By now, the news that defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi won't be on Virginia Tech's football roster this fall has probably sunk in for Hokies fans. But a look to 2015's targets renews hope for a top-flight defensive lineman.
Stonewall Jackson (Manassas) junior Tim Settle — all 6 feet, 3 inches and 305 pounds of him — is a blue-chip recruit. According to the 247Sports Composite rank, he's a 5-star prospect and the No. 3 DT in the 2015 cycle.
He played about 60-percent of the Raiders' defensive snaps as a three-technique tackle and the remainder as a five on the outside edge.
Two years ago, Settle's speed opened eyes in the pass rush. Last season, his size helped anchor Stonewall's rush defense.
"He played at 280 as a sophomore and was fast," Raiders Coach Mike Dougherty said. "He was 320 this past year and was strong.
"He needs to combine the two better. He played both ways for us, so it took until about midseason for his conditioning to kick in."
Dougherty estimated 150 snaps per game for Settle last season. He also admitted the number took a toll on his star.
"He does take some plays off and we're not doing him any favors by playing him 150 plays a game," he said. "But, that's going to happen again this year. You want a kid like that on the field as much as possible."
It's easy to see why a coach would want someone of Settle's unique skill set on the field.
Dougherty frequently uses the same terms to describe the player who he believes will stay at tackle once enrolled in school.
The coach spouts out the words explosive, disruptive, a handful for linemen, size and speed.
"He reminds me of Warren Sapp," Dougherty explained. "You might look at Tim and think the same thing because he doesn't look like he can move as well as he can.
"You look at (2014 Alabama signee from Woodbridge) Da'Shawn Hand and he looks like a grown man.
Tim still has a little bit of a spare tire on him. But he's only 16 and more athletic than anyone trying to block him...Some schools have told us flat out, he's a first-round draft pick. You have 10,000 quarterbacks, 10,000 running backs but there are only 30 guys like Tim."
Settle worked on technique in the offseason. His repertoire evolved from a swim and spin to five or six different moves. Dougherty admitted the 16-year-old tries to do too much at times.
But he left no doubt when asked about Settle's top option.
"His best move is the straight bull rush where he puts you on your heels and gets rid of you," Dougherty said.
As a top prospect, Settle's offer list reads as a who's who of college football powers. He had the choices whittled to five before multiple postseason coaching changes.
He and his father will embark on a tour of the southeast on spring break. They will begin in Miami and "work their way up the coast" according to Dougherty.
Stonewall's break is slated for the third week in April.
Teammate Greg Stroman's commitment to Tech helps the Hokies' chances to land Settle.
However, his coach feels the tumultuous offseason pointed out the biggest reason the lineman could end up in Blacksburg.
"Tech's one of the few schools on Tim's list that didn't have a coaching change," Dougherty recalled. "The advantage Tech has is the familiarity with coaches...Tim's a pretty loyal guy. He was talking to some of those guys (who recruited and changed jobs) every day."
Settle squats 550 pounds and dead lifts 450. Despite only benching 300 pounds, Dougherty believes he could be up to 500 by next February.
The Manassas school's coach spoke glowingly about Bud Foster and Torrian Gray in their recruitment of Settle, especially Foster.
"Bud is cool; I don't know any other way to describe him. A lot of guys wear their college stuff here and just expect doors to open automatically but he's not like that at all," he said.
Chief concerns about Settle fall under conditioning and consistency. Dougherty believes a specific position and less time on the field will likely eliminate those worries at the next level.