Virginia Tech Football: All-Time Best Recruit at Each Position

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistMay 6, 2013

Virginia Tech Football: All-Time Best Recruit at Each Position

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    Every season, college football fans look forward to National Signing Day. Fans are excited to see how many 4 and 5-star recruits their favorite school signs.

    However, not all of those big-time recruits make it. The hype often does not match the production for a variety of reasons. Some players switch positions, others can't adjust to the speed of the game while some leave the program.  

    The Virginia Tech Hokies built their program on lesser-known recruits and a blue-collar approach. Some of the better players in Virginia Tech history weren't 5-star recruits. Michael Vick, for example, wasn't even the top-rated quarterback from the state of Virginia in 1998. 

    While Vick is considered by most to be the best quarterback in Virginia Tech history, his younger brother, Marcus, entered Blacksburg with more hype. We all know how that turned out. 

    Who is the Hokies' most-hyped recruit of all-time at the quarterback position?

    Here is a look at the top-rated recruits at each position in the history of Virginia Tech. Keep in mind, Rivals wasn't founded until 2001 and 247Sports in 2010, so many of the earlier rankings were from local and national newspapers, ESPN, etc.  

Quarterback: Tyrod Taylor

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    Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Vick are the only 5-star quarterbacks ever to sign with Virginia Tech. Vick's hype was due in large part to older brother Michael's success. Taylor, on the other hand, was considered to be more like Michael Vick than Marcus.

    A star out of Hampton High School in Virginia, Taylor was the No. 27 prospect in the nation in 2007 according to Rivals. Taylor chose the Hokies over the University of Florida. 

    Taylor saw the field as a true freshman for the Hokies, playing in 11 games, starting five.

    He would go on to start the next three seasons at quarterback for the Hokies and left Virginia Tech second in school history for most wins by a quarterback. Taylor broke several school passing records, won ACC Player of the Year his senior season and led the Hokies to three ACC titles in his four years.

    Along with Michael Vick, Taylor is arguably the best quarterback in school history. Individual performances and sustained team success favor Taylor.

    Taylor will be entering his third season as the backup quarterback for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in 2013. 

Running Back: Kevin Jones

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    Michael Vick's success at Virginia Tech put them on the national map. Thanks to that exposure, Kevin Jones, considered by many to be the top prospect in the country in 2001, unexpectedly signed with the Hokies.

    Jones, from Chester, Pa., had offers from Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida State and Tennessee among others, but picked the Hokies, surprising everyone. 

    Jones had an outstanding high school career and continued that trend in college. In his first two years, Jones split time with another talented running back, Lee Suggs, before breaking out as the full-time starter in 2003.

    He would set many school records in his three seasons on campus. 

    As a junior, Jones ran for 1,647 yards and 21 touchdowns. He would finish his career with 3,475 yards and 35 touchdowns. Had Jones returned for his senior season, he would have set the all-time rushing record at Virginia Tech so high it would have likely never been broken.

    Jones finished just 292 yards shy of the record. 

    He entered the NFL draft in 2004 as a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions. After a promising start to his professional career, a foot injury derailed his career. He would go on to play six seasons in the NFL and returned to Blacksburg to earn his degree. 

Wide Receiver: Eddie Royal

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    The Hokies traditionally never sign the country's top wide receivers. Some of the best Hokies' receivers ever, like Antonio Freeman, Andre Davis, Danny Coale, were either lightly recruited or joined the team as a walk-on. 

    In 2004, the Hokies signed Eddie Royal from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va. Royal was a 4-star prospect according to Rivals and the second-ranked player in the state.

    Royal was an excellent receiver and returner in high school and known for his terrific speed. He would go on to have a good career for the Hokies, helping them to their first ACC title in 2004, in their inaugural season in the conference. Royal's terrific skills were never truly utilized by the Hokies in his four years. 

    He finished his Virginia Tech career with 119 receptions, 1,778 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Royal broke the ACC career record for punt return yards and was second in school history in kick-return yards.

    Royal was a second-round selection of the Denver Broncos in the 2008 NFL draft and is now a member of the San Diego Chargers.  

Tight End: Logan Thomas

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    Yes, this is the same Logan Thomas that is now entering his third season as starting quarterback for the Hokies. Many forget that Thomas was recruited to Virginia Tech as an elite tight end prospect. 

    Thomas, who played quarterback in high school, was moved to quarterback during his freshman season. Coaches felt Thomas' elite athleticism and arm strength was wasted at tight end and moved him to quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor. 

    Thomas' career at Virginia Tech has been mixed. He was terrific in 2011.

    In 2012, Thomas fell victim to bad offensive line play and underachievers at the wide receiver position and he regressed. 

    With a new offensive coordinator for his senior season, much is expected from Thomas. He has broken many school passing records and will likely shatter most of them in 2013. He has 18 career wins and can be the school's all-time winningest quarterback with a good senior year.

    Will Thomas rise to the occasion?

    Nonetheless, Thomas has met the hype that preceded his arrival in Blacksburg. 

Offensive Line: Laurence Gibson and Mark Shuman

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    These players share this distinction as both were ranked as 4-star prospects in 2010. The Hokies' struggles to develop offensive linemen in recent years is a recurring issue.

    Shuman and Gibson are supposed to fix that. Both players will be in their redshirt junior year in 2013 and expected to start. 

    Gibson, out of Sierra Vista, Az., chose the Hokies over Clemson and Auburn, while Shuman's offers included Notre Dame, Georgia and South Carolina. 

    New offensive line coach, Jeff Grimes, has both players atop the depth chart at their respective positions. Shuman as the projected starter at left tackle while Gibson is the right tackle.

    However, Grimes rotated the players at different positions throughout the spring and it appears Shuman may have been replaced by a true freshman as the left tackle.

    Gibson is an extremely good athlete, something Shuman is not. That lack of athleticism may lead to Shuman kicking inside to play guard.  

    Can Gibson and Shuman step up to help stabilize the Hokies' offensive line and meet the lofty expectations that awaited them? 

Defensive Line: Cornell Brown

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    Cornell Brown is one of the best players in Virginia Tech history. Considered the No. 2 player in Virginia back in 1993, Brown chose the Hokies at a time when none of the state's top players felt compelled to come to Blacksburg.

    Brown picked the Hokies over Pittsburgh and Virginia. His older brother, Ruben, was an All-American at Pittsburgh, so Cornell's selection of the Hokies came as a big surprise to many.

    Brown was a member of the 1993 team that began Virginia Tech's current streak of going to a bowl game for 20 consecutive seasons. He would become a four-year starter at defensive end for the Hokies and had 36 career sacks, second in school history to Bruce Smith.

    Brown was a two-time first-team All-American and was a consensus selection in his junior season of 1995.

    Brown is a member of the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and would go on to play eight seasons in the NFL. His No. 58 jersey is one of the select few to be retired by Virginia Tech. 

    Brown is now in his third season as an assistant coach for the Hokies. 

Linebacker: Xavier Adibi

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    Xavier Adibi followed his older brother, Nathaniel, to Virginia Tech in 2003.

    The No. 1 overall player in the state of Virginia, Adibi was considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the country. Adibi chose the Hokies over Tennessee, Maryland and N.C. State. 

    At 6'3" and 218 lbs., Adibi possessed ideal size and speed for the position. A terrific athlete, Adibi was projected to be a special player in all phases of the game. In his first career game, he was injured against USC. He would make a miraculous recovery and return later in the season to help the Hokies win their first ACC title. 

    Adibi would become a three-year starter for the Hokies at linebacker. He finished his career with just under 300 tackles, 25 tackles-for-loss, nine sacks and eight interceptions. 

    Adibi and Vince Hall combined to be one of the better linebacker duos in the country during their time with the Hokies.

    Adibi was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2008 and is entering his sixth season in the NFL. 

Defensive Back: Victor "Macho" Harris

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    Victor Harris was one of the most sought-after high school players in 2005. A 5-star recruit, Harris had offers from several major BCS programs and selected the Hokies over Michigan, Miami and USC. 

    Harris, known by the nickname "Macho" was an outstanding two-way player in high school at running back and defensive back. He was so good, in fact, that some schools recruited him as an offensive player.

    Harris, though, chose cornerback and became an excellent one for the Hokies. Harris was a three-year starter at corner and is third in school history with 15 interceptions. He is first in school history with four interceptions returned for a touchdown.

    Harris was also an excellent return man for the Hokies. He was a two-time first-team All-ACC selection at cornerback during his time in Blacksburg. 

    After a brief NFL career, Harris now models professionally.