With signing day looming, Rivals.com expert talks Virginia Tech recruiting
Oftentimes for college football coaches, the recruiting cycle that takes place over the course of January can be a busier time than the actual season. For Virginia Tech's coaching staff, that meant hitting the road almost as soon as the Hokies returned home from the Orange Bowl.
All of that hard work comes to the forefront Wednesday on signing day. According to Rivals.com, as of Tuesday morning the Hokies had 19 oral commitments and one recruit (H.D. Woodson High cornerback Adeboye Aromire) already on campus for the spring semester. That, though, is a fluid situation, because until Virginia Tech receives national letters-of-intent from each of those players, they have not officially become Hokies.
The Hokies remain in the running to get five-star linebacker Stephone Anthony out of the Charlotte area. Anthony is the cousin of current linebacker Barquell Rivers and made his official visit to Blacksburg two weekends ago. But he's also considering Clemson, North Carolina and Florida. Virginia Tech hasn't landed a five-star recruit since Tyrod Taylor in 2007.
Anthony took an official visit with the Tar Heels this past weekend, and his high school coach told the Raleigh News and Observer that he would likely make a final decision on Sunday or Monday and announce it on signing day.
Currently, Rivals has Virginia Tech's class rated as No. 31 in the country, and fourth in the ACC behind Florida State, Clemson and North Carolina, with four four-star prospects and 14 three-star prospects in the fold. Virginia, meanwhile, sits just one spot behind the Hokies with the 32nd-rated recruiting class -- a fact that bothers some fans considering how much more successful Virginia Tech has been on the field lately.
Given all that, I spoke with Rivals national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell Monday afternoon about the Hokies' recruiting situation, and after the jump, you can view the full Q&A.
Q: Are Virginia Tech fans justified if they're underwhelmed by this year's recruiting class?
“I can understand why Tech fans are a little upset because Virginia hasn’t been a consistent winning program. Virginia Tech is going to BCS games, and they don’t understand how they’re losing out on kids to them. They don’t understand how they’re losing kids to North Carolina, which has been under a cloud of NCAA suspicion all year. They’re probably just frustrated with that stuff. They have to understand that there’s obviously gonna be a spike in recruiting at Virginia with a new coach, especially one that’s known as a good recruiter and is from that area. And North Carolina, Butch Davis has a great reputation. They produce a lot of NFL players, at least this year they will.
"And now, I just think it’s one of those situations where a few kids wanted to get out of the state and move in a different direction and Tech has sort of been a victim of that. But they’re still ahead of Virginia in the ACC rankings. They’re right behind North Carolina, so it’s not like they’re getting destroyed. I think Tech fans compare them to Florida State and Clemson and they can’t do that. Clemson, the talent in South Carolina has improved exponentially over the past few years. They border on Georgia and they recruit Florida. And Florida State is in Florida. You’re not going to beat those two programs in recruiting unless you start moving down south yourself.”
Q: How crucial is getting Stephone Anthony for this class?
"The perception would be improved dramatically. One player is not going to make a class. Tech, they really don’t have any linebackers in this class, so he’s gonna be an important position going forward, if they do get him. It’s hit or miss as far as one player making or breaking a recruiting class, but perception-wise, if they don’t close with Anthony, you’re just gonna hear more of it. That we can’t compete with the rest of the ACC in recruiting. We’re getting beat beat by not only U-Va. and North Carolina, but Clemson. There’s family ties to Virginia Tech with his cousin going here, why didn’t he pick us? Things like that. It’s gonna get really bad if they don’t get Anthony."
Q: Are there any Virginia Tech verbal commitments that stand out to you?
Corey Marshall [6-2, 239-pound defensive end out of Dinwiddie, Va.,], if he were a few inches taller, would be a guy who would be ranked in the top 100; would be potentially one of the top three kids in the state of Virginia. But he’s the type of kid that goes to Virginia Tech and turns into a great player. Just because he’s 6-2 instead of 6-5 or 6-4 doesn’t mean that he’s not gonna be a great player. Corey Moore, years ago, was a guy like that. Perceptionally, when we rank kids, it’s not only on their college impact but also their impact in the pros. We want as many kids in the NFL to have five star rankings next to their name when they look up Rivals and say, ‘Hey, what did such and such do in high school?’ So we have to look at those things, but Tech fits their system.
"I think Ronny Vandyke [6-3, 200-pound defensive back from South County HS in Lorton], had he not missed his entire junior year, would be another guy who would be ranked much higher. He came back from the [shoulder] injury. He had a solid senior year, but junior year is so important recruiting-wise, that it was hard to get a true evaluation on him because he missed a full evaluation cycle. So those are the two guys that kind of stand out to me, that for one reason or another aren’t ranked as high but could turn out to be special football players.”
Q: Virginia Tech has made a late push for some under-the-radar Florida recruits in recent weeks, what do you make of the strategy?
“It’s called spot recruiting. You can do it in Florida because there’s so much talent. It’s not gonna make your class a highly ranked national class, but you are gonna get some good football players out of there. You’re gonna get guys that don’t have offers from the big three schools down there. Maybe you’re not gonna waste your time by getting on them late. Essentially what they’re doing is they’re sort of waiting until Florida State, Miami and Florida have filled up, so to speak, and saying, ‘Okay now we can go in on these guys and feel comfortable that they’re not gonna just use us as leverage to get an offer from one of those programs.’ Because that’s what happened those years ago when [Virginia Tech] stopped recruiting the state of Florida.
"But you can get good players that way. I think what the fans want them to do is to go in there and say, ‘Hey, we’re Virginia Tech. We’re as good as Florida State. We’re as good as Miami. And we can be as good as Florida. We want the five stars. And that’s what Clemson has done, and Clemson hasn’t won anything when compared to Virginia Tech. There’s where the frustration of Virginia Tech fans comes from. How can Clemson do it – and I know they’re closer geographically – but how can Clemson go in and get the five star kids in Florida against those Florida programs and Virginia Tech isn’t even trying. That’s the perception Virginia Tech fans have, and that’s why they get frustrated.”
| February 1, 2011; 9:55 AM ET
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