When Nadir Thompson first set foot in Blacksburg last summer for a one-day camp, he struck up a conversation with one of the younger coaches on the field.
He never got the staffer's name, though Thompson remembers that he was "talking like he was just one of the other, regular coaches on the team."
So when the athletic cornerback product of North Carolina's Southern Nash HS was escorted into Justin Fuente's office at the end of the visit, he got quite the surprise.
"I didn't even realize he was the head coach until I got into his office and he told me," Thompson told The Key Play.
He says the Hokies offered him on the spot, even though he was still committed to N.C. State at the time, and that experience with Fuente's down-to-earth style convinced him to give Virginia Tech a serious look.
Thompson wouldn't pull the trigger and commit to Tech until June 15, nearly a year to the day after his first trip to Blacksburg, but he says it was ultimately his relationship with the staff (especially Fuente and his future position coach, CBs coach Brian Mitchell) that made him pick the Hokies over the Wolfpack.
"I believed what Coach Fuente was telling me in his office and what Coach Mitchell was telling me," Thompson said. "They always stayed in touch with me and made sure I was doing good and made sure my mom was doing good, and stuff like that."
Thompson says it was particularly important that the Hokies got in his mom's good graces before he made a final decision.
With his senior season rapidly approaching, Thompson felt like he'd pretty much made up his mind. But first, he wanted to bring his mom with him for a visit to Tech to make sure they were on the same page, and the pair mapped out a trip for June 15.
"I knew when I went down there," Thompson said. "I was just waiting for my mom to give me the OK and for her to start liking Virginia Tech as much as I did. So we did the visit, went around the campus and talked with the coaches, and after that, she said she felt comfortable and I told them I wanted to commit."
Thompson says he waited for a one-on-one meeting with Fuente to break the news, and the head Hokie reacted just the way one might expect.
"He was happy, he told me to stand up and give him a big hug," Thompson said. "Then we went out in the hallway and told Coach (Charley) Wiles, Coach (Bud) Foster and Coach Mitchell."
Thompson says he was particularly excited to share the moment with Mitchell, as the two managed to build quite the relationship once the Hokies started targeting him as a cornerback in Fuente's system.
"What I like about him is he's a godly man, he's stayed true to his word, that's what I like most about him," Thompson said.
Other schools have considered Thompson a potential playmaker on offense, but he says he's played cornerback since he got to high school and will put his prime focus on the position this year. But that's not to say that he sees himself sticking strictly to defense at the next level.
"I've been playing both ways since I was like 7," Thompson said. "I'm mostly leaning more towards corner this year, so I'll be in for some key plays. Whenever we need them, a play to win, I'll be in on offense, do what I have to do."
And he adds that the Hokies don't expect him to spend too much time on the bench once he arrives on campus — Thompson is rated a 3-star prospect by the 247Sports composite ranking.
"They told me I have the attributes of a good leader and they want me to come in and be an impact player and be a leader when I first get there," Thompson said.
That's exciting news for Thompson, because he has every reason to believe that the Hokies have "a pretty good season coming up," and a "tradition of winning" overall.
"Seeing what (Fuente) did at Memphis, that stood out to me a lot," Thompson said.
Now, Thompson is planning a return trip to Tech for the Hokies' summer cookout gathering for recruits on July 22, and he doesn't want to go alone.
He's already putting the pressure on some of his fellow North Carolina standouts to join the vaunted #NC2VT movement — he's tweeting at prospects like 2018 LB Dax Hollifield and DT Alim McNeill out in public, and DMing others like fellow '18 corner Kalon Gervin.
Thompson says he's not sure why so many players from his state have already committed to Tech this cycle — the Hokies now have four North Carolinians in the fold for the 2018 class — but he can take some educated guesses.
"It's probably because of (area recruiter) Coach Wiles," Thompson said. "He's a pretty cool guy, pretty genuine, so everybody probably finds what they like about Coach Wiles and that just sticks with them and they keep him in mind. And then when they get on campus they realize what they could do at Virginia Tech and where they're headed towards. I bet that stands out to them too."