With hindsight, Virginia Tech's 2021 recruiting class received the jolt it needed when cornerback DJ Harvey committed to the Hokies on Independence Day. Since then Tech has landed five additional members of their class, but none more highly touted than Harvey.
The Los Angeles native held offers from around the country, including Southern California, Oregon, and Texas. He is Tech's highest rated commit — 3-star (0.8869) — per the 247Sports Composite. 247Sports' in-house rankings have him significantly higher, a 90 overall 4-star and the 18th ranked cornerback in the nation.
"They got everything I'm looking for," said Harvey who previously mentioned the unique opportunity and environment Virginia Tech had to offer.
"You have to go to Virginia Tech. People can't really describe it. But when you actually get there and you go it's a whole different feeling to that place. It's a whole different spiel to it. So, I've been telling people, when you have the opportunity to go you need to go."
According to Sierra Canyon head coach Jon Ellinghouse, Tech landed a master of preparation.
"It's his mindset," said Ellinghouse. "He's just got determination. He's a gamer. The one thing about him [that makes him stand out] is the way he approaches the game and the way he competes during the game. We have a Hudl program where we can track what they watch, and he's always up there at the top. He really works hard to prepare himself."
Harvey's approach to the game is nothing short of professional, and it shows up on film.
"I think it's a combination of obviously being prepared and working hard in the film room but also having played the sport for a long time and just kind of having that secondary reaction," said Ellinghouse.
"He's got great ball skills because he's our best receiver, too," said Ellinghouse. "He'll take those skills with him to the [defensive] side of the ball and be phenomenal."
It's no wonder why the Hokie staff branched out to California to court him. But it's not just Harvey that's on the Hokies' radar. Two of his teammates have received offers from Tech as well: Kamari Jones (class of '22) and Jonah Lewis (class of '23). Both are defensive backs.
"They're definitely trying to make a push out here," said Ellinghouse. "And there's a ton of great talent and a lot of it can get overlooked because there's just so many guys."
The California expedition began with what the recruiting staff called "Midnight Madness", a late night recruiting visit that hosted multiple players from around the country, most notably California. The event, put on by recruiting staffer Beau Davidson, appears to have been a wild success and a unique twist on the normal recruiting visit.
West Coast Schools Hitting My Line Right Now Asking About Midnight Madness‼️ The Love Is Real Out Here @ Virgina Tech #LA2VT Will Be A Move @Beau_Davidson 💯 #TalkToMeNicePlz— TheMatt_V (@TheMatt_V) March 1, 2020
The event allowed the Tech staff to get something that has since eluded many programs during the 2021 recruiting cycle: face-to-face interaction. Due to the pandemic and associated dead period, staffs have not been able to visit recruits or vice versa.
"I know I've talked tirelessly on the phone with them and they've done a lot of really good research and that sort of stuff, but obviously this was a different kind of year," said Ellinghosue. "They did a good job with DJ and got him to feel really excited about the place and he's all in. Could always kind of feel it that he had a special kind of relationship with them."
With COVID-19 seemingly ending any sort of visits for recruits in the near future, Harvey and his fellow commits have an enhanced role as recruiters.
"I've talked to all the other commits and they welcome me with open arms," said Harvey. "We're ready to get out and recruit some of these other guys because we know how important that is."
Harvey said he hopes that his commitment can show other star high school players from around the country that Virginia Tech is a school worth traveling cross-country for.
"Me being the only guy from California is huge," said Harvey.
"I get to have some new experiences," he added. "I think that excites a lot of guys."