Virginia Tech Recruiting: 5 Recruits Who Will Be Key in 2012
The 2011 season undoubtedly ended in a negative light for Hokies fans.
The team went 11-1 in the regular season and reached as high as fifth in the BCS rankings. However, the team got blown out in the ACC championship 38-10 by Clemson and then proceeded to lose a heartbreaker to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl, 23-20.
Throughout the season and since it has ended, though, the coaching staff has been hard at work trying to build a strong recruiting class after being out-recruited by rival UVA in 2011. With the additions of coaches Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown to the staff, the team has made just the right amount of adjustments, and the improvements in recruiting have shown already.
With National Signing Day on Wednesday, it appears that the Hokies are destined to sign as many as 28 players this year and could potentially have up to eight 4-star Rivals.com recruits. The team already has five in linebacker Deon Clarke, running back J.C Coleman, linebacker Trey Edmunds, running back Drew Harris and defensive back Donaldven Manning.
On Wednesday, it is expected that athlete Joel Caleb, defensive tackle Korren Kirven and defensive end Ken Ekanem will sign their letters of intent with Virginia Tech as well.
If the Hokies do indeed finish strong by signing these last three recruits, it will immediately rank this class amongst the best in Virginia Tech history. The team has taken the steps in the right direction with the changes in the coaching staff and is having much success recruiting in the state of Virginia, where they thrived for so many years.
For the 2012 season, the team has expectations that it can still compete and be amongst the ACC elite despite the loss of David Wilson, Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and Jayron Hosley. That is where the play of some of the Hokies recruits could come into effect very early in their careers.
Here is a look at five recruits who will be key in 2012:
Running Back J.C Coleman
J.C Coleman has been committed to the Hokies for a long time and is already enrolled in the school this semester.
The 5’7”, 169-pound running back isn’t dominating in size, but his play on the field certainly says otherwise. The young star comes from Oscar Smith High School out of Chesapeake, Virginia and was ranked as the No. 5 player in the state of Virginia for the Class of 2012.
With the departure of David Wilson, the running back position is a huge question mark for the Hokies in 2012. Wilson’s backup, Josh Oglesby, also is gone to graduation and that leaves just Tony Gregory and Michael Holmes returning with a legitimate shot at the starting position. This is where J.C. Coleman factors in.
Coleman enrolled in January and has already begun weight training with the team. He also will have the advantage of going through spring practice with the team and learning the playbook much earlier than most of his freshman class.
With Gregory believed to be more of a situational back and Holmes still a bit of a question mark, it is believed by many that Coleman will undoubtedly get playing time as a freshman and could be a big time back for the Hokies in 2012.
His size is surely his biggest issue as of now, but after half a year in the Virginia Tech weight training program, it will be interesting to see where this young star is come August.
Linebacker Trey Edmunds
Trey Edmunds is ranked as the No. 9 player in Virginia and is one of the most promising commits for Virginia Tech.
He ranks 16th nationally at the outside linebacker position and has the type of athleticism and speed that Bud Foster loves out of his defensive players. At 6’2”, 205 pounds, he certainly isn’t your typical high school athlete and appears ready to make an immediate impact at the Division I level.
He has developed a reputation as a great tackler on the ball as he is extremely aggressive. He plays with little fear on the field, and if he continues to play that way at the collegiate level, he will be extremely successful.
While the starters in the front seven will all be returning next year for the Hokies, Edmunds has a very strong shot of making the rotation and seeing immediate playing time. With the way Bud Foster rotates his players consistently, his ability to adapt to the college level will be vital.
If Edmunds can improve in his pass coverage and continue his no-fear play when going after the ball, he could join a long list of very special Virginia Tech defensive players under coach Foster.
Defensive Back Donaldven Manning
Donaldven Manning is another committed Hokie who has already enrolled in school. He comes from Miami, Florida, where he ranked as the No. 11 defensive back in the country.
The state of Florida is usually rich with talent, and the fact that the Hokies have begun to dig up some players from down there is exciting for Hokies fans. Manning has the ability to add to the rich tradition of great defensive back play at Virginia Tech.
Manning has typical cornerback size at 5’9” and 163 pounds and runs a 4.57 40-yard dash. With Jayron Hosley leaving for the NFL draft, it appears Manning could find himself in the two-deep next year for the Hokies.
We saw Detrick Bonner struggle early in his first appearance at defensive back, so it will be important to see how Manning adjusts. However, being enrolled in January and going through spring practice can only help the young player.
He will get to go through collegiate practices for half a year and also gain both strength and speed in the weight room. If Manning lives up to potential and proves to be the corner many think he could be, he will just add to the list of great defensive backs that come through Blacksburg.
Athlete Joel Caleb
Joel Caleb has yet to officially commit to the Hokies, but it is assumed that he will do so on Wednesday. If he does, he will likely be the team’s most coveted recruit.
Caleb ranks as the seventh best athlete in the country and the third best player in the state of Virginia. At 6’2” and 201 pounds, he has the ability to play both defense and offense at the collegiate level. It is believed by many that Virginia Tech will use him at the wide receiver position.
The Hokies are losing their top two receivers statistically of all-time in Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin. Proven veterans Marcus Davis and D.J Coales return along with Dyrell Roberts, but the fourth receiver spot is a bit of a question mark.
There are other players returning including Corey Fuller and Demetri Knowles, but the idea of Caleb being on the Hokies roster makes it intriguing to think of the prospects of getting him on the field.
With David Wilson headed to the draft, a lot more pressure will be put on Logan Thomas and throwing the ball consistently on offense. The use of multiple receivers will be key, and Caleb could find himself getting the ball early and often in his career.
Defensive Tackle Korren Kirven
Korren Kirven remains a bit of a question mark for the Hokies recruiting class, but most still believe he will commit come Wednesday.
He is from Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia, which is the home to current Hokies Logan Thomas and Zack McCray. The 4-star defensive tackle has developed a reputation as a potential super star as he is being recruited by Alabama, Tennessee, UVA and many others.
Kirven has been recruited heavily by Virginia Tech through the whole process. If he does land with the Hokies, it is likely he will see the field immediately. The Hokies front seven will have some open spots in the two-deep, and with talent like Kirven, he is likely to find a place on the defense.
He will have the ability to not only learn from his playing time and experience on the field, but he will also gain a lot of knowledge through two mentors in the Hopkins brothers on the front line. He could grow tremendously in his first year.
Kirven is undoubtedly the type of defensive players Virginia Tech wants to go after and continue to go after for years to come. He has SEC type talent and could make an immediate impact on the field at Lane Stadium.
If he does decide to commit to Virginia Tech, it is clear he will have an impact right away.