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The one downside to our current blogging format is that it’s tough for us to cover breaking news. Unlike TSL and other Tech sites, we don’t have a message board format to relay breaking news to our readers. Thus, I have to revert to Twitter to actually post something about the topic. Even then, less than 30% or so of our readership have Twitter accounts.
So finding a way to actually post breaking news is tough without having a lot of small, less than 200 word blog articles posted on the site. Despite that, I’m hoping this article catches you up on some of the more noteworthy pieces of information that have protruded out of Blacksburg recently.
Finney Smith to Transfer
Yesterday, word leaked out that former five star recruit Dorian Finney-Smith is indeed going to transfer from Virginia Tech. Doe Doe, as he’s known, averaged a team high seven rebounds last season but struggled as a scorer, especially in ACC play. Needless to say, he didn’t quite live up to expectations.
Finney-Smith is still a talented player and I thought he would be destined for a breakout season this fall if he stuck around. Instead, he’ll likely transfer to a smaller, non-ACC school in the area. One school that could potentially land him is ODU but according to Twitter reports, DFS is not considering ODU as a potential destination.
Overall, this will hurt our depth and rebounding ability in 2012. As it stands, the starting five will likely consist of Erick Green, Robert Brown, Jarrell Eddie, CJ Barksdale, and Cadarian Raines. Obviously, that’s not a bad starting five. It’s not quite top of the ACC quality but it’s as good as any of the other teams in the ACC not named Duke, UNC, or for next year, NC State.
But the depth behind them will be a major issue. We will have Marquis Rankin, Marshall Wood, Joey Van Zegeren, and maybe Montrezl Harrell if he does stick with Virginia Tech and qualify academically.
The word “Yikes!” comes to mind. Hopefully, Johnson can finish hiring his coaching staff and can find a diamond in the rough or two to finish out this 2012 class. It will be tough but if not, one injury to this team this fall and we could be in a lot of trouble.
Johnson Close to Hiring Two Assistant Coaches
That’s as good of a segue as any. As I talked about last Friday, Johnson is close to hiring Mark Byington, who was a former standout at Salem High School in Salem, Virginia. Byington is currently at the College of Charleston but you can read about that more in the linked article.
According to new reports, the Hokies are also looking at Ramon Williams, who is an assistant coach at Ohio University. Williams is a Roanoke native and graduate of VMI in 1990. Obviously, being able to move back close to his hometown would be a draw and I’m sure the Hokies would be able to pay him more money than what he’s making at Ohio. Also, the Bobcats did make it to the Sweet 16 this past season so if there were ever a time to make a move this would be the time.
After doing some research, it looks like those two guys would be excellent hires for Johnson’s staff. Both are local, neither would likely leave within the next few years, and they both are good recruiters. Byington has ties in South Carolina, North Carolina, and in the 757. Williams has ties in Ohio (which surprisingly produces some good basketball players on an annual basis). I’m waiting to hear a third name announced but so far, I’m satisfied with how Coach Johnson is assembling his staff.
Hokies visit Robert Nkemdiche
Let’s flip it over to football recruiting for a second and talk about the top player in the country in 2012. Shane Beamer swung by his high school early this week and evaluated him for the Hokies. It’s unclear if Virginia Tech has or will offer Nkemdiche but it’s nice to see our coaching staff being more aggressive now that the boat is mostly full. With limited targets left, you might as well throw out an offer to the top player in the country and see if you can land a visit.
Nkemdiche is a heavy SEC lean and it would shock me to see him go anywhere other than Alabama. But, who knows. Get him up on campus over the summer and maybe he’ll list Tech as one of his five official visits. If that happens, maybe he’ll come up for one of our bigger games and fall in love with Hokie Nation. You never know.
But for now, we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up as fans. But, I do like the aggressive nature on the recruiting trail. If we’re going to take that next step as a program, we need to start bringing in more four and five star guys.
Jonathan Allen Trims List
Five star defensive end Jonathan Allen is down to Alabama, Florida, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, and Penn State. Being a former Alabama resident and growing up a huge Crimson Tide fan makes Alabama the clear leader in this race. But, he did visit Blacksburg for the spring game and it seems that the Hokies might have taken over the 2nd spot in his top five.
This is going to be a tough decision for Allen, even though I fully expect him to commit to Alabama whenever he decides to go ahead an commit. Still, his immediate family is in Virginia, which does help Virginia Tech’s cause. They are the closest school to his current residence and his family would be able to watch him play almost every Saturday.
But, can the Hokies overcome that loyalty to Alabama? That’s the big question and one we’ll have to watch going forward. Allen’s recruitment may be a good measuring stick at how far we’ve come on the recruiting trail in the last 12 months. If the Hokies find a way to land him, I think it’s time to give Torian Gray and Shane Beamer a pay raise.
Other Recruiting Notes
I haven’t done a Friday recruiting article in a few weeks and I promise I’ll get back on that over the summer. I graduated last weekend so it’s been hectic. But, here are a few other recruiting notes that have been announced publicly over the last few days.
* DaeSean Hamilton continues to blow up with offers rolling in from Miami, Illinois, West Virginia, Michigan State, Wake Forest, Temple, Maryland, and Duke. The Hokies, UVA, and Miami are probably the three teams to watch here although I think Hamilton will likely stay in-state.
* Virginia Tech commit Holland Fisher along with Kendall Fuller, DJ Reid, Derrick Green, Marcus Newby, Larenz Bryant, Marquez Grayson, Greg Gilmore, Peter Kalambayi, and Uriah LeMay have all been invited to participate in the 2013 US Army All-American Bowl broadcasted on NBC in January. Odds are, the Hokies have somewhere between 3-5 players participating in that game. The most Tech has had was two, which occurred last season even though Joel Caleb was injured and did not actually play.
Previous US Army Commits we’ve had are Ryan Williams, Tyrod Taylor, Logan Thomas, Joel Caleb, and Brooks Abbott.
* Speaking of Holland Fisher, he was nominated to participate in “The Opening,” which is a national All-Star camp out in Oregon this summer.
* Deon Newsome will likely enroll early if he can get his grades in order and graduate in December. Being a Virginia High School student, that’s tough to do with SOLs. But, if he has all of the classes, enrolling in January helps most all college athletes. Having that extra practice session in the spring to learn your assignments helps most freshmen immensely.
* 2013 kicker Dillon Christopher is a name to watch. He could earn a scholarship from Virginia Tech sometime this year. He holds the state record for longest field goal made with a 60 yard FG last season. Of course, high school kickers are allowed to kickoff rubber tees but that’s still impressive for a high school student.
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