Fire up the fax machines. It's national signing day and french60wasp is on-hand to answer any X's and O's related questions about Virginia Tech's 2017 class. On top of that, TKP's resident member of Team Pie will provide an initial analysis of each Hokies' signee.
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Expect more in-depth film reviews on Virginia Tech Tech's class of '17 to be published in the coming weeks. Please use the thread to ask questions related to Tech recruiting or Hokies' football. Some will be answered today, and the ones that lend themselves to more thorough thoughts will get a stand alone analysis. This is an opportunity for TKPers, via excellent questions, to help dictate some of the offseason articles published on TKP.
french60wasp's Instant(-ish) Analysis of Virginia Tech's 2017 Signees
Tyuan Garbutt (DE, 6-3, 220): Terrific athlete. Attacks the football, great high point. More natural hand-catcher than Kalil Pimpleton and Caleb Farley. Has good speed for a big man. Garbutt has great edge speed, but film shows great reliance on his athleticism to get around the edge and given his skill set and level of competition, production should have been higher. Very little use of leverage moves. Likes to stand up and plays very high.
Aiden Brown (OL, 6-3, 285): For my money, Brown's a guard all the way. Displays terrific quick feet. Light on his feet and keeps them moving. Doesn't plant to drive. The are concerns though. He doesn't get immediate explosive movement on blocks. He has to engage and gets knock downs by keeping his feet moving and running through the defender when they start to lose their balance which indicates that he needs work on lower body strength, especially explosion lifts (power clean). Displays very stiff hips, high pad level. Doesn't get his head in great position despite being quick enough to get the proper angle.
Drake DeIuliis (TE, 6-5, 220): Very little film from his senior year (and the tape quality is not stellar). Deiuliis projects as a hybrid wide receiver, H-Back who can actively line up split wide and in the slot. Several clips of him as a read-option quarterback. Deiuliis does a good job of high pointing the football and taking it away from smaller corners on fade routes. His blocking isn't featured on the film and is an unknown to him playing as an every down H-Back. Will likely be a situational big receiver who can block corners on screens and be targeted on routes where he can take advantage of his size matchup over smaller corners. His quarterback runs are not dynamic, but show that he is strong enough to get some yards after catch.
Dylan Rivers (LB, 6-3, 230): Bigger and more athletic than any recent Tech mike linebacker recruit. Has frame to play comfortably at 235-plus. Assertive once he gets down hill. Physical tackler. Has range and can drop back into zones. Does tend to cross over moving laterally instead of shuffling and often tackles too high. By comparison, Rayshard Ashby has better form, but Rivers is the better athlete in space. Does a nice job of fitting, protecting his body to bounce off blocks and redirect. Is the biggest bull on the field — can he do that against ACC-caliber offensive linemen?
Rayshard Ashby (LB, 5-11, 230) : Very good form tackler bundled in a small build (seemingly without much more room to grow). Gets low. Every tackle is around the waist or lower. Doesn't play violent, but runners do not escape his arms. Gets downhill quickly. Not sure if he is instinctive, only has one-gap responsibility. Not a great athlete so he will be limited in space. Takes false steps when he attacks the run — great if he anticipates the correct gap, feet could get tied up if runner bounces or cuts back. Problems if he has to drop into zones. Can he back pedal versus a seam route to the field? Bud Foster has a good history with ballhawking smaller mikes that can play down hill.
Nathan Proctor (DE, 6-3, 230): I am in the minority on this, but I believe he could be an excellent backer. He moves, fills, sheds, and runs very similarly to Tremaine Edmunds at the same point of their careers. And Edmunds is becoming a much more fluid and natural backer with experience. Proctor doesn't look entirely comfortable yet as a hand-on-the-ground defensive end, edge rusher. He doesn't get that first step and redirect flat down the line, but he's athletic enough to learn. Explosive high-end athlete. Given Edmunds' production and role at his size, I believe Proctor could still factor at backer, especially with Tech's class having so many DEs. Has the frame to bulk up if his destination is on the edge of the front-four.
Hezekiah Grimsley (WR, 6-0, 180): Does a nice job high-pointing the football. Has long arms and a knack for timing the jump on the ball. Produces nice yards after the catch. Shifty, although not the quickest guy in space. Route running is suspect and does not cut sharply. Patient. Doesn't put ball in outside arm. Plays bigger than listed size.
Bryce Watts (DB 6-1, 185): Athletic, long corner, raw. Has some experience playing leverage technique. Has some nice break ups; uses his reach well to play the ball. Has some bad habits with footwork, especially playing off/slot/safety where he isn't in small space. At one point instead of changing direction on a crossing route, spins around, which takes his eyes off the ball and turns his back to play to create even more separation. Could be productive, especially in a boundary role, but will not see the field initially. Coaches obviously thought highly of him and devoted a ton of effort to his recruitment even after his commitment to Rutgers.
Christian Darrisaw (OL, 6-4, 299): Similar to 2015 signee D'Andre Plantin. Undersized, long player with great feet. Uses his athleticism to get good angles. Needs to add strength. Likes to deliver a blow with a punch, but doesn't bring his feet with him. Won't bench press D-I guys. Reports are that he will prep a year. Really needs to work on bend and lower body strength during his prep year.
Jaylen Griffin (LB, 6-2, 230): Seems undersized on film. Plays in a similar traditional whip role (wide, on slot against spread, on edge of line of scrimmage in space). Quick first step and can bend to the football. Fast player who can run past and through reach blocks. Given how much nickel Virginia Tech runs, not sure he can cover well enough to be a whip, but will likely start there as an option against pro-packages/heavy personnel (similar to Anthony Shegog's role). Will he be a bandit in dime? Special teams ace. Terrific first step on kick and punt blocks. Lays out, arms together so no space to kick through. His athleticism and tackling should translate well to kick off coverage.
Devon Hunter (DB, 6-2, 215): Prototypical rover in Foster's scheme. Terrific athlete. Strong, physical tackler in space. Uses appropriate leverage and good angles in space. Rangy and was tasked to read plays sideline-to-sideline (won't do that in most coverages at Virginia Tech). Expect he will be good in the alley. Gets caught looking into the backfield. Excellent recovery on film, but will be tough to recover against Power Five tight end/slot threats off quick play-action vertical seam routes. Too stiff to cover man-to-man versus split receivers, which lends himself to play rover over an early nickel or free safety role. (Very good running back, but doesn't always switch arms.)
Jalen Holston (RB, 6-0, 220): Played fullback in a flexbone offense. North-south runner with great speed for a bigger bodied back. Very good feet, although he isn't a guy who will make people miss going east-west, but he runs with high knees so he can step through ankle tackles without getting tripped. Lots of quick hitters on film, slides laterally off blocks. Really nice vision to avoid his blockers. Runs through tackles. Similar stature to Marshawn Williams, but a healthy Juice (pre first ACL) was quicker cutting off zone blocks. Holston has a tendency to stop to cut and doesn't get out of that break as quickly. Several nice catches with his hands off boot action. Has to block and catch in Virginia Tech's offense. More of a battering ram/straight-line threat. In Justin Fuente's scheme, he could thrive by way of linebackers schemed out of position (or running over them), rather than getting wide to the sideline.
Lecitus Smith (TE, 6-4, 260): Tackle eligible passes anyone? Good hands catcher, but seemingly will transition to the offensive line. Nice feet. Moves well. Stance is a bit over the toes though. Concerns about his arm length and pop/extension. Needs to shorten his strides when engaging as a blocker. Good angles and head placement. Feet pause briefly at contact and he has to run through blocks. Recovers well. Needs to add lower body strength.
Devante Smith (DB, 6-0, 190): Senior highlights feature quarterback play. Long strides, nice change of direction. Long lean kid. Will have to learn the nuance of safety — physical and disciplined enough to be a rover — good enough in coverage to be a free safety. Communication as a former QB shouldn't be quite the challenge.
Robert Porcher IV (DE, 6-3, 255): Porcher was incredibly productive for Dr. Phillips HS, where he set the school career record in sacks. He has long arms and does a terrific job of attacking opposing offensive lineman with his hands, dictating the blocking angle, and then using a leverage move to get off the block. He is polished in terms of beating blocks with leverage and his brain. Porcher can bend his body to create a small target to shoot a gap and then get big to fit in the gap and give the ball carrier nowhere to go. Porcher doesn't have the quickest first step, but has great timing for getting off on the snap. Almost without exception he moves before the blocker does on the snap. Porcher also has big legs and good lower body power. As a defensive end, he could be a solid player right away. He will likely grow into a defensive tackle and he will need to add some upper body strength and size.
J'Bril Glaze (DL, 6-4, 270): Glaze played as a 3-4 defensive end in high school and was a very effective two-gap player. He depends more on running through blockers than beating them with quickness and leverage. He has violent hands when he uses them. Because he doesn't have terrific speed, he needs to maintain his leverage and come back with a second move after he gains the initial advantage. He redirects off of blocks and finds the football well, and can pursue flat down the line. As evidenced against Arkansas, having a defensive tackle that can beat a center's down block and work flat down the line to the football is critical in Foster's scheme against power blocking. Glaze needs to use better pad level. After his second step he is almost standing upright. He has to maintain his forward momentum and balance while giving blockers a smaller target. Glaze will need to use his freshman year to focus on adding lower body strength and working on his pad level. Charley Wiles has been very good at identifying "good fit" defensive tackles.
Sean Savoy (WR, 5-11, 180): This kid has speed to burn and an attitude too. He is slotted as a wide receiver, and he likely will be one, but I liked his corner film even more when he was a junior. He is a bit raw technique wise, but he has great hips, attacks the football, and has great closing speed. Plus, the kid gets his nose in there and lays a lick. As a senior, he played more at safety and has great range at that spot. I was surprised that he was listed at 5'11" because he doesn't look that tall. If he sticks at wide receiver, he can be an immediate contributor from the slot. He is a violent runner that strides quickly after the catch. He gets north and south quickly and burns by people. It was difficult to evaluate his route running, but he always seemed to be wide open, which made catches easy. He is very effective on clear out routes, where the other receivers run vertical routes to clear things out and then he settles down underneath the coverage. He isn't a big receiver but he high points the football really well and catches with his hands instead of his belly. He wasn't utilized as much in the running game as other slot receiver options like Pimpleton, but Cam Phillips and C.J. Carroll were not guys who we expected to get carries on jet sweeps and both got important touches in that role.