Deshawn McClease is a three-year starter at perennial powerhouse Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake.
He rushed for more than 1,600 yards and scored 30 touchdowns last season in the Tigers' multiple-formation, quick-paced offense.
Coach Richard Morgan kept him games during empty sets as a slot receiver.
McClease also blacked out during a 54-yard touchdown run in the 2011 state title game.
But last weekend, the 5-foot-9 back did something a little different. He served as unofficial tour guide to other recruits on a visit to Blacksburg. It only made sense — it was his fourth or fifth time at the school.
"It was a pretty good trip," McClease said. "I can't ever find anything bad to say about it. I enjoyed building a relationship with Coach Shane (Beamer).
"We really didn't communicate at first. I like that he's straightforward about everything."
The young man spoke in glowing terms of Tech's recruitment and his relationship with former Oscar Smith star J.C. Coleman.
In fact, Coleman's injury during McClease's freshman season is what put him on the field at an early age.
When the latest Tigers tailback visited for last fall's Duke game, he got a taste of the game day atmosphere at Lane Stadium.
"The 'Enter Sandman' thing, I've never seen anything like it," McClease remembered. "It was so loud."
Hokies fans might not know it yet, but McClease is the type of back they normally embrace.
He doesn't dance and doesn't hesitate to name his favorite play — inside zone. McClease hopes to play at 180 pounds next season. He's worked diligently in the weight room and cited improvements in his routes as a key to his training.
"We gave it to him 46 times in a state semifinal because that's what we needed," Morgan said. "He has the mentality of a 220-pounder; he's a bruiser, very physical and with a 4.4 40 time he can run away from you."
Some backs evolve into "bruisers." For McClease, it's all he's known.
"That's how I've been since I was six years old," he said. "I've never been a juker. When I run up the middle and between the tackles, I can make more happen.
"In this game, it's hit or be hit. I'd rather deliver it."
He also studies former Tech back David Wilson's game films. While it seems the Hokies and McClease are match made in heaven, the junior isn't ready to call the race.
McClease has no immediate plans to announce his college choice, though he said it will likely come before the 2014 season.
Howard said his star rusher benches 260, squats 400 and power cleans around 235 pounds. He owns a 3.1 GPA and hopes to major in sports marketing.
While his list might not be narrowed down yet, McClease remained clear about one thing — Tech will be in the race until the very end.
The back who's nicknamed Shady yet sees himself more in the mold of Jamaal Charles, knows the track record of Hokies backfield talent.
"If you do your research, they've had running backs go to the league or they've had really successful college backs there," he said.