While Lane Stadium tends to get loud for just about any Virginia Tech home game, the Hokies' faithful could perhaps be forgiven for getting a little bit more amped for a game under the lights against Notre Dame than a day game against William and Mary.
Luckily, it would seem that Lane's intensity stood out to visiting recruits whether the game was a run-of-the-mill home opener or a top night game featuring two ranked opponents.
2020 S Cameron Roseman-Sinclair out of Charlotte's Myers Park HS visited for both games, and while he acknowledged the night game did come with a "different" environment, he said the in-game atmosphere was equally memorable.
"Even against William and Mary, it was still a packed house," Roseman-Sinclair told The Key Play. "That's a football school, for a fact."
Still, recruits in attendance say the Notre Dame game came with its own unique elements. 2019 WR commit Jaden Payoute out of Chesterfield's Bird HS was also in the stands for both the Notre Dame and William and Mary contests, and he says it was the crowd's commitment to alternating orange and maroon gear in the stadium that really made an impression on Oct. 6.
"The first time I did it, it was like 'Wow,'" Payoute said, describing his first "Enter Sandman" in Lane. "But seeing it with the Hokie Effect and everything going, it made it all more memorable."
And for recruits experiencing a game in Lane for the first time ever, Blacksburg plainly did not disappoint — though it did surprise.
"The cannon scared the crap out of me," said 2021 RB Evan Pryor out of Cornelius, N.C.'s Hough HS. "With the 'Sandman' song and the crowd going crazy, it was actually louder than i thought it was gonna be. But it was great, I loved it."
Hokie fans lived up to expectations by doing more than just raising a ruckus at kickoff, it would seem. 2020 ATH Lamareon James of Chesapeake's Indian River HS may not be a household name just yet, but he managed to run into some admirers in his first trip to Tech, all the same.
"What surprised me the most was the fan base," James said. "I say that because, when I was walking, some of the fans, they knew who I was. That surprised me, right there."
Yet it wasn't just fans doing a little bit of recruiting for the big game. Payoute estimates that as many as 10 2019 commits made it to the game — he says the group chats "almost daily" — and they weren't afraid to give the other athletes in attendance a bit of a sales pitch.
"They were telling me how this is the place to be and how it's not gonna go up anywhere but up from there," said Pryor, who's rated a 4-star recruit by 247Sports. "Just giving me multiple reasons about how V-Tech is that place, how they're gonna join together to take over college football, basically. And I liked it."
Roseman-Sinclair says the coaches had a similar pitch to offer before the game. Even though there were plenty of preparations underway, he says he got a chance to meet with Justin Fuente, TE/special teams coach James Shibest and safeties coach Tyrone Nix, all of whom extolled his virtues as a "a versatile player who can fit any role in their DB corps."
"They're just telling me that as fast as I get there is as fast as I'm gonna be filled in to help build that defense up even more," said Roseman-Sinclair, who's rated a 4-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite ranking.
Even in the midst of up-and-down season, Pryor says the message from RBs coach Zohn Burden was that "the program's going in a great direction." Payoute heard about the same from WRs coach Holmon Wiggins and CBs coach Brian Mitchell.
"They were like, 'We're doing something special, we have something special in the making right now,'" Payoute said. "They think our future is very bright, and I can see it."
Payoute added that Wiggins was particularly keen on "talking about how my role would help out a lot, a receiver with some speed," and he had no trouble envisioning how he'd fit in the offense.
"I was almost torn out of the game," Payoute said. "There was a point in the game where I was daydreaming, where it was like I was zoning out for a minute and it felt like I was playing. I was daydreaming."
Pryor had his own experience seeing himself in orange and maroon, particularly when it comes to improving on Tech's 132 yards on the ground.
"Their run game was actually very successful," Pryor said "I just felt like, if I was their running back, you know, you're watching the game, you see some stuff that maybe you would've done different. But I liked their run game and I could see myself in that offense."
That being said, Pryor appreciated the team's "will to fight" in the fourth quarter, even after going down quickly after halftime against the Irish. The way Payoute saw it, "we just beat ourselves."
"It was just not capitalizing when we should, just small things we need to tighten up to help us get that win," Payoute said.
James was similarly serene about the ultimate outcome of the game, noting "they just weren't meant to win that one," perhaps presciently predicting that the team would "bounce back" against UNC. Roseman-Sinclair agreed that Tech's "performance was great," especially given all the challenges the team has on defense these days.
"At the end of the day, I understand it's a lot of young guys on the field, so they're improving every single week," Roseman-Sinclair said.
That combination of youthful potential and bountiful available playing team means Roseman-Sinclair "most definitely" still considers the Hokies his leader. He even visited Chapel Hill this past weekend, where he was treated to Tech's comeback win over the Tar Heels.
He's not sure of when his next Tech game will be, though he is planning a trip to Clemson this coming weekend.
Pryor is headed to Duke this weekend, then he hopes to return to Tech for the Miami game in mid-November, as he gets ready to trim down his list a bit.
"I'm actually starting to narrow my list down, probably I will during this upcoming summer," Pryor said. "Because I want to be committed by junior year going into my senior year."
Payoute is aiming to take his official visit to Tech sometime in December, then make it to "as many home games as I can" after that.
James is more unsure of his plans, but he can guarantee he'll return to Blacksburg soon.
"I will be back for sure for another game," James said. "I feel like I'd be a good fit for the school."