Hokies Nab Taylor, Finalize OL Recruiting

Two months ago, our recruiting class stood six deep yet none of those six were offensive linemen. Fast forward two months and Tech now has five offensive linemen in the boat. It’s a cast that lacks a superior name, for sure. But what this cast lacks in star power it makes up for in talent and long-term potential.

Recruiting offensive linemen out of high school is like recruiting a center in basketball out of high school. Most players are raw, they lack great technique or footwork, and they don’t play in an overly sophisticated system. The same is true for high school offensive linemen. Coaches must evaluate numerous prospects to discover ones they like. Take Florida State for example, who offered Alec Eberle here in Virginia. The Hokies and Hoos both evaluated and passed. But, FSU liked what they saw and offered him a scholarship. That’s a good example of a major program having to do their homework to find a player they like to fit a need, even though Florida is chock-full of high school talent.

Brady Taylor isn’t going to show up on ESPNU’s recruiting show in February as an instant impact commit because he’s not. Recruiting services love players who can make an impact immediately because that shows their subscriber list that they’re marginally capable of ranking prospects in some sort of logical numerical order. Taylor is 6’5″? and 265 pounds. He’s going to need to develop, he’s going to need to get bigger, and he’s going to be asked to do a whole lot more in college than he’s done in high school. The transition will take time.

However, I really like this pickup and I know the coaching staff, including Coach Grimes who, according to insiders, ranked Taylor in the elite few after he evaluated numerous offensive tackles this past spring, likes him too. He is the prototypical tackle in a Jeff Grimes system. He has long arms, he’s smart, he’s tough and he’s dominant at times. The one constant though that keeps coming up in every offensive line commit is the fact that all of these guys can move. They’re athletic and agile. That’s no different for Taylor who is quick off the ball on film.

Overall, I think this is a tremendous pickup for the Hokies. It gives Tech an option at all five positions along the offensive line. But more importantly, it’s developing an identity on the interior that Virginia Tech has missed over the past seven seasons. If you want to scoff at the lack of star power along the offensive line, go ahead. But, it’s the one position where star rankings should be null and void.

Going Forward…

3* WR Austin Proehl committed to UNC last night after the Tar Heels swung through with an offer. Apparently, that’s the offer Proehl was waiting on so when Larry Fedora called him, he immediately jumped at the chance to play for the Heels. That leaves Tech in a position where they may need to go all-in after one of their big fish if they want to bring in a complete WR corps in this class. Tech has Javon Harrison and Jaylen Bradshaw in this class already and they are still recruiting 4* Noah Brown, 4* Cam Phillips, 4* Josh Malone, 3* Josh Cabrera, and 3* Kendrick Holland. I’m sure the Hokies would like to take two more if possible.

Next up on the commitment list will be Greg Stroman, who will announce his decision on August 3rd. It appears that Stroman will decide between Virginia and Virginia Tech. If I had to guess, I would put my money on the Hoos in this one. Mike London is recruiting like his job is on the line (it is) and he’s done a good job building a decent 2014 class. That may cause Virginia Tech to go all-in for 3* DB Lamont Simmons out of Florida. Another DB out of Florida…kind of hard for the Hokies to turn those guys down these days.

There hasn’t been anything new on 4* DT Ricky Walker or 4* DT Derrick Nnadi. It appears both may choose to wait until the end of August, at the earliest, to make their decisions. 4* LB Raymon Minor is likely going to take all five officials before deciding, even though I think there’s about a 98-perent chance he signs with VT in February.