The 2004 Top Gun Recruiter
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, 4/5/04
Before writing the "State of the Program" article on recruiting, we thought it wise to review how each recruiting coach is doing, and to hand out our 2004 Top Gun Recruiter Award. If you'll remember, we gave a comprehensive review about a year ago in our article Naming VT's Top Gun Recruiter, in which we crowned Jim Cavanaugh as VT's recruiting champion over Bryan Stinespring and Charley Wiles. Let's take a look at the 2004 results and see how that affects our Top Gun ranking.
How did the coaches do this year? In the case of recruiting, past performance is usually an indicator of future results, meaning that Tech's best recruiters continue to lead the field. But there's a new name near the top of the list, that of Kevin Rogers. After a strong opening in 2003, Rogers again did well in 2004.
Here's the rundown of who signed whom in 2004, plus a category showing who missed out on whom. In the "Misses" category, we listed players who made official visits to VT. There were other players the Hokies wanted and worked hard on, like Brian Toal and Kent Hicks, who never made visits to Blacksburg and are not listed in the "Misses" category.
The big dogs in VT recruiting, as you know from last year, are Cavanaugh, Stinespring, and Wiles, but I think you can add Kevin Rogers to that list. Rogers recruits Hargrave Military Academy, parts of Virginia, New Jersey, and quarterbacks for VT, and his numbers were boosted by VT hitting Hargrave particularly hard last year. Rogers is a strong recruiter, signing four players each of the last two years. Last year, we said he "showed promise" as a recruiter, but that it was early in his VT tenure. It's still early, and he still shows promise.
Rogers was hired as Rickey Bustle's replacement at QB coach, and he's proving to be Rickey Bustle's replacement on the recruiting trail as well. Bustle was a strong recruiter, and Rogers is, too.
Cavanaugh remains an outstanding recruiter, and like Rogers with Hargrave, Cav benefited from a concentration on FUMA kids (Shuman, Reevey, Morgan), where he recruits. Cavanaugh was VT's primary recruiter of linebackers last year, and he unfortunately missed on Jerod Mayo and Hugh D'Imperio, but he did snag Andrew Bowman.
Bryan Stinespring didn't have much to target last year, relatively speaking, but he did a good job of landing the kids he went after. On players that visited VT, Stinespring was 3-for-3.
Lorenzo Ward, with mostly northern Virginia responsibilities, doesn't rack up big numbers, but he has signed some good ones. Ward signed Kevin Jones, of course, and this year, he landed the Westfield duo, QB Sean Glennon and WR Eddie Royal (who many think was the best player in the state). Ward has an unconventional recruiting style. He took it easy with megastar Kevin Jones, figuring that a hands-off approach would work, and it did, though at one point he was almost too hands-off. And he had a strange, risky, joking relationship with Eddie Royal that no one else would have used, but which paid off for him.
Billy Hite, Danny Pearman, and Tony Ball typically are not given many targets, but they do well enough with the ones they get. Pearman in particular is improving as a recruiter, having landed Cory Holt and Fred Lee in the past (yeah, we know how the Lee thing turned out, but he was highly regarded in high school.)
Coach Beamer didn't hesitate to let Pearman recruit George Bell, one of VT's top targets last year. Pearman's territories have historically been PA and NC, and Beamer never shies away from letting Pearman recruit big-time players that fall in his territories. The only reason Ward recruited KJ, given that Pennsylvania is usually Perman's territory, was because Ward was the first to meet KJ and establish a relationship with him.
It was a rough year for Charley Wiles. Wiles, usually one of VT's top recruiters, did not have a fruitful year in Florida and has been burned by decommits for two years straight now, Courtney Denson in 2003 and Mike Mangold in 2004. One of Wiles' top 2003 recruits from Florida, LB Mike Brown, has already flamed out of the program and been sent packing. Sources tell us that Wiles and the VT coaching staff in general have grown disgusted with Florida and will concentrate their energies elsewhere. More on that later in the "State of the Program" article.
Meanwhile, at the same time his defense was having a rough time on the field, Bud Foster was having a rough time on the recruiting trail. Two years ago, Foster whiffed on linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Justin London (Foster took over London's recruitment after Rickey Bustle left in December to coach Louisiana-Lafayette), and this year he struck out with DE targets Olu Hall and Clint Sintim.
Signing List Updates
In the Top Gun article last year, we listed all the players that each current VT assistant coach has signed, and in the following tables, we present the same information, with the 2004 recruits added in.
First we need to list what assistant coaches were at VT and when. The following table shows you that information, and it is organized in such a way that you can see who replaced whom. Kevin Rogers replaced Rickey Bustle as QB coach; Danny Pearman came in to coach the tight ends when OL coach J.B. Grimes left; Tony Ball replaced Terry Strock as wide receivers coach; and Lorenzo Ward replaced Lou West as defensive backs coach.
List of Players Signed, 1998-2004
Here's a look at the coaches ranked by number of players signed per year.
Now, to see the total players and players-per-year data combined, check out the following table.
The Top Gun Recruiter award is a combination of both this year's results and historical data. There is a certain amount of "What have you done for me lately?" involved in the Top Gun award, so a recruiter can't mail it in and expect to retain his title, but a coach's track record enters into it, as well.
Based on the results from 2004, added into previous results, Cavanaugh is still VT's Top Gun recruiter, and Stinespring and Rogers are right up there with him. Wiles had an off-year with no players signed, but that doesn't dim his star, either. Cavanaugh, Stinespring, and Wiles are still VT's best recruiters, and you can add Kevin Rogers to the list.
I would currently rank them, in 1-2-3-4 order, Cavanaugh, Rogers/Stinespring, and Wiles. Check back next year, and
those rankings might shift a bit, but it's going to be hard for anyone to knock Cavanaugh off that top spot. He's our
Top Gun Recruiter for 2004, for the second year in a row.