Top 757 Recruits

Saw an interesting article in the Pilot today that featured the #1 recruit (according to the paper) in the region* going back as far as 2009... the Hokies have landed zero of them.

Class of 2017: RB Khalan Laborn, above
Bishop Sullivan Catholic (now attends Florida State)

Class of 2016: DB Levonta Taylor
Ocean Lakes (attends Florida State)

Class of 2015: DE Josh Sweat
Oscar Smith (attends Florida State)

Class of 2014: DB Quin Blanding
Bayside (attends Virginia)

Class of 2013: RB Taquan Mizzell
Bayside (attended Virginia)

Class of 2012: DE Eli Harold
Ocean Lakes (attended Virginia)

Class of 2011: DB Demetrious Nicholson
Bayside (attended Virginia)

Class of 2010: QB Phillip Sims
Oscar Smith (attended Alabama, Virginia and Winston-Salem State)

Class of 2009: LB Jerod Askew

Now each player has their own path, wants, and desires so I'm not reading too much into it. The downturn we had and the passing of the torch from Beamer to Fuente along with the more nationwide recruiting going on for teams like Florida State have had a lot to do with it. Lets not forget the saga of the Thoroughbreds either.

Anyway, there was a time when there were multiple pipelines from 757 powerhouse programs straight to Blacksburg. My question is, what needs to happen to reestablish those relationships and the tradition of heading to the mountains to play ball for the Hokies?

*reading this again it's just the Southside. We might have faired better on the Penninsula during this time period.

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The article goes back as far as 05 and has two VT commits listed.

Obviously you want the best players for your team coming the door every year, but where they come from might not matter as much. Having said that, though, you'd also want to exploit every advantage you have in recruiting (so long as it's within the rules) and being the state school where former teammates have gone on to see success is a pretty big deal in that regards. At the same time, though, you'd expect the five stars to want to go to an upper-echelon, blue-blood, perennial-contender team which VT hasn't been, especially not in the last 5 years. There are reputations to rebuild from a football perspective and so on. The transition from Beamer to Fuente helps moving forward and is a recruiting advantage relative to where we used to be from a football perspective, but so does retaining Bud Foster. Seeing Devon Hunter come here was good, but there is certainly room for improvement. But there has been improvement.

Chem PhD '16

There will never be pipelines like the past to the 757. We could fair better there by winning big games and returning to the national stage but recruiting has changed and VA talent isn't a secret anymore.

At the same time, a lot of these prospects have busted in college. Askew, Nicholson, Sims, and Mizzell certainly did not pan out like you would expect the top 757 prospect to be, and while Harold and Blanding were/are good players, I don't feel too badly about missing out on them.

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Mizzell is the only player in ACC history with 1500+ receiving and rushing yards. He panned out.

Not to mention just because UVA pissed away their talent, doesn't mean we would have.

Good point

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Sorry but I don't at all agree that Smoke panned out. It's fine and dandy that he played all 4 years and accumulated those stats but he was a 5 star recruit that only made All ACC once, as Honorable Mention in 2016, and wasn't drafted. Sam Rogers, a walk on fullback, had a more successful collegiate career. So while Smoke was a decent collegiate player, that's not even close to what the expectations were.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

Fair enough. I still feel like it's sour grapes to say we wouldn't have wanted him though. We haven't had elite rb talent since Wilson, so I'm sure he would have contributed, even started for us.

He most likely would have started for VT when we really struggled to find a feature back but I think McMillian would have pushed him for time in 2015. Ultimately I don't think he turned out to be an elite running back talent. Frankly I thought Kevin Parks had a better career for UVA. I'd say Smoke performed about at the level you'd expect for a player in the 3/4 star range.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

Uh, as we all know, LOLUVA recruited nicely and look where that has gotten them. Once you get'em, you gotta know what to do with'em.

US Navy Vet

Something something Thoroughbreds.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

Win. Winning will answer your question.

I hate rude behavior in a man. Won't tolerate it.

Well, our winning ways haven't always been because of 5* recruits. In Beamer days he and Billy Hite always emphasized getting under the radar guys and "Gentrify" them. It worked but not necessarily enough to win the national championship. if you want to be consistent, you have to have a plan, a system, a good defense, I think Beamer, Foster, hite did a pretty good job.

I like Fuente's approach though. He's looking to fit his system, while also trying to go after some stars, and he's making it fun too. He's got a system, bud's defense, I think we have a good window over the next 3-6 years to win the National Championship. Fuente's systems have really thrived in the 3rd year.

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

Beamer succeeded with "under the radar" guys because "under the radar" guys existed. Thanks to increased scouting budgets, scouting services, hudl, and youtube, there aren't too many of those left. Lots of opportunities for the bigger schools to poach talent from all over the country.

This. Recruiting has "globalized" much like the job market. Everyone is competing against everyone, regionalism isn't really a thing anymore, and for the most part the best schools will get the best recruits

Recruit Prosim

There's a very small list of school that can grab blue chips from any state. We aren't one of them. But teams like PSU, UNC, Maryland, and Tennessee are still showing that you can keep enough blue chips in your region/state. We should be able to grab blue chips from VA, NC, DC, MD more than we are this year.

I agree, but the globalization of recruiting mention really does affect every school because that small list you are referring to will come in and pluck the top recruits the OP is referring to (see FSU the last three years). A decade ago these guys would have been more likely to attend a college geographically closer to home.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

What are you talking about. I literally just gave a list of 4 teams that have kept a solid number of blue chips home in the face of national recruiting. Our program is in between UNC/MD and PSU/TENN, so I don't buy any globalization excuses. Next year needs to be a breakout recruiting year.

Recruits 10-15 years ago did not get the national attention that they do now. There weren't as many camps and the recruiting services are nothing like they are now. Presently recruits are exposed at a completely different level and it has become national instead of regional. Guys like Adibi, D. Hall, Anderson, etc. probably had a very different offer list than what they would have now.

I think that's the point. The competition for recruits has drastically changed.

None of that addresses what I said. Programs of our level can still recruit well regionally despite national recruiting.

It addresses the national aspect of recruiting, which was a point you were arguing.

Penn State wasn't exactly tearing up recruiting until Franklin came in and it is his 4th or 5th year in the program. He wasn't getting the recruits that he is getting now when he first arrived at PSU. It takes time to develop relationships, recruit players that fit your system, and get the results on the field.

Fuente did a hell of a job last year and appeared to fast track the process. We'll see how he does this season with big losses on offense.

Hopefully the 18 class is a good class and we continue to build on it. The 19 and 20 classes is where we SHOULD see some big recruits.

I'm not arguing national recruiting is more of a thing. I am arguing that despite that, schools like MD and UNC, which you ignored, can still fend of blue bloods at an impressive rate, and we should be able to as well. This year we did not.

So last year's class:

- Devon Hunter (VA). Regional recruit and we beat big time programs for him
- Nathan Proctor (MD). Beat out PSU, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, ND, UNC, Tenn
- Dylan Rivers (VA). Flipped from PSU. Offers: Clemson, LSU, UNC, PSU (obviously)
- Tyjuan Garbutt (VA) Offers: Pitt, Georgia, Mich. St, UNC, Oklahoma, Tennesee
- Hendon Hooker (NC) Offers: Oregon, Tenn, Clemson, ND, South Carolina

Those were the top guys (247 composite) in our class and I'd say we did a pretty good job regionally to get them. Did some pick other schools? Of course, but that is always going to happen. My hope is that in the next year or two, with sustained success and a more exciting on-field product, we'll start getting more of the big regional recruits.

UNC has recruited well...absolutely. Their make believe classes help their on-field product, but hopefully the NCAA hammers them.

MD's move to the Big 10 helped them, but yea...I don't get why recruits are interested in Maryland.

This year we did not.

Last year was a good class. And a pretty good job with top end guys for sure. In fact you just proved that we are capable of regional blue chips, despite national recruiting. That needs to be a baseline class for us. But I'm talking about this year. Recruiting can't take classes off. We made a big play for NC and so far its not got the results we needed.

"so far" is key in your last sentence.

Tre Turner was a big addition. Crossen and Tisdale are both highly thought of too.

Add Dax Hollifield and I think our NC recruiting was very good for the class. Add KJ Henry, which I doubt, and it is awesome recruiting.

Right now we need some top players like Hunter/Rivers/Proctor/Turner and then plug in guys that fit the team's system. You get success with those guys and the big recruits start to commit because we are seen as more of a "sure thing". The top recruits are picking Clemson, FSU, Bama, Ohio State right now because they know they have a chance to play for a National Championship. We are still building and it takes time.

yup, i didn't even get into that. add social media and videos easily accesible online, makes it easier to market. However, at least a few coaches have found it difficult to have to sort through so many athletes across the country. But these things have a way of sorting themselves out.

The important thing for Fuente is to get good personnel in early, establish himself and the rest will follow.

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

There's also a bunch more FBS scholarships out there for mid-tier recruits. Since VT made the national title game, 15 programs have been added to FBS. Those schools, in order of addition to the FBS ranks:

Connecticut, South Florida, Troy, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky, Massachusetts, South Alabama, Texas State, UTSA, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, ODU, Appalachian State, and Charlotte

That's 1,275 more scholarships for the top collegiate football level than existed 17 years ago. That also doesn't include Liberty, who will be joining the FBS ranks soon.

Don't forget Coastal Carolina.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Ah yes. Forgot about them, since they'll be starting in FBS this year.

So make that 17 new FBS programs since 2000 when you include Coastal Carolina and Liberty.

Sure, but it will be exceedingly rare that we or any Top 25 program are competing with those schools for recruits.

I think his point was under the radar guys don't slip into schools like Tech anymore. There are plenty of NFL talent coming out of low level FBS teams every year, in days past a few of those diamonds in the rough four their way to Tech.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Given that there are now a bunch more scholarships to go around, the diamonds in the rough that may have made their way to VT 15 years ago might be end up elsewhere for a variety of reasons.

That might be due to being identified early by a G5 staff & forging a relationship years before the P5 offer comes. Maybe they value early playing time, so a 2-star or low 3-star kid from the 757 who might have gone to VT 15 years ago ends up at ODU because he could be the #1 or #2 at his position immediately. Or heck, maybe a 757 kid who's going to be a fringe contributor and only play special teams at VT for 4 years just wants to be closer to his family.

Beyond that, cell phones, texting, facebook, facetime, etc, have made it a lot easier for a player to attend a university further away from his home. As a result, it's easier for FSU to recruit in VA.

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#Bapn ain't EZ

Wanna win put boobie in! Let boobie spin coach!

Let's see, now.

I suppose we could have Fuente and the current coaches attempt to build better relationships there and schedule ODU so we could showcase our team in the area and get out there more often.

Oh, that's right, Fuente is already doing that!

We haven't given anyone a good reason to come play for us, but that is going to change under Fuente. If we can play 2 more years like we did last year, especially on offense, the players will come. Its only a matter of time, once we show that we can legitimately put elite players in a position to put up elite stats.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

mid-2000s we did well recruiting because those kids watched us play for a national championship and they watched Vick play. We were an exciting school.

A lot of the kids on the list did not see an exciting VT team. The defense was good, but the offense was really bad to watch....especially for the top half of your list. Meanwhile, recruiting became a national focus and not just regional. FSU, Bama, Ohio State, etc. started knocking on kid's doors and VT had a lot of competition. Add the fact that Beamer was close to retiring (at least that is what opposing coaches told kids) and it becomes pretty clear why VT weren't landing these kids.

However, Fuente is doing a good job. He is building relationships and the on-field product is more exciting to watch. If we start winning, while playing attractive football, then we'll start seeing more success in Hampton Roads.

Looking back Im really disappointed with Weaver and Beamer and what they did in 2000-2003 with not building the donor and fan base up, not building newer and better facilities and not recruting like a team that just went to the NC should. It set the team back by not capitalizing on that chance.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Yeah, although we strung together a bunch of 10-win seasons, pulled in Kevin Jones, and moved to the ACC, it's hard to say we really capitalized on our limelight moments. Hopefully, the best is still ahead.

Lane Stadium expansion was the big project in those years. I do agree that the AD / Hokie Club focused too much on that project and recruiting big donations to help cover the cost and missed a big opportunity to grow the rank & file Hokie Club at a time when VT football was skyrocketing in popularity.

Year 3 is coming up!

When I worked for UPS for a bit in 2014, one of the drivers there was an assistant coach for one of the virginia beach area schools. Him and I got on the subject of colllege, and he straight up told me that he discouraged all if his offensive guys from going to Tech. What was really disheartening was I really couldnt argue with him

That team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.

I wonder if that sentiment has changed with Fuente as the HC now.

Bayside, was it?

I ask only because they're notorious for that.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

Unfortunately I really can't remember which school he told me. I don't wanna give any wrong info on a guess haha

That team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.

A lot of the kids on the list did not see an exciting VT team.

Yea I think it's easy for us to forget sometimes just how young these kids are (and sometimes how old we're getting). Until this past season the last time we had a 10 win season was when the current rising Senior class was just getting their feet wet in middle school.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

And even when we were getting those 10 wins, its not exactly like we were lighting up scoreboards to do it. One would argue that last year, even without the ACC title, was the most electrifying season for VT since 1999 because of how we played on both sides of the ball.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

I feel that our 2000 team was at least as good as 1999, but we had the misfortune of a regular-season loss to Miami where we kept trying to toss an injured Vick in without the ability to use his wheels. Maybe our defense wasn't quite as good, but I really would have liked our chances to actually win the MNCG if we'd made it.

Other than that, though, I agree with you. I'd rank 2016 as our "most electrifying" since 2000, though some of what Tyrod was able to accomplish brings 2009 and 2010 pretty close.


2005 offense was pretty good too. Marcus with Royal, Harper, Humes, King, etc.

I didn't really get into following recruiting until I came to VT (06-10) and something that really surprised me when I went back and looked at it after Beamer retired is that our trend in recruiting really didn't even dip as much as people like to remember at the end of his tenure. Yes, we had a tough class in 2016 (the coaching change). 247 composite ranked us 41st in the country. But they also ranked us outside the top 25 11 other years since 2000. Quick disclaimer: the composite yearly rankings vary from day to day, probably from other site's input, plus the further you go back, the shakier some of the information is, so this is far from scientific. The point is, from the BCSNC game on, our average class was probably somewhere around 28-30. I see a lot of people acting like we used to be a top 25 recruiting school year in and year out and it just doesn't seem to me like that was the case. Some of the biggest names I can remember from mid-2000s era turn out to have been 2-3 star recruits.

The end point to my rambling above is that if Fuente continues to sustain top 20-25 classes, that's already an improvement, not a return to the norm. Likewise, if this year turns out to be a 30ish ranked class, that's right in line with what we were doing in the mid-2000s and is far from a reason to panic.

I know all that doesn't apply directly to the 757, but I think the trend is similar. We made a living with kids from the 757, but it's not like they were all 4-5 star guys and the best players in the state.

Some of the biggest names I can remember from mid-2000s era turn out to have been 2-3 star recruits.

The problem is, recruiting services got better and kids who used to fall under the radar just aren't anymore. And even with that said, we saw how sustainable the "diamond in the rough" process was over the last 6 years.

Likewise, if this year turns out to be a 30ish ranked class, that's right in line with what we were doing in the mid-2000s and is far from a reason to panic.

Panic, no. Worry? Yes.

Whit explicitly said during the hiring process that we needed to get better recruiting and that was one of the main focuses on the coaching search. Most coaches start to hit their recruiting stride in their new location with the 3rd class. Well, this next class for Fuente is the 3rd, and if we don't see any noticeable improvement in recruiting, there absolutely is reason to worry.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

3rd overall or HIS 3rd class? That first class he had was trying to keep the commitments that Beamer and co. recruited.

I'd say his overall 3rd class, which would be the ones not after this year but the next.

With that said, I'd begin to worry a little if we don't see things start making a noticeable upward trend with this current class. Right now, things are looking good, though.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

Shouldn't we wait until the fruits of his classes start to either appear or go missing? Basing a coach's recruiting efforts and becoming "worried" based on 247 composites and not how they do on the field is something I am not on board with. And if we wanna consider class...we improved by 17 spots from 2016 to 2017 on the composite...fwiw, so I just don't understand anyone worried about our recruiting.

Yes, to compete for CFP spots we'll need to start getting the high 4s and a few 5s, but college football, and this offensive system is largely built upon having round pegs for round holes. Our recruiting classes so far seem to mimic that. System players with a star or two starting to dabble in.

We can't write off Fu and Co on three recruiting classes before anyone he's ever offered a scholarship to come to Tech has even graduated.

Always choose joy.

I think we largely agree on this. To your last point on the hire, a year in/year out top 25 recruiting class is technically improvement. That said, I don't think it's our ceiling by any stretch or where I hope we aspire. Just that it's actually improvement. Before I researched it, I really thought that's where we already were in the early/mid-2000s post Vick.

As far as the worry goes, I just don't think I'm going to do so if this year it doesn't quite happen. It's only his 2nd entire recruiting cycle. If you look at previous cycles' final rankings as a benchmark along with who we have already committed (including potential ratings boosts), who we're realistically targeting, and how many spots it has been speculated remain, it seems to me we have a ceiling this cycle of around 15th, and a floor of around 40th. I personally think we end up somewhere right in the middle in the mid/high 20s. If we're still there in a few more cycles, I'll get worried.

There are still quite a few "diamonds in the rough" to go around. Here is a quick list of 3* recruits over the last few years:
- Woody Baron
- Chuck Clark
- Terrell Edmunds
- Cam Phillips
- Greg Stroman
- Adonis Alexander

And that doesn't include the ultimate Diamond in the Rough of this decade, Sam Rogers.

Talent-wise, we weren't much worse during the 4 down years than during the latter part of the 10-win streak. The main differences I remember mostly came down to the quality of our passing game and a drop from a serviceable line to a largely non-existent one.

Yep. We still had some good talent - esp in the defensive backfield. Our QB and RB play was usually solid. However, we had some major issues with OL and WR during the drought. DL depth wasn't so great either.

I don't feel like our passing game suffered so much, we may not have been elite, but it was comparable to what we had in previous seasons. If anything it seemed like our running game had been the biggest thing missing. I remember in the preseason leading up to 2012 people shrugging off the red flags there because "Tech always has another horse in the stable".

Last year didn't fix the problem, but our passing game took that big of a leap (hence Evans setting all kinds of records) and Evans masked the running back problem by carrying it himself.

We made a living with kids from the 757....

edit: meant this as a reply to HokieBuilder

I would argue that one reason we've had a hard time keeping kids in-state is our previous success with kids from the 757. Tech was on the cutting edge in identifying this area as a hotbed of talent in the early 2000's, other schools noticed and started mining the talent in this area. Some teams had come in and cherry-picked the top kids in the past, but hadn't really dipped deep into the area. Combine this with the explosion of social media, internet, etc. that made it easier to find and track recruits, and we were suddenly swimming in the same pool with a lot of other bigger-name sharks, like FSU, Clemson, PSU, etc. We weren't able to capitalize on the offensive kids because of the style offense we continued to play when other teams were switching to spread option attacks, which attracts recruits. So we shot ourselves in the foot, in that regard. Once the blue-blood schools started to go deep into the 757, they started pulling the top defensive talent as well. Recruiting of top state offensive talent declined as they went to flashier offensive teams. It became a catch-22 situation, where we couldn't snag top recruits for offense because we weren't attractive, and couldn't improve on-field performance because we couldn't pull in the top offensive talent. I think this applied to recruiting in general, but specifically to the in-state situation.

Thankfully, I think we're seeing signs that this is turning around, and another productive year of CornFu only strengthens our recruiting. The in-state talent pool hasn't been quite as strong this year, but that's likely a small blip on the curve, and we've done well in South Virginia (NC2VT). In the future, I don't think we can expect to keep all, or possibly even a majority of the top state kids because the recruiting scene has changed drastically since the early 2000's, but I'd like to see 3-5 of the top 10 pick VT annually. That to me would be realistic.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

I guess my main point above is that even when we were pulling the vast majority of VA's top in state talent, it's not like that was translating to consistent top 20 recruiting classes. I think it's fair to say that's where we all want to get, but to think that dominating the 757, or even VA as a whole every year, doesn't mean that's going to happen.

I think you really hit it on the head when talking about the much broader net that we're now casting, while only pursuing the 757 kids that will really benefit us.

I think we have to consistently move outside the state for talent if we're going to get back to the upper echelon. We can't just recruit VA well and expect to pull one or two guys from Florida or NC or elsewhere and win ACC championships. One down year in VA (this year, for example) and you're behind the eight ball. A couple of recruiting busts, and you've got a barren cupboard.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.