Virginia Tech Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class
Now that spring practice is over, the Virginia Tech football team is solely focused on assembling the 2015 recruiting class, but it has yet to make much progress.
It may be early yet, but so far the Hokies have just four hard commits in this class, and the staff is surely working feverishly to catch up to other ACC schools.
The conference has become a lot more competitive in the recruiting game recently, spurred on by the rise of Florida State, and Tech will need some big wins to keep pace with the other major ACC programs.
Read on for a look at how the Hokies are fairing at each position as they recruit for 2015.
The Hokies just brought in a group of young passer prospects in 2014, so quarterback hasn’t been a huge focus in this cycle yet, but Tech still has attracted some interest.
However, before fans get too convinced that he’s Blacksburg-bound, it’s worth noting that big schools such as Tennessee and Ohio State top his list and that Tech still sits behind programs such as Central Florida and NC State in Gibson’s estimation.
Beyond Gibson, the Hokies have also drawn interest from a pair of other athletic QBs.
But if the Hokies can’t land either highly touted prospect, they’re still in the hunt for 3-star dual-threat Mike Majette of Woodbridge High School.
Tech just signed former Woodbridge QB Travon McMillian in 2014, and it seems that the Hokies have dispatched Bud Foster once again to reel in Majette as well.
Like McMillian, Majette is technically listed as an athlete who could play anywhere on the field, but the fact that he’s also drawing interest from Boston College and West Virginia shows that the Hokies are pursuing him for a reason.
Overall, the Hokies haven’t been nearly as aggressive in pursuing passers this cycle but still have made some progress.
Tech has an embarrassment of riches at running back at the moment, but that hasn’t slowed its pursuit of the position.
McClease has visited Blacksburg twice already, and the Crystal Ball is confident enough to give the Hokies a 100 percent chance of landing him. Considering Tech’s history with recruiting from his Oscar Smith High School, it’s no shocker that McClease is so interested.
McCrimmon is less of a sure bet. He took an unofficial visit to Tech on October 26 and is getting recruited by two of Tech’s most energetic young coaches in Aaron Moorehead and Shane Beamer, but he also seems to be interested in Boston College and Wake Forest.
Still, McClease would be a solid addition to the class—247Sports does rate him as a 4-star; it’s just his composite ranking that suffers—and McCrimmon would be another nice Maryland recruit to add if the Hokies can.
The Hokies were aggressive about pursuing wide receivers last cycle, and that seems to be continuing into 2015.
At the moment, recruiting insiders feel that Tech has almost locked in the services of three different 3-stars at receiver—Felton Davis III of Highland Springs, Virginia; Isaiah Zuber of Stone Mountain, Georgia; and Trevion Armstrong of Chesterfield, Virginia.
None of them is exactly an elite prospect, but they are all certainly intriguing. Davis and Armstrong have good size at 6’3” and 6’4”, respectively, while Zuber clocked in with a 4.61 40-yard dash time.
The team has also offered 4-star receiver Miles Boykin, yet the Illinois native seems more interested in Midwestern schools such as Notre Dame and Michigan State.
The Hokies might not be as successful in this area as they were last cycle, but they still look like they’re well on their way to adding some strong pieces.
New Hokies offensive line coach Stacy Searels seems to be casting a wide net to find his future linemen, but he hasn’t really snagged any recruits quite yet.
The one sure bet the Hokies seem to have for 2015 so far is 3-star tackle Mike Arnold of Winter Haven, Florida. The Crystal Ball gives Tech a 100 percent chance of signing him, but that could be largely due to defensive backs coach Torrian Gray’s expertise at recruiting in Florida.
From there, things are little murkier.
Both came to Blacksburg for the school’s junior day on February 8, but both seem tempted by bigger schools.
Powerhouses such as Alabama, Florida and Florida State are interested in Burrell, while Clark is drawing interest from Clemson, Ohio State and Penn State.
Of the two, Tech seems to be doing the better job of connecting with Clark. He stopped by a spring practice on April 17, per HokieHaven.com, and he’s gotten a personal pitch from current Hokies lineman Caleb Farris, an alumnus of his Rockbridge High School.
“Caleb’s been active from the moment Tech started getting interested in Austin,” former Rockbridge coach Jason White told The Key Play’s Mark Trible. “That influence means a lot to Caleb whether Austin goes to Tech or not.”
Yet, the Crystal Ball still firmly places Tennessee in the lead for Clark at 91 percent.
Beyond the big in-state prospects, Tech is also getting interest from 3-star tackle Barnabas Baning, who visited for the team’s spring game, and the team just offered center Brian Chaffin and guard Nick Polino in May.
While things could improve in coming days for the Hokies, at the moment, Searels hasn’t really made much of a splash in this area.
The Hokies are known for their prowess on the defensive line, and with some major veterans about to graduate, the staff is really hammering this position group hard.
Neither player is an elite prospect, but the staff has to be particularly excited that Whitehead, an Indianapolis native, chose the Hokies over offers from Ohio State and Cincinnati.
After losing out on top defensive line prospects such as Andrew Brown and Derrick Nnadi in 2014, the Hokies absolutely have to pour all of their considerable resources into landing at least one of the pair of Sweat and Settle.
Settle recently named the Tennessee Volunteers his leader, putting VT seventh on his list behind even Virginia, so it seems the Hokies have some work to do to woo him.
Sweat seems like the more realistic option. He told Evan Watkins of 247Sports (subscription required) that he plans to use one official visit at Tech, and he’s already taken an unofficial visit on April 10.
The Crystal Ball puts the Hokies in a dead heat with Florida State to land him, pegging the Hokies and Seminoles at a 44 percent chance each, so it’s tough to tell exactly where he’s leaning.
Sweat is the top player in the state and recently shot up to the third spot in the whole country, so it goes without saying that it would be huge if the Hokies landed him. There’s still plenty of work for Tech to do, but it seems to have made a favorable impression so far.
Aside from Sweat and Settle, Tech has made some progress with some impressive 4-star prospects as well.
Florida State is fiercely pursuing Taylor, but the Crystal Ball still gives the Hokies a 14 percent chance of getting his commitment. Barnett initially committed to Tech in November, but decommitted after getting an offer from Alabama, and now the Crystal Ball puts Clemson in the lead with 56 percent.
Losing Barnett’s pledge hurts, but given how well-positioned Tech seems with Sweat and some 4-star prospects, this looks like it’ll be an area of strength once again.
Tech doesn’t have much in the way of depth at linebacker, so this is another key area for the program in 2015.
The top target has to be 4-star outside linebacker Ricky DeBerry of Richmond, Virginia, the third-rated player in the state.
DeBerry has shown some interest in Tech, making an unofficial visit on April 5, but his skills as primarily an outside pass-rusher don’t make him an ideal fit with Bud Foster’s defense.
However, while landing DeBerry is uncertain, the Hokies are in much better position with some 3-star prospects.
Tanner Karafa of Ashburn, Virginia, seems similarly set on Tech with another 100 percent rating, while Carson Lydon of Tarpon Springs, Florida, seems to be leaning in Tech’s direction, with the Crystal Ball giving the Hokies a 67 percent chance.
If Tech can lock up this trio of solid players, it will have some nice depth at the position. Adding DeBerry might not be an option given Tech’s scheme, but this part of the class is still in good shape.
True to form, Torrian Gray and the rest of the coaching staff have been successful at landing more talent for the secondary in the 2015 class.
Reynolds is a particularly exciting addition to the class, as Notre Dame and Tennessee were also pursuing him.
The Hokies are also trying to win back the pledge of 3-star cornerback Ashton White of Washington, D.C.
“I still felt like I had a lot of time, and I felt like I just wanted to open it up...I still love VT. They’re still definitely contenders but I just wanted to make sure I was 100 percent,” White told The Washington Post’s Roman Stubbs.
The Crystal Ball still gives the Hokies the slimmest of leads at 39 percent, just slightly ahead of Ohio State, so Gray and primary recruiter Aaron Moorehead will have their work cut for them to get him back to Blacksburg.
Tech also seems to be attracting the attention of a pair of 3-star safeties. Adonis Alexander of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Sterling Hammond of Tappahannock, Virginia, are both considered 100 percent locks by the Crystal Ball.
Fellow 3-star safety AJ Turner of Clifton, Virginia, also seems to be interested, but he’s also weighing offers from South Carolina and Old Dominion.
This section of the class is already shaping up very well, and if the staff can woo White back to Tech’s side to go along with some safety depth, the team is in pretty decent shape here.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.