The Virginia Tech football program’s staff has assembled an impressive class for national signing day, but there are just a few pieces of the puzzle left missing.
While the Hokies have to be happy with the 25 players currently committed in the 2014 class, they’re still desperately trying to bolster the class with some big name players who have yet to decide on their college choices.
Frank Beamer and company have suffered through a rough patch recently with the departure of offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and the loss of offensive lineman Brady Taylor to Ohio State. The group needs some big wins on Feb. 5.
Luckily for Tech, the Hokies seem to have a pretty decent shot at landing each of their three biggest remaining targets.
That puts him back in play for the Hokies, who initially pursued Ford in his initial round of recruiting and hosted him in Blacksburg for an official visit on Oct. 26.
So far, it seems like Tech is in the lead for Ford, although he could chose to rejoin the Cardinals or commit to other pursuers like Miami, South Carolina or Florida.
He’s scheduled to visit Miami on Jan. 24, which will likely play a big role in his decision, but he could still easily be Blacksburg-bound.
247 Sports’ Crystal Ball poll gives the Hokies a 92 percent chance of signing Ford, but he hasn’t made any definitive decisions yet.
Tech could certainly make good use of Ford, as the program still searches for a playmaker on the outside. The receiver has excellent hands and ball skills, so he could be a boon to the offense if he signs.
Raymon Minor is another intriguing prospect who Tech has a shot at landing.
Minor is only listed as an athlete but is considered a 4-star prospect after he played linebacker and wide receiver in high school, in addition to starring on his basketball team.
Tech’s coaches have told him that they envision him playing linebacker if he were to come to Blacksburg, and Hokies blog The Key Play’s French has said he sees him as a good fit for the backer position formerly held by Tariq Edwards.
Raymon Minor looks like a perfect fit for a Hokies Backer (strong side linebacker). Very impressive film.— French (@french60wasp) December 18, 2013
However, Nebraska, Miami and Marshall are also fiercely pursuing Minor. However, Tech seems like the leader in the clubhouse for his services.
The key to his recruitment could end up being his remaining official visits, as Tim Thomas of the FightingGobbler.com explains.
The Hokies are currently the favorites despite the fact that Minor and the Hokies haven’t scheduled an official visit though an official visit seems likely before National Signing Day and Minor has made four unofficial visits while also making a semi-visit at East Carolina when the Hokies were playing the Pirates.
Nebraska has seemed like the top threat to beat the Hokies for Minor but the Cornhuskers have already had (their) official visit which puts them at a big disadvantage.
The program that has the best shot to surpass the Hokies and get Minor is Miami who brings Minor in for an official visit on January 17th.
The Crystal Ball projection for Minor certainly seems favorable for the Hokies. Experts give Tech a 100 percent chance of landing the athlete.
But Al Golden is certainly a formidable foe to recruit against, so it’s hard to declare Minor a Hokie just yet.
Perhaps the most important target on Tech’s wish list is 4-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi.
The Hokies would really like to keep the Virginia Beach native in state and away from ACC rivals like Florida State and Virginia.
But the ACC isn’t the only conference vying to sign Nnadi. The Big Ten is getting in on the action as well, with both Penn State and Ohio State recruiting him intensely.
The Crystal Ball pegs Tech as the prohibitive favorites, giving the Hokies a 72 percent chance of signing Nnadi, but Virginia and Florida State have each earned odds of 14 percent and 10 percent respectively.
However, some recent developments at Ohio State have since made the Buckeyes a competitor to reckon with, as Charles Doss of SB Nation explains.
With the recent hiring of former PSU assistant Larry Johnson, who was Derrick's main recruiter during his time with the Nittany Lions, OSU is starting to climb up the Army All-American's short list.
His presumed leader, Virginia Tech, will have Nnadi on campus this weekend, giving the Hokies one last chance to show him why he should stay closer to home before he announces his college plans on signing day.
The VT visit Doss alludes to will occur on Jan. 24, followed by his last official visit to Charlottesville on Jan. 31.
Nnadi has said he won’t make a decision until national signing day itself, so fans will have to wait to find out his intentions.
But the Hokies do seem pretty well-positioned here, even up against ace recruiters like Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher.
If the Hokies are able to land Nnadi—in addition to Minor and Ford—they can take this class from a merely good one to a great one.
Tech is certainly losing plenty of talent this offseason, so Feb. 5 will be a huge day for the future of the program.
If Beamer brings in another impressive haul, however, then things will look much rosier in Blacksburg than they currently do.