TKP Community Interview: Eric Whitehead

Defensive tackle Eric Whitehead originally planned to commit on May 30th, but decided to end his recruitment a bit early on May 3rd. He verballed to Tech then and give Charley Wiles a birthday present in the process. The 6-1.5, 295 pound run stopper from Indianapolis, Indiana (Lawrence Central) looks to fill a need at tackle along Bud Foster's defensive line. Eric was generous enough with his time to answer the questions you all came up with.

Defensive End Depth and the Melvin Keihn Factor

Before the start of spring practice, my primary positions of worry for the defense were tackle and linebacker. As I had an opportunity to read accounts of the defensive productivity, watch the final scrimmage, and the spring game, a new concern emerged: defensive end. Dadi Nicolas is the only proven commodity at end (assuming, based on his outstanding spring at nose tackle, Corey Marshall stays inside). Ken Ekanem is a very talented player who had an outstanding spring, but has next to no game experience. Both should be productive players, but in Bud Foster's system there's a critical need for solid depth along the defensive line.

The Challenge: Fundraising and Millennials

Virginia Tech hiring Whit Babcock as its new Athletic Director brought great hope to Hokie Nation. By all reports his greatest strength was his ability to engage students, alumni, and the greater community to raise interest and, more importantly, money. Whether it's the new indoor practice facility, the small(ish) football staff (by SEC standards) or the ever-pressing need to keep up in the arms race that is major college athletics, Whit's prowess at opening checkbooks is a much needed addition to the Tech Athletics Department. Working in his favor is a sizable alumni pool that is one of the largest in the nation, many of whom reside within a 5-hour radius of campus. With that being said, Whit has been immediately tasked with re-engaging a fan base that has become frustrated with the recent performance of the two revenue-generating sports—football and men's basketball—while building a strong foundation for future giving throughout the Virginia Tech community.

Handicapping the Running Back Battle: Joel Caleb

Last week I discussed how the spring game format made it very difficult to get a good measure of the offensive position battles. Different personnel groupings focused on different offensive series. The maroon group featuring J.C. Coleman and Marshawn Williams, ran mostly power plays where the offensive line blocked down play side with the back sid guard leading around. As Joe highlighted, the white team featured much more zone read and bootleg action. Because the running backs were being utilized in very different ways, the tape doesn't provide a real "apples to apples" comparison.

DRAFT WATCH: Virginia Tech Edition

When I was younger, each year a new black and white covered composition notebook would be my "draft book". I would then steal the draft preview issue of my dad's Sporting News and start predicting. No lie, I would do multiple seven round mock drafts in that notebook. So many so that the magazine would eventually fall apart from wear and tear. Then I would have to staple it back together.

I think it goes without saying, I didn't have a ton of friends growing up.

Six Pack: NFL Draft Edition

I love the NFL Draft. I love the spectacle of it all; from the inevitable opening jeers of Commissioner Goodell to the inevitable cheers...or jeers...or whatever you call Jets fans' annual reactions (I could seriously watch this clip 1,000 times). The league used to have it perfectly set up, cordoning off an entire weekend. Then, a few years ago, ego entered the picture. Goodell & Co. realized that after years of printing money and dominating the airwaves, they had the ability to drag out the process over three days and cash in even more. Rather than dominate consecutive weekend afternoons, the league decided to go head-to-head with the Thursday evening sitcom juggernaut and Friday evening reruns of NCIS. Loved ones suddenly were forced to play the inevitable game of chicken with their spouses: convince them that you could DVR "The Big Bang Theory" in favor of viewing the Draft live, or ultimately being banished to the secondary television in the household. (Kudos to those of you that have a significant other that is an equally-rabid NFL fan.)

Virginia Tech is Hiring Two Recruiting Related Positions

If you recall in early March, during a discussion with Andy Bitter, Bud Foster noted Tech's small football staff size with regards to recruiting.

Yeah, and in my opinion, this is just my opinion, we need to catch up because of recruiting. Not so much the quality control guys and the football part of it, but in the recruiting part of it, that's where the Alabamas and even like Ole Miss, they've had the last two years, they've had two top-10 recruiting classes.

Spring Game: Wide Receiver Production

Very few position groups improved as much over the last season as wide receiver. We all know how much they struggled early in the season against Alabama, but they kept chopping wood and improved steadily from game to game. After spending time working with the JUGS machine catching balls after every practice, the receivers significantly reduced their number of drops. Willie Byrn, Joshua Stanford, and Demitri Knowles all ended up with over 40 receptions and 600 yards. In 2014, the Hokies will require even more production out of this unit.

TKP Community Interview: Harry Lewis

Phoebus standout Harry Lewis was the Hokies' second defensive line commitment of the 2015 recruiting cycle (Michael Barnett verballed, but decided later to open up his options). Defensive tackle and end are two positions of need the Virginia Tech coaches are looking to address this recruiting class. Lewis' verbal, and the one from Eric Whitehead a week later, has Tech positioned well to replenish talent along the defensive line.

Zone Read Refresher

The Maroon–White game was the first time I got to watch the Hokies scrimmage this spring. The four-hour down-and-back I-81 to Blacksburg isn't as doable with a three-month-old as it once was. Even though French and Mason were at the open scrimmages and told me Loeffler had incorporated more zone read into the playbook, it still popped out on film for me.

The zone read series is something Tech fans clamored for during the Tyrod Taylor era, but never really saw much of in Blacksburg. The logic back then was something like, "Hey, we've got a fast and elusive QB, why aren't racking up yards like WVU or Oregon." Easier said than done. Like the inverted veer we saw Logan Thomas run so much last season, the zone read is a play that requires good ball skills and decision making by the quarterback. However, the quarterback won't be trying to hammer through the heart of the box.

The Power Play, a Maroon O-Line Film Review

A top priority for the Virginia Tech coaching staff this offseason was to reinvigorate the power rushing attack that the Hokies had been known for, for most of Frank Beamer's tenure. Spring football gave us a glimpse into Scot Loeffler's, Shane Beamer's, and Stacy Searels' scheme for running the football more effectively. However, thanks to injuries on the offensive line,Trey Edmunds being sidelined, an over-abundance of other running backs who did little to separate themselves enough to get the carries needed to establish a rhythm, and a quick, aggressive defensive front that matched up well with some of the new blocking concepts, it is still difficult to ascertain if the Hokies have the personnel and the scheme to meet Coach Beamer's mandate for an improved running game. There is, however, a ton of potential that will only get better with experience.

DT Eric Whitehead Commits to Virginia Tech

Eric had originally planned to commit on May 30th, but accelerated his timeline. I spoke with him a few minutes ago, asked him why he sped up the process, and he told me, "When I first got the offer I really wanted to commit then, but decided to wait. ... I always wanted to go to Virginia Tech, so it was never a question".

Houshun Gaines Talks Recruitment, Hokies

It wasn't long after Rocky Mount, North Carolina native Houshun Gaines arrived in Blacksburg for his first visit on April 5th that he received his scholarship offer from the Hokies. Coach Charley Wiles, Houshun's primary recruiter, had a bit of a surprise for him.

"When I got to Virginia Tech for the junior day, he [Wiles] told me that after I got signed in for registration and everything he wanted me to meet somebody.

"He ended up taking me down to Coach [Frank] Beamer's office. Me and my dad, we sat down in Coach Beamer's office with Coach Wiles sitting there, and Coach Beamer actually extended the offer to me."

It was a moment Houshun won't soon forget.

Spring Recap: Quarterback Battle

Heading into the spring practice, there were several important personnel questions that the Hokies were hoping to answer. Would any running backs emerge to push incumbent starter Trey Edmunds for playing time? How would new offensive line coach Stacy Searels affect the run blocking scheme? Just how good was Bucky Hodges? Of course, all these questions were secondary to the granddaddy of them all... Who is going to be the starting quarterback?

Projecting Bucky Hodges, Review of the TE's Spring Game

A major storyline this spring was the transition of Bucky Hodges from quarterback to tight end. Coach Foster raved about Hodges performance last season as the Hokie scout team's version of UNC's Eric Ebron, and the coaching staff awarded Hodges with the Coaches Award (exceptional spring) on Saturday. On this website we've had discussions about the possibilities of everything from three tight end sets, to having a Virginia Tech version of Jimmy Graham creating matchup nightmares on the edge of the defense.

Monday Mornings Can Be Rough, Let's Have a Laugh at @UVAFBRecruiting

@UVAFBRecruiting has been on Twitter since April 2nd of this year. I'm disappointed in myself that it took me almost a month to find out about it. Among other things, it (re)-tweets the requisite motivational messages from coaches, silly things the long snapper says, local media coverage, and Photoshops. Hilariously bad Photoshops that have been created to, I don't know, relate to high school kids, encourage them to commit to UVa, keep the program relevant? Perhaps high school kids do gravitate towards this sort of thing. If so, I'm as old and out of touch as a 30-year-old should be.

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