Virginia Tech Football: A Closer Look at the Hokies' 4 New Receivers
National signing day is in the books, at least for this year, and the class of 2014 looks to be a good one for the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Yes, there were some stinging losses—the Derrick Nnadi commitment to Florida State being the most prominent. The state of Virginia was loaded along the defensive line in 2014 and the Hokies failed to sign any of the top four defensive linemen.
Fortunately for Tech, 2015 is another big year for defensive linemen in the state. According to 247Sports (subscription required), three of the top four players in the state next year play along the defensive line.
The Hokies also lost another potential signee to FSU: Wide receiver Javon Harrison. Harrison had been a Hokie pledge since July of 2012, but on signing day decided to sign with the home-state Seminoles.
Thanks to the signing of Isaiah Ford, the Harrison loss doesn't sting as badly. Ford was one of four receivers the Hokies signed as position coach Aaron Moorehead made a concerted effort to recruit talented high school receivers to play that position at the next level instead of recruiting just athletes and moving them to receiver.
Willie Byrn, Demitri Knowles and Joshua Stanford—Tech's three top receivers in 2013—all return next season. Out of those three, Stanford is the most complete receiver. There will be an opportunity for at least one of these young freshmen to make an instant impact.
Here's a closer look at the future of Virginia Tech's wide receiving corps.
*All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
4-Star Isaiah Ford (Trinity Christian, Jacksonville, FL), 6'2", 177 lbs
We start with Ford, who chose the Hokies on Wednesday after earlier being committed to Louisville. Ford backed out of his commitment to the Cardinals once coach Charlie Strong bolted for Texas.
Of the four receivers signed, Ford has the chance to make the biggest impact as a true freshman. He may not be as polished of a route-runner as some of the other guys, but Ford has plenty of speed and is an outstanding return man. The Hokies have lacked a consistent presence in the return game over the last few years.
Offensive coordinator Scor Loeffler can get creative with Ford. He can line him up in the slot to take advantage of his terrific speed, play him on the outside or put him in motion and give him the ball on jet sweeps. He is a dangerous weapon and will go a long way in helping to improve the team's speed on offense.
4-Star Cameron Phillips (DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, MD), 6'1", 181 lbs
Phillips is a very polished receiver who can run a variety of routes. His highlight tape shows a player who can get deep with ease, but he's also very good in traffic.
Phillips is fast, but will need to get stronger. That won't be a problem at Tech with strength and conditioning coach Mike Gentry.
He could see the field in 2013, but looks like a candidate to redshirt. Playing at DeMatha, Phillips played some of the best competition in the Mid-Atlantic area. In fact, in Phillips' junior season he played against current Hokie Kendall Fuller.
Phillips is the type of player the Hokies would not have signed in the past. Either Tech wouldn't have recruited him heavily enough, or the receiver would have likely chosen a school with a more established passing attack.
Under Loeffler, with Moorehead as receivers coach, the offensive philosophy is changing. Phillips is a prime example of why things are trending up for Virginia Tech on offense.
3-Star Kendrick Holland (Winter Haven, Winter Haven, FL), 6'3", 195 lbs
Holland was the biggest receiver the Hokies signed. At 6'3", Holland has the perfect frame to add size and not lose quickness. He has good speed, although that isn't his greatest asset.
His ability to high-point the football is tremendous. On the first three plays of his highlight film, Holland goes up and adjusts to the football, catching it at its highest point and taking it into the end zone. That type of ability is something Virginia Tech has lacked over the last few years.
Holland's size and ball skills will make him a good downfield weapon. His most important contribution, though, could be in the red zone. Holland will give the quarterback opportunities to throw the fade route in goal-to-go situations.
Part of the Hokies' struggles in the red zone over the last few years was because of either Logan Thomas' inability to throw the fade or having receivers who could not properly run and execute the route. That won't be an issue with Holland whenever he gets an opportunity.
3-Star Jaylen Bradshaw (Oscar Smith High School, Chesapeake, VA), 6'1", 178 lbs
Bradshaw may be the sleeper of this entire recruiting class. He is fast and versatile. The Hokies see Bradshaw as a player who can play the slot and also line up on the outside and beat teams deep. He is at his best when he has the ball in his hands.
In high school, Bradshaw didn't have the opportunity for a lot of downfield plays. The game plan was clearly to throw the ball short to Bradshaw and let him use his speed and quickness to make plays. He did that. A lot.
But when given the chance, Bradshaw can go up and get the ball. Check out Bradshaw going up and over a defender in the video above at the one-minute, 34-second mark. After making the play, he dodged several defenders on his way to the end zone. This play alone shows Bradshaw's potential.
In size, Bradshaw is similar to Willie Byrn. However, Bradshaw is a much better athlete. Bradshaw would be wise to watch Byrn work this upcoming season and be ready to take over his spot in 2015.