Hokies Angling to Bring "Big-Time" JUCO Tackles T.J. Bradley, Chase Brown Home to Virginia

Bradley and Brown may be playing in Pennsylvania these days, but the hotly pursued pair have strong Virginia ties.

The Hokies are after a pair of JUCO tackles in Chase Brown (left) and T.J. Bradley. [Lackawanna College and T.J. Bradley]

T.J. Bradley and Chase Brown both bypassed Blacksburg after graduating high school in Northern Virginia, despite years of watching Virginia Tech football β€” but thanks to a few years in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the pair may end up becoming Hokies after all.

These days, Bradley and Brown are holding down the left and right tackle spots, respectively, at Lackawanna Community College. But the pair hails from the heart of one of the Hokies' favorite recruiting regions, and Justin Fuente and company are targeting them as they look to Tech's offensive line of the future.

"They're both big-time offensive tackles, both midyear graduates and they're both being recruited by everybody in the country," Josh Pardini, Lackawanna's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, told The Key Play.

Pardini says his staff had a natural connection with Tech, as director of player personnel Chuck Cantor first formed a relationship with Lackawanna's coaches back in his days at Temple. When he reached out to Pardini about the pair of Virginia tackles, he says they quickly arranged for OL coach Vance Vice to make a trip up to see them in person earlier this month.

"He got to see both of those guys work in the individual sessions and inside run period and really loved what he saw from both of them, and ended up giving us a call back the next day and extending an offer to both of them," Pardini said. "Generally, most teams come in and like them both so much that they offer both of them."

That certainly came as good news for Bradley, who called the offer "a dream come true," and Brown remembers feeling similarly thrilled.

"I was very excited when I got it," Brown said. "I know it's a good program, one of the best in the country. I watched a couple games this year, and I've always been a fan of some of their players, like Tyrod Taylor and Michael Vick, so I've watched them growing up. So I know they're one of the top programs in the country."

While the Hokies may be interested in both tackles, Pardini cautions that they're quite different from each other.

Brown followed a more traditional role to Lackawanna β€” the 6'5", 315-pound tackle spent a year redshirting at JMU after graduating from Ashburn's Briar Woods HS, but he decided to go the junior college route after the Dukes changed coaches.

Bradley, however, is almost completely new to football, and certainly new to the offensive line.

He says he only played football briefly in his freshman year at Leesburg's Tuscarora HS, but ultimately chose to "stick to basketball." At 6'9", that hardly seemed like a bizarre choice.

But he heard about Lackawanna's football program from one of his trainers, so he decided to swing by the school for a visit last January.

"When our director of admissions called me and said 'There's a 6'9" kid down here,' I said, 'I guess I'll take a look at him,'" Pardini said. "Typically we don't take players who don't have film from high school...But when I started at Lackawanna, (Head Coach Mark Duda) told me, 'Don't ever give up on the big guys,' so I called the boss and he said, 'Yeah let's bring him in and see what we can do with him.'"

Bradley was so new to the game that Pardini says he wasn't even sure what position he wanted to play when he first strapped on the pads.

"I didn't know if he wanted to be a tight end or an offensive tackle, but he ended up choosing defensive end," Pardini said. "He competed there for us in the spring semester and the entire fall semester as a redshirt. By the end of the year, he was a scout team defensive end for all 13 weeks of our regular season and became a much better defensive end. So good, in fact, he was probably going to see the field for us this fall as a DE."

Pardini jokes that Bradley looked a bit like NFL star Ed "Too Tall" Jones on the field, another DE that stood at 6'9". But when Bradley bulked up to 280 pounds in the offseason, Pardini didn't foresee him following in Jones' footsteps.

"When he came back, I gave him the key to his dorm room and shook his hand and said 'Welcome to the offensive line meeting room,' and kind of took it from there," Pardini said. "We thought the best fit for him for his future would be a move to OT, and he was willing to do it and to work at it, and the rest has kind of written itself."

Even though he's been playing the position for about 12 weeks now, Bradley says he's starting to feel more comfortable by the day, largely thanks to some tips from Brown himself.

"There's a lot to learn, but I'm learning quickly and I have good coaches and good teammates like Chase that help me," Bradley said. "Any question I have, I ask him."

It doesn't hurt having Pardini on hand, either. He's coached offensive linemen like starting Seattle Seahawks guard Mark Glowinski and Jermaine Eluemunor, a fifth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens this year, so he's no stranger to mentoring top-flight prospects.

"Even when he yells at me, they expect big things out of me, and they see the bigger picture," Bradley said. "And you believe that because you see the results, you see the guys who have been in your shoes before, so it drives you even more to listen to what they tell you."

But Pardini isn't comparing Bradley to recent Lackawanna alums like Glowinski or Eluemunor β€” instead, he's aiming a bit higher, likening the lanky prospect to Pro Bowler/NFL champion Bryant McKinnie.

"It's easy to compare T.J. to him," Pardini said. "McKinnie was in the same situation, got to us and he was about 6'9", 270 and gradually put on weight and developed into a great player."

Pardini says Bradley has plenty of work left to do himself in improving his "general football knowledge" and adding on some muscle in the weight room, but he doesn't doubt that he could become every bit the player McKinnie did.

"T.J. is a kid with such a high ceiling that everybody's so intrigued by him," Pardini said.

That lofty praise for Bradley aside, Pardini thinks Brown is an appealing prospect in his own right.

"Chase is a kid who is very flexible, he can play pretty much any spot on the line of scrimmage," Pardini said. "He's athletic enough and long enough to play offensive tackle, and also big, strong and thick enough to play offensive guard. I think that really caught Coach Vice's eye, he said, 'I'm gonna need somebody at right guard or the right tackle spot next year,' and Chase can kind of have his pick from there."

Indeed, Brown says Vice wasn't shy about stressing how badly he's needed on the Hokies' line.

"He said he needs me to come in and play right away, because they're graduating five guys and they might have a guy leave early," Brown said.

The Hokies would surely prefer signing both Brown and Bradley to address those future depth issues, and Pardini thinks they'll get a serious look from the pair, if for no other reason than the fact that they've become fast friends over the last few months.

"Ever since T.J. joined the offensive line meeting room and their recruiting has really picked up, they've become very close," Pardini said. "I don't think they really had a choice in the matter. It's easy for them to get along, and their families have gotten close because they only live about 25 minutes from each other. They're gonna work out and train together all summer, so I guess a friendship has kind of been forged, and it's a good thing for sure."

Both players say they'd be interested in returning to their home state for college, though they don't lack for national interest β€” programs like TCU, Pitt, Minnesota and Central Florida have offered both players, while Penn State and West Virginia have offered Bradley specifically.

"I kinda want to go somewhere that's a fit," Brown said. "I'll end up across the country, if that's what it takes. But I would like to stay in-state, just so my family can come to my games. I'll be playing in front of all those people, because they haven't really seen me play in a game up until this year, really since my senior year in high school because I got redshirted at JMU. I haven't played in front of them with a big crowd in forever, really."

The pair is planning a series of visits up and down the East Coast this summer, and though neither has been to Blacksburg yet, they're planning on changing that soon.

"I'll probably go there with Chase and check out the facility and what they're about," Bradley said. "A lot of kids from my school, my graduating class went there or go there now, as we speak."

Bradley and Brown both graduate this December, giving Brown two years of eligibility and Bradley a full three. All the while, Pardini says they just keep accumulating interest, with Nebraska and Michigan State the latest programs to check in on the Virginia tackles, so the Hokies will certainly have their work cut out for them if they want to bring the pair back to the commonwealth.

"I don't think their recruiting is going to slow down or stop anytime soon," Pardini said.

Comments

Those guys look like they know how to take care of a Hooker, get them here!

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:
β€œI served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Rollin' into Blacksburg like...

Is coronavirus over yet?

Yes please!

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Any offensive lineman who is compared to Bryant McKinnie is a guy I want. McKinnie was an awesome player who would have gotten my vote for the 2001 Heisman Trophy (it may surprise you that I do not have such a vote). Oddly, I met McKinnie's Dad in the parking lot following the 2001 VT-Miami game in Blacksburg. The guy was enormous.

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)..

thanks to a few years in Scranton, Pennsylvania,

Am I the only one that thinks of 30,000 pounds of bananas when I hear "Scranton, PA?" Yes? Okay, I'll go back to hiding now

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

It sure musta been something. Can you imagine thirty thousand pounds.... Of mashed bananas?

In general I hope we don't have to rely on JUCO transfers, especially for lineman that usually take a year or more to develop, but we don't seem to be having much luck with any big time HS o-line recruits. With the way this year's class is shaping up it would be awesome to get these two.

I don't see us relying on JUCO transfers so much as filling holes in the roster. We really needed a stud QB last year and we got Evans. Been a little thin at OL? Try to pick up one or two to bolster Teller and Nijman who are the anchors right now.

It's a great way to address attrition and injury and really shows that the coaching staff isn't afraid to do some new things.

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

There is room for agreement with both of you. I think this move shows both of your points. If these guys come to VT and show they can ball, good on our coaching staff.

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Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

If it's still happening 2 years from now I'd be worried but this early in Fuente's term I think it's a smart move. After this year the entire offensive line from 2016 will be gone (if Nijman leaves, which might have been alluded to in the article) and we'll have had only one full recruiting class with the requisite red shirt year (2017 class), so it would make sense that holes need to be filled.

Yea,

I completely agree with what you and NerdMagic are saying, I think I just worded it poorly. Legs for you both.

Hey man, for the record, I hope we get all blue chip recruits every year and never have to go JUCO unless we want to. You make good points as well.

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

You bring in JUCOs specifically to fill gaps because HS OL do tend to take a few years to bulk up and be ready to contribute. We should absolutely be targeting JUCOs for position of need. They also don't have 4-5 years of eligibility/tying up scholarships if they don't pan out. Most are only here for 2 maybe 3 years.

Wow, I really didn't think my initial comment was so cryptic and poorly worded. I understand that we target JUCOs to fill positions in need, that's why I talked about this year's recruiting class for HS o-linemen seeming to be thin, and therefore being excited about possibly landing these two guys.

My point was, I hope that once Fuente/Vice have a couple more recruiting classes under their belts we won't have the kind of holes to fill with JUCOs.

IMO you bring in talent however you can get it. If it's JUCO, HS, transfer, etc. doesn't matter. The JUCOs we are landing this year potentially are more because of recruiting misses/busts from 2-3 years ago more so that what we'll have in the class this year.

Agree wholeheartedly. If you bring in young talent, they don't play right away anyway, so you are looking to get no more than a couple or three years from your OL recruits anyway, right? Yes, it would be helpful to have them in the system while developing their size and game, but if the JUCO guys can step right in and contribute, seems like a win to me. Not saying that we should give up recruiting OL, just that when we don't have guys in the system ready to go, it's not a bad move.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I don't care where they come from as long as they can play and improve the line.

Did you mean to say they're from Lake Anawanna Community College?!?!

Go Hokies

6'5", 315lb and 6'9", 280lb plus some time in our weight training program? Yes, please!

If they can keep the QB off his ass and open a hole for the RB to run through, they'll be welcomed with open arms to Blacksburg

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Taco Bell is already stocking extra shells and beef.

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

Well, they are stocking the extra shells at least...

are you implying that Taco Bell uses anything less than the best meat available1 for their menu offerings?

1from back alley butchers in cambodia

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)..

In a conversation with colleagues recently, one mused that his dog ate better than he did, since the first ingredient in the dog's food was "real meat." Another colleague corrected him - no, he said, the first ingredient is "beef." That's different. There's a lot of a cow that's considered beef but not meat.

Yum!

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Osso Bucco?

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Head Cheese!

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Please tell me I'm not the only one on TKP that gets Musky and IfishVTIam confused on a regular basis....

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

I'm the one with the big fish. And no gifs. Ever.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I'm the one with the big fish.

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

I guess one man's fish is another man's bait.

OK, not sure that came out the way it was intended...

But true, nonetheless.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Mine's bigger. Just relaying what she said.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."

Well that was just too easy.

Edit: Lol nice edit.

Using /s is for cowards.

I had no idea they were two different users. Kind of like how I only recently realized that Cracker Barrel and Crate & Barrel are two different stores.

Mogwai (sitting at a table in a Crate and Barrel, eating pot pourri): "This appetizer is awful! And the service sucks! I'm posting a scathing Yelp review."

"Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our heart with tolerance."
-Stan Lee

"Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."
-Ron Swanson

"11-0, bro"
-Hunter Carpenter (probably)

It does my heart good to see a strong and concerted effort to get o-linemen to anchor the offense. A strong o line makes the QB and RBs look awesome, with minimal credit.

CJF is building the 'machine', and we will celebrate the successes this him. It will be a very long time b4 LOLUVA beats us if all this comes together. Thanks Coach!

I didn't know if he wanted to be a tight end or an offensive tackle

You're saying we could have had a 6'9' TE? Wow that's almost as tall as Bucky.

Using /s is for cowards.

What's his shoe size?

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

And glove size?

What's his shoe size brand?

ftfy

Always choose joy.

So you're saying we're looking for another QB?

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

#AllTheTJsontheOLine

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

Maybe not the type of "angling" French was hoping for.

But still good news.

/sssssockeyesalmon

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.

Well at least they are Nike guys so we should be safe

The Fusystem will probably keep them there. Stienspringcaine would have moved them to corner back.

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."