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Tech Sports Tonight (football season only)
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When: every Tuesday from 7:00-9:00
Station:  WXGI AM 950 in Richmond
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Monday, February 17, 2003
by Will Stewart,

Monday's show was the annual football recruiting show, and this year's show featured VT recruiting coordinator Jim Cavanaugh, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers, and Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times.

Cavanaugh opened by saying that the 2003 class of signees is very talented, and that on paper, they're "quite a bunch," but that the success of the class [stop me if you've heard this one before] won't be judged for 3-5 years.

Cavanaugh said that recruiting Xavier Adibi was difficult, because he (Xavier) had been hearing all through high school about how he was following his brother Nathaniel, and he didn't want to continue to hear it because he was going to Virginia Tech. Cav said that Tennessee and Maryland did a good job of bringing this up over and over during the recruiting process, and using it against VT.

Cav said that VT benefited from Xavier's move from DE to LB, because playing a different position gave Xavier his own identity. Cav said that Xavier has a different personality than Nathaniel and is his own person. But Cav said that he (Cav) felt pressure recruiting Xavier, because he didn't want to be the coach that "blew it" recruiting Xavier, perceived as a VT lean and Tech's to lose.

Stinespring was asked for his thoughts on Vince Hall. He said that Vince is 6-1, 240, and played against some good programs and played for a good program.

The entire VT defensive staff visited Xavier, Vince, and Chris Ellis in the last couple of weeks. The staff, with the exception of Cavanaugh, flew on a charter jet -- Cavanaugh hates to fly in small planes and drove down the night before in each case.

The Tech coaches did this twice, and Tennessee copied the Hokies, but the Volunteers didn't bring the entire defensive staff, just a couple of coaches, and they only did it once.

Roth asked about early playing time for Adibi, Hall, and Ellis. Cav answered that all three were told they would be given a chance to compete, but that the Tech coaching staff would have to get them into Tech's camp and see where they are physically and mentally.

Roth asked if there was an increased recruiting presence by Tennessee in the state of Virginia, because it seemed that VT was battling the Volunteers for a lot of players this year. Stinespring said that he had always seen a lot of UT in the Tidewater area, and he said that the Tech staff doesn't concern itself with other schools per se -- instead, they concern themselves with making VT's presence felt above all others.

Cavanaugh said that Chris Ellis (6-4, 245) is a big kid who can run. He plays basketball and is very quick on the court, with good mobility, and you see that on the football field. Like all young kids, he has to improve his strength level, but the big thing is, he can run.

Regarding DJ Parker, Cav said that he will prep, and that he wants to play receiver when he gets to Tech.

Josh Hyman (6-1, 180) was recruited by VT from his junior year at Deep Creek. Stinespring said that Hyman has good hands and can make something happen after the catch. As always, Fork Union was good for Hyman from a physical and mental maturity standpoint.

Roth asked if it was hard for VT to recruit wide receivers. Stinespring, after a very slight pause, said, "No, it's not hard to recruit wide receivers." Roth persisted, asking, "In your mind, have you recruited that position as well as other positions?"

"That's a tough question," Cav answered. "Most of your high school quarterbacks and tailbacks end up playing somewhere else." He talked about how Hyman and David Clowney are good receivers, then he said, "I'll tell you this, most high school programs donít throw the ball, so the best athletics are usually the quarterback and tailback, so you have to move them around."

Steve from Arkansas called in and said that he was a former player from the early 70's, and he asked Stinespring about playcalling. He specifically pointed out that he felt VT should "go for the end zone" on second and short instead of just calling dive plays, that going for it builds confidence in the offense and the line. He then asked an unrelated question, wanting to know the status of Fred Lee, a highly-rated wide receiver from the last two years who has not been heard from much during his redshirt year.

Stinespring said that Lee needs to "step it up on the practice field," and that that's part of the maturing process for him. Some guys come in and do well quickly, others need time to adjust.

Cavanaugh commented that VT has a nice blend of experience and youth among their assistant coaches (recruiting staff). He said that VT knows their way around the state, and that Charley Wiles and Bud Foster do well in Florida, Danny Pearman does well in Pennsylvania, Tony Ball does well in Baltimore, and Whammy Ward does well in Philadelphia.

Roth said that after signing day, he had never seen Coach Beamer happier. Stinespring said that Beamer sees the big picture and is pleased with the progress of the program, from going to bowls to facilities, to recruiting, to putting players in the NFL.

Roth asked if VT can win a national championship with "these players." Cavanaugh said yes, but that other factors enter into it, like the players already here, injuries, the schedule, etc.

Keith in Richmond called in and asked about the fact that VT finds fullbacks by converting players from other positions. He also asked for Stinespring's comment on using the tight end more.

Stinespring said that VT has recruited true fullbacks, and he mentioned Jarrett Ferguson (since Ferguson was a walk-on, I assume that he was a recruited walk-on) and Joey Razzano. He also said that a few years ago, VT recruited "three or four guys" specifically to play fullback.

He agreed that VT needs to use the tight end more, and that they have been working on some plays and formations to get the tight end more involved. He pointed out that the tight end is usually a check-down option, and that when VT's tight ends did catch the ball last year, it was for big gainers.

Roth used that to segue into talking about tight end recruit John Kinzer from Robinson in Fairfax, Virginia. Stinespring said that Kinzer is very competitive, plays to win, and has a great presence. He said that Kinzer is very directed and goal-oriented, and that he was just as sold on Kinzer, the person, as he is on Kinzer, the player he saw on film.

Roth asked Cavanaugh about another tight end, Duane Brown of Hermitage High School in Richmond. Cav said that Kinzer is an old-time football player, a tough nut. He said that Brown is not as good a blocker as Kinzer, and that he wasn't called upon to do that as much. He said that Brown is approaching 6-7 and weighs 255, and that he's a great athlete who can move around (change positions) if need be.

Bob in Fort Lauderdale called in and asked what the coaches thought about paying college football players (in reference to a Nebraska senator who recently said he thought college football players should be paid).

"It'll never happen," Cavanaugh said. He said that a school could never afford to pay a stipend to every single athlete on scholarship, in every sport (which is what you would have to do if you decided to pay football players). Stinespring agreed, saying that the NCAA gears itself toward parity, and paying players would be unfair, because some schools wouldn't be able to do that.

Roth asked Stinespring about OL Tripp Carroll (6-4, 290), who is already enrolled at VT. Carroll played three years in North Carolina and his final year in Jacksonville, Florida. Stinespring said that Tripp has great work habits and has "taken to" the strength and conditioning program. He said that Tripp is at center right now, and that it's the toughest OL position to learn, but if he learns it, he'll be able to play anywhere on the line. He said that the coaches want to get Tripp ready to help the team next season.

Roth asked about OL Nick Marshman from Turner-Ashby and Matt Welsh (6-5, 280) from Centreville. Along with Carroll, all three players are pure OL who are geared towards playing that position, as opposed to VT's historical philosophy of recruiting DL's and TE's and moving them to OL if they donít work out elsewhere.

Florida DE Mike Brown is a very impressive kid on film, according to Cavanaugh, and Charley Wiles did a very good job recruiting him. Brown visited BC and Michigan, and the Hokies fought off a late charge from Florida. Apparently, the Gators pushed pretty hard after Brown had already committed to VT, but Cav said he was a man of his word and stood by his verbal. Cav called him a "very active player, a heat-seeking missile."

Roth asked Doug Doughty if he was amazed at the emphasis from the fans on recruiting these days. Doughty said that in the last five years, the Internet is the big difference, and that newspaper writers don't get the scoops anymore. He talked about how "as many as ten" Internet services will call recruits on Sunday after they get back from an official visit.

Doughty said that he talked to Ahmad Brooks last year, long after signing day was over, and he asked Brooks how Internet sites got so many different stories on where he (Brooks) was going. Doughty said that Brooks told him that he would "tell them what they wanted to hear to get them off the phone."

52 players signed Division 1 grants in the state, an all-time high. Cavanaugh said that going in, he didn't think there would be that many, and he was proven wrong. 47 players signed in 2002, 35 in 2001, 35 in 2000, and 37 in 1999. 14 players signed with MAC schools Ohio and Kent, helping to inflate the numbers.

Roth asked Doughty how he thought VT did in-state. Doughty said he thought VT did well. He also said that he usually writes a column about which school did better, VT or UVa, but that this year, he didnít write it, because Virginia did well out of state, but VT did well in-state. He said that it was preferable to do well in-state, like VT did, and that VT "held their traditional strongholds" in-state.

Roth asked Cavanaugh if any school in the country, other than Notre Dame, can make a living recruiting out-of-state players. Cav dismissed Notre Dame from the discussion, because they're a private school, and he said that most public schools will recruit in-state first, and fill in the holes out of state. He also said, "The further you go out, the less you know about the kids." He said that in-state, teachers, principals and guidance counselors help by talking about the in-state schools and emphasizing the in-state schools over the out-of-state schools.

Roth asked Stinespring what he was going to remember the most about recruiting this year. He said he would remember visiting Kinzer and visiting Duane Brown with Cavanaugh, and that he would remember the maturity level and character of the kids involved.

Roth asked Stinespring, "Guys who are good at recruiting like it. Do you like it?"

"I love it," answered Stinespring, and he talked about the challenges, the relationships, and how it keeps him young.

In the last three years, the Hokies have signed eight of the 15 players listed in the Roanoke Times top 5 players. Doughty pointed out that Cavanaugh signed five of those eight: Bryan Randall, Marcus Vick, Jonathan Lewis, Xavier Adibi, and Chris Ellis.

Kevin Rogers, in his first full year recruiting for VT, tied for the lead amongst the coaching staff by signing four players (Barry Booker, Kory Robertson, Corey Gordon, and Michael Hinton). Rogers said that a lot of work had already been done, and he just finished up.

When asked about his players, Rogers said:

Kory Robertson (6-5, 290, 4.8 forty) has good hip movement, and is a multi-talented person, playing trumpet in the marching band. Rogers said that he has great, great potential, and that he was glad VT offered early and eliminated the competition.

Booker (6-4, 270) "thought until last year he was a basketball player, so his best football days are ahead of him." Rogers said Booker will benefit greatly from VT's strength and conditioning program and can play defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end, or even offensive line.

Rogers said that he went to Hargrave to evaluate talent in a search for a safety/wide receiver type, and that Michael Hinton (6-2, 195) was the best fit, but that he was very interested in NC State. VT offered him early, but he didn't commit early. Then, when Hargrave came to play against Tech's JV, the most impressive player on the field for Hargrave was Corey Gordon (6-3, 205). Rogers called him a guy who can play whip, free safety, or strong safety. VT offered him, and he accepted almost right away.

Hinton then committed a week before signing day, and Rogers said he was a state champ in the 110-meter and 300-meter (?) hurdles. Rogers said that Hinton and Gordon will be as "good as any kids you can bring in."

Barek in Blacksburg called in and asked about Cory Holt (6-4, 205). He wanted to know what type of passer Holt is, pocket or on the run. Rogers answered that Holt is an excellent athlete who averages 30 points a game in basketball and has great mobility. He is raw at this point in time, but has a strong arm, throwing it 65 to 70 yards in the air. He will go to Hargrave to help separate him a little from Marcus Vick and give the Hokies good QB options for the next six years (between Randall, Vick and Holt).

Doughty chimed in and said that he had an opportunity to talk with Billy Hunt, Cory Holt's coach, and Hunt's descriptions of Holt reminded Doughty of Aaron Brooks, a "gunslinger" type.

Roth asked if Courtney Denson's decommitment was a disappointment. Rogers said that Denson was a case of "the farther you get from home, the less you know about a kid," and he said that Denson was more like 5-10, 170 pounds, not the 6-0, 190 player he was listed as. VT would have honored his commitment, but because he was visiting other schools, which Rogers likened to "dating while you're engaged," the Hokie coaches pulled back and ended things with him.

Charles in Roanoke called in and asked why college football doesn't have an early signing date, and he also asked Rogers about "working on Notre Dame" for some transfers. "We donít want any of those guys," Rogers quipped. "We've got better players here." (Laughter and applause.)

The discussion about an early-signing period rambled a bit, but the bottom line is that it would be hard to pin down a date. You can't do it during the football season, because that would create massive amounts of recruiting "work" on top of the coaching and playing work that is going on, not just for college coaches, but for the high school players, as well.

Doughty asked about an early signing day in August. "That's come up and has been proposed," Cav said, without adding anything else.

Nick in Covington called in and asked Coach Rogers, given his experience at Syracuse and Notre Dame, if there was anything different that VT ought to be doing in recruiting.

Rogers said that VT was the first place he had coached where there was a lot of loyalty to the university throughout the state. Syracuse ($32,000 a year) and Notre Dame are both expensive private schools, and that doesn't engender loyalty to the school throughout the state, like it does with state institutions like VT and UVa.

Rogers said, given the loyalty from alumni and coaches to their in-state schools, plus the talent base in Virginia, it doesn't make sense to do anything different. He also said that it is very hard for out-of-state schools to beat VT for in-state recruits consistently.

"If I have some input, it will be on how we conduct recruiting weekends, or something like mailings," things like that, and not on general philosophy.

Jeff in Raleigh called in and asked Rogers for his impressions of Josh Hyman, whom he recruited for Notre Dame, and he asked about the impact of the Nike camp that VT will be hosting in May.

Rogers said that he recruited the mid-Atlantic for Notre Dame, and he remembers going into Deep Creek High School (at the same time Darryl Tapp was there), and he felt that Hyman was as good a receiver as he had seen in the mid-Atlantic area.

Cavanaugh said that VT coaches wonít run the Nike camp and "can't even be around the players," but the benefit to VT is that the players will see the VT campus, stadium, practice fields and facilities. He said that it's amazing how many kids see VT for the first time and don't have any idea how nice the facilities are. About 200 kids will attend, and high school coaches will help out with timing, etc. "That's why some of the numbers will be off," Cav said.

Doughty said that he had a chance to go see the Hargrave-Fork Union game, and that he was sitting in the stands, and that FUMA had a player making plays on both sides of the ball. "He was all over the place. He was big, he was quick, and his number wasn't in the program."

Doughty said that the player was so impressive that he went out of his way across the field and behind a bench to pull someone aside and ask who the player was, and it was Josh Hyman. Doughty jokingly accused Cavanaugh and Rogers of monkeying with Hyman's number so college coaches wouldn't know who he was. Cav said, "It's not my school," and of course, Rogers said, "I wouldn't do that."

Proof that VT's recruiting is superior: Monday was Day 1,225 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup. To celebrate this long string, grab your Commonwealth Cup T-shirt (shown at right -- click the picture to order yours for $16.95).

- Will


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