Virginia Tech Football Recruiting: Everything You Need to Know for NSD
The Virginia Tech football program needs to reel in a big recruiting class after losing several stars this offseason, and with national signing day less than a month away, the Hokies seem to be in good shape.
Thanks to the efforts of entrenched recruiters like defensive backs coach Torrian Gray and defensive line coach Charley Wiles, in addition to the efforts of new coaches like offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, the Hokies should be able to make a splash on Feb. 5.
Here’s everything Tech fans need to know about where the Hokies stand right now and what they need to improve on before national signing day arrives.
Most Important Commitments
The Hokies are losing some very important starters when guys like quarterback Logan Thomas and defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins depart Blacksburg, and it’s a good sign for the future that their potential replacements could be in this class.
Thomas’ absence is the one that will be felt most acutely as the leader of the offense, but the Hokies have some answers on the way. Even if soon-to-be redshirt senior Mark Leal wins the starting job headed into 2014, the team will need long-term answers at the position, and this class presents some intriguing options.
Ford is more of a pure pocket passer, while Durkin’s 6’4”, 216-pound frame means that he’s more of a physical running threat in the mold of Thomas.
Either one could be the starter based on their development, and the team even has Travon McMillian, a 4-star dual threat quarterback who could change positions, to consider.
The class is also notable for the bevy of offensive weapons it adds to the Hokies’ skill positions.
Despite this influx of offensive talent, the defense has some future starters in this class as well. 3-star DT Ricky Walker could easily fill Hopkins’ spot on the defensive line someday, and Gray landed several talented secondary players with guys like 4-star cornerback Javon Harrison and 3-star safety C.J. Reavis.
All of these players were huge commitments for the Hokies and came from states as diverse as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida.
Biggest Remaining Targets
While the Hokies are likely nearing the end of their recruiting efforts thanks to the number of commitments they’ve earned, there are still a few names they’d love to add to this class.
Former Louisville commit and 3-star receiver Isaiah Ford seems like the most likely player to join the Hokies in the coming days. Ford de-committed from the Cardinals once Charlie Strong left for Texas, and he now lists Tech as his new top team.
The receiver is the 58th ranked player at his position and has decent size at 6’2”, 170 pounds. He also hails from Jacksonville, Fla., which would represent yet another recruit the Hokies were able to grab from the talent-rich state.
Raymon Minor, a 4-star athlete from Richmond, Va., is another big name left on the Hokies’ wish list.
Tech’s coaches have told Minor they’d like to use him as a linebacker, and with the departures of seniors Jack Tyler and Tariq Edwards, Tech certainly needs depth at the position.
The 247Sports Crystal Ball projection for Minor pegs the Hokies as 100 percent favorites to land the talented recruit, but he’s also being pursued by Nebraska and Miami, and he will visit the Hurricanes on Jan. 17.
But while Minor and Ford are both tantalizing targets, 4-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi is the team’s main objective headed into the recruiting home stretch.
Pairing Nnadi with Walker at defensive tackle would be huge for the Hokies, especially after they lost two of the state’s best defensive players, Andrew Brown and Quin Blanding, to the Virginia Cavaliers.
The Crystal Ball puts the Hokies as 80 percent favorites to land Nnadi, but Ohio State, Penn State, Florida State and the Cavs are also hot on his trail. The changes in the coaching staff at Penn State might be enough to dissuade Nnadi from heading to Happy Valley, but he’s far from a lock for the Hokies.
Nnadi was set to visit Tech for his final official visit on Jan. 24, immediately following a Jan. 17 visit to OSU, but he’s since added a Jan. 31 visit to Charlottesville to conclude his recruitment.
The tackle says he’ll wait until national signing day to announce his decision, so Hokie fans will have to wait in suspense to find out if the coaching staff can land the promising target.
Any recruiting class is bound to suffer some attrition as the months go on, and the Hokies have plenty to worry about in that department.
Harrison is one player that has to have Tech’s staff a little nervous. He was one of the first players to commit from the 2014 class, pledging all the way back in July 2012, but he’s since shown interest in some other schools from his native Florida.
He took an official visit to Gainesville to examine the Gators on Dec. 14, 2013, and he also hasn’t ruled out the national champion Florida State Seminoles, hinting that his recruitment isn’t done quite yet.
As the Hokies’ second-rated recruit in the whole class, Tech fans have to hope the staff can hold onto Harrison.
3-star offensive tackle Brady Taylor is another commit who seems to be slipping away from the Hokies.
He gave a verbal commitment to offensive line coach Jeff Grimes back in July 2013, but his hometown Ohio State Buckeyes have since offered him a scholarship.
As a Columbus, Ohio native, that offer completely changes the equation for Taylor. Urban Meyer is certainly a hard man to turn down, and with the rumors that Grimes is earning consideration for other coaching jobs, Taylor could easily defect to the Buckeyes.
Grimes has helped the Hokies assemble a formidable group of linemen in the 2014 class, and losing Taylor would be a big blow to both the class and the team’s ability to recruit in Ohio.
How the Class Ranks
All in all, should the Hokies lock down this current list of recruits, Tech’s staff will have assembled a pretty good recruiting class.
The Hokies finished 21st in the country in recruiting in both 2012 and 2013, and while that’s where 247 Sports pegs Tech right now, landing Nnadi, Minor or both players could easily shoot them higher up the rankings.
They’ve also performed well relative to the rest of the ACC; for all the talk that Frank Beamer and company are losing a step, they finished behind only Florida State, Clemson and Miami in the conference. In fact, they’ve even beaten out the Seminoles and Tigers for players like McKenzie and Holland, respectively.
They’re still ahead of their in-state rival Cavaliers as well, despite losing out on Brown and Blanding. It’s certainly concerning that Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster couldn’t convince those guys to chose Tech’s defensive tradition over Virginia, but Mike London has always been a talented recruiter, if not a talented head coach.
But overall, the Hokies should be pretty content with this class. They’ve got talented defensive players to restock a unit that will lose seven starters, as well as their potential quarterback of the future.
If Beamer can help convince these recruits to lead Tech back to success in the ACC in the next few years, expect the Hokies classes to keep getting better and better.
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