Aidan Rafferty entered the 2016 season a first-year varsity starter at left tackle.
By February, he owned offers from major Division I schools.
The 6-foot-6, 290-pound lineman thrived last year for Gonzaga College HS in the nation's capital. He did it with the agility that made eyes at close to 20 programs open wide.
A basketball and rugby player much of his life, Rafferty possesses physical traits ideal as a blocker on the end.
"A lot of times you get big kids who are stiff," Eagles' coach Randy Trivers said. "They may have the big frame but not the feet or they have the stiffness where they can't really sink their hips or have the bend in ankles and knees.
"With Aidan, he can redirect and go in another direction. From a physical standpoint, he's sort of what you like and what you're looking for."
In Gonzaga's pro-style, multiple-set offense, Rafferty took to his spot just fine.
"I am pretty patient on my punch and pretty good at staying in front of my defender with my feet," the 18-year-old self-evaluated. "I'd like to say that I haven't developed all my skills yet and can be adaptable to all these schemes."
He's visited Blacksburg three times and while no timetable is set for his commitment, he likes what Virginia Tech offers.
"They're a hard and tough football team so they pride themselves on the toughness of the players and also the academics there, too," Rafferty said. "They pride themselves that it's student-athletes, guys that are going to class and taking valuable majors and can succeed after college in life."
A strong student who also garnered interest from Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale, Rafferty's stayed grounded through the recruitment process.
Trivers is aware of the type of athlete he has at his disposal. He's also quick to point out the character his somewhat late-bloomer boasts.
"He's a guy that you can really mold him from a strength and conditioning year-round, he can really take off," Trivers explained. "He's a really well-rounded prospect when you look at the intangible things and the off-the-field stuff. He's a very mature kid.
"You're not looking for a high maintenance guy who you're going to have to twist and prod to get to class. You can't be asking, 'Is he going to be serious about getting his degree?' You don't have time for that."
In the hyper-competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, Rafferty sprung onto the scene. The league – which is filled with stellar edge defenders – awarded Rafferty second-team honors.
Physical prowess, intangibles and the ability to rise above in a crowded group of talented players does justice to Rafferty's portfolio.
However, it's the idea of what he could become that projects him as a top-flight prospect. The 247 Composite ranks him as a 3-star recruit, No. 45 among the nation's tackles.
The Hokies' staff told Rafferty they see him as a tackle and a likely redshirt candidate.
"I think it's always better for a prospect if he can be a tackle, that's generally the more premium position in terms of blocking on the edge," Trivers said. "Then he can jump down and play guard, it's always easier than if you ask a guy to move out and play on the island.
"I think most people that are recruiting him are looking at him as a tackle prospect with the thought that, 'Hey, he could play inside, too.'"
Trivers expressed a desire to sit down with the teen he affectionately calls "Big A" and whittle down his offer list to a handful of serious contenders.
Virginia Tech does have a connection to Trivers. The former coach of Northwest in Germantown, Maryland sent Ike Whitaker and Justin Young to play for Frank Beamer.
Young, who played defensive line for the Hokies, furthers the ties to Rafferty. He's the Gonzaga offensive line coach.
"I think Virginia Tech is a heckuva place," Trivers said. "I would think it has a great chance to continue to be in that conversation as far as the potential to be a place where Aidan lands.
"... I think they're a serious contender. I think Aidan's in a situation where he's in a discovery phase and mode right now. This is a time in May when there's a tremendous amount of traffic coming through our institution, people evaluating him and kind of jumping in on his recruitment. I think as we continue thru this month he's going to keep his mind and heart open."
That's exactly what he did as he entered the school as a 6-foot-2 freshman. He waited his turn and fell in love with the sport that will soon take him to the next level.
"I like the mental toughness you have to have to go back play after play and sometimes do the same thing and every time you're fighting against someone essentially," Rafferty said. "You have to be able to dominate the guy across from you.
"You've got to prove yourself every time you play."
Tech redshirt kicker Brian Anderson is another Trivers product out of Gonzaga ... The coach's ties to VPI go back to the late 90's, one of his mentors and former coaches at the College of the Holy Cross was Tony Ball, a former Hokie assistant ... He's still close with Ball, who now coaches running backs at Louisiana Tech ... "I've had a long-lasting relationship with Bud Foster and coach (Charley) Wiles, guys who were with coach Beamer so long. You know guys like that who have such loyalty and love for coach, when they're doing a bang-up job for coach Fuente and embracing him as they move forward and honoring the traditions that coach put in place, it's clear they're doing some really, really good things ... I'd be lying to you if I said the new staff, that I know exactly how they take care of players. But the guys who bridged the transition from that staff to this staff are excited, optimistic and as positive about what's going on now as they've ever been. I think that shows the integrity of coach (Fuente) and his values, what he stands for and what he's trying to do with the program. It's certainly worthy of that type of trust from high school coaches saying hey, this is the type of program we feel good about our kids going to not only because of winning bowl games and all that but because you're kid's going to be loved," Trivers said of his relationship to Tech ... In rugby, Rafferty plays second row ... "In the scrum, we're the guys behind the props that essentially push the whole scrum. On out of bounds plays, we're the guys who lift the jumpers up to get the ball," Rafferty said ... Athleticism and speed while on the move isn't only valued by schools, but Rafferty himself ... "I like the movement of the offensive line with the spread, it's nice," he said of Tech's offense. "I enjoy running out on screens and zone blocks ... but it's always fun to get a pancake block on a run play." ... On his time in Blacksburg, Rafferty added: "I like the atmosphere of the school, all the kids walking around you can tell they enjoyed it. I also like the campus, facilities there and definitely the coaches ... My first impression (of Fuente), I'd say that he's a devoted coach who knows what it takes for his team to win, definitely." ... A Kensington, Maryland native, Rafferty enjoys English as his favorite subject but isn't yet sure what he'll choose as a major ... "I like that the creative aspect of it. It's not just reciting facts or dates, stuff like that ... I probably like writing better than reading. I'm probably best at either (writing) like a descriptive essay or a short story," he said.