Virginia Tech Football Recruiting: Meet All the 2014 Commits
The Virginia Tech football program has completed yet another recruiting cycle, and despite some signing-day disappointments, Frank Beamer and company reeled in a good class for 2014.
Although the Hokies got trumped by Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles for prized defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and saw previous commit Javon Harrison flip to FSU early on signing day, Tech still came away with a pretty good haul.
247Sports ranks Tech as the No. 27 class overall—good for fourth in the ACC—and the coaches have to be happy with some of the recruits they landed.
The Hokies have some big holes to fill in 2014, but fans should rest easy, knowing that this class has some players who can make an impact both immediately and in the future.
Check the following slides to learn about each member of the 2014 class, listed in order of their rating on 247Sports.
Unless indicated otherwise, all stats, ratings and biographical information come from 247Sports, and all coaches’ thoughts come from Hokiesports.com’s signing-day webcast.
Holland Fisher: 4-star safety; 6’1”, 200 lbs
Holland Fisher was originally a member of the 2013 class before failing to qualify academically and heading to prep school; the Hokies are glad to have him back in 2014.
He recently got accepted back to Tech after spending a year at Fork Union Military Academy, and he was largely regarded as the best prep player in the country over the course of the season, per 247Sports.
Scouts laud him for his instincts and playmaking abilities, and he could fill a need for the Hokies both in the short term and the long term. Depth at safety was an issue for Tech last season, as Desmond Frye in particular got burned when he was asked to step in, so Fisher could see the field immediately.
But with both starting safeties graduating after the 2014 season, he has the talent to grab a starting spot down the line.
Raymon Minor: 4-star linebacker; 6’3”, 210 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 4.60
It took them until national signing day, but the Hokies nabbed one of the most athletic recruits in the country when they signed Raymon Minor.
He has been recruited at a variety of positions, but Bud Foster seems to want him at linebacker, per Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times—specifically filling the “backer” position previously occupied by Tariq Edwards.
Minor is a pass-rushing force, and he’s renowned for his excellent versatility and ball skills.
On a day when the Hokies missed out on top targets like Derrick Nnadi and Javon Harrison, the staff has to be happy of at least keeping Minor in-state.
Shai McKenzie: 4-star running back; 5’11”, 210 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 4.58
2012 Stats: 2,669 yards, 42 touchdowns
The Hokies running game has struggled the past two seasons, but players like Shai McKenzie might be the start of a turnaround in that department.
The No. 13 running back in the country chose the Hokies over his hometown Pittsburgh Panthers and has flashed some impressive speed and elusiveness when he’s been on the field.
The one issue is that he tore his ACL at the start of his senior season, which put his long-term health in jeopardy. He’s already enrolled at Tech, so he’ll have a head start in working with the team’s trainers, but he likely won’t be ready for spring practice.
For a player who depends so much on making quick, decisive cuts, this type of knee injury is troubling. However, the Hokies are in no hurry to rush him back, given that the 2014 class features several running backs.
Whether he ends up playing right away or takes a redshirt year, McKenzie should be an important part of the program heading forward.
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 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 1,537 rushing yards, 20 rushing touchdowns
Travon McMillian is one of the more puzzling prospects that the Hokies recruited for the 2014 class.
He put up great numbers as a quarterback, but he’s always seemed more natural as a runner than a passer. He has elite speed, but most scouts think he’d be better suited to playing defense than playing under center.
It’s not clear where the Hokies stand, but the fact that defensive coordinator Bud Foster was McMillian’s lead recruiter is telling. California was recruiting him as a safety, but depending on how highly the Hokies value his wishes, Tech could give him a try at quarterback.
“I at least want a shot at quarterback,” he told Preston Williams of The Washington Post. “I just don’t want to move straight to playing somewhere else."
With the Hokies looking to fill a gaping hole at the position with the graduation of Logan Thomas, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler will likely be looking for any help he can get at the position.
But it’s worth noting that McMillian signed on with Tech before Loeffler was hired, unlike the other two quarterback prospects in this class, whom Loeffler recruited personally.
McMillian will contribute to the Hokies in some fashion going forward—it just might take some time for the staff to figure out his role.
Chris Durkin: 3-star pro-style quarterback; 6’4’, 216 lbs
After all the grumbling from Hokies fans that they’re tired of physically imposing yet inaccurate quarterbacks like Logan Thomas, it might come as bad news to some that Chris Durkin possesses a lot of the former Hokie's best (and worst) attributes.
He is similar to Thomas in stature—at 6’4”, 216 pounds, he’s built more like a linebacker than a quarterback.
He’s also prone to running the ball, telling The Roanoke Times’ Andy Bitter he’s a “pro-style quarterback that can run a lot better than a lot of pro-style quarterbacks.”
But would Loeffler want another quarterback similar to Thomas after the struggles the offense went through with him under center? It’s hard to say.
It’s worth noting that Durkin was previously committed to Michigan State before flipping to Virginia Tech. He remarked that playing time was a big part of his decision.
“At the other place I was looking at a two- to three-year wait before I really got a shot. And coach Loeffler said he wants me to play early,” he told Bitter.
That could say more about the Spartans' quarterback situation than the Hokies, but it at least serves as a good sign that Durkin will be in the mix for the starting job at some point.
Ricky Walker: 3-star defensive tackle; 6’2”, 275 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 5.00
2013 Stats: 65 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks
The Hokies lost a great defensive tackle with Derrick Hopkins leaving Blacksburg, but Ricky Walker may be just the person to replace him.
The heart of the defensive line is a crucial part of Foster’s defensive scheme, and he’s been blessed with some dominant players at the position in recent years. Walker seems to have the right combination of size and quickness to be another such athlete.
French60wasp of the Hokies blog The Key Play is particularly bullish on Walker's future prospects at Tech:
On film, he has a very quick first step into his assigned gap, and he consistently has low pad level. He gets underneath the pads of the centers and guards, stands them up, and then slides off the block. His preferred gap technique is a rip move, where he lowers his shoulder closest to the blocker and rips his arm through like a Mike Tyson's Punch-Out uppercut. His pad level and ability to cross the blocker's face to secure his gap makes him an excellent fit in Bud Foster's scheme. He has solid closing speed and demonstrates the ability to recover if he loses his gap fit.
In pass rushing situations, the Bethel staff used Walker as both a 3-technique and a defensive end. He isn't a dynamic speed rusher, but he has outstanding technique with multiple pass rush moves. At end, his strongest move is a two-step bull rush to get a blocker's momentum moving backwards, and then a hard inside rip technique. His secondary move starts off with the same initial bull rush, and then a quick swim move to the inside and outside shoulder. Finally, he gets sacks using a classic push-pull technique off the bull rush along with a straight bull rush. Even though he doesn't have blistering speed, each technique is incredibly sharp for a high school player.
The Hokies are fortunate that Hopkins’ fellow defensive tackle Luther Maddy elected to stay in school instead of heading to the NFL, so Walker won’t necessarily have to play too much right away.
But he could be a boon for the defense if he plays right away, and he has star potential down the line.
Isaiah Ford: 3-star wide receiver; 6’2”, 170 lbs
2012 Stats: 42 receptions, 602 yards, 13 touchdowns
After initially losing out on receiver Isaiah Ford to Lousiville, the Hokies got a second chance with the recruit after Charlie Strong departed for Texas, and they made it count.
Wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead had his eye on Ford for some time, thanks to his excellent size and speed as well as his catching ability.
Tech got back in the race for Ford after he decommitted, signing him over Florida, Miami and South Carolina.
But he won’t just make an impact on the football field—he’d like to be a two-sport athlete and try out for the basketball team as well, according to Justin Barney of Jacksonville.com.
By all accounts, he has the athleticism to do so, and he could be an impact player right away.
The Hokies were able to assemble an excellent bunch of skill position players in the 2014 class, and Ford has the ability to break through the crowded bunch of pass-catchers right away.
Marshawn Williams: 3-star running back; 5’11”, 215 lbs
2013 Stats: 2,192 yards, 30 touchdowns
The Hokies have an embarrassment of riches at the running back position in the 2014 class.
Marshawn Williams is a solid in-state running back recruit who put up incredible numbers at Phoebus High School, and he is another player who could contribute to the Hokies’ flailing offense right away.
Like McKenzie, Williams has good size and explosiveness, but he isn’t quite as fast as his Pennsylvanian counterpart.
Nevertheless, with starter Trey Edmunds likely to miss spring practice with his knee injury, Williams could push for playing time immediately.
Unlike McKenzie, he doesn’t have any injury concerns to deal with, which means he could have a better chance for immediate playing time to add depth to the backfield.
D.J. Reid: 3-star running back; 6’1’, 195 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 4.50
D.J. Reid is another former member of the 2013 class who spent the season at Fork Union Military Academy, and the Hokies are glad to hold onto his services as well.
He is widely listed as a running back, but he also played cornerback in high school—a testament to his excellent speed. He was recruited by running backs coach Shane Beamer, but the backfield will be a little crowded after bringing in this many recruits at the position, so a position shift isn’t unthinkable.
However, the Hokies appreciate this depth, so Reid could remain a runner, especially if he flashes his elite speed in spring practice.
Melvin Keihn: 3-star outside linebacker; 6’1”, 225 lbs
2013 Stats: 85 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles
The Hokies went light on linebacker for the 2014 class, but they seem to have found a solid player in Melvin Keihn.
He played at both linebacker and defensive end in high school, but his frame seems to indicate he’ll be best suited to sticking in the middle at Virginia Tech.
With both Jack Tyler and Tariq Edwards graduating, the Hokies need help at the position right away. The backups at linebacker have rarely seen the field, so Keihn could contribute pretty soon.
He would be an ideal fit at the “backer” position that Edwards occupied, as it requires dropping into coverage more than Tyler’s “Mike” linebacker does.
The Baltimore recruit comes from a region that the Hokies seem to be having greater success reaching, and he could see the field a lot next season.
Cameron Phillips: 3-star wide receiver; 6’1”, 181 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 4.50
2013 Stats: 52 receptions, 908 yards, 15 touchdowns
Like Keihn, Cameron Phillips is a Maryland player who was recruited by wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, and he too offers some potential.
He boasts decent size and speed for the position, and scouts praise his agility and route running as well.
He earned an appearance in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, and he could bring something to the receiving corps.
The team is still searching for a game-breaking receiver, despite the progress that Demitri Knowles and Josh Stanford showed last year. Phillips should be an important piece of a steadily improving unit and could play immediately.
C.J. Reavis: 3-star safety; 6’2”, 207 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 4.55
2013 Stats: 87 tackles, four interceptions, eight pass breakups
The Hokies signed both a stellar safety and a vocal recruiter when they earned the commitment of C.J. Reavis.
He is constantly on Twitter, talking to fellow Hokies recruits and actively trying to persuade others to join him in Blacksburg.
And while that may valuable, his true talent lies in his ability at safety. He has great size at 6’2” and 207 pounds, and he can be a real ball hawk in coverage.
Much like Fisher, he could see playing time right away as a backup in the secondary and could eventually be a big part of the defense moving forward.
He might need to be a little less outrageous on social media when he joins the Hokies, but if the trade-off is that he boosts an already stellar defensive backfield, it’ll be well worth it.
Colt Pettit: 3-star offensive guard; 6’4”, 260 lbs
The highest rated of the departed Jeff Grimes’ offensive line recruits following the defection of Brady Taylor to Ohio State, Colt Pettit is a bruising guard with very nice size.
Grimes might have left Blacksburg, but players like Pettit are part of a nice recruiting legacy he left at the school. It’s a positive sign that he hails from the fertile football state of Ohio and an even better sign that he has the size and quickness to make an impact someday.
Despite Grimes’ departure, Pettit affirmed on Twitter that he’s committed to staying with the Hokies, which is a big positive for Tech. The Hokies are likely set at guard for the next year or two, but Pettit will get on the field sooner rather than later.
Vincent Mihota: 3-star strong-side defensive end; 6’4”, 250 lbs
The Hokies scored an important in-state commitment when they earned a pledge from strong-side defensive end Vincent Mihota.
Not only does he have superior size with room to fill out his frame, but Tech was able to win out over Alabama for his commitment, which is a big win for the program.
Mihota enrolled early, which is a boon for him considering he missed a lot of his senior season with a broken foot. His excellent first step and motor could mean that he sticks at the defensive end position, but the depth chart is crowded, even with the losses of James Gayle and J.R. Collins.
Instead, he may find himself at defensive tackle at some point in his career, as french60wasp of The Key Play notes:
It's also possible he outgrows the defensive end position. On film, Mihota looks like a really skinny kid, and it is hard to believe that he is finished growing, especially with Mike Gentry's strength and conditioning program. With his body type, I think he could carry around 265 or so comfortably without sacrificing any quickness. That being said, it is difficult to find many 6-4+, 265 pound defensive ends that have played under Bud Foster. With defensive tackle depth seriously depleted, will Foster be tempted to move Mihota inside as he did with high school linebacker Chad Beasley? If he does, will Mihota's aggressive, gap shooting quickness be a huge asset, or will it potentially expose the linebackers playing behind him against good offensive lines?
Mihota may redshirt his freshman season, particularly if he stays at defensive end, but he could be an impact player in the future.
Kendrick Holland: 3-star wide receiver; 6’3”, 195 lbs
The Hokies made a concerted effort to restock the skill positions with this class, and wide receiver Kendrick Holland is another key piece of that effort.
He comes from Florida, another state that the Hokies have steadily improved at reaching. His size is the most instantly impressive thing about him, as his 6”3” frame is several inches taller than most of Tech’s receivers.
His speed may be lacking, but according to Evan Watkins of 247Sports, he has excellent technique as a receiver and could have a future in Blacksburg:
Kendrick Holland has the tools that it takes to become a very good wide receiver at Virginia Tech. With a tall frame and long arms, Holland can be a redzone threat but also show his versatility in a variety of packages. Under Coach Aaron Moorehead, Holland will get quicker and learn to carry his explosion throughout his route. Holland has the frame to become a very good down field blocker as well, something Coach Moorehead demands of his wide receivers. With the uncertainty at the wide receiver position in Blacksburg this year, Holland could see himself in a position to play early at Virginia Tech.
Holland will be fighting through a crowded field to find his way onto the field, but his size will give him an advantage.
Comparisons to former Hokie D.J. Coles might be premature, but if he can help replicate Coles’ red-zone ability while avoiding the injuries that plagued his career, Holland will be in good shape.
Xavier Burke: 3-star tight end; 6’4”, 247 lbs
While Tech struggled with the absence of starting tight end Ryan Malleck in 2013, the Hokies now have an embarrassment of riches at the position.
Between Malleck’s return, 2013 starter Kalvin Cline’s development and the arrival of Xavier Burke on campus, the Hokies will have plenty of options at tight end.
Burke played both tight end and defensive end in high school, and he has the size to be a force when blocking at 6’4”, 247 pounds.
He was showcased at the Semper Fi All-American Bowl, where he played both positions, but he’ll likely stick at tight end to add depth to the position going forward.
Loeffler has always liked using multiple tight ends in his running sets, so while Burke might have to wait to see the field initially, there should be a place for him on the offense very soon.
Billy Ray Mitchell
Billy Ray Mitchell: 3-star offensive guard; 6’4”, 285 lbs
Billy Ray Mitchell is another physically imposing lineman that Grimes landed, and he too could be the future at guard for the Hokies.
He also stands at 6’4”, but at 285 pounds he outweighs Pettit, yet he’s still largely regarded as player with good quickness who excels in pass blocking.
He might need to work on his strength a bit, but he has the frame to fill out with plenty of muscle.
Like Pettit, he could be pressed into service quickly. Left guard Andrew Miller is the only player on the line who is graduating. That leaves senior Caleb Farris at the right side, but things get thin after that.
Redshirt sophomore guard Augie Conte has barely seen the field, while players like Mark Shuman and Brent Benedict have seen work at guard but spent last year working at tackle.
Redshirt sophomore Alston Smith started his career at defensive end but has since moved to guard to mostly positive reviews, per Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times. However, even with a full spring practice at the position, it’s no guarantee he’ll be ready to play a meaningful role on the line.
Mitchell and Pettit will provide much-needed depth at the position at the very least and could be big parts of the unit in the long term.
Andrew Ford: 3-star pro-style quarterback; 6’3”, 198 lbs
2013 Stats: 161-of-234, 2,778 yards, 35 touchdowns, six interceptions
While the Hokies will have plenty of options to consider at quarterback from the 2014 class, Andrew Ford seems like the early leader in the clubhouse to get serious starting consideration.
Unlike Durkin and McMillian, Ford may be less impressive as a runner, but his real strength is his accuracy. He can move well in the pocket, but by no means is he a threat to scramble like his fellow 2014 recruits—this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Ford is the first quarterback recruit whom Loeffler brought in personally, and the fact that the passer then enrolled in school early makes it seem like he’s the favorite in this situation.
His style of play would be a departure from Thomas’ style and would even be pretty different from Tyrod Taylor’s methods. Instead, installing Ford at quarterback would require the Hokies to run a very different type of offense.
Loeffler has long said he’d like to run an offense predicated on the run game, but many of his concepts are based on the West Coast offense, which requires an accurate man under center. Saying that this didn’t fit Thomas’ skill type might be an understatement.
Now, with the chance to install his hand-picked recruit in an offense of his choosing, it’s possible he could tab Ford if he impresses early on.
French60wasp of The Key Play came away particularly impressed by Ford’s confidence and accuracy:
I walk away from this film impressed with Ford's maturity, leadership, and especially accuracy. He excels at identifying favorable matchups and he is very mobile in the pocket without losing sight of his receivers down field. He has all the footwork fundamentals necessary to execute Scot Loeffler's multiple offense, and he comes in looking (rather) polished. I still have some concerns about arm strength, and he will need to bulk up a bit if he is going to try to extend plays and take some of the hits he can expect by scrambling in the ACC. With his accuracy and field generalship, it is very easy to envision a former lefty quarterback who gave the Hokies fits; Boise State's Kellen Moore. Moore didn't have a huge arm, but had the confidence and accuracy to throw the ball into spots where his receivers could make plays. Ford has that look to him.
Spring will be vital to Ford’s future. Beamer has always shown a tendency to stick with his veterans (sometimes to the detriment of the team) and has already called Mark Leal the next guy in line at quarterback, per Mark Giannotto of The Washington Post.
But Leal has rarely seen the field, and the only other quarterback on the roster who could vie for the job—Brenden Motley—is an athletic project in the mold of McMillian and might not be a realistic quarterback option.
If Ford stands out early, and Loeffler wants to head in a West Coast direction, the Pennsylvanian could be the man in Blacksburg as early as 2014.
If not, and another veteran wins out, he could still be a contender for the starting quarterback job down the line.
Eric Gallo: 3-star center; 6’3”, 280 lbs
The heart of Tech’s offensive line may be set for now with David Wang, but the Hokies have to be glad that they’re bringing in a future replacement in Eric Gallo.
Like Grimes’ other recruits, Gallo has very good size, and scouts stress his strengths lie in run blocking and the lateral movement that goes with it.
This probably stems from his experience at fullback in high school as well, and he was also featured at the Semper Fi All-American Bowl.
Gallo is probably a tier below Pettit and Mitchell in terms of talent, but he adds depth to a position that will desperately need it in the next year or two.
Kevin Bronson: 3-star weak-side defensive end; 6'4", 233 lbs
2013 Stats: 50 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, four sacks
Kevin Bronson was one of the last recruits the Hokies nabbed before signing day, but he seems like a valuable addition.
He’s yet another player to come out of Delray Beach, Fla., an area that defensive line coach Charley Wiles has found gems in—like current starters Luther Maddy and Dadi Nicolas—in the last few years.
Bronson was also recruited by Wiles, and his skill set as an athletic defensive end immediately invites comparisons to Nicolas. Like the 6’4”, 224-pound redshirt junior, Bronson has plenty of height at 6’4” but could use some bulk, weighing in at 233 pounds.
If Wiles is able to develop Bronson the way he has other Delray Beach products, he could turn into something special. In the short term, he’ll likely redshirt due to the depth at the position, but he’s a guy to keep an eye on down the line.
Terrell Edmunds: 3-star cornerback; 6’2”, 186 lbs
Bryan Stinespring is listed as the primary recruiter for cornerback Terrell Edmunds, but in all likelihood, his brother—starting running back Trey—drew him to Virginia Tech.
Stinespring recruited the elder Edmunds as well, so it’s no shock that Terrell will become a Hokie.
Like Trey, he played quarterback and wide receiver for Dan River High School—where by all accounts he was electric, based on this Chatham Star Tribune article—but he also spent time at cornerback.
He’ll likely play on defense for the Hokies, but his skills in the return game can’t be overlooked. Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray was Edmunds’ secondary recruiter, lending credence to the theory he’ll play in the defensive backfield for the Hokies, but his true value could be on special teams initially.
He’ll have an uphill battle to crack the depth chart in the secondary, but his speed and ball skills seem to indicate the Hokies will try to get him on the field somewhere.
Jaylen Bradshaw: 3-star wide receiver; 6’1”, 178 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 4.44
2012 Stats: 35 receptions, 722 yards, 10 touchdowns
Jaylen Bradshaw may be small at just 6’1” and 178 pounds, but he makes up for his size with his speed.
He was clocked running a 4.44 40-yard-dash—an impressive time for a high schooler—and he could develop into quite the deep threat, given time. Just watch the first play in the video above to get a sense of his speed.
However, by all accounts he needs to improve on the finer points of being a receiver. He has a lot of room to get at catching ability and route running.
The depth chart at receiver will be crowded, so Bradshaw probably won’t see much time on the field at first. But he has the speed to be a dangerous receiver. If he can develop the skills to go along with it, he could help the offense in the future.
Tabyus Taylor: 3-star running back; 6’1”, 220 lbs
2013 Stats: 264 attempts, 2,066 yards, 25 touchdowns
Tabyus Taylor played all over the field at Hopewell (Va.) High School, and he’ll bring his versatility to the Hokies.
He regularly lined up at quarterback, running back and outside linebacker during his senior season, meaning he has athletic ability in spades.
Tech coaches have indicated to the Daily Press' Norm Wood that he’ll get his first shot at running back, but considering how crowded that position is, he could redshirt or switch to linebacker, depending on how the spring goes.
Wherever he lines up on the field, Taylor seems to be an explosive athlete who will end up making plays for the Hokies.
Greg Stroman: 3-star cornerback; 6’0”, 162 lbs
The diminutive Greg Stroman has played on both offense and defense in his high school career, and it’s still unclear which side of the ball he’ll line up on for the Hokies.
He played mostly quarterback his senior year but spent time as a cornerback and wide receiver in his previous years on the team to keep him healthy.
His small size and lack of accuracy pretty much ended his dreams under center, but Gray was his primary recruiter, and the coaches seem to think he can start out as a cornerback, according to Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times.
However, he could just as easily switch to wide receiver, if the team were to need depth there instead.
Regardless of where he plays, Stroman may be small, but he has the speed and instincts to make up for it.
Steve Sobczak: 3-star defensive tackle; 6’1”, 305 lbs
Mihota’s counterpart on the Massaponax High School defensive line, Steve Sobczak should be a similarly impactful player for the Hokies.
He has great size for the position, and has even shown the ability to lose or gain weight rapidly—247Sports lists his weight at 305 pounds, but Tech’s coaches say he’s at more like 285 right now, per Norm Wood of the Daily Press.
When paired with the Hokies’ strength and conditioning program, Sobczak has the potential to develop into a physical beast.
Scouts love his motor and strength, particularly at the point of attack, and given some time to develop, he could bring those impressive attributes to bear for the Hokies.
Shawn Payne: 3-star safety; 6’3”, 180 lbs
The Hokies had already assembled a deep class at defensive back before adding Chesterfield, Va.’s Shawn Payne, but his addition doesn’t hurt.
Payne was a relatively lightly regarded recruit—Charlotte seems to have been the only other school pursuing him aggressively—but both Shane Beamer and Torrian Gray were involved in his recruitment, which shows the coaches think highly of him.
At 6’3” and 180 pounds, he has solid size, as well as good instincts and ball skills—which are pluses if he wants to stay at safety.
Payne is coming in at a deep position, but the Hokies love to add depth to the defensive backfield.
Tyrell Smith: 3-star offensive tackle; 6’5”, 265 lbs
The final piece of the “Fab Four” on the offensive line is Tyrell Smith, a tackle from New Jersey.
He has great height at 6’5”, but at just 265 pounds, he could stand some time in the weight room. The staff noted that he could benefit from spending some time with the Hokies’ strength and conditioning coach Mike Gentry, per the Daily Press' Norm Wood.
The coaches also noted to Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times that Smith will likely stay at tackle in the short term but could end up moving inside if his size doesn’t improve.
Scouts seem to think he has the quickness and footwork necessary to stick at tackle, but it remains to be seen where he’ll end up on the line.
Michael Santamaria: 2-star kicker; 5’9”, 160 lbs; 40-yard dash time: 4.87
Special teams might not be the most exciting unit to consider on signing day, but the Hokies have to be happy that they were able to bring in kicker Michael Santamaria.
With the troubled Cody Journell gone for good, and the largely unknown sophomore Erik Kristensen kicking for the final games of last season, Tech needed some depth at the position.
Santamaria also brings some extra toughness to the unit. He played free safety in high school, meaning he’s got a little athletic ability if he's forced to make any tackles on blown kick coverages.
Beamer has already extolled his virtues to Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times, continuing his longstanding trend of loving special teamers, so Santamaria could get a chance at starting right away.
At the very least, he’ll provide Kristensen with some much-needed competition and could figure into the kickoff game immediately, given the sophomore's struggles in the area.