We are deep in the middle of college football's Dead Zone. For players it's offseason workouts and healing their bodies before the 2011 season starts in three months. For the coaches, it's about cherry picking as much top talent for the 2012 recruiting class. That means summer camps, hosting for visits, reviewing tape and making calls. After a disappointing finish to the 2011 class, Frank Beamer went out of character and made some staff changes, all in the name of better recruiting. It's been a little over three months but the changes look like they have worked. The Hokies have 12 verbals already, with defensive backs on the east coast racing to the phones to pledge their verbal to Frank and his staff. Recruiting is hot in Blacksburg and it's not luck either. Beamer noticed UNC and UVA encroaching on "his" territories and he made hard changes to better position his program. For the last few years the yeoman's work of recruiting fell on Bryan Stinespring, Curt Newsome, Torrian Gray and Jim Cavanaugh, so less than half the staff bringing in 90% of the recruits. By moving Coach Cav to a recruiting coordinator spot and bringing in Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown, the staff now has five big time recruiters, three of them under 40 years of age. Not to be overlooked is Cav overseeing the staff's effort. He is an excellent talent evaluator who has very good rapport with high school coaches in the Commonwealth and region. Enough about what you already know, let's take a look at the current verbals and some of the major targets known to be on the Hokies board.
Oscar Smith RB J.C. Coleman courtesy of Recruit757.com
T.J. Millweard 6'4" 230
A big kid from Texas, who Tech got in on early, thank to Mike O'Cain. Millweard is now getting attention from other BCS programs and moving up the recruiting rankings. A drop back passer, but he can move, a nice pickup.
Brendan Motley 6'3" 200
Motley is a tall, rangy and athletic, a run/pass quarterback from Christiansburg. Athletic enough to play safety or even wide receiver in college. Will likely choose between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech and soon.
J.C. Coleman 5'7" 170
The best back in the Commonwealth, chose the Hokies over the Hoos. Coleman is said to be enrolling in January, as he is eyeing the void of David Wilson in the 2012 season. Has more power than his size would indicate, has good speed, great balance and receives well out of the backfield. A must have for the Hokies this year.
Wes Brown 6' 200
A nice back from Maryland with over 30 offers, the Hokies are in it thus far, but as of now Brown has not narrowed his list down.
Drew Harris 6'2" 205
A big, power back from Pennsylvania with deceptive speed who holds an offer from most major programs in college football. Harris would be a great compliment to Coleman. Two months ago, his favorites were Pitt and VT, now it appears his favorites are South Carolina and VT. I like how this is trending. He wants to go to a school who pounds the rock. The Hokies are very much in the race with Drew.
Mario Nixon 6'4" 215
Big wide receiver from the 757, in the mold of Jarret Boykin. Relatively new to football, he'll need a year or two to get going, but Nixon looks like a great fit for the Hokies offense.
Der'Woun Greene 5'10" 175
Recruited as a receiver but Greene has a lot of ballhawking safety in him too. Another very good 757 athlete that makes a nice compliment to Nixon if Greene stays at receiver.
Stefon Diggs 6' 185
A sick athlete, who can do whatever he wants on the football field. A top 10 national player with offers from everyone. Whoever lands Diggs is going to have to work hard to get him. Teammate of RB Wes Brown.
Joel Caleb 6'2" 205
Caleb is the best player in Virginia. The Hokies are all over him but so are our neighbors in Carolina Blue. At this point it looks like the fight for his services comes down to these two schools, and it will be February before a decision is made. Caleb is the type of recruit that pushes a class up a couple spots in the rankings with his commitment.
Mark Irick 6'3" 185
Irick is a 3 star prospect from South Carolina. At this point the Hokies are his only BCS offer, so it will be interesting to see if tries to get more offers or if he commits soon in order to get on board to a major program.
Jack Willenbrock 6'4" 250
An unknown prospect the day of his verbal. He is a teammate of Drew Harris and his film sticks out. Willenbrock isn't the biggest or strongest, but damn if he doesn't play hard and tough. His attitude alone warrants an offer. He will need a lot of work in the weight room and the buffet lines.
Isaac Hayes 6'3" 270
Hayes is a nice guard prospect that VT just recently offered, not much is known, but he's receptive to playing in Blacksburg.
Andre Miles-Redmond 6'4" 260
A solid guard prospect from Richmond, Miles-Redmond has good size and his recruitment is starting to heat up.
Dakota Jackson 6'4" 250
Jackson is a good tight end prospect who already has college size. He recently impressed at the first summer camp in Blacksburg last weekend. For VT to offer a tight end after last year's haul, he must have impressed.
Jarontay Jones photo courtesy of scout.com
Jarontay Jones 6'2" 240
Jones was a big pickup for the team. Shane using some of his old South Carolina connects to snag a kid with potential year one playing ability. Jones' offer list is pretty obscene, a sign of things to come from the new and improved recruiting staff, we can hope.
Courtnye Wynn 6'6" 240
The last of the Big Norfolk Christian 3. Mario Nixon chose the Hokies, while linebacker Kwontie Moore chose the Hoos. Wynn will likely come down to VT, UVA or possibly Notre Dame. A jumbo athlete that would grow and play tight end or possibly defensive or offensive tackle.
Darius Hamilton 6'4" 245
Hamilton is the best prospect on the Hokies board, will grow into a huge defensive end. He has a nice pedigree, his dad, Keith played defensive tackle for the NY Giants. Thanks to Cornell Brown's relationship with Keith and family in Lynchburg the Hokies have a punchers' chance with Darius.
Ken Ekanem 6'3" 225
At one point Ekanem was thought to be favoring the Hokies, but recently he seems to be favoring playing OLB in a 3-4 defense. He's a great pass rusher, after summer camps, the picture should clear up.
Korren Kirven 6'4" 270
Another Brookville High School stud, Kirven is a very good defensive tackle prospect and thought to be a Hokie lean, but he's no sure bet as he'll likely take a few visits. You'd think Logan Thomas and Zack McCray can keep him home.
Sheldon Day 6'2" 270
Day is another Warren Central, Indiana kid and he's highly recruited. Very similar to Kris Harley, will be interesting to see if that pipeline is still open, Michigan looks to be the favorite as of now.
Alston Smith 6'3" 270
The son of Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, Alston recently received an offer from Virginia Tech. While he has said he wants to see what else is out there, I find it hard to believe he will not be a Hokie. He is a work in progress, but is not without talent. Potentially could play on the offensive line as well.
Woody Baron 6'3" 250
Nephew to former Hokie Jim Baron, most years Woody would have an offer, but with so many offers out, he is being slow played a bit.
Jarron Jones 6'5" 300
Jones is a very nice prospect and would be a steal. He is a Penn State commit who recently visited Blacksburg on his own dime. Stay Tuned, though you'd think Penn State will fight hard to keep him in the fold.
Nigel Williams 6'3" 260
A good Virginia prospect who if I had to lay money on will likely be a Hoo.
K'Hadree Hooker 6'2" 280
Hooker is a highly rated North Carolina kid, who has cut his list to three to include the Hokies, but looks like he is NC State bound.
Deon Clarke 6'3" 215
A very good Backer prospect whose stock is starting to soar. The Hokies are in very good position with Clarke, but the Miami offer was well received. Once he bulks up, he could be a beast.
Trey Edmunds 6'2" 200
Edmunds is a fast linebacker, posting better high school track speeds than David Wilson (must be the Danville water.) He looks like a great fit at backer for Bud Foster, though he does have running back skill as well. His dad, Ferrell played at Maryland and in the NFL is also his coach. VT is considered the favorite.
Dahman McKinnon 6'2" 200
McKinnon is an under the radar prospect that the staff is known to jump on early. Looks like a perfect fit at Whip.
Devin Vandyke 6'1" 200
Vandyke is brother to Rover 2011 recruit Ronny. A recent offer, that surprised him as his recruiting is now heating up. Had Devin been offered in February, he would have verbaled by now. That said, I expect he'll pick the Orange and Maroon as well.
Donaldven Manning 5'9" 155
An underrated 3 star prospect from Miami. Slight of build, but great hips and cover skills. Manning has to be considered a soft commit as he is eye-balling the Canes awfully hard. This battle for his services has just begun.
Davion Tookes 5'10" 170
Tookes is a very good corner prospect with big time speed. Another good Georgia prospect that Torrian Gray's personality and coaching acumen helped land.
Donovan Riley 6' 190
Riley is a good athlete with a very good football mind, someone that will work very well in Bud Foster's complicated coverage packages.
Desmond Frye 6'1" 170
Frye is a prospect that could play a few positions in the secondary and also wide receiver.
As players commit, offers will be pulled or added, this is only but a snapshot of commits and some of the other targets. There are more targets out there and likely a few surprise commits along the way. The obvious strengths right now are at defensive back and speed athletes. If the Hokies can land Joel Caleb and keep Donaldven Manning, then that part of the class couldn't have gone better.
However, there looks to be a couple potential weak spots in this class ... again. Mike linebacker and offensive tackle. Losing out on Kwontie Moore was huge, with no true Mike recruit on our radar. I also don't see any true OT's on any of the lists that are looking strongly at the Hokies.
I do get a very good vibe on some guys to commit to the Hokies, most sooner rather than later. I expect the Hokies to land Brendan Motley, Mark Irick, Korren Kirven, Trey Edmunds, Alston Smith, Deon Clarke, and Devin Vandyke. I also think VT is well positioned for Courtnye Wynn, Joel Caleb, Darius Hamilton and Drew Harris. Getting two or more of these last four guys would make for a very good, top 20 recruiting class. A great mixture of Beamer recruits and high profile next level athletes. That's exactly what Frank had in mind when he made coaching changes in March.