Academics Force 2015 Signees Adonis Williamson, Eric Whitehead to Head to NY Junior Colleges

The high school teammates are hoping to get their grades in order to get to Tech down the road.

Whitehead (left) and Williamson (right) have played together since middle school. [@bms_whitehead]

The Virginia Tech Hokies had hoped to welcome 2015 signees DT Eric Whitehead and DB Adonis Williamson from Indianapolis' Arsenal Technical HS to campus this summer, but now both are bound for junior colleges in New York.

Despite their best efforts, both players failed to meet the NCAA standards for academics and chose to pursue their associate degrees instead. If they're able to graduate from their new institutions, each player will have two years of eligibility left, along with one redshirt year, if they chose to return to Tech.

Williamson officially signed his letter of intent with ASA College in Brooklyn on Wednesday, despite never setting eyes on the campus.

"It was a hard process, but I've got to go through it and learn from it," Williamson said.

Williamson's coach at Arsenal Technical says the process is heartbreaking for his star player. Tony Henderson describes Williamson as being very "gung-ho" about attending Virginia Tech, throwing a party with orange and maroon cupcakes when he made his decision about Tech last December.

"He was actually really hurt when he realized he didn't make the grades to go. He probably called me six times the day the grades came out on his report card," Henderson said. "I think had we gotten a hold of him maybe at the start of his junior year, he would have qualified. We got tutors for him, he's just a little bit of a different learner."

Henderson says that Williamson put forth a monumental effort to bump up his GPA and test scores over the past year, but ultimately fell just short in both areas.

"He had his best grades ever this year," Williamson said. "With him it came down to his last grades and last test score, he barely by the skin of his teeth did not make it."

Once he missed the cut, the Hokies stepped in to help him find an alternative.

Chuck Cantor, the team's director of player personnel, is no stranger to the New York area from his days as wide receivers coach at Long Island University's C.W. Post Campus.

That means Cantor was perfectly positioned to connect Williamson with ASA's staff.

"I've known Coach Cantor for years, when he was at C.W. Post he recruited our school and then when he was at Temple, that continued," said Chris Boden, the head coach at ASA College. "When we heard from them that Adonis would have issues qualifying, they thought this would be a good place for him."

Williamson says he's planning to head to campus "around the second week of July," and Boden expects that they'll have him graduated within the next one and a half years or so.

"We work on a trimester schedule, and so he'll spend three or four of those here and get out in either one and a half or one and two thirds of a year," Boden said. "Hopefully he can be out in time to get to Tech in May that year and get in their strength and conditioning program."

Williamson is hoping to get his degree on the shorter of those two timelines.

"I'm going to get through it in a year and a half," Williamson said.

But in his time with the Avengers, Boden says Williamson should prove to be a vital asset.

"He's got tremendous upside, there's no doubt he's a Division I free safety," Boden said. "He seemed really nice on the phone, his mom is clearly working her tail off to help him get what he needs. He should fit right in here."

Tech's coaches have a simple message for Williamson for his time at ASA.

"They just want me to go down there, just learn and keep playing football and don't get hurt," Williamson said.

While he's there, Williamson will actually get the chance to face off against his former teammate and longtime friend. ASA will play Whitehead's new school, Nassau Community College, to close out its season on November 7.

Whitehead himself declined to comment on his move to Nassau, saying Tech's coaches "don't want me to talk about it right now," but Henderson says he faces a similar situation as Williamson.

"Eric is a non-qualifier for the NCAA and the coach from that school, the D-line coach, he probably called me back in January, just to kind of to let Eric know that they like him," Henderson said.

As it became clear that Whitehead's grades and test scores wouldn't be up to snuff, Cantor started to make the interest mutual through his connections at the school.

Cantor's job at LIU C.W. Post put him just 20 minutes away from Nassau's campus, and his time recruiting a 2016 prospect on campus there for the Hokies gave him his first introduction to head coach Joseph Osovet.

"They came in to recruit (OT) Malcolm Pridgeon, which sort of started up our connections with them," Osovet said.

That made it an easy pitch for the Lions to take on a player with Whitehead's abilities once it seemed that he'd need some time at the JUCO level. The team announced that he'd be joining the program via Twitter on May 21.

"With guys like that that have trouble passing the clearinghouse, they know they can come out here and have a second chance," Osovet said. "We try to get them ready to have a major college impact right away."

Like ASA College, Osovet says it generally takes players anywhere from one to two years to come away with their degrees.

"Guys here are generally done in two to four semesters," Osovet said. "Coming to a junior college just kind of wipes the slate clean for them. It's a 'get out of jail free card.'"

But Henderson warns that such a jarring change might not be the best thing for Whitehead at this point.

"Who knows what's going to happen when you take Eric Whitehead out of Indianapolis and put him in Nassau County, New York. It's going to be a different situation," Henderson said. "No one is going to follow him there, it's not like he's going to Notre Dame or Virginia Tech, no one is going to follow you around. You're going to be at junior college on your own, and what you get is what you put into it."

Henderson hopes that he makes the most of the next two years or so to do a little maturing.

"I told him to make sure to take it seriously, go to the conditioning and the weight room and not do dumb stuff, and if he does that, then eventually he'll play for the Hokies," Henderson said. "If he doesn't, he'll be in the same boat he is now."

Osovet hopes to help him take full advantage of his time at Nassau and and grows his substantial talents.

"He's really explosive and plays with great leverage, and usually you have to teach that," Osovet said. "It's rare to get a kid that plays with his kind of explosiveness and pad level."

Whitehead and Williamson surely expected to be working on these aspects of their games in Blacksburg rather than New York, but the pair will still have each other to lean on as they make the move to the Empire State.

"They'll get together every now and then," Henderson said. "I could definitely see Eric wanting to come into Manhattan and then into Brooklyn."

Comments

Crappy morning news, but on the plus side it is good to hear that we are enforcing academic standards instead of bending them (Cough UNCheat cough). Any word on our other big name DT yet?

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

how do you bend the standards to get them through the clearinghouse? That's not what UNC was doing.

Shame to see, hopefully they get up there and earn that degree, that's the most important thing.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

For some reason I thought Adonis was already on campus. Who was the big safety that was playing cb this spring with the one Edmund's brother?

Edit: now I see. Multiple Adonis's in our DB corps

Adoni

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

Adonii

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

Adonoi. It's Greek, not Latin.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

Adonis Alexander I believe

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Great information, Alex. Good luck to these 2 gentlemen.

Why do some guys go to prep school (FUMA, Hargrave) for 1 or 1/2 a year and some go to JUCO for 2?

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

That's what I don't get about the article. If they just barely "by the skin of their teeth" didn't make the cut they would be prepping. You usually only go JUCO if you weren't close at all.

JUCO means they didn't pass the clearinghouse. Prep means they didn't meet the school's admission standards.

So what you are saying is that Drew Harris should have gone to JUCO and not prep school and he could be here now...

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Drew Harris is coming in the fall after he academically qualifies...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Him and Todd Nolen will room together.

Never crimp your blasting caps with your teeth. - Dr Haycocks

Its always 110 Holden...said every mining engineer ever.

Prep school is still an option if you don't pass the clearinghouse, but in prep school you can only improve your test scores, not your grades. So if you only need a few points on the ACT/SAT to qualify through the clearinghouse then prep school is a good option because it could only delay you by a semester. Prep school is also useful if you are missing certain classes (e.g., a math requirement) to gain admission. Again, that can be completed in 1 semester. The risk is that you go to prep school for a year and don't get the required test score. Then you've wasted a year making no progress towards a degree. Also, prep school is likely significantly more expensive than JUCO.

However, if you're far off (or not confident that you can get the required test scores), then JUCO let's you essentially "start over" as the coach suggests. I know zero about the non-qualifier rules on accepting JUCOs though so I'll leave that explanation to others.

HokieSpider

Rules on taking non-qualifiers will make this tough, though not impossible.

IMO, P5 conferences should all have the same rules in this regard. B1G allows non-qualifiers to enroll on their own dime (and are prohibited from practice) and do their year in residence at the school. Big 12 has no limit on JUCOs provided they meet certain academic for AA degree, hours, GPA, etc. SEC allows 2 non-Q's per year (that have met subsequent academic requirements) in football. ACC and PAC allow a max of 1 per year for football.

Are the limits different for football & basketball? Because Buzz keeps adding JUCO players.

Seems to me that as long as the student athlete completes an Associates degree and meets the university's admisisons requirements there should be no limits on JUCO players. They simply have 3 years to play 2 at that point.

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

The key is "non-qualifier". Acc allows 2 men and 2 women per year and no more than 1 per sport. If the juco was a qualifier coming out of HS then there is no limit. Outlaw for example was a qualifier

The big 12 has no limit. The ACC does

OK thanks for clearing that up. Seems like it's fairly common for qualifying, but lightly recruited, H.S. basketball players to attend JUCO to work on their game and get another crack at a NCAA scholarship.

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

Whitehead's coach gets it- very refreshing:

"You're going to be at junior college on your own, and what you get is what you put into it."
...
"I told him to make sure to take it seriously, go to the conditioning and the weight room and not do dumb stuff, and if he does that, then eventually he'll play for the Hokies," Henderson said. "If he doesn't, he'll be in the same boat he is now."

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

Yep, that was good to see. I hope Eric listens, his film was very impressive and would be great to have on the Dline the next few years. I hope he and Adonis both makes it to Blacksburg tho and do well.

Is it just me, or does it seem like every year, the upper echelon recruits that boost our class ranking end up at JUCO or prep?

not really. The last time that happened was with Holland fisher. Neither of these two guys were considered our top end recruits for the class they were in the middle.

edit: although if tim settle doesn't qualify he would fit the description you are talking about.

I would say Whitehead was towards the top of this class. He may not have had the "stars", but he did have an offer from Ohio St and a few other Big Ten schools. Getting him from their territory was nice and his film was as impressive of anyone outside of Settle and Lawson.

he didn't have a committable offer from OSU he had one contingent on coming to camp and earning it just like darrius fullwood. I thought his film was solid, but from a recruiting services stand point he was on the lower end of our class if not average.

Except these aren't the upper echelon recruits from that class

Okay, several perspecitves to see this from.....

1. The young men - They know what the academic rules are and what is needed to qualify for and enroll in a D1 program. They know it early because they see their older teammates being recruited and I'm sure their HS coaching staff talks with them often about what is needed. It's up to them to earn the grades and get the test scores. When they do or they don't - they've exercised a choice.
2. The Universities - Coaching staffs know, or should know, who will qualify and who will not. D1 football at VT and most of the Power 5 schools is many things - one of those things is that it is a business.... a very large business. Recruiting well is one of the skills necessary to succeed in business. When a school continues to recruit players that they know will not qualify, the coaches are making decisions too. Those decisions impact the school's athletic program and overall reputation. Staffs have to make decisions - When we meet with prospects that we are interested in and who are interested in our program, do we tell them straight up, leaving no uncertainties, what is expected academically? Past experience tells me that many programs, including ours, could do a better job of this. When young people are told what is expected and that there are little to no exceptions or what the extenuating circumstances are, they can make better choices.
3. The Alumni - Of course it matters. When I look at NFL rosters, or see former player's on LinkedIn or in the news, I like seeing that they graduated from Virginia Tech!
4. The money - Got to mention "the money." What are the direct and indirect consequences when you recruit someone who doesn't qualify? Financial impact? Impact on others that you might of pursued but didn't because of the pursuit of a non-qualifier?

Coach Beamer and company have been and continue to be advocates of the student-athlete. Even when a player that they have signed has a career threatening injury, they stand behind their scholarship offer. This staff led by this coach spells integrity in so many cases over the years. You can trust what Coach Beamer says.... even when you disagree with him, you can still trust him and that his motives are good ones.

Once a HOKIE, always a HOKIE - ask Sweet Feet, G-Bell, and so many other young men who have gone through the program.

So the last perspective on recruiting non-qualifying athletes is policy driven. Does the Athletic Department have a policy in place or not?

Develop good habits or fall into bad ones - you chose.

I"m sure they do. I highly doubt the continue to heavily recruit someone whose grades aren't going to get them in. From the article it seems as though it was their last set of grades that was needed. So they were still able to make it. So why give up on the kid basically telling him "We don't think you'll make it so we're done." That would be a huge negative in recruiting for us. The coaches bet on the kids being able to get their grades and scores where they need to be. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I doubt it's like they had D's all through school and a 500 SAT score and we were recruiting them. Some players make it in with ease and some don't. And for what it's worth it seems that the vast majority of players don't have trouble getting in. Maybe one or two a year from a class of 25 signees (and that's not every year).

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

RE #1. You may be surprised to learn this, but there are kids who try really hard and can't get into college. It's not always a matter of choice to them.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

Fortunately corner and nose are two positions we aren't lacking for talent. But hopefully these two will use their time wisely and join us in the future

For those of you worried about Settle, a friend of mine who works at SJ told me he's good to go. He should be at Tech this fall.

PLEASE GOD FOR ONCE LET THE #SOURCES BE TRUE.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

@AMB4VT

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

This gets the scholarship #s a little closer too. Hopefully we get to see them make an impact here in 2 years.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

On a separate note, Tim Settle tweets " Great news today." I sure hope it is what I think it is.

Drink

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

If it's the news I want to hear I'll drink for him.

I already am.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Can I join you guys? I'd much rather be doing that than working...

Man, I hate this news. Having guys in the hole learning and growing from our coaches while waiting for their time is not *optional* if we're going to get back to truly challenging for the ACC crown - in this case, Whitehead especially.

I'd love to know what % of recruits who are forced to JUCO or Prep eventually work their way to VT. Anyone have a good data source for that?

"How you doin', Randy?"