Virginia Tech's "Explosive Offense" Stands Out for Prospects Visiting for September Games in Lane

Justin Fuente's new offensive system hasn't disappointed recruits in the early going.

2018 WR/DB Naim Muhammad (left) visited Tech for the first time against ECU. [@Nadir_Naim]

By hanging 36 points on Liberty, 49 on Boston College and 54 on ECU in their first three games at Lane Stadium, the Hokies managed to score 35 points or more in each of their opening trio of home games for the first time since 2005.

That sort of early scoring proficiency is a big reason why fan optimism is skyrocketing about the beginning of the Justin Fuente era (and a big reason why the team is 3-1 heading into its bye week), but that quick success also looks mighty impressive to the bevy of recruits the team's invited to Blacksburg in September.

While past years have featured some particularly rough home performances in the early going — Tech's back-to-back losses to ECU and Georgia Tech in 2014 stand as fine examples of this phenomenon — this new season has given visitors plenty to admire on offense.

2018 TE James Mitchell of Big Stone Gap, Va.'s Union HS made the trek to Tech to see the Hokies play the Eagles, a game that's often proved to be a defensive affair over the last few seasons.

That was not the case at all this time around.

"They showed that they can hurt you on offense," Mitchell said. "They've got some athletes on the outside and some good backs back there and they can score just about anytime. They've got an explosive offense."

That's probably just the sort of description from recruits AD Whit Babcock had in mind when he hired an offensive guru like Fuente, particularly when coming from an athlete like Mitchell. Though he plays TE primarily, the coaches seem to think the 6'4", 210-pound junior could easily slide into the hybrid role Bucky Hodges currently occupies, and they tried to focus his attention accordingly.

"As far as my role, they just told me to watch Bucky," Mitchell said. "They said that was kinda what I could do if I came there, Bucky's role."

The coaches made a similar pitch to 2018 WR/DB Naim Muhammad of Hyattsville, Md.'s DeMatha Catholic HS, giving him a shot to watch fellow DeMatha alum Cam Phillips against ECU in his first ever visit to Tech. But while he says he found the offense "just incredible," including Phillips' 55-yard TD, it was the efforts of Greg Stroman that really stood out.

"That punt return, I really liked that, because I'm a returner also," Muhammad said.

2019 WR Jacoby Pinckney of Roebuck, S.C.'s Dorman HS was watching Phillips and Isaiah Ford closely as well, and considering that the pair combined for 172 yards, he had plenty to keep an eye on.

"They set their wide receivers up to make plays," Pinckney said. "That's what a receiver likes, getting a one-on-one opportunity to make plays. I liked that. It really stood out."

Pinckney may be young, but the 6'3", 192-pound receiver is already hearing from WRs coach Holmon Wiggins that he could be the one getting those playmaking opportunities sooner rather than later.

"Coach Wiggins said now he wants to start speeding things up, so I'll do what I've got to do," Pinckney said. "If I come up there, I'd be able to play early because they need some receivers, some mature people that can play early in their careers, and I think I'd fit into their offense after watching that game."

Pinckney has yet to earn ratings from most of the major recruiting services (though 247Sports grades him as a 4-star prospect), but the Hokies have been interested in him for a while now. Tech offered him at a camp this summer, giving him a quality chance to meet Fuente for the first time.

"When I came up to camp I actually talked to him for a good 30, 35 minutes, and he's a cool guy, down to earth," Pinckney said. "He'll give it to you straight, I like his coaching style. He's a real good person."

Pinckney got another chance to chat with Fuente on this trip, in addition to Wiggins and OC Brad Cornelsen, but he said it was his first chance to experience a game in Lane that really stood out.

"It was a great entrance to the stadium, I didn't think it would get that loud," Pinckney said. "But it was loud."

Mitchell said his recruitment's followed a similar pattern. After earning an offer in March, he visited for both a spring practice and the team's vaunted Blacksburg Bash, giving him a chance to get acquainted with Fuente.

"Just a good guy, cares about his kids," Mitchell said. "And he's a real good football coach, what he did at Memphis was pretty remarkable, so you can tell he was a good football coach as well."

But the BC game was Mitchell's first visit for a game as a recruit (his first trip to Lane came when he was just a kid, though he can't remember exactly when that was).

"I loved it, I mean playing in front of those fans every home game, you love that," Mitchell said. "It was a really great experience. Just everybody getting into the game, they've got a great fanbase."

For Muhammad, in his first trip to Blacksburg of any kind, the atmosphere was similarly impressive.

"It was great, a great experience, I loved the game, I loved everything about Virginia Tech," Muhammad said. "It was a good atmosphere, it was very live, everybody was cheering, upbeat, it was something."

Yet unlike Mitchell and Pinckney, Muhammad is still hoping for an offer from the Hokies, and he said the weekend provided another chance for him to chat with Wiggins (his area recruiter) about that prospect.

2017 DE Zion DeBose of Spencer, N.C.'s North Rowan HS found himself in a similar spot last Saturday. He's also angling for a Tech offer, making his first visit for a game after camping with the Hokies back in January.

"I loved the atmosphere and the fans were crazy, as soon as you walked in you could see all the orange and just hear them chanting and things like that," DeBose said. "The coach and the players in pregame, the energy they brought, I just loved it."

DeBose is currently committed to Appalachian State, but he said both DL coach Charley Wiles and James Shibest, his area recruiter, said they're "still interested and serious about me."

The offense might've been the prime focus in his visit for the game against ECU, but DeBose got a good long look at Bud Foster's defense and came away impressed.

"From a defensive end standpoint, they run a lot of 4-3, and that's what I'm running now in high school, so I can really fit in and really relate to that type of system and the way they do things," DeBose said. "It depends on how much weight I put on whether I end up at outside linebacker or defensive end, but from a DE standpoint, I could really see myself in that type of system, so it's a blessing. I could really see myself right there."

Indeed, DeBose said a Hokies offer could prove quite meaningful in his recruitment.

"If they shot me an offer, it'd be pretty serious," DeBose said. "I've done research on the school, they've got my major, they're not far away from home, the program is pretty good. They fit all the categories to what I'm looking into a school for, so it'd be pretty serious, it'd be a nice one."

He noted that Wiles and Shibest told him that "they've got it on their planning calendar to come down here and watch me play" as they mull extending him an offer, but he'd relish the chance to come back to Blacksburg. DeBose said he originally hoped to come down for Tech's Thursday night game against Miami, but with a game the next day, he might have to postpone another trip for a bit.

"If I sit down with my parents and they're in the mix and they mess around and they offer, then I may look at them for an official visit, but as for catching games, I really don't know the next time I'll be back down in Blacksburg," DeBose said.

Mitchell is also uncertain about a date for his next visit since he has trips to Virginia, Notre Dame, Clemson and Duke all on his agenda. But he did say the staff assured him that "I could come back for any home game I wanted."

Meanwhile, Muhammad is hoping to set another visit date "very soon," while Pinckney is set to see the Hokies again next week, albeit in a different context.

He'll be heading to Chapel Hill on Oct. 8 for UNC's matchup with Tech, with another trip to see South Carolina square off against Tennessee set for the end of the month — not coincidentally, VT, UNC and USC are the three schools he sees "standing out" the most right about now.

But once the winter rolls around, he wants to get back to Tech in February to start studying up on the whole school.

"My mom wanted to do the campus tour, but they didn't really have time to do that," Pinckney said. "So I'll be back down for a junior day in February to see the campus and the dorms and talk about their education and stuff, grades."

Comments

Great to have a recruiting update! Thanks Alex

Our motto bringing spirit true, that we may ever serve you

Agreed. Just what the doctor ordered.

I was just wondering how things were looking to recruits after the show put on the last few games. Now we know, and it is exactly what we were all hoping for!

Thanks Alex!

Though he plays TE primarily, the coaches seem to think the 6'10", 210-pound junior could easily slide into the hybrid role Bucky Hodges currently occupies

Um, is that a typo or a Bucky Hodges joke or real life?

That most likely means he's still growing too! 7'10" by the team he would be here!

EDIT: All of the recruiting websites have Mitchell listed at 6'4"

*QB

6'10" WR. Almost as tall as Bucky..

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

Big Stone Gap! Glad to see us recruiting in SWVA again.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

Kid goes to my old high school (after consolidation). He seems to be the real deal. Word is he was leaning to UVA before the season but that seems to have cooled a bit. He's been to VT several times and seems to have some significant interest. Would be a good pickup.

Which schools consolidated?

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

Powell Valley and Appalachia consolidated to form Union High. Wise and Pound consolidated to form Wise Central, and Coeburn and St. Paul consolidated to form Eastside. Don't remember the exact year but it was sometime around 2008 - 2009.

I graduated from JJ Kelly (Wise) which no longer exists either.

Seeing Mitchell on our recruit list explains why Charley Wiles was re-tweeting stuff about Union High earlier in the year.

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

I graduated from Powell Valley. Lots of good football from this area back in the day.

I graduated from Kelly too! Hence the username.

Judging by your profile, I graduated before you were born. Wow, do I feel old.

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

Hahah, I usually feel old. J.J. Kelly '97, Tech '02. I still live in Wise County, but getting ready to move a little ways over to Dickenson.

Union and Richlands play ever year in barnburners. I've had the pleasure (and agony) of watching Mitchell play for the last three seasons. Dude is a legit dude. He is a legit 6'4 (Richlands has two 6'4 guys and when they stood side by side, they were all the same height). He has great hands and knows how to use his body to go up and get a ball while shielding the defender. Really hope he ends up at VT.

Exit light. Enter night. Enter the Hokies.

Yeah, I had to do a double take when I read Big Stone Gap. Nice to see!

"Tyrod, looking desperately, now throws it deep, has a man open, CAUUUGHT! Danny Coale, all the way!"

I have 3 favorite teams. VT, Kentucky, and whoever the hell is playing Tennessee.

Recruiticorns!!!!

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

This is exactly why we hired the guy. Helllllll yes. But that's gotta be a typo... 6'10" 210?

RVA Hokie. Class of 2011.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

247 (free side) has him listed as 6'4" and 4*. CB says 100% to the good guys if that means anything.

Funny GIF, good early laugh.

*edit, guess I was third, need more TKP experience points.

6'10" 210? Are we sure he wasn't one of Buzz's recruits who was at the game?? Holy crap that would turn 50/50 balls into 75/25 balls.

Not sure if anyone noticed, but there was a typo that listed Mitchell as 6'10", he is 6-4.

You don't need to be modest on his behalf, 6'10" is probably a very conservative guess.

6'4" ?? Well nevermind then. What a shrimp! /s

Where? I didn't see that. Why didn't anyone mention that...

I think 6'10" might be a typo; shouldn't it be 6'4"?

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

I read 6'10 and immediately thought he would be the next Hokie TE/PF. Brings back the days when Jeff King was boxing out and moving bodies in Cassell.

And here I thought he'd be the next TE/QB.

HTHokie93

Sound's like he is well on his way to 6'-3" and being the Anti-Bucky.

He'll be 5'9" by the time he graduates. Let's just hope he and Bucky never come in contact or they'll be annihilated.

Thanks Alex!

Jacoby Pinckney is a player. Amazing that he has flown under the radar on some recruiting websites because Dorman is almost always in the race for state championships or winning them in SC's highest level of HS football. They also have a bigger campus than most of the in state colleges and is often referred to as Dorman University.

He hasn't flown under the radar exactly. ESPN and Rivals haven't evaluated anyone yet in the 2019 class. Scout only has done a dozen or so receivers so far. 247 has him as a top 100 player.

Upstate representing?

Regardless of whether or not our recent success makes a difference with these recruits decisions, it feels great to be proud of our team when showing them off to possible prospects again.

Not that I wasn't a proud hokie fan when we lost but its great to be without that feeling of embarresment in your gut when reading about recruits visiting during miserable losses.

Lovin the hope for the future, and the future is now!!

So much talent at DeMatha. Hate to see Maryland with their foot in the door there

It's automatically easier for umd to recruit dematha when the school is literally down the street from the university.

No joke they're maybe 3 miles apart

If people at umd actually cared about football or they managed to put together some good teams then dematha would almost be a farm system for them

Virginia Tech School of Architecture Class of 2014
Fan of Hokies, Ravens, NY Giants, Orioles

Yea, but Maryland. Football.

Doesn't make any sense.

"Come to Maryland, where Rutgers is our biggest rival! Seriously!"

Somehow, that just seems right.

Oh I agree it doesn't make sense. They care about basketball there. Not football. Don't know what makes talented guys choose it considering college park itself sucks and the football atmosphere is awful.

But with dematha guys it could be because of the proximity. They grow up right around umd and it's likely family or friends have gone there and it's very familiar. So it could have something to do with it.

Dwayne Haskins figured it out in time haha

Virginia Tech School of Architecture Class of 2014
Fan of Hokies, Ravens, NY Giants, Orioles

Not football, it's Maryland. Ugliest school in the country combined with being the state school of the worst state in the country.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

Man there are some people on this board who really don't like the state of Maryland. Other than bad drivers I'm not sure why

Virginia Tech School of Architecture Class of 2014
Fan of Hokies, Ravens, NY Giants, Orioles

Two reasons other than Maryland Football.
1) they think crabs should be eaten whole.
2) they think Old Bay makes everything better.

Soft shell crabs are awesome, and old bat does in fact make pretty much everything better.

Throw in the US Naval Academy (my birthplace) and you have some good stuff to go along with the fantastic treat of an expertly prepared soft shelled crab and the obviously correct practice of having plenty of Old Bay to properly serve steamed crabs and shrimp. Maryland drivers, on the other hand...

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Yes, I hate Maryland. Maryland drivers are awful. I've almost been mugged twice in Baltimore. People from Baltimore think that city is greatest place ever and brag about it over and over. It's a hole. (Yes, I know the Fullers are from there.) People from Maryland also think they invented the Blue Crab and have the best ones. Sorry, they don't. NC crabs are better, I'm literally eating them right now and they are bigger and tastier than any Maryland crab I've ever had, and I've had my fair share. Old Bay is from there, I'll give them credit for that. UMD students have told me over and over how great their school and campus are. Uhhhhh.....nope.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

South Carolina (this one is a personal hatred), Mississippi, and Alabama want a word with you

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

It's nice to have something to "sell" the recruits. Feels like we
were only living off of reputation the past few seasons.
Imagine an offensive recruit seeing us now, in person. Awesome stuff.

Meanwhile, Muhammad is hoping to set another visit date "very soon," while Pinckney is set to see the Hokies again next week, albeit in a different context.

He'll be heading to Chapel Hill on Oct. 8 for UNC's matchup with Tech

Perfect. He'll get to see how awesome Hokie fans travel for away games, too! Let's make it loud next week!

I hope we can make UNC another "home" game for Pinckney. If the # of TKPers buying tickets is a microcosm of the whole fan base....

Tell your friends!

(edit: 2hokies posted while I was typing, great minds!)

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Haven't decided yet, but a heavy lean. Anyone ever RVed down there? Know what the set up is? Their website is a little unclear about how long you can stay in the RV lot. It basically says "It's free. There's a bus that takes you to the game. Don't take up too many spaces. Pick up your trash." Thanks. It's very clear you aren't a football school.

Did the RV/Bus thing to UNC for a few games from NOVA. The public lot is free but its not exactly close to the stadium or anything for that matter. We stayed Friday and Saturday nights. You should definitely go and support the good guys!

F-it. We're going. Section 100 row P. See you guys there.

Mitchell is getting a lot of looks and several schools are expressing interest. He is taking every visit. Duke is letting him attend a basketball game during ACC play.

Another factoid is that Union H.S. is a consolidation of Appalachia and Powell Valley schools. PV is where Thomas (and Julius) Jones went.

Thomas Jones Sr. works at the same place where Mitchell's Dad works. I also work there but in a different capacity. See them both frequently, though.

I wondered if the LOLUVA and ND recruiting pipelines were still open. Apparently so.

Does Jones Sr. still work in Tennessee?

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

No he works for the state in BSG. Hate to be cryptic, but I try to keep a lower profile when online. As does Mitchell's dad.

I understand that. You still live in Wise county?

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

Yep, replied above before I saw your comment.

If I remember correctly, a couple really big recruits were at the ECU game, including a 5* DE. Were there others there besides the ones in this article?

Did anyone else's heart start racing when they read this quote:
.

"Coach Wiggins said now he wants to start speeding things up, so I'll do what I've got to do," Pinckney said.

.
Oh man, I can't wait to see what our offense looks like when all our players are running it at full speed!!!!

Go Hokies!

Any updates on Hunter or any other major 2017 recruits?

VIRGINIA TECH'S "EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE" STANDS OUT FOR PROSPECTS

Never thought I would see this sentence...ever.

Another white bronco? The first one didn't go too far.

yes, in a typical year "implosive" is a more apt term for it.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I mean, diarrhea can be explosive.

Definitely a pleasant change, just pray it just the beginning of a long term tradition.

My coworker in the office next to mine has kids going through school in the North Rowan zone so I asked him about DeBose. He's committed to App State and is pretty big on them. I watched some game clips on his phone and the kid plays solid DE, but nothing to write home about. He needs to gain A LOT of weight and keep his speed up. His biggest upside is his pursuit, but he's not playing against speedsters. If he decides to come to Tech, he might do really well on special teams.

Funny story from the conversation: North Rowan played Statesville HS and an OL there has accepted an offer to Georgia Southern. That OL pancaked the shit out of DeBose on a play and says, You better get used to 4 years of that.

Funny story from the conversation: North Rowan played Statesville HS and an OL there has accepted an offer to Georgia Southern. That OL pancaked the shit out of DeBose on a play and says, You better get used to 4 years of that.

My son goes to Dorman "University" now. We have watched Jacoby blossom over the past few years. He is fast, solid route runner and catches with his hands. Would make a great addition to the Hokies family. Heading over to watch the cavaliers play boiling springs tonight. I predict 3 touchdowns for Jacoby. See you at UNC, go Hokies!

SCHokie

Boiling Springs is good.....Streater is fo'real.

Edit: Big win for Dorman!
It's going to get interesting in the division....

CJF, reel in those recruits!

The beginnings of the LPD!

"Watching No. 25 get into the end zone was kind of neat," Beamer said. "One time in college I intercepted and took it back and threw the ball directly into the stands. The coach said you need to act like you've been there before, and I said, 'I haven't been there before.'"

Shep7777

Forgot to post earlier. Got 7 tickets to UNCheat game! Hoping for 3:30 kick off.

Shep7777

The way they are thumping FSU, it might be a 3:30.