ACC Recruiting Breakdowns: Virginia Tech...

Disclaimer number 1, I try to do all of my work for TKP with as little bias as possible. It's tough, but I think I've gotten pretty good at looking at the recruiting side of the sport with clear lenses. I understand everyone is upset about the Davis decommitment, but let's not let that bit of news cloud our understanding of the 2020 class. You know, guys that are actually signed up to be Hokies.

Disclaimer number 2, this is gonna be a bit longer of a write-up than the others, for obvious reasons. So many questions and concerns have flown around the 2020 Hokie class, and justifiably so. In the midst of coming off a losing season for the first time since before I was born, to having a legendary coach retire, to the increase in momentum in Chapel Hill, a lot goes into why this class is the way it is.

I think it's important to look at the challenges that faced the Hokies for this class. For starters, the state of Virginia just didn't have the depth in this class. Outside of the top 3 or 4 guys, there wasn't much elite talent. Combine that with a lack of recruiting relations in the state on the coaching staff, and it's hard to imagine this class being anything but a bottom feeder.

Still, I like to analyze the numbers and not the feelings. So, here we go.

2020 Class:
ACC Rank: 14
National Rank: 74
# of Signees: 19
Average Recruit Rating: 0.8498
Top Recruit: Alec Bryant, EDGE, Pearland TX (0.8958)

Biggest Need: Defensive Line and Wide Receiver depth

Three years ago, I sat in a press conference in Merryman during spring practices and asked Justin Fuente about the depth on the defensive line. He immediately laughed, shook his head, and said something along the lines of "we have a long way to go." This fall, the Hokies were in the same spot. Charley Wiles's departure from Blacksburg wasn't without cause. The Hokies are undersized and undermanned on the D-Line. A simple rundown of the size and weight of some new D-Line recruits and prospects shows you a whole lot. In this class, the Hokies signed 5 guys on the D-Line, all are listed as DE:

Derrell Bailey Jr. (0.8484) – Massive size at 6'6" 255lbs. Could be more of a run stopper as opposed to an edge player. This may be a good time to reiterate that per talking to new recruits, Justin Hamilton plans to have an edge DE for more pass rushing and coverage play, as well as a run stopping SDE, which will be more of a hybrid between DT/DE. Bailey could develop into a solid SDE/DT under this scheme.

Alec Bryant (0.8958) – The highest ranked player in the class, Bryant is a classic pass rusher with an incredibly quick first step. He was the 17th ranked edge rusher in the nation out of Texas. At 6'3" 240lbs., he has the size and pass rushing skills ready to see the field in the fall.

Robert Wooten (0.8721) – Another 6'3" edge rusher from Texas, Wooten is violent at the point of attack and plays with a bit more power than Bryant. I'd see him as more of an SDE at Tech, but it's not for a lack of quickness and twitch. An underrated skill in D-Lineman is taking on blockers. Dominant D-Lineman can affect a play by taking on blockers and not allowing them to create a crease for a runner. Wooten does that regularly, no one gets a push on him.

Justin Beadles (0.8519) – Bailey's size with Bryant's speed. Beadles has only played DE for two years, and he shows incredible hustle and stamina during games. Athletically, he's a freakshow. He matches that with tenacity and hustle. I know the Lunch Pail may be going into retirement, but this is an LPD guy if I've ever seen one.

Justus Reed – I'll hit on him later...

Overall, Tapp and Teerlinck saved this class by ditching Wiles's method of undersized, underrecruited lineman and looking for athletes that can develop into the kind of players that can really make an impact at a NY6 bowl level.

Fuente has a policy of needing 7-8 in his WR room that he can trust to put out on the field. Last year was really the first time he felt like the team had that kind of depth. Then, Hazelton, Grimsley, Patterson, and Pickney hit the Portal.

If you're running 3-4 WR's ever formation, having one backup at each of those spots already puts you at 8. Can you name 8 VT receivers that you want out there against Penn State this fall? It's a tough task, but the 2020 class has some guys that could surprise you. I'll hit on them in my next section.

Most Exciting Recruit: WR Trio of Saunders, Wright, and Rudolph

In the blink of an eye, the Virginia Tech receiving corps went from 2nd or 3rd best in the conference to Tre Turner and Friends. It's just life in college football in 2020. Three WR signees, however, have an opportunity to make an immediate impact in an offense that has highlighted freshman WR's in the past.

Tyree Saunders (0.8614) – Not only is he a great recruiter, but Saunders has some natural athletic talent and elusiveness that reminds me a lot of a guy named Eddie Royal. Saunders clocked in a laser-timed 4.40 40-yard dash last summer and is a track standout in the Jacksonville area. He'll most likely see the field in the slot where he can use his speed to attack the seam and run quick slant and hook routes. He'll be on the field this fall, and I think he's well on his way to being a fan favorite.

Dallan Wright (0.8424) – I'd compare Wright to a $2 mystery beer at The Cellar. You know it's gonna be a good one, but not sure how good. It's seems like such a steal, but you don't know why so many people aren't hip to it. Wright has some incredible open field ability. Just watch his film and tell me there are 192 WR's in the country better than him. I'll wait.

Lakeem Rudolph (0.8491) – The lone VA guy! Rudolph is my sneaky pick to develop into a real playmaker in this class. He's 6'4" 200+ already, and that bodes well for an offense that loves nothing more than a good fade route to the isolated side of the field. Also, Rudolph could very well see himself on the defensive side of the ball. He a rangey safety that can play both the Rover and FS spots. Rudolph may be a good candidate to redshirt and find a position, but if WR depth becomes an issue he'll almost have to be called on. Also, go read Joe's write-up on Rudolph's commitment. Great story about a kid coming back from some tragic adversity.

Early Contributor: Justus Reed, EDGE, Clearwater FL --> Youngstown State

Out of all of the new Hokies this season, there's no question which one will be called upon to have the biggest role. Reed is a really enticing edge rusher with an NFL future. I don't care if he was in FCS, the Arena League, or the XFL, 12.5 sacks in a season is damn good. French did a great film review on Reed, so I'll direct you that way if you want more information on his game. It looks like Reed will rush into the starting lineup against Liberty. He adds instant pass rush and playmaking abilities, an area where Hokie edge players struggled last season. If he can put together another double-digit sack season, Tech has the talent to be back in the Top 25 in total defense. For reference, Tech was 42nd in yards per game last season, 46th in points per game allowed, and 38th in the Beta_Rank Total Defense measurement (don't come in here with that S&P+ stuff).

Transfer Portal:

The Portal giveth, and the Portal taketh away.

I've already hit on Justus Reed, the talented edge player from Youngstown State/Florida. Joining Reed are two really interesting running back talents:

Raheem Blackshear (Rutgers) – Blackshear is a RB/WR hybrid guy that can act as a Swiss army knife for Cornelson. He showed really good ability at Rutgers, which is not an easy place to look like a good football player. Blackshear still needs to be cleared by the NCAA, so whether he'll suit up next season or not is behind the magic 8 ball. If he were to see the field, Blacskhear could make a real impact in the screen and jet sweep games. Hopefully that could take some wear and tear off Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson.

Khalil Herbert (Kansas) – DeShawn McClease declared for the NFL and left a ton of production open at the RB position. Fuente, for better or worse, uses a multiple RB system. I could very well see Herbert and King leading the team in carries next season. Herbert shows really good vision and can simply take over games at points. He has 187 against BC last season, 291 against West Virginia in 2017 and 137 against Ohio in the next game. He played second fiddle to Pooka Williams Jr. at Kansas, who's one of the more underrated skill players in the country. Herbert 700 yard season potential, it's just a matter of whether he'll get the volume of carrier or not. Grouping him with King, Blackshear, and a dynamic Hooker in the backfield could bode well for a Hokies offense that has become increasingly reliant on the run game.

The late addition to the class is another Kansas transfer, Evan Fairs. The WR from Texas (#TX2VT) has some really promising film...but it's from practice. Injuries really plagued him while in Lawrence. Fairs will be immediately eligible, however. And at 6'3", he could be a real asset in the fade route game that Cornelson holds so dear to his heart.

Sam's Grade: C

This class is caught somewhere between a low ceiling and a high floor. Coming into signing day, I don't think Tech could realistically score anywhere higher than a "B-", or slightly below average, on my personal scale. The in-state talent wasn't there, the Bud retirement, a lack luster season, and not to mention a lack of open scholarship spots, everyone around Tech recruiting knew this class was going to be unique in a slightly negative way.

Some key misses in state, most notably KeAndre Lambert and Antuan Powell, really hurt this class. I already stated what I thought were the two most glaring needs for this class, WR and Edge. Lambert, a WR, and Powell, an edge rusher, are heading elsewhere. Tech also brought in 3 RB's, two via the transfer portal. There was a 5 star RB in Richmond, VA, this class that is heading to Notre Dame in Chris Tyree. This Tech staff didn't just swing and miss, they struck out looking.

Okay that's the negative, let's pick the vibes back up. I really like some of the guys in this class. Tech was able to find guys to add depth to the defensive line and receiving corps. Some of those guys, most notably Alec Bryant and Tyree Saunders, could have an impact as early as September. Dallan Wright is a guy the staff is really excited about. Some suspension issues sort of derailed his recruitment, so if he can stay clean-cut he can be a solid option. Another sleeper is Dorian Strong. I think the staff really sees potential in him. Strong was receiving a lot of P5 interest last fall but told everyone to back off because he was a Hokie. And let's not forget Wilfried Pene at the tight end spot, he's just a raw athlete.

There's a lot to be excited about in class, even though it may seem like a disastrous ranking. We've mentioned 5-6 guys that can make an impact this fall, while most of the other's will be able to redshirt and learn the tricks of the trade. Whilst systemic issues ranging from program funding to tone deaf social media managers may be blamed for this specific class's lack of star power, there's one key ingredient to recruiting that needs to be at the forefront of every Hokie's mind: winning.

ACC Grades:
Syracuse – C
Boston College – B
Pittsburgh – B+
Louisville – B-
Virginia – B-
Virginia Tech – C

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

Comments

I just can't do it.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

It's okay, stars don't matter.

Lololololove it

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Ok did it and glad I did. As someone who lives down here I'm going to tell y'all Tyree is going to be a fan favorite right off the bat. Kid can play any sport you ask him to and be damn good at it. He just got an academic award from Duvual schools. And has a great social media presence.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

go Tyree

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

I hope so, because his HS film was underwhelming. The other kid though...

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Reading this article and the recruiting threads is like getting punched in the face, except Sam put on a glove with some padding.

Click here to destroy wall.

Things are rarely as good or as bad as they seem. The program was ready for a low ceiling class.

Things are rarely as good or as bad as they seem

Having the lowest rated class in P5 is pretty fucking bad.

Oh it's bad! But the program isn't gone to shit just cause of one lackluster class

Good times, bad times
You know I had my share
When a four-star decommits
on the internet
Well, I still don't seem to care

This year I fell in love
With a qb as sweet as could be
Only took a couple of months
Till he was rid of VT
He swore that he would be all ours
And love us till the end
When Auburn whispered in her ear
I lost another qb

HokieHighVPI03

Great stuff. Got that song in my head.

Go Hokies!!

Great song. Top 3 for them, IMO

Just curious, is there a reason we don't like SP+ here?

I just think it's lame.

I mean I could go into a lot of reasons but it's not as well done as the Beta_Rank, which takes strength of schedule and situational football into account much more strongly.

I'd be interested in a deep dive on this, even if it's in another thread.

Twitter me

I'd go so far as to say especially if it's in another thread 😅

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I can do that!

SP+ and FPI are great metrics.

Tough for me to justify the worst recruiting class in modern tech history getting a middling grade. Really need a lot of the developmental prospects to pop big time.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I was caught between C- and C. I think I'm higher on some of the guys than 247 is. Beadles and Bryant can be All-ACC caliber guys. Tyree Saunders is an elite athlete. Reed will most likely be drafted next year. It's not good, but it's not as bad as the ranking says, in my opinion.

I guess difference between your C/C- and my D/D+ is that you're framing the criteria as "how do these players project for us" and I'm framing it as "how might this class meet the expectations of a typical recruiting class".

It's a fair difference, and I don't even try to pretend that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to evaluating film, measurables, and scheme fit in any sort of meaningful way

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

If an average class for a school is a "B", and this class is certainly below that, I think a "C" makes sense. Especially given the circumstances of Bud's retirement. This class could've been a whole lot worse. If Tech doesn't land Alec Bryant and Justus Reed decides to follow Bo Pellini to LSU, then you lose two contributors for next season. I think this class was saved by TnT. They succeeded where the others on the staff failed.

It makes sense. I have a hard time including transfers with limited remaining eligibility as part of "this recruiting class", even though I know they matter and they count. Justus Reed won't be racking up sacks for the Hokies in 2022, but hopefully Bryant and Wooten will be, y'know? Especially given that I don't really expect hardly anything out of true freshmen on the field, but a transfer with one year of eligibility pretty much has to make an impact on the field. Transfers now don't say as much about recruiting now as they do about the recruiting 2-3 years ago and the development/attrition since.

I also don't think an average class should be graded a B, but maybe that's just me.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I don't ever really think of the transfers as part of the recruiting class, they just are a different group. How would you rate this class without transfers taken into consideration?

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

After reading this, I'm mildly excited about our defensive line. What is TnT and Justin Hamilton up to?

Based on some of the #HardhatXXI offers, I'm guessing we go to a 3-4 look, interior size, speed on the outside.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

It won't be a 3-4. It will continue to be a 4-2-5 with a WHIP linebacker. The main difference will be at the DE position. In Bud's scheme you play with 2 traditional DE's. The new scheme, from what we can deduce, will have an edge rusher (pass rushing DE) and a run stopper.

The edge rusher will also be expected to drop back in pass coverage. This fits with some of the other intel we've gotten from recruits that Hamilton looks to implement more complex zone coverages as a main part of the defense as opposed to Bud's traditional Cover 1 man-to-man approach. I would expect to see a lot of interesting zone blitzes next season, as well as a standing DE (not in 3 point stance) on occasion.

The goal with TnT's recruiting is to get guys that are simply bigger and more athletic than what Wiles was bringing in. I think the matchups over the past 3-4 seasons against Clemson and Notre Dame has shown the program how far it's dropped in term of raw athleticism. Every DL recruit in this class is at a higher level of speed and length than current players on the roster. That's not to say that they are better football players, but simply that their ceiling is significantly higher.

Will we keep the same gap fit principles, or will those change as well?

Twitter me

You'd have to imagine things will change. Your best bet may be to watch the Bills games from last season. Apparently, both Tapp and Teerlink have their minds set on the same scheme, which to me would indicate that it's what the Bills ran last season.

Good summary. The recruiting class rankings don't account for portal additions or losses and it seems like for this class the portal really worked in Techs favor between Reed and the running backs, getting some Immediate ready for the field talent in.

So what we have here is a breakdown in recruiting for the Hokies.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Double meaning of breakdown.

I have some differing opinions on some of these guys.

But a little nugget, a few of the powerhouse Big10 programs wanted in on Strong. They never officially offered, but that was more likely due to he and his hs coach putting the clamps on his recruitment. He has all the athleticism in the world but didn't really understand the recruiting game at all, so it limited his exposure. Has a chance to be a good one

I'll also be surprised if Bailey ends up on the defensive side of the ball. He's basically been living with Darrisaw during quarantine, and I think that's by design.

Nice work though Sam.

I always value your insight, so thanks for sharing. Interesting note about DBJ and Darrisaw -- we knew Hamilton and TnT were targeting length at DE, but Bailey is just SO tall that you could easily imagine him bulking up and moving inside (like mentioned) or being on the other side. 6-6, 255 as a high school senior is quite the frame and you'd imagine Hilgart would have a field day with him if the plan is to bulk and add strength.

It's really interesting given that we have an OL that generally has 2-3 years of eligibility left. But I guess if DBJ can redshirt and lock down a tackle spot by year 3, it will be a huge success (one of several developmental wins for Vance Vice). I wonder if Darrisaw sticks around if he balls out this year. PFF had him graded as the top returning OL in the ACC (and #9 in the country)

https://www.pff.com/news/college-football-top-30-offensive-linemen-retur...

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Good to hear on Strong.

Any tidbits on how the staff likes Lakeem at safety, and which of the RB's they are highest on?

I'd imagine Keshawn King and Khalil Herbert will lead the team in carries by a decent margin.

I agree with this.

I should have clarified I was asking out of the 2020 RB signees who the staff was highest on. Herbert not included.

Marco Lee is interesting just from a size perspective. He's 5'11", 225 and the Hokies have been desperate for a power back for a couple years now. I'd imagine Jalen Hampton, the class of 2020 RB recruit out of Maryland, will get a redshirt season.

Hampton is the MD cat. Brunson is from Alpharetta, GA. He's the one I'm highest on, and the one I'm most perplexed by his ranking. He played with other high rated recruits and his athletic times, size, and tape suggested a higher rating to me. Really hoping we hit on a few of them. Lee is interesting to me, I like Brunson, and Hampton is the one I know the least about.

100% correct. Sorry, haven't finished my morning coffee yet so anything I say is null in a court of law.

I assumed as much haha. I referred to Linval Joseph as "Joseph Linval" on reddit a few days before the draft and didn't notice it until hours later when someone pointed it out. I never would have seen it if someone didn't point it out and I'm even a Vikings fan. Weird shit happens in our brains sometimes lol.

They really like Brunson

Thanks LA. He is also by far my favorite of the 2020 backs.

If Blackshear is eligible, I hope they use keep him on the field at all times and play him at tailback. I think he brings a lot of interesting possibilities while being the most dangerous tailback as a change up.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I think Blackshear will be on the field a lot, but mostly in the slot. Don't think he gets more than 5 or so carries a game. The staff is preparing to play Tayvion quite a bit outside.

A general note, I think the offense will look quite a bit different this year than in previous seasons. Personnel will dictate a lot of changes.

I too have wondered if we might see a bit different offense this season. Tayvion as an X receiver is interesting. I figured we would see a lot of James Mitchell split out wide opposite Tre. WR has suddenly gone from a position with tons of depth to fairly depleted in one off season. I figured we would see more two TE sets with Mitchell and Gallo and perhaps a more run heavy style to play to Hooker's strengths. I was hopeful with a full offseason to get more comfortable in the passing game we could open the playbook up more, but I feel we are going to be very run heavy and take our shots when they are open. If anything the UVA game showed us that we can't quite line up and beat you in the passing game.

I'm not an X's and O's expert, but I see a run heavy offense with a lot of quick hitters in the passing game. Probably will see H responsibilities split between a few players. Continued use of a lot of misdirection with the versatility that we have in the receiver and running back rooms. Probably a mixture of the 2016 offense and this past season's

Fuente won't change who he is. When teams are in two-high, he is going to base everything off the inside zone run and go from there. Success from there opens up the jet sweep motion and middle passing game. I am intrigued with more options at tailback with size. That should help.

i agree with a heavier package on the field. we can seem to get much blocking with our WR, so maybe we go larger/ 2 TE and try to pound with a heavier back. Maybe it will change how the defense schemes for us.

The good side of that is that it's the best fit for the personnel we have and the QBs we currently have on the roster. If the defense can start getting some stops consistently again and generate negative plays, we can hopefully play ball control/field position and take our shots when they are open.

The bad side is that if we get down a few scores or into a shootout, we might have a lot of trouble staying in the game when we have to throw. I also worry about being too one-dimensional, but hopefully if teams overcommit to stopping the run we can hit a few big passing plays to at least keep them honest. I see a lot of misdirection and play action passes that Hooker is comfortable with. We can win with a limited passing game, but the defense has to get stops and we have to convert and move the chains consistently.

Agreed. We can be great when we're in game flow like we saw with Wake and Pitt. Get ahead and control the tempo. We'll struggle with games like the UVA game.

In other words: We don't have a real passing attack right now. When we can execute the offense running the ball, scheming guys open for Hooker with misdirection, hitting big passes off run action, we can look like a really solid offense. We aren't built to play from behind or in a game where we have to utilize a more traditional drop back passing game. When we do have to go that route we rely heavily on our WR's to win matchups on the handful of routes we actually utilize.

*Which exposes the complete lack of credibility by some of the 24/7 National Experts that declared Hooker a top NFL quarterback prospect. The NFL absolutely puts a premium on being able to quickly and accurate execute the three and five step drop passing game. Hooker, who has a ton of strengths, hasn't developed that part of his game yet (the Kentucky game was spotlight on that weakness, despite the other good things he did.)

Personally, if I was Fuente, I would start Gallo as the H Back and move Mitchell outside. I know Blackshear can go in the slot some, but he shouldn't be out there 30 snaps a game (for one, he is too solid a running back.) Turner and Robinson are both really good in the slot while Turner is also good outside. They desperately need some of the other bigger guys to step up to help give Hooker more security blankets on those fades. I think the run game can be better especially with Hoffman joining the OL and Gallo getting more run up front.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I think this is honestly what made the staff so enamored with Willis and determined to make him work at QB. They thought they had the QB with the arm to make all the throws and wanted to open up the passing game more last year. Unfortunately, I just don't think the lights ever came on for Willis. He was just too much a liability and turned the ball over way too much. He could throw the deep well fairly well, but you can't just lob it up and throw bombs every down.

Even though with Hooker they had to scale the passing game back considerably, they probably figured the impact he could make executing in the run game and limiting turnovers would be a net positive for the offense (which it was until we absolutely had to throw the ball and couldn't.)

I think this could serve as a reminder that we get a little too wrapped up in recruiting numbers and grades. Yes, obviously we want to bring in the highest rated players but that isn't the end of it. Farley was a higher end 3* athlete who projected to be a major role player as a true freshman, on either side of the ball, before his injury. Darrisaw was one of the lowest rated players in the ACC coming out of high school.

Guys like Ashby, Kendricks, and Artis weren't top 500 guys in their classes. I think just because a guy didn't get much attention doesn't mean it's the end of the world. I think there are a lot of potential starters in both this class and the post-Davis 2021 class currently. For better or worse, I am optimistic about the future, so long as there are games to be played.

As a fan, I have high hopes for every kid in this class to turn out a contributor or playmaker.

However, from my most objective POV I think we may have landed four really underrated guys for different reasons.

Jordan Brunson, productive and solid film at a relatively high class of GA HS football. 6'0 210 and apparently ran at 4.4 when camping for GT. Even if that's really a 4.5-4.6 that tells a different story than a low-mid 3*. I've heard there were maybe some qualifying concerns and that affects rankings sometimes, but I never heard a reliable source on that so take it with a grain of salt.

Lakeem Rudolph, athletically superior to his ranking. His recruitment was altered heavily by experiencing a severe injury after being hit by a car. If he recovered/recovers fully, he could be a really great player. What's clear is that the non-sports injury affected his recruitment and rankings.

Dallan Wright pursued basketball until his senior year, which means he wasn't serious about camping or getting his film out early in the process. He also played in a more rural area of SC. Not a traditional hot spot for SC talent, but they did win State at their lower classification. Very raw as a result of a late commitment to football.

Wilfried Pene, hard to imagine accurately ranking a player from France who played a few years at a northeastern prep academy. Seems prohibitively difficult to project in those circumstances.

Obviously other players could be gems, but these guys had mitigating (or potentially mitigating) circumstances.

I never try to project OL. I think it's by far the most difficult position to project from HS to college, and again from college to the NFL.

Definitely a ton of upside for Wright. Incredibly athletic. He also had a 5 game suspension during his senior year, which really limited his exposure as well.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Yeah I heard about that. Makes his numbers even more impressive.

We filled a lot of needs in this class. I'm super excited about Saunders. I really think Strong will be another DBU star. And a boat load of DL that is sorely needed. We are the best when we've had two lines. Hewitt would look like an all star with more rest. I really want to see what the french guy can do, I think he could be something special in 2-3 years.

I really like the individual pieces in this class even if the whole isnt that impressive.

Idk, I'm going to reserve judgment until they actually get on the field. I'm not a big fan of star rankings to begin with.

Honestly, I think we're actually going back to our roots a little bit with the "chip on their shoulder" recruits of yesteryear. I loved VT during the height of the Beamer era where we were the Oakland A's of college football. There's no reason why this class can't bring back what made our program so endearing to begin with.

I agree with most of that, however let's not pretend like every player that was a star under Beamer was some underrecruited walk on. Were they 5 stars? Outside of two or three, not really. But they weren't all mid-tier 3 star guys.

There were also less four stars back then. I went through in another thread and pointed out with specific examples how many more blue-chip recruits there are nowadays compared to mid 2000's. I'd wager we had quite a few 3 star guys that would have been four star guys in the modern recruiting environment.

I remember one example was Chamarri Conner (now whip) was the #22 ranked safety in his class and a four star, and Cam Martin (also ended up at whip) was the #22 ranked safety in his class and was a low-mid 3*.

In addition to the sheer numbers difference there is so much more coverage of recruiting, so many different satellite camps, large regional and national camps, the consolidation of film on HUDL, etc. The industry has blown up and there are simply less "market inefficiencies" to exploit on the trail these days. That doesn't mean they don't exist, because they do, but it's a much taller task to build a class of hidden gems nowadays. Kam Chancellor shows up at a 247 or Rivals camp and gets to show his athleticism via drills and testing, his film is widely available via HUDL ,and suddenly he's not two star in 2021, simple as that.

Kids are also taking advantage of non-school training, and coaches are taking advantage of picking up a buck or two to train kids off season, and outside of school. If I'm not mistaken, Tim Settle trained outside of school with other recruits from Prince William County.

The downside is that kids' bodies are still kids' bodies, and injuries and wear and tear can increase in probability.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

I think all of that is fair but let's not pretend that there are no recruiting inefficiencies. I think basketball is easier from a recruiting standpoint. Every major program missed on guys like Ja Morant and Obi Toppin. I'm not saying it's easy but if we're going to be the program that cries poor, we have to outsmart people on the recruiting trail and finds those diamonds in the rough.

I just don't think you recognize how time intensive it would be to build a strategy around finding 'diamonds in the rough. Let's start by looking at the numbers...

  • Let's say that you need 4 eventual All Americans on your roster to win 10 games - I made this number up, but if you look at the history of VT All-Americans, we had at least 4 eventual All Americans on almost every roster for 2000-2010. That boils down to about one All-American per recruiting class.
  • Let's assume each recruiting class is 25 kids
  • Let's also use CBS's odds of being an All-American based on recruiting rank:
    • 5–Star: 1 in 4.
    • 4–Star: 1 in 16.
    • 3–Star: 1 in 56.
    • 2–Star: 1 in 127.
  • Finally, let's assume that you can correctly identify an All-American player with a 100% hit rate AND you can convince that player to attend VT 100% of the time (completely unrealistic, but for the purposes of this discussion, let's assume it's true)

How many players do you have to scout in order to reliably get 1 All-American on the roster?

  • Scenario 1: You land 5 4-stars, 15 3-stars, and 5 2-stars each class, you have an expected value of roughly 0.6 All-Americans on your team per class, and that would require you to scout 1,555 players!
  • Scenario 2: You land 7 4-stars, 18 3-stars, and zero 2-stars, you'd have an expected value of roughly 0.75 All-Americans in your class, and you still have to scout 1,120 players!
  • Scenario 3: You land 12 4-stars, 13 3-stars, and zero 2-stars, you'd have an expected value of roughly 0.98 All-Americans in your class, and you still have to scout 920 players!

Now, let's say you can only convince 75% of these players to come to your school.

  • Scenario 1: You must scout roughly 2073 players to get 0.6 All Americans
  • Scenario 2: You must scout roughly 1626 players to get 0.75 All Americans
  • Scenario 3: You must scout roughly 1226 players to get almost 1 All American

Now, let's that you no longer can predict All-Americans with 100% accuracy; let's say its 50%, and you still can only convince 75% of players to attend your school.

  • Scenario 1: You must scout roughly 2073 players to get 0.3 All-Americans
  • Scenario 2: You must scout roughly 1626 players to get 0.38 All-Americans
  • Scenario 3: You must scout roughly 1226 players to get about half an All-American

Now, I do acknowledge that you can build a perfectly good team with a lot of players who are great players, but not All-Americans. However, I think to have consistent and sustained success, you need a reliable pipeline of at least one All-American player each year. I think the numbers show you can't do that with just 'diamonds in the rough' - you need to mitigate risk.

Edited

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I'm not a big fan of star rankings to begin with.

Why not? By and large, the star rankings are a pretty accurate predictor of success. Higher recruiting ranking projects a significantly higher likelihood of being drafted and a higher likelihood of being an all-american. There will always be outliers, but (when the data is this accurate), you can't build a team based on finding outliers; they're too few, too far geographically spread, and too difficult to predict.

I think we're actually going back to our roots a little bit with the "chip on their shoulder" recruits of yesteryear.

I never understand this comment - the 'chip on your shoulder mentality' or 'underdog attitude' isn't mutually exclusive with proven talent. There are plenty of 'favorites' across all sports that play with a 'fight to the death' attitude. Most star recruits are not just naturally gifted - they've also had thousands of reps and worked their asses off for every one of them.

I think it's reasonable to argue that a team's recruiting efforts should to focus more on culture fit/attitude than talent or achievements, but saying that less talented players will be better culture fits (just because they're less talented) is just false.

I loved VT during the height of the Beamer era where we were the Oakland A's of college football. There's no reason why this class can't bring back what made our program so endearing to begin with.

There is actually one, very big reason why we can't win games the way we did in the prime Beamer years - simply put, the world is smaller.

We used to scout players in our a backyard that other teams didn't know existed - due to the advent of Hudl, the increased size of football staffs, and it being easier/cheaper than ever to travel, that's since changed - Clemson, PSU, OSU, FSU, and a handful of other schools are now in our backyard.

The world has also gotten smaller for recruits - living within driving distance to a certain school is no longer a must for recruits; every game is televised, so friends and family can now everyone of your games. Social media, video conferencing, and the like make it easier than ever for a recruit to keep in contact with his family from hundreds of miles away.

Just like in baseball, other teams figured out the moneyball strategy, and those with more resources were able to achieve better results using the same methodology.

In order to return to a time where winning 10 games/year is the norm (not the exceptions as it has been for the past decade), VT must find a new way to innovate. I truly believe that it can be done - we can find new ways to attract talented recruits, we can create new schemes, and we can build a brand that will improve fundraising. What we CANNOT do is build a recruiting strategy around finding diamonds in the rough - it's too costly and there's too much competition.

There is one other way we could capitalize on under recruited players - IF we lived in a world where recruits had the option to sign LOI's on the spot, then I think we could scout players earlier, make offers before other teams could, and 'leverage' them into signing with VT before they received an offer from Bama/PSU/Clemson, etc.

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"C"? Really? LOL. OK. It's all about expectations I guess. This is a class where the head coach admitted he slept at the wheel and on a per player ratings basis is last in the ACC. You slam Wiles - The best assistant coach VT had not named foster for not recruiting NY6 talent, yet Terrlink and Tapp have never coached in a NY6 bowl and Wiles has. And no, hate to break it to you, but "it's not just college football in 2020" to have half of your WR leave via transfer. Nope, that is not normal. If VT want's to win the coastal - other than miracles happening - this class is an F. If you expectations are 7 wins, it's a D.

You slam Wiles - The best assistant coach VT had not named foster for not recruiting NY6 talent, yet Terrlink and Tapp have never coached in a NY6 bowl and Wiles has.

I read this as:

You slam a schoolbus for not being able to hit 85 on the freeway, but I don't see a ferarri carrying 30 school kids

Obviously TnT hasn't been to a NY6 bowl, they just got here. We are talking recruiting. Let's try to compare apples to apples.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Fair- recruiting - never mind past results. Wiles was an excellent recruiter for VT for 20 years. One of the best on the staff. If Fu let him go because of recruiting it's a bigger mistake than I thought.

Yes years ago. Name the last top end productive in modern college football DL he recruited not named Settle.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Settle? nice, why is he omitted? Because it doesn't fit your narrative. Luther Maddy would have been the best defensive player we had on the field last year. Wiles recruited him. There are dozens of other examples.

If Fuente recruited a kid as low ranked as Maddy was back in 2011 you would be on here rage posting. This staff recruited two DL better ranked than that in this class.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Better than Maddy? On the field? LOL- we'll see. So Are Hooker, Turner, Keene, any good? Can those guys play?
Any of those guys work out? How about James Mitchell?- does he look promising? Was Bruce Taylor any good? How about JR Walker? Does he show any promise? Chamari Conner? Can he play? But yeah, Wiles can't recruit and we have 3 guys better than Maddy in this class. OK

For a guy that whines so much about recruiting you sure are defended a guy whose DL haven't been very good in awhile, who hasn't recruited the top DL or even decent depth in years.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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Lynn Bowden and Bryce Perkins don't fit the narrative either.

Perkins was a high 3 star and the 7th ranked duel threat QB in the country. He had a nice 2 years at UVA and went undrafted. How does that not jive? Seems about right to me. Bowden was a 4 star WR and a top 5 player in Nevada. At Kentucky he played mostly WR at a decent level and completed a total of 38 passes as a "QB" and went undrafted. Again, how does that disprove recruiting rankings? He played QB because they needed him to his last season.

Bowden was drafted by LV Raiders in the 3rd round as a WR.

Lynn Bowden

He is saying a Wiles recruited and taught line didn't do anything to stop running QB's.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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It was totally Bud's scheme to have a 300 pound DT chase QB's when they break contain. Yes, that was the design. Wiles's DL played in a gap fit system. Their job was to fill a gap and spill the play to the unblocked defender- by definition- someone else. If QBs are running wild in this system, that is more on the LB's and safeties.. who coached those guys? Fire that dude.

If QBs are running wild in this system, that is more on the LB's and safeties

It could be that the run supporters aren't making the tackle, and it could also be that the OL was opening holes wherever they wanted to regardless of where the DL was supposed to force or spill. If the QB is making a safety miss 8 yards downfield, that's on the safety. But at that point, the play's already a failure for the defense.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Perkins also broke his neck at Arizona State and its a minor miracle that he was able to play football at all again, let alone at a Power Five school. Hardly a recruiting win or loss at that point.

Virginia Tech has never competed in a NY6 bowl since the new post-season model was introduced.

But do we feel great that TnT has hit the ground running on d-line recruiting? Do we feel that good that Watson, Brown and Gilliam, or the DT Williams, are going to pick VT? Reed was a great pick-up at the FCS level, but I don't know that I see true DL recruiting momentum yet.

I don't think that recruiting gurus generally need a lot of development time and can hit the ground running. UNC staff is showing us that. I'm still waiting on the recruiting prowess of Ham, Tapp, Teerlink to start.

I feel good about TNT recruiting because we pulled a good player from halfway across the country in DT Tyas Martin, who specifically spoke to their NFL pedigree as being a huge pull for him. Maybe we'll get Landyn Watson, Kelvin Gilliam, Naquan Brown, and Tyleik Williams as well for 2021 cycle. Those five on the DL would be an incredible haul, but frankly it's against the odds that we sign all five. But is Martin, Brown, and Watson realistic? Yes. Four? I'd be giddy.

Right now TnT are selling their resume and pedigree and with the limited results we have so far (Martin and Reed) they're doing well -- they don't have video of a specific VT defense running JHam's revamped scheme to say to a recruit "see this guy here? we think you'd thrive doing this"

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Like I said above:

I guess difference between your C/C- and my D/D+ is that you're framing the criteria as "how do these players project for us" and I'm framing it as "how might this class meet the expectations of a typical recruiting class".

you're grading two different things. I tend to be a little more excited about the upside of some of these guys in a vacuum, but put it all together and we really need a handful to pop all the way to their ceiling for me to feel as good about the class as a whole

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

If you look at every objective measure of this class. Total ranking, low numbers, low individual averages for a VT program that wants to compete for more than the Belk Bowl- it's a F, objectively. The problem with one or two unheralded guys is that with a class this small, the odds of that happening are slim and none- again - just based on odds. Every recruiting class has flame outs, guys that never make it to campus, academic issues, transfers, injuries, etc. So with a smaller class, it even compounds the issue. The only way this class is a C in terms of VT's typical expectations is if it had one star can't miss high 4 or 5 star player in it, and it doesn't. With normal attrition, it will be against all odds if over half of this class is in the 2 deep in 3 years.

I'd argue the most important measure of a recruiting class is game film, which I was higher on than 247.

The recruiting sites are not perfect, no. But VT has played to its recruiting rankings more and more the last 8 years or so. So, in terms of VT they seem to know what they are talking about. 14th in the ACC is not good no matter the game film, IMO.

I think you need to add in the transfers as part of this class. If they pan out at positions of need on offense, then this class looks a lot better.

hard disagree from me. transfers today fill the gaps from eval/development misses and other attrition (medical, early draftee, etc) from the recruiting classes 3-4 years ago. Reed/Blackshear/Herbert/etc won't be around in 2022 to fill in gaps from this recruiting class, we're likely to rely on another crop of transfers to fill that in.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Understood, I look at it as the year they arrived as counting them to a recruiting class because of attrition and different graduation dates.

I've been really bored recently, and this discussion around VT football recruiting has been depressing at best around here - so I decided to do some basic forecasting on what 2020 could look like (assuming a normal season, so this could be way off for a whole lot of factors outside of my shitty forecasting abilities) based on recruiting and wins since 2005. I did this mainly because my management science professor said the only way to get better at forecasting is to publicly post your attempts, and follow up on your failures (because everyone usually sucks at forecasting to start).

So first I took a look at VT's win percentage using an unweighted 4-period moving average. This is the least sophisticated model, and it predicts 8.07 wins next year, and has the highest error term, using RMSE.

Next I took a weighted 4-period moving average, where no season could have less than .1 and no more than .4 of the weight - optimized using GRG nonlinear optimization. It chose the most recent year and third most recent year as the heaviest weights, and predicts 7.94 wins. The 4WMA improved the error term, but only marginally.

Next, I took a regression using the recruiting results from 247sports over the last 15 years, including: number of commits per class, national rank, and average player rating. This predicted the highest win total of 9.81 wins and had the lowest error term of the three basic models.

I decided that there still might be some unexplained variable in this that I am not capturing, so I ran another regression, this time using: number of commitments, national rank, ACC rank, average player rating, and Football-Reference's strength of schedule. Since there was no 2020 strength of schedule I made it about half of last year's to account for Penn State, with an otherwise weak OOC schedule. This predicted 9.35 wins and had the lowest error term of all the models that I tested.

Here is a graph of the predicted versus actual outcomes using the last model.

Do I think this is perfect? No, not at all. Do I think this is good? Honestly, no - management science and forecasting is not my forte. But I do think it is interesting, and something to think about moving forward. We have had a sky is falling view here almost nonstop since last Thanksgiving, and this tells me maybe we should look at things another way. Let me know if any of you think this is good, or interesting at all, and I might try to do more forecasting as the season gets closer assuming we have one.

*Tried adding in from imgur using the insert picture function, but it isn't working, so I embedded it.

This is cool and thanks for putting it together, but could you re-link your graphic? It's not displaying properly

I took care of it.

And I just edited it - sorry, my bad....

That's really smart, and I think it highlights an important point. In terms of win/loss, next year's team should be better than last year's 8 win team. That's two years in a row of improvement. Say what you want about Fuente, or recruiting, or whatever, but that's a really good sign.

Now, Tech has to go out and actually win those games. I don't think many people last year expected Tech to lose to both BC and Duke, but it happened. This team, however, is much more experienced and should be overall better at the QB position for a whole year, something that Fuente hasn't had in 3 years.

That's why I'm a bit higher on this recruiting class. Tech didn't need to get players to contribute too heavily this season across the board. If it's a better outlook for your program to focus recruiting a year ahead, that makes sense. Programs with the recruiting budget of Tech sometimes have to lose a battle to win the war.

I'd love to see it, and I think a nine win season this year is a success. But I'm worried that as win projections continue to rise, what will the impact of subpar 2020 and (possibly) 2021 classes mean 3-4 years from now? It's hard not to see that as a major obstacle on the tracks ahead. We saw what those classes with that level of talent did for Beamer's final years.

The 2020 class was so small that risk exposure should be somewhat limited. A bad 2021 class could be devastating though.

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Precisely. If we get a few contributors from the 2020 class and an above average 2021 class, the stupid 70+ rating in 2020 will be negligible.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

I might have to write up a full post on this in the next day or two because I've thought about it some more and there are some other insights + model issues that could make it better. For starters it assumes 13 games which makes sense, because with 9 wins we'd make a bowl game. But Vegas over/under win totals are solely on a 12 game regular season total. If you restrict the my model to 13 games the wins fall from 9.2 wins to about 8.4-8.6 wins. So right on the cusp of Vegas' prediction of 8 for the Hokies.

In that case we're still slightly better than the backcast for the past few years, but less optimistic.

I think you're underestimating the impact of having a new Defensive staff and no spring practice (and possibly a shortened fall practice). Despite the experience, the defense is definitely going to have some WTF moments. We'll see if the offense will be good enough to shoulder the load (at least for the first half of the season)

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Maybe the defensive staff can make a "simple" version of their defense to allow the players to get familiar and caught up quickly. This will hopefully allow them to execute at a "lethal" level. We should call our style of defense this year "Lethal Simplicity".

I like it, but the adjective "lethal" needs to be earned, not given.

I made the perfect shirt for it too. Well, except I couldn't figure out how to change the team logo. Got a little more tinkering to do

It would still be a real bummer, although understandable, if this team underachieves with the amount of returning starters due to shortened practice and lack of time in the defensive scheme. A real worst case scenario that could sour the fan base further on Fuente if it turns out to be a seven win year.

Every team is dealing with Covid, and Fuente hired this defensive staff. No excuses.

You are not wrong. My bigger fear is that every team is a sloppy mess and we just don't get a great season all around. And I really just hope we have a season.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

I agree with so much of what you say, but sometimes there's just head scratching conclusions. Yes, the program's direction is Fuente's responsibility, and it's ultimately his success or his failure. Yes, every program is dealing with the pandemic. No, together they don't mean that the pandemic affects every program in the same way, or that some programs might be better equipped to handle challenges.

I think sometimes you miss the forest for the trees on things. Was it Fuente's choice to change defensive staff, or might Bud's heart attack and subsequent self-defibrillation have had something to do with it? Yes, Fuente hired Justin Hamilton and others. No, Fuente likely wasn't hiring Justin Hamilton and others with the potential effects of a global pandemic in mind. Is that ultimately his responsibility? Sure. Does it do anyone any good to keep banging that drum when there hasn't been a single practice yet? No. Does it even make sense to "blame" him for it? No, not really.

I really hope there's the right balance of scheme continuity vs updated scheme that this defense excels despite the obvious "excuses".

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

This is a great post. I appreciate it. Let me clarify a bit. If you look at the team and season as a whole and the schedule, what are the expectations? - including the COVID issue and new defensive staff? Are they changed? Or are we trying to win a coastal division where the defending champ lost most of their production and every team has question marks? Is that still the goal- even with COVID? My opinion is that JHAM and his staff know what they are dealing with now- they know we just missed spring ball, they know off season workouts were cancelled, they know fall practice is up in the air. So the head coach needs to step in here and take that into account. Put these returning players in a position to win. We have a ton of defensive guys that have game experience now. Perhaps center things around Diablo's, Farley's and Ashby's strengths? Maybe less exotic blitzes? All I'm asking is that we not use this as an excuse and put the kids in a position to beat Miami and UNC- something we did last year. Do that, and we will be in decent shape in the coastal- assuming nothing else crazy. Does Pitt, UVA, and GT excite you? Don't make COVID the reason why we can't win the coastal.

defense can be simplified, and it sounds like that is the plan based on some of the rumors/ personnel changes for the line. Not being able to hide coverages can hurt us against a strong read QB, but it should help the players react faster. We should have a strong back end on our d, and that is where most of the mistakes in coverage and scheme occur. D line should be fairly quick to teach the new scheme if it is heavy react/ penetrate calls.

We should have a strong back end on our d

It is possible to both 'hold the staff accountable' and still take into account bizarre and unforeseeable circumstances.

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Coaches don't get too into schematics outside of a base defense in spring. I don't think the loss of spring ball will be as big of a deal as some people think.

The most valuable part of spring practice is identifying the guys that simply won't be in the 2 deep in the fall. That's the key to spring. Which guys do we not have to give many snaps to? That's what spring is for. You have limited snaps in the fall, so identifying the 6th DT is improtant, because that guy isn't going to get snaps unless somebody is hurt. Harsh reality, but true. Spring will tell you who the 5th Safety and 7th tailback are typically.

WRONG!

The most valuable part of spring practice is the spring game so that we can work are self's up into a frizzy over true freshman playing against backups in a meaningless game. How will TKP survive without that?

Caleb Farley is really shaping up to be a program-changing talent at WR!

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

So you don't believe that the base defense will change much? Or you believe that whatever the new base defense will be, it will be simple enough that we can teach it in fall camp?

Anyways, looking at the schedule, we don't see a returning P5 QB/OC combination until week 5 against UNC - I guess that should be plenty of time to get the defense up to speed.

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I don't know if the Penn State passing game will be up to speed , but their run game will wear us out if we play like we did against KY. They will not need to pass at all based on what I see from their run game. They will pound it down our throats if we don't find a way to get d line push.

So what I hear you saying is that we need to give them a stout D before they can ram it down our throats?

Dude, you may want to go try to get laid vs reading inuendos on a football site.

I'm confused, I thought reading innuendos on a football site helped you get laid? What the hell am I supposed to do now??

I don't see the base 4-2-5 defense changing. The biggest difference in year 1 believe will be defensive play calling and DE roles.

Agree on incremental improvement, but over the last two seasons, we have won 14 games. Four of those wins have been against FCS teams and ODU. We are 9-10 against P5 competition the last two seasons. 4-5 against P5 in 2018 and 5-5 in 2019.

I'm not discounting progress, but a large chunk of those wins have been against a very soft non-conference slate. If we hadn't had ODU, Furman, and Rhode Island on the schedule last year, I'm not so sure we come away with 8 wins.