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February 12, 2001
13th ANNUAL VT RECRUITING SHOW
Coach Beamer was taking some time off in Florida and did not appear on the recruiting show. The guests included coaches Bryan Stinespring, Lorenzo "Whammy" Ward and Jim Cavanaugh, who repeated many of the player descriptions so well reported elsewhere on TSL from the Feb. 11 recruiting rally; plus sports writer Doug Doughty.
B-E-S-T C-L-A-S-S E-V-E-R
When veteran Roanoke Times recruiting analyst Doug Doughty was asked by Bill Roth Monday if 2001 was Virginia Tech's best recruiting class ever, Doughty replied: "Oh, certainly."
He went on to say it was his recollection that no school has ever signed three of the top four in Virginia in one year as the Hokies just did.
Nor has VT ever signed the state's #1 player before. Even in 1998, he noted, Ron Curry was #1, David Terrell was #2, and Michael Vick was #3.
Whereas VT signed 5 of the Top 25 in a very good class a year ago, it signed 11 of the Top 25 in 2001. Together, VT and UVa signed 18 of the Top 25 for 2001, also the most combined Top 25 signees for the two schools in one year. (He attributed that partially to North Carolina's lower profile in recent years.)
Doughty suggested the most impressive thing about VT's 2000 recruiting was the quality of players it was involved with (Witten, Royster, et als) after the national championship game, and yet some of those guys got away. This year it was impressive to see those whom VT was involved with and DID sign, he said.
Doughty noted that SuperPrep ranked Tech's class as #8 on signing day. The 2000 class was 25th and the 1998 class was 18th. SuperPrep ranked Kevin Jones as the nation's top recruit and Doughty called KJ the "consensus number one."
Regarding other schools, Doughty recalled a conversation he had with the high school coach of WR recruit Fred Lee. The coach said that 5 to 6 years ago, a lot of schools didn't make the push in that area (Pennsylvania) because it was assumed that all the players would go to Penn State anyway. He noted that Joe Paterno is now 74 and it's probably hurting PSU because recruits are uncertain how long he will be around.
Doughty said that in the end, the coaching changes at Virginia, Miami and North Carolina probably didn't have that big of an effect -- each signed about the same class it would have anyway.
The Roanoke writer is known for his Top 25 of state prospects published each Christmas day, along with the list of top juniors in the state. Sixteen of the top 25 juniors in December 1999 made the Top 25 of December 2000. The juniors list is dominated by players he knows about from traditionally strong schools, but is subject to change. He talked about the example of the rise of DeAngelo Hall, who was 9th on the juniors list in December 1999 but was ranked #2 in the state this year. He indicated the ranking was affected in part by the VT staff telling him that they had never had a better athlete in a summer camp.
Looking ahead, Doughty indicated that QB Marcus Vick will be the top player in Virginia next year and that DL Jonathon Lewis will be in the top five. He also mentioned current sophomore DE Xavier Adibi, younger brother of Nathaniel, as a future prospect.
Doughty said there's more projecting involved in ranking football recruits than in basketball. Take the Parade All-America football list from five years ago and you may not know 90 percent of the players now, he said.
COACH CAVANAUGH'S REMARKS
Coach Cav elaborated about QB Bryan Randall. Said he's 17, very mature, father has been a coach, his high school coach ran an offense with many similarities to what Coach Bustle uses at VT.
Cav and Bustle went to meet with BR and family after Vick announced his departure, to make sure BR was comfortable with playing this fall and not redshirting. He's ready to play and plans to enter second semester of summer school to be around the program and get started. On that visit, Cav said, Bustle "got on the board with X's and O's" and came away impressed with Randall's offensive grasp.
Randall understands the quarterback mix of returning players and the well-regarded Will Hunt. He'll handle himself well in that regard, Cav said. It's not ideal for any of the QBs to have to play as a freshman (Cav was including Randall, Hunt and Chris Clifton), he said, and Grant Noel wants to prove himself, so it will be a tough situation all around.
As for Randall and basketball, Cav said BR realizes the time constraints he would face with a bowl game and trying to play basketball. Coach Stokes has been great about the situation.
Cavanaugh was asked to compare Vick and Randall AT THIS STAGE. Randall may be better known because of the publicity surrounding his two consecutive seasons of rushing and passing for 1,000 yards each, never before accomplished in Virginia. Vick played in a hard high school league.
Cav said Vick had a quicker release and was a little faster, always with that innate sense of timing and feel of people around him. Randall may be a little more poised. Cav talked about Randall playing in the AAU basketball title game (last year?) and being the go-to guy in the final minute, taking the key shots and winning the game.
Cav talked about the different interests of in-state vs. out-of-state recruits. The out-of-state players are affected by things like polls and TV exposure. Within Virginia, Cav said, the high school coaches know what Virginia Tech and Coach Beamer stand for. They aren't as affected by a Sugar Bowl appearance as the out-of-state guys. The state players want to know about distances and family being able to see them play.
COACH WARD'S COMMENTS
Bill Roth got downright theatrical in introducing Coach Whammy Ward, calling him "the man who went right into the shadows of Mount Nittany, looked Joe Paterno in the eye, and signed the best running back Pennsylvania has seen since Tony Dorsett." He also called Ward "the most hated man in the state of Pennsylvania."
Coach Ward said that #1 national recruit Kevin Jones showed up unannounced in the football offices last year while checking out the track facilities. KJ's father began telling him about what KJ's talent and about some websites where he could check this out. Soon, Ward got game film of KJ and showed it to Coach Beamer. What did Coach Beamer say? he was asked. "Recruit hard!" said Ward.
KJ narrowed his choices down to schools that run the ball, and then Ward said the nature of Coach Gentry's VT strength and conditioning program gave the Hokies the edge with Jones.
(Doughty noted later that Ward said KJ was the only player he's recruited from Pennsylvania. He was actually from Coach Pearman's territory. )
Ward mentioned that he has expressed to Coach Beamer an interest in personally recruiting the Atlanta area for VT. Ward grew up in Alabama, coached at UT-Chattanooga and has coaching contacts in that area of Georgia.
DeAngelo Hall: Coach Ward says that Hall is physically ready to play now. He's competitive, physical, runs well, and is a good man-to-man cover guy.
Blake Warren: a Ben Taylor-type, at 6-2, 210. His father played 14 years for the Washington Redskins, Ward said.
Other: No defensive backs will be getting a look at quarterback in the spring, Ward said. Several DBs are candidates for rover/whip. He mentioned McCadam as a possibility at either position. Larry Austin is 75 percent and thinks he can be 90 percent by the time spring practice starts in about six weeks. Coaches saw film of a couple of JUCO quarterbacks, but Beamer preferred to stick with the recruits and those already in the program.
COACH STINESPRING'S COMMENTS
The coach said he thought signing day would never get here. He feels very good about the signees. One thing that really stood out with this class, he said, is their overall maturity and the way these players handle themselves.
He acknowledged in some banter with Bill Roth that it's tough to pick the Top 5 out of VT's 2001 class. Hokiesports.com selected DeAngelo Hall as the #1 recruit, Roth said, while others believe it's Kevin Jones and some say Justin Hamilton.
Hall was instrumental in the recruiting of KJ, according to Stinespring, after the two struck up a relationship at summer football camp. Hall urged KJ to be his roommate at Tech. Before long they were calling each other.
Stinespring said Hall has a personality like Ronyell Whitaker's, with a tendency to talk a lot. Hall and DB signee D.J. Walton are physically ready to play now, he said.
James Anderson: A four-sport star who impressed in last summer's VT camp. A 6-2, 210 pound linebacker. Lots of upside, 1200 SAT, father is an ordained minister who played for the Atlanta Hawks. The type of guy who could jump out in a couple of years and people will say "Where did he come from?"
Chris Clifton: 6-4, runs 4.5 40, 24-foot long jump, 6-8 high jump. At QB in state title game, brought team back to verge of winning from 28-0 down. Projected as a receiver, yet as the season went on, people were saying he should be looked at as a QB, Stinespring said.
Clifton and Anderson committed at summer camp. The VT staff made offers, then the two met with DeAngelo Hall, and 15 minutes later they committed.
Cedric Humes: One of seven players who considered VT and UT. (Other schools are taking note that VT's blueprint for success includes a roster that's 70 percent Virginians, Stinespring said, and so others are competing for state players.) Humes is a third All-America running back in the 2001 VT class. Neither Humes nor Hamilton shied away from VT once KJ committed. One of Stinespring's big calls was to Humes to tell him about the commitment of KJ, leading Humes to reply: "SuperPrep doesn't carry the ball. I do."
Curtis Bradley: rated #7 OL in U.S. by PrepStar, versatile enough to play guard and tackle, intelligent, quick off the ball.
Reggie Butler: 6-6, 310. Described by Stinespring as an "aircraft carrier" who can advance in Gentry's weight program. "You can write 'potential' two thousand times on that body."
Danny McGrath: OL with similarities to Matt Lehr. Pulls well.
Stinespring on Randall playing this fall: Got to give Noel and Davis opportunities to take charge of the offense this spring. Coaches won't decide their status until after getting a good read in spring. Good chance one of the freshmen will play regardless of how Noel and Davis fare. Coaches will have the freshman QBs "under the microscope" this fall in the days before the full team reports.
Monday was Day 499 of Virginia Tech's possession of the Commonwealth Cup.
Adios until the fall!