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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 02/ 3/2011

The fallout from National Signing Day

By Mark Giannotto

The grandeur and spotlight on college football's National Signing day may have increased exponentially over the past decade, but as Coach Frank Beamer announced his 2011 recruiting class via teleconference Monday afternoon, there was an overwhelmingly sense that his formula for success remains simple.

Over the course of the year, when one of his assistants brings him film of a potential recruit, "I don’t really wanna know who’s offered this kid,’ I want us to sit here as a staff and ‘Do we like this kid? Do we like what he’s doing?’ I think that’s how we do it," Beamer said. "Does he fit where we’re trying to play him and what are the other things besides being a pure football player? What are the other things about him? I think the character part is a big, big part."

So when asked how he felt about not landing any of the top six recruits from the state of Virginia this year, Beamer countered that he doesn't follow the recruiting sites, and proceeded to praise four-star defense end Corey Marshall, the Hokies highest rated in-state recruit. "I’d put Corey Marshall up against anybody in this state," Beamer said.

It seems, though, Virginia Tech's methods of recruiting are under scrutiny more than ever before in the aftermath of this year's Signing Day and another loss to a top five opponent in the Orange Bowl. The Hokies failed to land any of the big fish five-star recruits they sought, finishing with the nation's 33rd-ranked class. It's Virginia Tech's lowest ranking since 2004, but really nothing out of the ordinary for Beamer. Since 2002, he's never had a class rated higher than 14th or lower than 45th in the country.

But landing a solid, not spectacular group hasn't satisfied some Hokies fans who'd like to see Virginia Tech snag more top end talent, "take the next step" as a program and fill that empty national championship trophy case in Blacksburg. To a certain extent, Beamer feels the same way.

"Everybody would like to get the highest rated kids you can, and usually the highest rated ones are getting recruited by the most people, and that’s pretty accurate," he said. "I think you get guys that want to be in your program and work hard and fit in with a system, and then you’re able to win. ... I think it’s a compliment that a lot of the conversation is taking that next step. That wasn’t in the conversation a few years back. Winning an ACC championship wasn’t in the conversation a few years back. I think it’s a compliment to our program that we’re talking about what it takes to take that next step. That’s what I would say.”

More signing day news and notes

***You'll notice the Hokies' failure to get many of the top recruits from Virginia resulted in a much wider recruiting swath than Beamer and his staff usually rely on. The 2011 class comes from 10 different states (which includes D.C. and the fact that kicker Michael Branthover of Maryland will be a preferred walk on). Not to mention, 12 of the 20 recruits are from out-of-state.

Beamer is a strong advocate of focusing his recruiting on areas that are within a six-hour drive of Blacksburg, which essentially means the corridor between Baltimore and Atlanta. It helps with official visits, Beamer says, and he wants a player's family to easily be able to watch them play.

This year, though, Virginia Tech's recruiting haul included eight players from outside that six-hour radius, including four from South Florida.

“We just hit on some guys that would be out of that area that we really liked. I think that kind of says something about Virginia Tech, too," Beamer said. "Certainly, recruiting the state of Virginia is our first priority and then we got a couple kids from the DC area -- we consider that like the state of Virginia. Certainly, that’s a priority with us.

"But I think the name Virginia Tech, I think when you’re the only team in the country that’s won 10 games each of the last seven years that your name does get out there and some kids from Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida, Indiana, they’re familiar with your program. We’re really surprised we could attract the quality of guy from outside the state that we did this year.”

***Speaking of South Florida, Virginia Tech did some last-minute spot recruiting and may have come away with a potential star in three-star wide receiver Robert Lockhart. Lockhart had never played organized football before this season, but recently picked up offers from the Hokies, Nebraska and Kansas State.

Beamer sounded as if he felt Virginia Tech ended up with an absolute steal.

"He didn’t get a lot of attention early," he said of Lockhart. "But I think this is within 24 hours: He played two basketball games and scored 28 and 32 and then went and played an all star game and was the most valuable player with six catches. I think this guy is a terrific athlete, and a nice kid. He's got a good mom. I’m very excited about him and his potential here at Virginia Tech. I think he could really have an outstanding career."

As for the pipeline to Atlantic High in Delray Beach, Fla., it remains wide open. The Hokies got defensive linemen Luther Maddy and Wedley Estime this time around, joining David Clowney, Brandon Flowers and Jayron Hosley as Atlantic alumni who've come to Blacksburg.

The Hokies also picked up three-star defensive lineman Matt Roth from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., the school Tim Tebow went to.

***Beamer didn't delve too much into the recruits the Hokies weren't able to land. But he was asked specifically about five star linebacker Stephone Anthony, who committed to Clemson, and quarterback Lafonte Thouroghgood, who backed out of his Virginia Tech verbal late to commit to Vanderbilt.

On Thouroghgood: “He had been in place for quite some time and then he took a trip the last weekend. The kid’s got to go where he feels is best for him. We wish him the very best."

On Anthony: “It’s very disappointing, but the kid’s got to go where he feels best and we wish him the very best."

On the bright side, Virginia Tech did some of its own recruit swiping this year. The Hokies signed three-star tight end Ryan Malleck, who was originally committed to Maryland until re-opening his recruitment when Ralph Friedgen was fired. The biggest coup, though, came with CB Kyshoen Jarrett, the highest rated recruit in this class. Jarrett gave a verbal commitment to Pittsburgh, but backed out when Dave Wannstadt was fired.

"We recruited him and then he committed there to Pittsburgh," Beamer said. "And then there was a change and we called him right away and he was receptive right away."

***Beamer made it clear a good amount of this year's class will get the opportunity to compete for playing time next season. Here's a rundown of what he discussed in terms of potential on-field ramifications come August:

1) Corey Marshall and fellow four-star defensive lineman Kris Harley are talented enough to play right away.
2) Beamer would like one or two of the Hokies four tight end recruits to be contributors.
3) Four-star cornerback Kyshoen Jarrett could potentially return kicks.
4) Three-star running back Michael Holmes, who reminds Beamer of Lee Suggs, would get a chance to see snaps in the backfield with the loss of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.

***Several signees, though, won't enroll in school right away. Beamer acknowledged "some guys are gonna come in January," or grayshirt, so they don't count towards the Hokies scholarship limit. They're only allowed to have 85 scholarship players.

Earlier this year, it looked as if Virginia Tech would only have 12-15 scholarships to offer this year. It hurt the Hokies early on in the recruiting process, as they couldn't give out as many offers as usual. But the combination of Williams and Evans leaving early and the grayshirts provided some extra breathing room. Beamer declined to say who would be grayshirting.

***As for next year's Signing Day (as if it's not soon enough), Beamer said Virginia Tech's biggest area of need will be on the offensive line. Three star tackle Jake Goins was the Hokies' lone offensive lineman recruit, and they'll lose four starters in the trenches after this coming season.

But even though Virginia Tech struck out when it came to linebackers this year -- most notably Richmond five-star Curtis Grant (Ohio State), Virginia Beach four star Travis Hughes and Anthony -- Beamer doesn't think the Hokies are in dire straits there.

"We’ll be interested to see what happens in the spring," Beamer said. "I think, certainly, you wouldn’t mind having another linebacker, but we’ve got some numbers to work with in the spring."

By Mark Giannotto  | February 3, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
 
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Next: The first half is just fine for Virginia Tech basketball

Comments

Beamer knows how to put together a football team.

But if he wants a national championship, he's going to win more recruiting battles.

Posted by: postfan1 | February 3, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The Hokies have a nice, little, regional program and their recruiting reflects it. They'll do fine in the ACC and be a top 20 team. That's not so bad.

Posted by: greendayer | February 3, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I think many fans are frustrated by that. Of course, I think that's because are either too young (or forgot) what the program was pre-1993. I can remember when beating USC (as in Gamecocks) was a big deal, so what they do now is great to me. But of course the staff and players want to win and should set a NC as a goal. Unfortunately, fans confuse themselves with players sometimes (including the silly use of "we" to refer to the team.)

And it's simply not realistic to expect VT to beat Ohio State in recruiting. As for the other two recruits mentioned, they must have had their reasons. No one would pick either Clemson or Vandy over VT based on chance of winning and strength of program. Clemson would be very lucky to win an ACC Championship. Vandy will be lucky to win any conference games next year. These are kids and have interests beyond football (as they should.) Too bad fans don't sometimes.

Posted by: Paleocon_Bill | February 3, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Va Tech is over rated every year and its primarily because the ACC is beat.

Posted by: sjp879 | February 3, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

VT is regularly rated in the top 25. This doesn't make them top 10, but is pretty respectable. You can't argue with success, and 10 win seasons = success.

The ACC is getting better each year. Florida State and Clemson are going to be forces to be reckoned with this year.

VT, Florida State, Clemson, and UNC are all going to be pretty good teams this year.


Posted by: Benson | February 4, 2011 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Where is similar analysis for the Maryland Terrapins? You know, the local ACC school?

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | February 4, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Where is similar analysis for the Maryland Terrapins? You know, the local ACC school?

Posted by: clandestinetomcat

--------------------------------

There are a couple of articles about UMD football recruiting under in the Terrapins Journal.

You probably missed them because they came before all the articles analyzing Maryland's loss in their game against Duke.


Posted by: Benson | February 4, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

"Where is similar analysis for the Maryland Terrapins? You know, the local ACC school?" Posted by: clandestinetomcat

------------

Being that there were as many or more Hokie fans in the stands at the last VT/UMd game in Byrd Stadium, Virginia Tech may be more "local" than the Terps.

Posted by: CulpeperHokie | February 4, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

If you want a comprehensive review of the Terps' recruiting you'll need to go to the Baltimore Sun website. Regrettably but probably understandably it beats the Post's coverage in most anything UMd related.

Posted by: generalike | February 4, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Clearly vt is atop 15 program since mid 90s with what 7 bcs bowls and aton of guys drafted but they wont be elite until they win a national championship.

Beamer is off his rocker if he thinks he can do it without 'top 15' recruiting.

Posted by: Accfan | February 5, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Clearly vt is atop 15 program since mid 90s with what 7 bcs bowls and aton of guys drafted but they wont be elite until they win a national championship.

Beamer is off his rocker if he thinks he can do it without 'top 15' recruiting.

Posted by: Accfan

-----------------------------

True.

He is a great coach, and can crack the top 20 with top 30 recruiting.

But if he wants to be consistently in the top 10, he's going to have to have some top 15 recruiting.

Posted by: Benson | February 5, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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