Without saying a word, they both just knew he had picked the Hokies. Isi Etute and Darryl Tapp's relationship has that sixth sense to it.
"I got on the phone with coach Tapp, and the crazy thing about it is, I didn't even have to say it to him," said Etute. "Right when I hopped on the phone with him we both started laughing because we both knew what's up. That's how our relationship is. It's so close to that point. That's so different than all of these other colleges."
Etute, the 247Sports Composite ranked 3-star (0.8357), committed to Virginia Tech on Saturday over finalists NC State and West Virginia.
As Etute put it, he and Tapp hit it off on day one.
"It's been up since then," he said. "It's been a great experience getting to know him as a coach, not only as a coach actually, as a person too."
The Cox HS (Virginia Beach) standout and Tapp, the former Deep Creek HS (Chesapeake) star, bonded in-part over their opportunities to represent one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation.
"The experience of being able to play for the home team and put on for the 757," said Etute. "We both speak highly of that, being able to put the 757 on our backs."
Etute visited Blacksburg prior to the COVID-19 dead period and came away impressed with Tech's future amenities.
"What's exciting about it is they're building a brand new [facility] for the 2021 class," he said. "So right when we get there everything is going to be brand new, so I am excited to see that. The plans that they have for the program are amazing and I can't wait to see it."
Tech recruited Etute as a hybrid outside linebacker/safety. And while it's unknown exactly what scheme first-year defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton will deploy, Whip LB, and former Cox player, Derek Dinardo sprung into head coach Bill Stachelski's mind when he described Etute's potential role with the Hokies.
"He's kind of like a hybrid-type guy," said Stachelski. "He can play anywhere from a rush d-end to an outside backer. Everyone seems to like him at that spot, outside, and he can play a little bit inside as well."
Etute played safety as a freshman, but the 6-3, 205 pound defender moved closer to the line of scrimmage, at outside backer, for his last two seasons.
"I can play in coverage," said Etute. "That's where the safety part of me comes in. I have a good sense of where the ball is going. I have an opportunity to play safety along with playing in the box and attacking the run and going off the edge on blitzes."
Etute is a versatile long strider with plenty of reach, and because of that he accounts for a lot of space in Cox's 4-3 scheme.
"He's able to cover a slot receiver," said Stachelski. "Playing DB early on in his career allowed him, especially with his height and athleticism, to play man coverage too."
While Etute is exploring options with his guidance counselor to enroll in January 2021, it's more likely the planned physical therapy major will make his way to Virginia Tech that summer.
"They made me feel at home," said Etute of the Virginia Tech staff. "They made me feel welcomed, and they made it seem like I was a priority and I was important to them."