Virginia Tech was the first Power 5 school to offer a scholarship to Maury High School running back C.J. Beasley. They will not be the last.
"I was amazed especially because they're an ACC team," Beasley said. "To get a big one like this is a blessing."
Beasley is an electric back with sprinter's speed. During his junior season, he ran for 1,778 yards on 147 carries (12.09 ypc) and 19 touchdowns. He also added 18 receptions for 424 yards and a special teams touchdown. That was enough production to garner Beasley First Team All-Tidewater Running Back by The Virginian-Pilot.
Beasley was part of a prolific offense that landed four players on the All-Tidewater team. Maury's attack very much mirrors the Hokies' scheme. Shotgun formations consist of one-back sets with three or four wide receivers. It's an offense meant to isolate defenders, and it allows the quarterback to get the ball out of his hands quick to playmakers out in space. But Maury has used it to gash defenses for big plays on the ground.
"Our offense is a spread offense...so we have the defense more spread out which makes it easier to read holes," said Beasley.
Spreading out the defense is all fine and dandy, but the ball carrier still has to get past defenders at the second-level to break those big runs, the same ones that have alluded Tech in past seasons. That's where Beasley's speed and quickness come into play, and it pops off the film. On his junior highlights alone, Beasley had 12 runs of over 50 yards.
"I would say running track," Beasley said of his breakaway speed. "It helped me a lot with my technique."
Once he hits the second-level, Beasley possesses some ankle breaking moves straight out of NCAA Football 14. He has an incredibly quick two-step cut in which he is able to maintain top speed.
"If I'm going like head to head I'll just hit a one-two, but if I'm on the sideline I'm going to use my stiff arm," said Beasley.
His athleticism is elite, but his head coach, Dyrri McCain, attributes Beasley's big play ability to something much more intangible.
"The kid works hard," McCain said. "[He's] determined every time he touches the ball to help his team. It also helps that his o-line loves him like no other, which results in their effort to give him those lanes."
In terms of recruiting hype, Beasley has been somewhat overshadowed by teammate and important Tech target, four-star wide receiver KeAndre Lambert. At 5'9" 170 pounds, Beasley doesn't quite have the body mass of an ACC running back, but that's something he's been attacking head on. (By comparison, Deshawn McClease is also 5'9", but 30 pounds heavier.)
"Getting in the weight room is the biggest thing for him and C.J. has been doing nothing short of attacking it," McCain said. "Kid is going harder than ever at this point of the off-season."
Beasley is not currently ranked by either 247Sports or Rivals.com. In addition to the Hokies, he has received tenders from Old Dominion, East Carolina, and Morgan State.
Beasley is poised for a winter Blacksburg visit.
"I just want the atmosphere to feel like I'm at home," Beasley said of his ideal landing spot.
The Hokies may have stumbled upon another hidden gem in the recruiting battlefield that is the 757. But Beasley will only stay off the radar of other Power Five programs for so long.
"Yes I'm sure he will [get more Power 5 offers]," McCain said. "C.J. is a great kid before even talking about him as a football player. Anytime you work as hard as he does and continue to stay humble, good things happen to good people, and C.J. is every bit of that."