Virginia Tech Football: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

Alex Koma@AlexKomaVTContributor IIIDecember 27, 2013

Virginia Tech Football: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

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    Frank Beamer and his staff are focused on building a great 2014 class.
    Frank Beamer and his staff are focused on building a great 2014 class.Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    The Virginia Tech football team picked up some new coaches this past offseason, and the new assistants have helped the Hokies reach areas of the country they never have before to assemble a quality 2014 recruiting class.

    Frank Beamer and company have hit the trail hard for this recruiting cycle in order to help restock a defense that’s losing seven starters this offseason.

    The team is also busy searching for its quarterback of the future to replace Logan Thomas, all while trying to keep pace with other ACC powerhouses like the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers.

    Check back for all the latest news about Virginia Tech’s recruiting targets, recent commitments and more. All star ratings and stats courtesy of 247 Sports.

Latest News

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Check back here for all the latest news involving the Hokies' recruiting.

    Update 2/1: 3-star defensive end Kevin Bronson of Delray Beach, Fla. committed to the Hokies.

    Update 1/27: Unranked kicker Joey Slye announced on Twitter he'll be attending Virginia Tech. Taft Coghill Jr. of The Free-Lance Star reported he'll be a preferred walk-on with the team.

    Update 1/20: 3-star offensive tackle Brady Taylor flipped his commitment from Virginia Tech to Ohio State after visiting Columbus. 

    Update 1/5: 3-star wide receiver Isaiah Ford de-committed from Louisville after Charlie Strong departed for Texas. He'd previously made an official visit to Tech, and currently calls the Hokies his new top destination.

    Update 1/4: 4-star wide receiver Jamil Kamara of Virginia Beach, Va. chose the Virginia Cavaliers.

    Update 12/24: 3-star outside linebacker Melvin Keihn committed to the Hokies.

Quarterbacks

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    Targets

    None.

     

    Committed

    Chris Durkin: 3-star pro-style quarterback; 6’4’, 216 lbs.

    Andrew Ford: 3-star pro-style quarterback; 6’3”, 198 lbs.

    2013 Stats: 161 of 234, 2,778 yards, 35 TD, 6 INT.

    Travon McMillian: 3-star dual threat quarterback; 6’1”, 203 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.50.

    2013 Stats: 97 of 169, 1,472 passing yards, 14 passing TD, 7 INT, 1,537 rushing yards, 20 rushing TD.

     

    Analysis

    For a while, it seemed as if the Hokies were content to bring in Ford as their main quarterback prospect, but Durkin’s surprise commitment adds depth to this part of the class.

    Ford is definitely impressive. He’s a pure pocket passer, he earned the Gatorade Player of the Year honors for the state of Pennsylvania and he has the size required of a college quarterback.

    His accuracy is definitely impressive. He was recruited by Hokies’ offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, and he’ll be enrolling in January to get a head start on learning the offense.

    But Durkin is also an interesting case. He has serious size and seems like more of a threat to run based on his highlights, seen above.

    Loeffler will definitely have options in terms of how he’d like to design his offense going forward. He’s normally worked with more traditional quarterbacks, but he is still the man that helped turn Tim Tebow into a Heisman winner and worked with the mobile Thomas all year long, so he might prefer a guy with good legs.

    McMillian fits that bill as well, but given Tech’s depth at quarterback and his obviously athletic ability, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him change positions once he gets to Tech.

    No matter what, the Hokies will have plenty of fodder for a quarterback competition, both for the 2014 season and beyond.

Running Backs

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    Targets

    Anthony Scott: 3-star all purpose running back; 5’10”, 195 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.29.

    Derrell Scott: 4-star all purpose running back; 5’11”, 180 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.55.

    2012 Stats: 1,742 yards, 34 TD.

    Donte Thomas-Williams: 4-star running back; 6’0”, 220 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.40.

     

    Committed

    Shai McKenzie: 4-star running back; 5’11”, 210 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.58.

    2012 Stats: 2,669 yards, 42 TD.

    D.J. Reid: 3-star running back; 6’1’, 195 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.50.

    Tabyus Taylor: 3-star running back; 6’1”, 220 lbs.

    2013 Stats: 264 attempts, 2,066 yards, 25 TD.

    Marshawn Williams: 3-star running back; 5’11”, 215 lbs.

    2013 Stats: 2,192 yards, 30 TD.

     

    Analysis

    If the Hokies can sign each of their verbal commitments at running back, Tech will be loaded at this position.

    The gem of the class is McKenzie, a big time recruit from Washington, Pa. that chose the Hokies even over his hometown Pittsburgh Panthers.

    McKenzie runs with ferocity, as his highlight video above shows, and he’ll be a real addition to the offense when he joins the team. He’s a pretty decent candidate for redshirting his first year, both because of how crowded the depth chart will be, and the fact that he tore his ACL back in September.

    In the mean time, Williams should be an immediate addition to the roster. He plans to enroll in January, and his combination of size and speed has impressed people at the Virginia high school level.

    Taylor has played a variety of positions, and although he’s solid at running back, he was also a talented linebacker. Tech is also hoping that Reid will be academically eligible after he spent the past year prepping at Fork Union Military Academy.

    The Hokies don’t exactly need anything else at this position, but Anthony Scott is showing a lot of interest at the position as well. He’s also considering Old Dominion University and East Carolina University, yet he could certainly end up bolstering the class even further.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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    Targets

    Adly Enoicy: 3-star wide receiver; 6’5”, 205 lbs.

    2012 Stats: 23 receptions, 386 yards, 6 TD.

    Isaiah Ford: 3-star wide receiver; 6’2”, 170 lbs.

    2012 Stats: 42 receptions, 602 yards, 13 TD.

    Roger Lewis: 2-star wide receiver; 6’3”, 205 lbs.

    Trevion Thompson: 4-star wide receiver; 6’3”, 188 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.50

    2011 Stats: 40 receptions, 700 yards, 7 TD.

     

    Committed

    Jaylen Bradshaw: 3-star wide receiver; 6’1”, 178 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.44.

    2012 Stats: 35 receptions, 722 yards, 10 TD.

    Xavier Burke: 3-star tight end; 6’4”, 247 lbs.

    Kendrick Holland: 3-star wide receiver; 6’3”, 195 lbs.

    Cameron Phillips: 3-star wide receiver; 6’1”, 181 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.50.

    2013 Stats: 52 receptions, 908 yards, 15 TD.

     

    Analysis

    The Hokies are very young at both wide receiver and tight end, and they’re bringing in a decent crop of receivers in 2014.

    Phillips is probably the star of the class, given his outstanding speed and route running, as his highlight video up top shows.

    But Holland and Bradshaw are both tantalizing targets as well. Additionally, Holland has excellent size at 6’3”, and was recruited out of Winter Haven, Fla. by Torrian Gray, further improving the team’s ability to recruit in the state.

    Burke is also an intriguing option if he sticks at tight end. The Hokies are loaded at the position once Ryan Malleck returns from the injury he suffered before the season and Kalvin Cline continues to develop, and Burke should really help bolster the rotation.

    The Hokies have to be disappointed they missed out on some bigger targets at receiver like Austin Proehl, but with 4-star Trevion Thompson still considering them, they’ve got the potential to add some important pieces here.

Offensive Line

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    Targets

    Patrick Osterhage: offensive guard; 6’4”, 280 lbs.

     

    Committed

    Eric Gallo: 3-star center; 6’3”, 280 lbs.

    Billy Ray Mitchell: 3-star offensive guard; 6’4”, 285 lbs.

    Cole Pettit: 3-star offensive guard; 6’4”, 260 lbs.

    Tyrell Smith: 3-star offensive tackle; 6’5”, 265 lbs.

     

    Analysis

    To the untrained eye, it might seem like the Hokies’ recruits on the offensive line are merely a bunch of 3-stars that are relatively inconsequential.

    Instead, this bunch of high schoolers represents offensive line coach Jeff Grimes assembling the group he wants to use to install his system at Virginia Tech.

    Grimes previously ran a zone blocking scheme during his time with the Auburn Tigers, and each of these players are ideally suited to running such a scheme, as French at Thekeyplay.com explains.

    Big and nasty isn't enough, but being quick, nasty, with tremendous reach is the ideal prototype for a Jeff Grimes offensive lineman.

    So, why has Grimes not landed a high profile offensive lineman that fits this mold in 2013? A quick examination of his last recruiting class at Auburn demonstrates how bright the future could be for the position. Auburn signed SEVEN offensive linemen in the 2012 class (and a tight end projected to move to tackle, but isn't included in these numbers) with the following measurables:

    • Average Height: Six-five-and-a-half
    • Average Weight: 278 pounds
    • Average rating by Rivals.com: 3.56 (Four of the seven commits were four stars.)
    • Home states: Florida (2), Alabama, Colorado (2), Illinois, Georgia

    Grimes doesn’t need the biggest road graders on the market to be successful; instead he just needs an athletic group that can make plays and he seems to have found one.

    It’s particularly promising that Grimes was able to nab both Mitchell and Smith from New Jersey, further expanding the staff’s reach on the East coast.

    Mitchell is probably the most impressive specimen of the bunch, as his highlight video above attests, thanks to both his tremendous size and athleticism.

    With this class, the team should still have the building blocks for their next great offensive line.

Defensive Line

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    Targets

    Derrick Nnadi: 4-star defensive tackle; 6’1”, 305 lbs.

    Rayjon Simes: 3-star weak side defensive end; 6’6”, 230 lbs.

    Andrew Williams: 4-star weak side defensive end; 6’4”, 247 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.70

     

    Committed

    Kevin Bronson: 3-star weak side defensive end; 6'4", 233 lbs. 

    2013 Stats: 50 tackles, 20 TFL, 4 sacks.

    Vincent Mihota: 3-star strong side defensive end; 6’4”, 250 lbs.

    Steve Sobczak: 3-star defensive tackle; 6’1”, 305 lbs.

    Ricky Walker: 3-star defensive tackle; 6’2”, 275 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 5.00

    2013 Stats: 65 tackles, 24 TFL, 6.5 sacks.

     

    Analysis

    Bud Foster depends on his defensive line to scheme effectively, and it seems as if he and defensive line coach Charley Wiles have assembled a solid class for 2014.

    Ricky Walker is the obvious star of the class. What he doesn’t have in size, he makes up for with his lethal first step and explosiveness, as his highlights show.

    Mihota and Sobczak also represent a pair of physical freaks that Wiles and Foster can mold, with the Hokies even able to steal Sobczak out from under the James Madison Dukes late in the recruiting process.

    But for all the talent this section of the class already has, adding Nnadi would shoot into another atmosphere entirely. Not only is Nnadi an in-state recruit from Beamer’s beloved recruiting hotbed of Virginia Beach, but it’d be a big win for the Hokies to land him and spite the rival Virginia Cavaliers and national powerhouses like Ohio State and Florida State.

    Tech suffered a bit of blow when they lost out on 5-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown to the Cavs, and earning Nnadi’s service would be huge for showing Virginia recruits that Tech is the destination school in the state.

    Nnadi is set to visit Tech’s campus on January 24, the last of his official visits before National Signing Day, which seems to bode well for the Hokies.

    But even if they can’t sign Nnadi, Walker and the others will still bring a lot to Foster’s defense.

Linebackers

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    Targets

    Raymon Minor: 4-star linebacker; 6’3”, 210 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.60.

    Nyles Morgan: 4-star inside linebacker; 6’3”, 230 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.79.

    2013 Stats: 100 tackles, 12 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 pass breakups, 1 INT TD.

    Jacorien Payton: outside linebacker; 6’3”, 230 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.53.

     

    Committed

    Melvin Keihn: 3-star outside linebacker; 6’1”, 225 lbs.

    2013 Stats: 85 tackles, 16 TFL, 9 sacks, 2 FF.

     

    Analysis

    Linebacker is one area of the 2014 class that’s a little light for the Hokies right now.

    Tech is losing two longtime starters at the position this offseason when Jack Tyler and Tariq Edwards graduate, but they haven’t recruited a ton of talent to replace them in 2014.

    Melvin Keihn represents the team’s lone commit that will likely play linebacker. He alternated between outside linebacker and defensive end in high school, but his speed would make him a good fit at linebacker in Foster’s scheme, as his highlights suggest.

    However, Minor seems like he could be another addition at the position. He’s officially listed as an athlete, and is currently being pursued by schools like Miami and Nebraska to play other positions, but Tech’s coaches told him they envision him playing linebacker if he were to become a Hokie.

    Morgan is an impressive prospect as well, but it seems as if he’s more interested in Notre Dame and Mississippi than Tech.

    It would certainly buoy the Hokies’ class to add another 4-star in Minor, particularly at a position of need. If they can’t close the deal with him, then linebacker will be a little thin this year.

Defensive Backs

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    Targets

    Jawanza Adams: cornerback; 5’10”, 178 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.58.

    Marcus Boone: 3-star safety; 6’0”, 186 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.50.

     

    Committed

    Javon Harrison: 4-star cornerback; 6’1”, 187 lbs.

    Terrell Edmunds: 3-star cornerback; 6’2”, 186 lbs.

    Holland Fisher: 4-star safety; 6’1”, 200 lbs.

    Cequan Jefferson: 3-star cornerback; 5’11”, 175 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.40.

    Shawn Payne: 3-star safety; 6’3”, 180 lbs.

    C.J. Reavis: 3-star safety; 6’2”, 207 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.55.

    2013 Stats: 87 tackles, 4 INT, 8 pass breakups.

    Greg Stroman: 3-star cornerback; 6’0”, 162 lbs.

     

    Analysis

    It’s no mistake that Virginia Tech is known as “DB U.”

    Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray helped the staff pull in quite the haul of defensive back prospects for the 2014 class, and it’s no mistake he got nominated as one of college football’s top assistant coaches.

    Fisher and Jefferson are both a pair of talented athletes that spent last season prepping at Fork Union Military Academy and should be academically eligible to join the team this year.

    Harrison is probably the most athletic prospect of the bunch, and he split time between wide receiver and cornerback in high school. However, given the fact that Gray recruited him and the fluidity he shows in his highlight video, he’ll likely join the secondary.

    Reavis is also a big get for the Hokies. Not only does he boast an athletic frame that would be suited for safety, cornerback or even outside linebacker, but he’s been one of the Hokies’ best recruiters on his Twitter account.

    The team was also able to add another Edmunds brother, as Terrell will join starting running back Trey as a Hokie.

    Greg Stroman is another speedster on the outside. He played quarterback in his senior year in high school, but Gray recruited him as a cornerback, and he’s got serious speed, if not size.

    Overall, the defensive backs are probably the strongest part of the Hokies’ 2014 class, and if the early success of 2013 recruits Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson are any indication, Gray really knows how to spot young talent for the secondary.

Special Teams

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    Targets

    None.

     

    Committed

    Michael Santamaria: 2-star kicker; 5’9”, 160 lbs. 40-yard dash time: 4.87.

    Joey Slye: unranked kicker; 5'11", 105 lbs.

     

    Analysis

    There’s not a ton to talk about on the special teams side of things.

    Michael Santamaria represents the team’s lone kicking recruit, but he does come pretty highly rated, and will likely walk on to the team this fall.

    He played some free safety in high school, so he has some athleticism, and his highlights make him look pretty steady.

    The Hokies may be set at punter with A.J. Hughes, but kicker is more uncertain. With the departure of redshirt senior Cody Journell at the end of the 2013 season, freshman Erik Kristensen took over.

    He performed pretty well in his limited appearances, hitting four of his five attempts, but there will still likely be a tough competition for the starting job. Besides Santamaria, Remington Hishaw will be transferring from Richmond for the 2014 season.

    Joey Slye, an unranked kicker out of North Stafford High School, also recently agreed to join the team as a preferred walk-on. Slye seems to think he could play immediately on the kickoff team, but also compete for starting duties.

    It might not be a huge area of emphasis for the coaches, but Tech will have options on special teams.