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.
Two of Tech’s hard commits are here on the line. So far, 3-star defensive end Harry Lewis and 3-star defensive tackle Eric Whitehead have chosen the Hokies.
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.
The real fireworks will come in the team’s pursuit of the 5-star Virginia prospects on the line—Josh Sweat of Chesapeake and Tim Settle of Manassas.
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.
The Hokies seem to be the clear leaders for 3-star defensive end Houshun Gaines of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, checking in with a 100 percent rating on the Crystal Ball.
247Sports also likes them as the favorites for 4-star defensive end Clelin Ferrell with another 100 percent rating.
Tech also appears to still be in the running for 4-star defensive tackle Darvin Taylor and 4-star defensive end Michael Barnett.
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.
Finally, Tech seems to be the clear leader for 3-star defensive ends Darrell Taylor and Trevon Hill.
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.