10 Big Recruits For 2014

by JustinC on February 7, 2013 · 14 comments

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DaShawn Hand 300x198 10 Big Recruits For 2014Welcome to 2014 Hokies.  I swear these years get shorter and shorter as I get older.  Yesterday, the Hokies inked an 18 member 2013 recruiting class.  For the most part, the day ended drama-less, which is a good thing.  That 2013 class ranks anywhere from 12th in the country to 18th, depending upon which recruiting service you trust most. 

Today, we will flash forward one year and look at some of the rising seniors who may be sending their LOI’s to Virginia Tech next February.  The 2014 class is a big one for Virginia Tech.  Not only will it be bigger in size than their 2013 counterparts but with the amount of talent in-state, the Hokies need to cash in on the amount of elite talent that Virginia is producing in 2014.

Below, I list my top 10 recruits for the 2014 recruiting cycle.  These are guys who could be program changers in a very short amount of time if the Hokies can land them. 

10. LB Christian Miller

Virginia Tech’s linebacker depth is going to take a hit after the 2013 season when Jack Tyler and Tariq Edwards both graduate.  That will leave Chase Williams and Devin Van Dyke as the only scholarship players at MIKE.  Deon Clarke and Jamieon Moss will be the only scholarship players at Backer.  So, you can see the depth problem developing, especially if Jerome Wright starts off at tailback. 

Enter four star linebacker Christian Miller out of South Carolina.  Miller has mentioned interest in Virginia Tech and a spring visit here could go a long way to helping the Hokies contend with both in-state schools as well as UNC, FSU, and Florida. 

Landing Miller would be a huge coup for Tech but there seems to be a ways to go here for Tech to position themselves favorably.  Hopefully a spring visit gets Tech in his top five and the Hokies can put the full-court press on the 3rd best OLB in the country. 

9. CB D’Andre Payne

With Virginia Tech signing five star Kendall Fuller along with a good crop of potential cornerbacks, finding an elite CB in this 2014 class is not a high priority.  However, with Virginia Tech’s tradition in the secondary, finding at least one four star each year is imperative in my opinion.  The Hokies are in good position for the Washington D.C. native and four star cornerback prospect D’Andre Payne.

Payne has a ton of offers but seems to favor some of the local schools along with a few national programs.  He will likely visit Michigan soon and has visited Florida State, UVA, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Ohio State, and Notre Dame in the past. 

The Hokies are in good shape here early and seem to be solidly in his top five.  But, a spring visit for a junior day and perhaps the spring game could really help the Hokies cause in landing the 16th best cornerback prospect in the country for 2014. 

8. DT Derrick Nnadi

With only one true defensive line recruit signed in 2013, the Hokies are going to try and load up on talented defensive linemen in this 2014 class.  One of the top defensive tackle prospects in-state for 2014 will be Derrick Nnadi out of Ocean Lakes High School.  Nnadi is a bit of a UVA lean at this point in his recruitment but he has shown interest in Virginia Tech and UNC as well.

I get the feeling that the Hokies won’t be able to get both Andrew Brown and Derrick Nnadi.  I would be happy with just one of those two since they’re similar players.  Right now, Nnadi favors UVA but he will likely visit Virginia Tech again this spring.  A good visit could change his mind.  I could see this recruitment being a lot like Nigel Williams who was considered a UVA lean until he committed to Virginia Tech.

7. DT Ricky Walker

Prior to the Hokies changing up their coaching staff, Ricky Walker was considered a Virginia Tech lean.  With a new primary recruiter, I’m interested in seeing if anything changes.  Walker holds offers from BC, UNC, ODU, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and NC State.  Surprisingly, UVA hasn’t offered him even though his brother attends UVA. 

Walker is a good fit for Virginia Tech’s system.  He’s stocky so he's similar to the Hopkins brothers and oh-so-many other former Virginia Tech defensive tackles.  That’s why Walker is slightly higher on this list than Nnadi, who is a bigger and wider body.  The Hampton native is a big recruit in 2014 and he would give the Hokies another boost on the defensive line.

6. DE Jalyn Holmes

After seeing Holmes in person at last year’s July camp, it’s clear that he could play numerous positions at Virginia Tech.  At least starting off, I would love to see him on the offensive side of the ball at tight end.  He seems to have good potential there and in the right offense, he could be threat in the vertical passing game.  But, he also has a high ceiling defensively.

Either way, Holmes is a big recruit and just about every coaching staff that has evaluated him seems to agree.  He has offers from Clemson, Florida, Southern Cal, Virginia Tech, Miami, and many others.  He’s also receiving heavy interest from Alabama and Florida State.

Holmes is being recruited by Bryan Stinespring so at least the Hokies have their ace recruiter on him. 

5. RB Elijah Hood

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With Drew Harris’s situation completely up in the air, finding a legit top five running back prospect in the 2014 class is crucial.  The Hokies do have a commitment from Marshawn Williams out of Hampton High School but Tech would be best served to bring in two running backs overall.  I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing in three with perhaps the 3rd being a RB/ATH like Vincent Lowe, who is craving a VT offer.

Its clear that the top prospect on the running back board is Elijah Hood out of Charlotte, NC.  However, the Hokies have some ground to make up here since his former recruiter, Kevin Sherman, left for Purdue.  It appears that Shane Beamer is going to take over his recruitment, is a good thing.  Beamer was responsible for VT landing Drew Harris and helped USC land Marcus Lattimore.  Beamer’s track record for recruiting highly touted running backs is damn near flawless.  So, hopefully that helps us in this race.

Hood currently has what seems to be an unofficial top four of Notre Dame, Ohio State, Clemson, and North Carolina.  If Tech can get him back on campus I think we’ll make his top five, especially since he wants to stay relatively close to home. 

4. QB Jacob Park

Scot Loeffler is going to have free reign to go out and find a quarterback of his choice to bring in for the 2014 class.  It appears that Jacob Park is probably in his top two or three.  Park also seems to be a big Virginia Tech lean now that Loeffler is in town.  He was rumored to be a strong Auburn lean before Loeffler was let go at Auburn.

Park is a good prospect with a strong arm and decent mobility.  He’s also a four star on 247Sports and just recently netted an offer from Alabama.  Since he has family in Blacksburg, the Hokies are probably the favorite going forward even with family ties to UNC.

It also wouldn’t shock me to see Tech take two more QB’s in this class if they can.  Obviously, it’s going to be tough to convince someone like David Cornwell to commit if Park has committed as well.  Most top tier QB’s want to be the only QB in the class.  Still, if Tech can find another QB it would be beneficial. 

3. OT Damien Prince

The top offensive line prospect on the board for the Hokies is Damien Prince, who is a five star prospect out of Maryland.  Now, it’s unclear where he ranks on Coach Grimes’s board but judging by his film, it’s clear he’s one of the top offensive line prospects on the east coast this year.  He’s also interested in leaving the state, which plays in Virginia Tech’s favor.

Right now, Prince is high on Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech.  However, the Hokies will need Coach Grimes to develop a relationship with Prince as quickly as possible.  Coach Sherman was his primary recruiter previously. 

For our offense to become elite there’s two more goals the Hokies need to accomplish.  The first one is to sign an elite, top three offensive lineman in the country.  The next one is to sign an elite wide receiver.  To this date, the Hokies have never done either. 

2. DT Andrew Brown

The top two players on this list were not shocking as they’re the top two players in the country according to Rivals.com.  Andrew Brown is a tenacious defensive tackle with an extremely high ceiling.  While Brown is tied to the “Thoroughbreds” 7-on-7 team, which has not been pro-VT in recent years, Tech does have a chance in this race.  Brown and his father are open to visiting all the schools that offer him.  So, there’s a good chance Brown visits this spring.

With a good visit, Tech could ascend to near the top of his list.  Staying close to home would be beneficial.  But, for Brown it will come down to what level of football he wants to play.  He’ll have an opportunity to play at just about any SEC, ACC, and Big 12 school.  Right now, I think UVA might have a small lead due to the pro-UVA people in his corner.  But, UNC, Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech all have a chance in this recruitment. 

1. DE Da’Shawn Hand

Da’Shawn Hand exploded onto the scene at about this time last year once his sophomore film hit all the message boards.  Then once 247Sports released their early rankings for 2014, Hand became a nationally known name.  He is the top player in the country currently according to 247Sports. 

Hand has already released a top five consisting of Virginia Tech, Alabama, UNC, South Carolina, and Michigan.  He’s admitted that Coach Foster is his favorite coach and that the Michigan coaching staff in general is his favorite overall staff. 

If I had to handicap that top five, I would say that the Hokies are the favorite followed closely by UNC and Michigan with Alabama in 4th and the Gamecocks in 5th

The good news for Virginia Tech is that the Hokies are the only in-state school that made the cut and they are by far the closest to home.  For whatever reason, I feel confident that the Hokies are going to be able to pull this one out.  Once we get Hand back on campus for our spring game or for a Junior Day, I think Tech will be able to extend their lead a bit from the pack. 

If the Hokies can find a way to get Hand committed by the end of the summer, this next recruiting year is going to be one fun ride. 

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Seth February 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm

You have UNC listed as a close second for Hand but i am pretty sure he dropped them from his top 5 and added UF

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JustinC February 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

Actually you’re right. I had a brain freeze and forgot UNC’s DL coach went to USC. So yea, bump everybody up a notch. At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters. I seem him at VT next year.

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Gbd February 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Yeah Hand isn’t considering UNC right now he dropped them for florida. It’s going to come down to Bama and Tech for Hand mark it down, and hopefully Tech offers Boone and then Tech will be sitting in the drivers seat for Hand. What about Moss the o-lineman he has to be a top priority for Tech in 2014 in my mind he’s number 2 behind Hand because we need alot more talented and ready to contribute early o-lineman in the program. Do you like where we stand with Moss and any idea if coach Grimes has any new targets out their for 2014.

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Ershgg February 8, 2013 at 2:17 am

No Stephen moss?

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JustinC February 8, 2013 at 9:53 am

I was really close to adding him but I see him as a recruit who will need a few years to develop. I was trying to stay with a theme of guys who could come in and play immediately.

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fernleyhokie February 8, 2013 at 7:08 am

just curious, but why aren’t the Thoroughbreds pro-VT?

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JustinC February 8, 2013 at 9:54 am

A couple of the coaches are tight with Chip West, who is a coach at UVA. Also, those same coaches just really don’t like VT for whatever reason. It is what it is.

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vthokie18 February 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

It’s a good thing we still have alot of young WR’s on this list because the 2014 class does not look like a very strong WR class most of the top WR’s are out west past our recruiting ground. I do see Cornell listed as a primary recruiter for Adonis Jennings out of NJ he’s list at 6’3 185 so he has good size and is a 4* recruid #167 in the initial 247, however even though Cornell is listed as the primary recruiter it’s not showing that he has a VT offer is this correct?

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JustinC February 8, 2013 at 10:02 am

Yea we haven’t offered Jennings at this point but we’re keeping tabs on him. He didn’t really stand out at last year’s recruiting camp so he may have to visit against or camp again if he wants an offer. I was a little shocked 247 ranked him as a 4*. I’ll have to go see if I can find some junior film on him.

As for the WR class as a whole, it’s not as deep as its been in years past but I think you can still find some good athletes out there. Coaches will just have to evaluate more and perhaps you could see an offer or two go out at our June or July camp.

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hokiegrad February 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I’m in complete agreement that we need some good linebackers in the 2014 class. Did you forget about Motuapuaka, though? I believe Foster just called him a mike. And don’t you think Moss will start out at whip, where we only have RVD and McKinnon (currently suspended)? Fisher could end up there, but I would honestly be surprised if he doesn’t start out at rover, and if he doesn’t qualify and/or the McKinnon situation isn’t worked out, we’ll have to have another whip for depth in the fall.

Back to 2014 recruits… what do you think of our chances with Joe Blue and Dillon Bates?

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JustinC February 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I saw that and that surprised me a little bit in regards to Motuapuaka. Granted, when he first committed he was about 5’11″ and 205 pounds. He’s done a lot of work in the weight room last year and is now up to about 220 pounds, if not more. So, I think he may start out at WHIP but with that progression, I could see him topping out at 240 pounds by the time he’s a senior. That would be by far the heaviest WHIP we’ve ever had. So I think a move to MIKE LB could be in the cards. I just have him slotted at WHIP for the time being. You have to remember a lot of these positions are not set in stone. You really don’t know what you’re truly getting until these guys enroll and go through a full spring or fall camp.

Joe Blue committed to South Carolina a few weeks ago if I’m not mistaken. He wasn’t going to leave the state so that wasn’t too surprising. Dillon Bates and Kentavious Street could be two big name recruits we actually have a legit shot at landing out of Florida. Bates, of course, has connections to VT through his teammate, Kyle Chung, committing. Chung is actively recruiting him and QB David Cornwell for us. That will help. I think Bates visits Blacksburg in March or April with Chung and hopefully that solidifies our position with him. He’s good.

Also, keep an eye on Street. Things are looking good there for us. He loves VT.

http://247sports.com/Player/Kentavius-Street-25734

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Ben February 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I feel like the recruits would all see the new coaches as an upgrade especially at recruiting, So if wouldn’t it be an upgrade if one of our new coaches took over as primary recruiter for a player who’s primary recruiter left, esp this early in the process? Also would you still consider Stiney as our best recruiter now that we have loeffler and s. Beamer? Also why are some of the top notch players in Va UVA leans, do they watch the games? Think the new coaches could perhaps get Blanding and Andrew brown more interested in the Hokies?

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JustinC February 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I think you have to look at it from more of a relationship standpoint rather than from a system or scheme standpoint. Recruiting is all about personality, trust, salesmanship, and relationship building. That’s why I feel like we’re clearly the team to beat for Da’Shawn Hand at the moment. How many prospects come out and say “Coach A is my favorite coach” and then not commit to that team? Those relationships are crucial.

But, it is early and I think we’ll have time to rebuild those relationships. All it takes is a few phone calls and a visit or two with the family. It’s a process but with recruits committing earlier and earlier each year, it’s tough to develop a close relationship with a family when they’ll commit in April. Hopefully that answers your question.

Right now, I would actually consider Shane our best recruiter but Stinespring is one of the best when it comes to making up ground with a prospect. I think they each have their strengths. I also think Grimes, with his record at Auburn and Colorado, and Gray are two good ones as well. Each coach has their own skillset and for the first time we have a full staff that can go out and recruit. That’s big.

As for VA kids who are UVA leans, a lot of that stems from some 757 coaches and their relationship with Mike London. Mike is a young (in coaching terms) African-American head coach and that resonates with these kids. That said, there’s only a handful that I would consider UVA leans in the top 20 or so in-state. Quin Blanding being the biggest of them all with Derrick Nnadi a close second.

To answer your last question, Blanding isn’t going to visit VT just because of the “influence” around him. He’s going to UVA or FSU (childhood favorite team). As for Brown, we have a fighting chance here and it would be very beneficial if Brown goes the distance and commits 1 year from now on Signing Day. If he commits in April, we have no chance.

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