Tech Tidbits: Bud Foster Wants to Fix the Early Signing Period, and He Knows Just How to Do It

The Hokies' DC discusses the new recruiting landscape, and Devon Hunter's future at whip.

[Mark Umansky]

From Justin Fuente to Bud Foster, I feel like I've heard various members of Tech's coaching staff stress just how young this team is about a hundred times so far this spring.

You've got to talk about something in the mid-spring doldrums before the spring game really appears on the horizon, right?

But I'll tell you, you look at this roster, and they are not kidding. Even diehard fans would have trouble recognizing too many names.

A lot of that is driven by all those draft defections on defense, but even on offense, you're talking about replacing everyone from Cam Phillips to Wyatt Teller.

Try and construct a depth chart sometime yourself if you're not sure of this. Fuente has already gone on at length about the lack of depth at DB and LB, but it is truly nothing but untested guys all over the place.

That's far from being all bad; after all, there are a lot of former 4-star guys, especially on defense, who we just haven't seen take the field in any serious way just yet.

So, no pressure on the coaches this spring, right?

Let's get into it.

Foster's Plan for a 'True Early Signing Period'

Foster and Fuente didn't offer much in terms of big news about position changes or injuries Tuesday, but Foster's comments on the new recruiting landscape are worth highlighting, all the same.

The early signing period got all the ink when the powers that be approved the change last year, but a lesser known change was that juniors are now allowed to take official visits in the spring, rather than waiting until the fall and winter, when they're seniors. For example, four-star RB Devyn Ford has a string of spring official visits set ahead of an early decision date.

The Hokies have hosted some scattered unofficial visitors here and there, and the spring game is sure to bring even more visitors (official and unofficial) to Blacksburg. Plainly, the topic is weighing on Foster's mind because he didn't hold back when given the chance to expound on the matter.

"If we're going to have early official visits, in my opinion, we need to have a true early signing period," Foster told reporters. "Because you can bring a kid in for April 14, for the spring game, then he doesn't sign until Dec. 20. That is a long time, as opposed to official visits start in December, then they sign the first Wednesday in February...There's a big void in time right there where a kid can change his mind and do some different things, particularly if they're already committed to you. If they're all in, they're all in and let's go ahead and have a true early signing period."

Foster even went so far as as to say that he doesn't believe the late December deadline is a "true early signing period," thanks to the new official visit standards, suggesting that a Sept. 1 deadline might be more appropriate.

With that sort of change, Foster said he'd be more in favor of the early official visits, noting that a good number of his colleagues are currently opposed to the early signing period as it's currently constructed — even Fuente griped a bit around bowl season about the inconvenience of having a signing deadline in the midst of bowl prep.

Foster has a point here, and it's interesting that he decided to use his megaphone as one of the top defensive coordinators in the country to make it. Every recruit is different, but surely there are plenty who'd be glad to sign even before their senior seasons begin in earnest and not think about the process anymore.

There's no telling whether Foster's idea will gain traction, though surely the NCAA is listening to people who've been around the game as long as he has.

However, the creation of the early signing period in the first place would seemingly signal that Mark Emmert and company are now more willing to change the recruiting calendar ever more frequently. The early signing period itself is not without controversy, considering how many barriers the NCAA still throws up to player mobility, but it does at least show officials are willing to listen to the concerns of people intimately involved in the recruiting process.

And as public opinion increasingly turns against the NCAA's stance on amateurism, it's worth monitoring just how responsive Emmert proves to be to concerns of those working within the existing system — it certainly might seem like a more attractive option for them to answer their concerns rather than watch the system get completely upended.

Hunter Home at Whip?

As I mentioned up top, the downside of a young roster is all the uncertainty that comes with who exactly might fill out the depth chart. That goes double when some prominent players are hurt for the spring, like nickel/whip Mook Reynolds.

The upside? Blue-chip recruits who once burned up the message boards like Devon Hunter get real practice time.

The Hokies have made it clear that they're ready to see what Hunter can do this spring, after he only got limited playing time on special teams last year.

However, it's notable that Foster added that Hunter likely won't spend much time at safety this spring, even though that seemed like a natural spot for him to step into the starting lineup.

"We could move him back, depending on Mook's situation and whatnot," Foster said. "But right now, trying to develop the next guy at that position (whip/nickel) is really, really important."

This could represent a bit of real down-the-road planning — the Hokies get to simultaneously see what they have with Hunter at whip, where he could take over permanently once Reynolds graduates, and test out other candidates at free safety. Khalil Ladler especially comes to mind, particularly after he spent some time filling in for Terrell Edmunds once he got hurt last season.

But Foster's insistence on playing Hunter at the whip/nickel spot, long a pivotal position on his defense, makes me wonder whether he envisions him taking over that starting role there right away. Perhaps Reynolds can slide to safety, or corner? Foster has never been shy about shuffling positions in the secondary, especially with an inexperienced group, as he has now.

Maybe he's just curious to see what he has in the former 4-star, and is using the spring to experiment. Or maybe this is the start of some big changes in the secondary to be revealed as the offseason progresses.

Hooker Packs on the Pounds

We've heard surprisingly little about the quarterbacks this spring, even for a coaching staff notoriously tight-lipped on the matter.

Even with Hendon Hooker and Ryan Willis speaking to reporters today, there isn't much in the way of tea leaves to read about whether or not Josh Jackson is in real danger of losing the starting spot anytime soon.

Yet Hooker did say at least one thing worth noting Tuesday.

A 20-pound gain isn't wildly uncommon for anyone spending their first year in a college strength program, but that is a notable change for an athletic QB like Hooker.

Last spring, he was noticeably smaller than Jackson; he was fresh out of high school, after all. Hooker's strength coming in was his potential as a running threat in a way that Jackson wasn't, but without ACC size, playing right away would be a tough sell.

Now, the two are listed at the same weight: 216 pounds, according to Tech's spring roster.

We are a long way from knowing whether this competition will be a serious one, or just fodder for idle talk during spring ball. But I would also caution anyone against dismissing Hooker out of hand, even as we anxiously await Quincy Patterson's arrival.

I'll close by noting that Justin Fuente likes Devon Hunter well enough to drop a little Italian on the media.

Comments

perfect picture of Foster to support his stance on the early signing period.

1-0 every week

Umansky takes pretty good photos.

It's the closest I've ever seen BF come to not knowing who farted. He always knows. And he's usually not pleased about it.

Prima donna is Italian? Hmm...I know some Italian!

“Stats are for losers.” -Mel Kiper Jr.

Hate to break it to you, but it's actually Spanish for your cousin Donna, or maybe Portuguese for a single doughnut... I don't know. Sounds fancy, though.

Mmm....Portuguese doughnut. Sounds like a term off of urban dictionary.

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Can't tell if you're joking or not, but just in case, it's actually Italian for the main or prime lady. Although you are correct in mentioning prima as cousin in Spanish, it would not be logical in this situation.

"I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them. Go Virginia Tech." -Lee

San Diago. Spanish for a whale's vagina... Agree to disagree, then!

Usted no entiende nada mi amigo. Que le vaya bien, y Go Hokies!

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, TKPC#490, One of us!

Tranquilo chamo que lo entiendo todo. Disculpa, se me olvidó la /s al final de mis comentarios.

Jeg kan bare forstå med google translate

Well put, Sir. Take your leg!

you probably know a few more italian words from popular opera terms... aria, soprano, prima donna, etc.

🦃 🦃 🦃

Taylor... looking desperately...now throws it DEEP..HAS A MAN OPEN! CAUGHT! DANNY COALE! ALL THE WAY! OUT OF BOUNDS, at the three...

20 pounds! Can't wait for the before and after pics of the team after spring practice. Always love seeing our guys getting yoked!!

H. O. K. I. E. S. HOKIES!!

We're really young out there. Lost a lot of experience, but we may have gotten a little faster. I like the effort, we just need these guys to figure out what they're doing out there. This group has the potential to be something special. We just need to put in the effort to get there, but I believe these guy are really working hard. They're all over the place, but they're getting after it, and I like where we're at, we're just not here need to be. We got a lot of really good, really young guys, not just athletes, but young men with real character if you know what I mean. They are buying into the work effort, and we've got a few leaders out there showing them how we do things. I think we have chance to great do some great things with these guys, its just how quick we can get there. - CFB, probably.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

If there is serious consideration regarding an early signing period before the season begins, then there needs to be some kind of out for the LOI in the event of coaching change. Maybe not any coach leaving, but if the head coach and/or position coach leaves, then the kid needs to be able to reevaluate his college choice. I think that should be available in the February signing period as well, as we've seen several examples recently of position coaches hanging on until Signing Day, then leaving for another job.

The Poster Formerly Known As The Spirit Of Bernard Basham

What's the chances Hunter gets the start at Whip and Mook move back to Corner or Safety?

Recruit Prosim

But Foster's insistence on playing Hunter at the whip/nickel spot, long a pivotal position on his defense, makes me wonder whether he envisions him taking over that starting role there right away. Perhaps Reynolds can slide to safety, or corner? Foster has never been shy about shuffling positions in the secondary, especially with an inexperienced group, as he has now.

I'd say Koma addressed it as well as anyone could at this point.

I appreciate all the support, and I appreciate all the hate I am getting. I will continue to work as hard as I can to be the best I can be and bring this team a championship. Go Hokies 🐔 - Josh Jackson

I would put it at high. Bud likes the FS to be a veteran. He moved Kam Chancellor from Whip to FS his senior year, and it's safe to say that wasn't Kam's natural position.

He values someone who has been in the defense long enough that they could make the calls in coverage changes back there.

What's
Important
Now

Agreed, calls are most important to prevent big plays

(although my recollection of Kam's move was from Rover to FS)

Want to curb late commitments/flip flopping? Stop making "official visits" boondoggles with 5 star food, "girls", plane tickets for family, etc etc etc. If the visits were about football and academics and not a mini cruise/vegas vacation, less kids would take late visits and/or visit schools they really have no intention of signing with until the late (lies) "sales pitch" from a dirtball like Locksley or Beatty. I'm all for kids enjoying recruiting and taking visits to schools, but it's gotten out of hand now.

Late commitments go both ways. It's the food chain.

Given Blacksburg's location, paid official visits are a net plus. You lose a bunch of elite guys you likely weren't going to get anyway, but you get a bunch of 2nd tier guys you may very well have lost to lesser programs in more convenient locales.