The recruiting impact of Virginia Tech football's coaching changes
In the long run, Coach Frank Beamer's shake-up of the Virginia Tech football coaching staff over the past two weeks will not be remembered for how it affected the Hokies' game planning or play calling. The biggest impact, it seems, will come on the recruiting trail.
For the first time Tuesday, Beamer acknowledged Virginia Tech may not have been recruiting the state of Virginia as efficiently as it once did, and that former recruiting coordinator Jim Cavanaugh and offensive line coach Curt Newsome were spread too thin, and responsible for too many schools.
But in one fell swoop, Beamer added a new administrative position dedicated to recruiting that will allow Cavanaugh to continue to speak with high school coaches on the Hokies' behalf; added the recruiting coordinator of the SEC school that landed the No. 1 overall prospect in the country earlier this month (Shane Beamer); and increased the role of perhaps Virginia Tech's best recruiter on staff (Bryan Stinespring).
But even though there was no mention of new Virginia coach Mike London or how Virginia Tech was unable to get any of the state's top six prospects on National Signing Day earlier this month, Beamer couldn't hide the fact that much of his decision to make staff changes revolved around recruiting Virginia.
"I think what happened is Coach Cavanaugh had a lot of schools and Coach [Curt] Newsome had a lot of schools, but some coaches weren’t in the state of Virginia. I wanna get back to where we see every [in-state] high school, whether they’ve got a prospect or not," Beamer said.
The biggest move Beamer made was pulling Cavanaugh off the road, because his new administrative position means he can't contact recruits off campus anymore. What's important to note, though, is that Cavanaugh can still speak with high school coaches, and the 40-year coaching veteran has quite the rolodex in that regard.
Where I think Cavanaugh and Newsome may have fallen short of late came with the actual recruits. Both are straight-shooting recruiters that are honest and up front with everyone. These qualities endeared them to high school coaches looking to get a sense of just how interested Virginia Tech was in a certain player. This frank attitude, though, may not have been the best strategy with prospects who are used to being coddled and praised by other schools.
But now, it seems Beamer will get the best of both worlds. Cavanaugh can continue to work his connections with Virginia high school coaches and Newsome gets less responsibility now that he's only in charge of the Newport News/Hampton area. Meanwhile, the Hokies receive an infusion of youth and charisma with Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown.
Shane Beamer, in particular, could provide an upgrade in the Richmond area given his reputation as a recruiter in the SEC. Virginia Tech has traditionally dominated that region, most recently getting players like defensive lineman John Graves and safety Davon Morgan from there. But this past year, the No. 1 linebacker recruit in the nation, Curtis Grant of Hermitage High in Richmond, didn't even give the Hokies an official visit.
Perhaps the most notable change, though, will turn out to be Stinespring's full time return to the recruiting trail. I don't think it's any coincidence that Frank Beamer has him returning to Virginia Beach, also known as the south side of the Tidewater area. Stinespring used to patrol that area before his responsibilities as offensive coordinator made lots of time on the road difficult, and signed future NFL players like DeAngelo Hall, Vince Hall and Darryl Tapp during that time.
The Hokies didn't land any notable recruits from the 757 this past year, and their lone oral commitment, quarterback Lafonte Thouroghgood, switched to Vanderbilt on signing day. Not to mention four-star linebacker Travis Hughes of Kempsville, whom the Hokies pursued heavily, went out of state to North Carolina.
There is some serious risk involved in all this, though. As Beamer put it, Cavanaugh is "probably the most well-known, most trusted, most reliable guy in the state of Virginia recruiting." Just this past year, Cavanaugh was the primary recruiter for Corey Marshall, Virginia Tech's top-rated in-state prospect in the 2011 recruiting class. Recently, the Sporting News named Cavanaugh the No. 2 recruiter in the country.
Beamer hopes Cavanaugh's move to an administrative role will allow him to be involved with every recruit, rather than previously, when he mainly focused on the recruits from his area.
There are certainly many layers to this story, though, and I will have more at some point next week. Beamer focused Tuesday on how these moves will affect the ways the coaching staff relates to Virginia high schools, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Virginia Tech is focusing more of its recruiting efforts out of state. Not only were more than half of the Hokies' recruits in 2011 from outside Virginia, their first three oral commitments for 2012 have come from Georgia, Florida and Texas.
Regardless, what's clear is that Virginia Tech now has more manpower and more youth when it hits the recruiting trail. And it will be interesting to see how they use it going forward.
| February 23, 2011; 12:42 PM ET
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