virginia Tech in a good position. Now, they have to close. This staff, outside of Vice, hasn’t been the best at closing the deal.
I won’t include cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith in this group. He is going to be an outstanding recruiter. He already has the Hokies in excellent shape with some players for 2022 and beyond. Smith is on the fast track to stardom in the coaching ranks. And, Smith is only in his second year in Blacksburg.
Darryl Tapp was going to be an outstanding recruiter. Most fans are still bummed about losing Tapp so quickly. But, J.C. Price was a terrific replacement. I do believe that once defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton and Smith can get into these high schools once the NCAA dead period is lifted, it will help Virginia Tech. Hamilton and Smith are young, talented coaches who can relate to players — an important aspect of recruiting.
Givens would not only be a great addition to the 2022 class on talent alone, but it would also help keep one of the state’s top players from leaving.
Virginia Tech has made a push within the last year to prioritize the state of Virginia once again after its failed foray into Texas. Sure, the Hokies have signed a few talented players out of the Lone Star State in the last two cycles, but it certainly did not go as they originally hoped when Dematrius Davis committed — and later decommittted.
It was ridiculous the Hokies ever gave up on Virginia in the first place. Sure, dealing with some regions in the state can be a headache, but you don’t give up and alienate specific schools. It’s a bad look and can take years to fix.
While the Hokies have struggled a bit to land top players in recent years, it’s important to note they have signed some really talented kids. In the 2021 class, the coaches prioritized length and athleticism, and I believe landed some talented players. It’s now up to this coaching staff to develop them.
After bungling so many recruitments in the last few years, adding Givens would be massive for Fuente and the Hokies in 2022.