It's Tahj Time

Virginia Tech quarterback commit Tahj Bullock excels under the brightest lights on the biggest stages.

Tahj Bullock takes in Lane Stadium on an unofficial visit to Virginia Tech.

You're down 5 with a minute and a half to play. The ball's on your own 14-yard-line. You just let up a big sack and now it's 3rd-and-24. What's your play call?

For St. Peter's Prep head coach Rich Hansen, there's no trick play. There's no desperate attempt at a Hail Mary. There's really not even a sense of worry. It's simply "Tahj time."

"We're really not nervous," said Hansen. "'Tahj time' means there's a heightened sense of awareness and focus and we have all the confidence that he's going to make the decisions and do everything to advance the ball and win the game."

Future Hokie Tahj Bullock found himself in that situation in the third game of the season last year against nationally ranked Bergen Catholic. With all the poise and rhythm in the world, he stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike down the middle at the first down marker, which his receiver excalmated with a nice catch and run to midfield.

The drive continued.

Behind his arm, Bullock drove St. Peter's into the red zone with 30 seconds to go. Again, Bullock stepped up in the pocket and delivered a crisp throw on a hitch and go seam route for the 17 yard go ahead touchdown.

This wasn't the last time Bullock was the architect of a comeback victory for the Marauders.

Fast forward to late November at MetLife Stadium. St. Peter's is in the state title game against Don Bosco Prep. The Marauders were down 14-7 late in the 4th quarter and hadn't mustered up an offensive touchdown all game. No worry, it was Tahj time.

Bullock completed a few sharp throws to extend the drive, including a perfect toss on a 4th-and-2 tunnel screen. Ultimately, he capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run which brought the Marauders within one-point. They went for two, and Bullock made the correct option read to give on the jet sweep for the conversion and win.

"We had four games where we were down in the fourth quarter, including in the state championship game, and he engineered a comeback," said Hansen. "He's a fierce competitor. He plays through the bright lights and he plays through the snow and he's confident in what he's doing and he wants to be successful. The biggest thing for him is the guys around him believe in him."

"That's not a hope and that's not a dream. That's based on fact and his production and history. It takes a special guy to do that. Not physically as much as mentally. I think that's the key for him. He's really a mentally tough kid."

At the end of the season, Bullock completed 126 of 210 passes for 2,274 yards, had 480 rushing yards, 26 passing touchdowns and 6 rushing touchdowns.

It can't be overstated how valuable those experiences late in games have been for Bullock. Not only has he competed in one of the toughest divisions in high school football, New Jersey non-public Group 4. This division includes some of the best high school programs in the nation, including Notre Dame, Paramus Catholic, and the aforementioned Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic.

"When you're throwing against division one players every week, it makes a huge difference on growth and development, especially the mental part of the game," said Hansen. "The one thing that it does, our non-public schedule playing the competition we play, every week you better be up for it. Because people do things that are at a high level coverage wise and blitz wise. It forces you to be a student of the game, because you're not just going to do it physically because everybody's physically gifted."

The speed and complexity of the game jumps significantly from high school to college. This is an area in which most young quarterbacks struggle for a year or two as they grind away in practice. But according to Hansen, Bullock has a step up on most incoming freshmen in the mental nuances of the quarterback position.

"You're going against division one secondaries every week," said Hansen. "So, the window closes real quick and you better know what they're doing pre snap and you better understand what they're doing post snap and you better be timely or else you're going to make a lot of mistakes. So, it forced him to become, from a mental standpoint, a strong student of the game. And he is."

Bullock's mental fortitude has greatly improved over his time at St. Peter's. According to Hansen, much of that comes from watching his predecessor, current Naval Academy quarterback Maasai Maynor. And it doesn't just show up in the film room or during drills. Bullock's improvement in recognizing and deciphering coverages and blitz packages has resulted in wins on the field. But Bullock is so much more than just a student of the game.

"He's 6'4, 230 pounds right now and he can throw the ball from here to Connecticut," said Hansen. "Running the ball and all that stuff... Look, the dude looks like a linebacker or a d-end. It's freaky. You put all that mental fortitude with 6'4", 240 and a cannon arm and you've got a pretty complete package for a high school quarterback."

His film indicates he is a pass-first quarterback. Many times when his initial reads were not open, instead of taking off and running, he moved around in the pocket, kept the ball up and his eyes down field, and made the throw to a secondary receiver.

"We don't design too many runs for him throughout a game," said Hansen. "And when we do, my heart is in my throat I'm so nervous."

An area of improvement for Bullock that Hansen would like to see during his senior season is touch and control on mid range throws.

"Any strong arm kid always has to work on the touch on his throws and moderating his mid range game," said Hansen. "We'll continue to do that, continue to work through progressions and putting the ball where it needs to be."

That will be a heightened area of focus for Bullock in his early days as a Hokie. Much of Brad Cornelsen's passing and RPO scheme is reliant on being able to complete quick mid ranged throws either to the near sideline or in the middle of the field on a quick slant.

Bullock has impressed Hansen as much off the field as on the field. The two go hand and hand, and translates to football and Bullock's innate ability to lead a team in any situation.

"He is one of the most genuine, sincere, hard working, greatest kids character wise," said Hansen. "He is never going to embarrass that program [Virginia Tech]. He's never going to have people doubletake and question what kind character he has and what kind of person he is. And that translates to the field in terms of respect, and then when you couple it with all the physical things he can do, the kid is just so special."

Comments

Great article on a special player. Happy to have him in the fold. Go Hokies!

foresthokie
US Navy Vet

Demetrius who?

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)..

It's weird he's rated so low. Maybe it's his odd looking throws (his feet being wide). But you'd think that some one making multiple reads in a tough high school league would be rated higher. I mean he's got NFL size.

I think if he has a repeat of last season at worst this year (if they even play?), he should easily move into the top 500 in the 247 composite. A lot higher rated QBs start before their junior season, so I suspect that's part of it.

Game winning drive aside, he did not perform a particularly well in the playoffs. Probably hurting
Him a good amount

He clearly has a great arm and I haven't watched much film. But he has a great offensive line. He had a lot of time to look over the field on the two plays in this write up. I would like to see how he does under pressure.

Doesn't matter if it's cake or pie as long as it's chocolate.

Glad to see others comment on our need for a strong O-line! It can make an average QB look awesome.

Bullock made the correct option read to give on the jet sweep for the conversion and win

Jet sweep and win in the same sentence may not compute with some folks.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

But "correct option read" is music to my hears :-)

That will be awesome after suffering through Ryan Willis, being able to make the correct read is going to be the difference between success and failure.

It also depends on the line blocking correctly, receivers and running backs selling the play to keep defenses honest.

You guys need to stop this whole getting me excited at Hokie Football again, not sure the ticker can take it...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

I'll leave instructions with my family that if I die because of the Hokies, don't bury me until after the next game because it might be the jolt I need to come back to life.

Click here to destroy wall.

Can't imagine the logistics if you were to die due to a bowl game.

A feel like a DNR may be in order for a situation like this...

Poor 2HokiesIn1 is daid, a candle lights his head
He's lookin oh so pretty and so nice
He looks like he's asleep
It's a shame that he won't keep
But it's summer and we're running out of ice.

If that's the case, give me a day or two and then open a bag of Cheetos under my nose. If that doesn't work, plant me.

Click here to destroy wall.

He looks like a winner to me! Now the Clemsons, LSUs and Alabamas will try to flip him. They let us find non-5 star talent then try to steal them. Unless he's already enrolled at Tech, hE's still not fully committed, unfortunately.

Couldn't agree more and its sad. I kind of feel like any "verbal" commit is meaningless until the papers have been signed.

Don't just feel that it's meaningless, know that's meaningless. The fact that a school can "offer" a scholarship to a recruit without actually offering it is terrible. How many offer letters do these guys have that aren't commitable? Even if the school will accept a verbal commitment.

If a company offered you a job and then you accepted and they came back to say it was commitable then you'd be pissed. So you have to get that offer in writing before you do anything.

I probably wouldn't accept an offer from a company that is known for revoking offers on those grounds. Just because a school CAN revoke an offer doesn't make it respectable to revoke your commitment. Its the classic game of "just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD". The current climate makes a verbal commitment a bastardization of the word "commitment".

Regardless, I don't believe a word any of these kids say until they sign the dotted line, and I will hopelessly do my best to not share in any excitement of a VT "verbal commit" until signing day.

It's not revoking an offer. Schools send out "offers" to lots of recruits. But those "offer" letters don't mean you can commit to the school. The current climate, that is decades old, has made a bastardization of the word "offer".

"The numbers always work out" is also shitting on the word commitment. Pushing kids to transfer so you can get some one else is wrong.

1 year scholarships are shitting all over commitment.

If I would have miraculously gotten an "offer" to Fullerton for baseball in high school, regardless of the legitimacy, I would've shown up, site unseen. The "uncommittable offer" is so damn weird. I get it, I really do...but weird nonetheless. Like a "Check yes or no" to a girl in your 3rd grade class...but you put a 60 day contract clause in there lol

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

There needs to be a different term/word used. It's teaching these young "adults" that 'commitment' means I agree to something until something better comes along. It goes both ways, too. Let them sign a car loan, then "de-commit", see what happens!

Wish I had some time to photoshop a Van Wilder 2 poster, but, alas, life is not cooperating these days for such shenanigans. Can anyone help a brother out?

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)..

"He is one of the most genuine, sincere, hard working, greatest kids character wise," said Hansen. "He is never going to embarrass that program [Virginia Tech].

I like the praise of his physical skills and size, but the quote above is every bit as important.

Ut Prosim Ad Dei Gloriam

but honestly...didn't we hear similar praises for Dee?

To be fair, Dee never will embarrass VT, so this is still accurate.

The Cup is going nowhere Mikey!

You know who did embarrass VT? The Hokie Bird, I watched him lose a fight to an orange, I kid you not. I mean how does one do that? Did he get citric acid in his eye? Fight through the pain and finish the job, it's a piece of fruit for Pete's sake.

to be fair, everything (outside of the academic comment) that he said was accurate. Dee and Tech had an unspoken deal about Dee coming to Blacksburg, and Fuente and Co. were unable to hold up their end of the bargain

Fuente and Co. were unable to hold up their end of the bargain

Was their end of the bargain to bring in more highly rated commitments?

yep. and they swung and missed. things just weren't trending in a direction that Dee saw as progressive so he backed out.

I also think that the allure of Lane Stadium and the big win against Wake started to fade away. Tech has a couple things going for them in recruiting: stadium atmosphere/gameday, good academics, and now one of the most decorated defensive line staffs in the country. The stadium atmosphere is great, but the excitement starts to fade once you're a few months removed. Someone at Auburn got to him with the whole academic thing, and with that they just blatantly lied. One of my best friends went to AU and she even said that was a bs comment. And he plays QB, not DL. And if there's one coach that VT Twitter has really ripped into, it's Corn.

It's unfortunate, because he's an elite talent. But for all intents and purposes it seems like Tech didn't continue to recruit him, nor were they getting the other recruiting results that were needed in order to compete at a NY6 level.

intents and purposes

intense porpoise

Intensities in Tent Cities

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

I got a new keyboard and it's taking some getting used to. Pls forgive me.

Yeah honestly VT twitter does need to stfu about Corn. It's almost as bad as tweeting at Cruits imo

I gave this exact same schpill to a Wake grad over the weekend. If a recruit comes to a night game or big midday matchup, they get really, really excited, because when Lane's rocking it's something to behold...but eventually that wears off. Gotta be able to seal the deal and keep that interest up.

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

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)..

Sccchhhhhhhhhhhhpiiiiiiiiiiiiiil.

Amateur superstar and idiot extraordinaire.

gesundheit

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)..

disregard, already answered above

HH4455

Tahj looks like a great QB prospect. I think he has a great future as a Hokie QB.

HH4455

something about the Dee --> Tahj thing seems like when you go through a rough breakup, but the relationship was really toxic, and only after that can you meet the one you were meant to be with.

ah yes, the "rationalizing the rebound" phase

only sorta /s

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

She comes from a good family.

I'm excited

I'm just here to sling some legs