2015 Hokies Secondary: Could be an All Time Great?

2014 is shaping up to be an elite recruiting year, and while most of the focus has been placed on the one-in-a-lifetime group of elite defensive linemen coming from the Commonwealth, the Hokies are quietly setting the table for a secondary that could help them return to the elite of the elite in college football.

The defensive backfield was a huge weakness for the Hokies in 2012, and while individual players had significant struggles early in the season, improved pass rush coupled with experience made the unit proficient in the final three games of the season. Still, even with that improvement, depth is a huge concern as true freshmen Donaldven Manning, Davon Tookes, Donovan Riley, and Desmond Frye were not ready to make a significant contribution.

All those players have upside that will show itself with experience, but the Hokie coaching staff was dilligent in efforts to bring top-end talent into the secondary. Holland Fisher, an elite athlete playing linebacker, committed to Virginia Tech early in the recruiting cycle, and then wowed scouts at a series of summer camps where he played exclusively at safety. Alabama made a hard run at Fisher, who projects to be a rover in a similar ilk to Kyshone Jarrett, but all indications are that he will remain a Hokie.

Virginia Tech then added a crown jewel in Kendall Fuller, who plays a very different style than Kyle Fuller. Kendall is a prototypical boundary corner who can play both an inside eye press technique (forcing the receiver to take an outside release through contact at the line, then having the hips and speed to turn and run) and an outside eye cover 1 technique looking at the quarterback and reading his eyes. He is a ready made polished man-coverage corner who will only need time learning the nuance of the Hokie 4-4g, zone-robber, and zone blitz coverages to become a major contributer. The Hokies also landed a high three-star safety in Charles Clark, whose film is focused on offense, but you can tell is a very good athlete with a serious mean streak even when playing QB.

2014 is shaping up to be a banner group as well. The Hokies have already landed a commitment from Florida cornerback Javon Harrison. Harrison committed to VT very early, and both Joe and I were very impressed with his sophomore film, where he demonstrated explosive speed, the abilty to attack the ball at it's highest point, and toughness (through his effort blocking.) When Rivals released their 2014 rankings, Harrison is listed as a four star, and it is easy to see why. With Harrison's ball hawking and instincts, it is easy to envision him complimenting Kendall Fuller as a play-making field corner.

The Hokies also have targeted lock down corner CJ Revis from Thomas Dale High School south of Richmond. Revis is a former teammate of Desmond Frye and Hokie commit DJ Reid, and is considered the top prospect in Shane Beamer's Richmond recruiting area. Things look very positive for his recruitment.

I have said for the last few months that while Virginia Tech was able to be a dominant team in the ACC, their recruiting on defense was very weak. The Hokies often had to scramble to fill holes with players whose flaws were sometimes hidden by the system, but those flaws almost always were exposed against well-coached elite offenses. Now, the Hokies have an opportunity to field a secondary with a five star corner in Fuller, four star safeties with Fisher and Jarrett, and four star depth corners in Revis and Harrison. When you add the potential defensive line (can you imagine a Luther Maddy-Kris Harley-Wyatt Teller-Ricky Walker-Derrick Nnadi defensive tackle rotation to compliment a Dadi-Nicolas-Corey Marshall-D'Shawn Hand-Ken Ekanem-Vincent Mihota end rotation?), I can just envision Bill Lazor wetting himself while devising a check down route to soft tailback.

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Comments

Help is on the way

As I wrote for Gobbler Country, the 2013 class is loaded with defensive backs and I sincerely hope that rather than to redshirt, maybe the staff can go ahead and let them get as much reps as possible to get them up to speed. With the starting secondary slated to return intact, Frye, Coles, and the other who have sat on the bench, I think the secondary can be the best since the group of Fuller-Rouse-Parker left. Maybe I'm mixing up the wrong class, but I honestly think with the talents coming in defensively, it may be the next best defense Foster will get to coach.

Now if only the coaches can land some offensive talents...

I support Logan Thomas and make no apologies for it.

too bad we can't recruit linebackers as well as DL and DB ... looking better but lots of misses over the years

They defintely could use a run on linebackers. With the current talent available (Both Van Dykes, Cole, McKinnon) at whip and so little depth elsewhere, if Edmunds stays at tailback I would not be shocked to see Ronny Van Dyke end up at backer at some point. Perhaps sooner than later if Edwards has a Bruce Taylor/Barquell Rivers damaged goods type of recovery. Backer requires more lateral movement and coverage responsibilty. We know Van Dyke can cover and take on blocks when he isn't playing robotically. His body certainly can grow into the position. I wouldn't be stunned to see it happen, especially with Williams and Clarke more suited for mike.

Viva El Guapo

I hear good things about Jamieon Moss

Motuapuaka is quite undersized, but arrives in a bad mood.

I was surprised (happy?) to see 247 list our last 3 recruits (by their mysterious "score") as Moss, Matuapuaka and Jerome Wright. I think of those three, at least one will be a very good player.

After some of the hype regarding this season, I will believe it when I see it.

To give some contex, Hokies have only had one five star DB recruit since 2002 (Macho Harris.) As I can recall, only two other DB recruits were four stars (Hosley and Dew.) We have always talked about Bud Foster doing more with less. Well, he finally has more.

Viva El Guapo

Manning was also rated a 4 star (by Rivals... 247 had him as a high 3*). And then of course Jarrett, as I believe was mentioned in the article.

Manning didn't have the best year, but he was a true freshman, and getting into trouble off the field. If he matures and focuses, he's got talent. We'll have to see.

Not that ratings are everything. I think we may have a few underrated 3 stars. But I get your point that we have never had a secondary as potentially star-studded as that would be, and there are a lot more 4 & 5 stars that pan out well than 3 stars. So this would be very promising. If we can field a good squad of LBs and don't whiff on the big DL prospects next year.

even if we whiff on DL next year (which they won't... I would be stunned if they don't get at least Holmes and Walker), a group of Maddy and Harley with Corey Marshall and Dadi Nicolas at bookends, and Teller, Smith, Baron, Williams, and Ekanem already in the pipeline isn't terrible.

Linebacker is an issue. Based on Andy Bitter's article, Edmunds will stay at tailback.

Viva El Guapo

Ask Alabama

Ask Nick Saban if ratings don't matter. He has had top recruiting classes for many years and it shows in AL's success.

VT has had success despite lower rated talent, which means better coaching. Other schools don't have as much success with better talent (USC?).

VT needs some better talent to win a NC since the competition has both talent and coaching.

Are you sure

That the guys Alabama recruit aren't given higher rating because they are getting recruited by Alabama? Yes Alabama rakes in the 4 and 5 star recruits, but it seems a bit strange that they never have a lower rated recruits, when diamonds in the rough do exist out there.

Logan 3:16

Show me

There is little doubt that French60Wasp's posts are anything less than the very best posts on any blog that I have ever read about VT. I just want to see theese damn stars turn into damn wins, and a NC trophy on the side wouldnt hurt either.

D_BAM

Making a couple pretty big assumptions there aren't you French? It sounds as if Holland is a long shot at best to qualify. And I've heard many believe that Harrison will not stick. It would be a great group, but we'll probably never get to see it.

Again, I don't claim to be any kind of insider. Loved Fisher's film, and he showed enough in camp to drive Nick Saban/Kirby Smart crazy. I can't tell you who is going to qualify. It isn't my place to guess. Same with who will honor their promise.

Right now, Fuller, Fisher, Clark, and Harrison are committed. Shane Beamer's top target is Revis, and Thomas Dale has been a strong base for VT lately. Manning, Frye, Tookes, and Riley are in the program, and it seems like all but Manning improved in the eyes of the staff this season. Depth means someone can wash out, and they don't have a situation like this season. I will take it.

Viva El Guapo

Understood and agreed. My point was only that it seems more a like a fantasy than a possibility....but what could be is awesome. Also, I get the feeling Manning will not be here next year either so that is another hit (nothing concrete..just a feeling based on recent comments). Great discussion though. How about similar breakdown on what could be with our future DL or LB's?

As we go through the post season, I will try to review the entire 2013 class, and I am sure Joe will work to post more interviews of 2014 commits.

Viva El Guapo

If you follow recruiting, which based on your comment it sounds like you do, then you know any conversation has the caveats of 1) verbal commitments are not binding 2) players need to qualify. We don't feel the need to include them every time.

Looking at all these names is like football porn... Oh god yes. Please let them all come to the Burg... Dominant defenses will win us a championship eventually. Just give us an offense that can score at least 20 a game.

Two epic goatees. Two epic coaches. Tip of the Spear and The Lunchpail. GRIMES&FOSTER.

Not so fast my friend

we can have all the great defense we want but if we cant score we can win, unless our defense is returning its back for tds and giving us the ball inside the 20, even then its still questionable if we score or not.

There are wolves and there are sheep, I am the sheep dog

That's why I said if we have "an offense that can score at least 20 a game" and a dominant D.

Two epic goatees. Two epic coaches. Tip of the Spear and The Lunchpail. GRIMES&FOSTER.

nothing is being done...

to establish and offense that can or will score 20 a game, i really hope there is big changes after the bowl game, Frank needs to pull the trigger and get us back where we belong.

There are wolves and there are sheep, I am the sheep dog

Yeah... I think if Logan proves that this season was just a fluke and Trey Edmunds gets some looks, which it appears he will next season, WR core steps up... I know it's a lot of "ifs" but, it's not altogether impossible.

Two epic goatees. Two epic coaches. Tip of the Spear and The Lunchpail. GRIMES&FOSTER.

I'm not going to call anything an "All-time great" yet. Last year looked like it was going to be the best defense we've ever had on paper and the defensive line got beaten around in a few games. Hopefully these kids will all pan out, but I'm gonna wait to see them play in a Tech uniform before I say anything about them.

Rip his freaking head off!

The potential is there

For a truly great defense with all of the 4-5 star talent in the program, committed to coming in 2013, and available in the 2014 class. Bud has certainly made stars out of a number of less talented athletes, but we shall remain cautiously optimistic for the future. The D-line and the D-backs should remain a strength for 3-5 years, now if the backers can produce, we should at least get back to the ACC championship game within the next 2 season. Just need to find us an efficient OC who can get us 4 TD's per game or more.

VTCC '86 Delta Derelicts, Honduras Hokie

Seems too far away, recruiting is too unpredictable.

obviously 2010 wasn't our best year since we were 40th in passing D (partially due to our D line getting little to no pressure) but I have fun watching all those INTs from this squad:

While I love a solid pass rush, there is something comforting about knowing you have a suffocating secondary (again, not saying 2010 was that). I agree we will be deep with talent these next few years.

I am always drunk when I make my videos.

still not bad

40th may not sound great, but it isn't bad either considering the talent. They played with a chip on their shoulders and were always in a great position to make a play on the ball.
This year they just expected everyone to gift them games/ints/etc, but between the amount of 3 and outs and what seems like a lack of coaching, it didn't happen.

horrible defensive line and the whip position kneecapped that defense. They could not stop the run all year. Fortunately, those ACC coaches always reached a point where they got inpatient and attacked the defensive secondary, and more often than not, we made them pay. Against good coaching staffs, the Hokies lose to NC State, Miami, and maybe UNC that season (throw TJ throw!)

Viva El Guapo

let's just hope

that a newbie has a debut like this again next year.

I had just sat down with a

Ah, memories. I had just sat down with a bag full of pop corn in my seat in the GA Dome then RW busted out this run almost simulanteously to me sitting down. Needless to say the popcorn ended up in everyones lap 2-3 rows around me 5-6 seats wide. No beer was harmed.

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@VTimHokie85

RW

He is my all time favorite VT RB. Just had amazing vision coupled with speed.

He was unbelievable when healthy. I just don't know if we have a guy on our roster right now that's as pure of a running back as guys like Williams, Evans, Jones and Suggs were. Even Ore and Imoh were really good.

Rip his freaking head off!

Imoh?

I'll give you Ore, he had talent, just didn't seem to have the will to use it. Imoh danced too much and while he had speed, very rarely shook tackles. He would have been a good complimentary back, I think, but Humes, while I loved him, wasn't a #1 either.

Well, I don't want to be "that guy" but its hard for me to get too psyched up about this. Yes, it looks amazing on paper. But there are guys on this dream team that still have to qualify and/or sign LOIs. Seen it go against us too many times to get my hopes up.

Also, is it a sad statement on the current state of the program that we're not talking about this year (we still have a game to play), we're not talking about next year, we're not talking about next next year, we're talking about next next next year?!?!? I know everyone loves to look ahead, I just wish the near term felt a bit more promising.

Da'Shawn Hand

Do you guys think we land Hand? He has repeatedly stated that Bud Foster is his favourite recruiter, but we are going up against some heavy hitters here.

Would he be the best recruit VT has ever landed?

I am sure he would be the first Rivals #1. If I can remember correctly, Kevin Jones was the highest rated Hokie recruit since the launch of the Rivals five star system, with Macho Harris and Tyrod up there as well.

Viva El Guapo

I'm pretty sure Kevin Jones was the #1 as well. I also think that Marcus Vick was way up there (not that should really count).

I try to forget Marcus ever played at VT.

Viva El Guapo

Jones

Yea, and he teased all of PSU when announcing VT. It was great.

Rip his freaking head off!