2005 VT Recruiting War Room #6: Defense
by Chris Horne, 8/13/04
Virginia Tech Recruiting War Room – Defense
Virginia Tech has received both good and bad news since the last Defense War
Room. First the bad…Tech lost out to Ohio State for Piscataway (NJ) cornerback
prospect Malcolm Jenkins and did not make the cut for West Catholic
(Philadelphia, PA) defensive tackle Marques Slocum.
Now, for the good news… Tech will likely get official visits from two of
the top prospects in the state of Maryland – Randallstown defensive end Melvin
Alaeze and cornerback Jamari McCollough. Alaeze and McCollough want to make
official visits to the same schools and may end up signing with the same school.
Virginia Tech joins Maryland as two schools the two star talents say they will
Also, Tech made the initial cut for Jack Britt (Fayetteville, NC) cornerback
Brandon Ghee. Ghee, who has narrowed his list to Tech, Clemson, North Carolina,
Tennessee and Wake Forest (no particular order), will cut his list to two next
month. Tech is in great position for another cornerback prospect in Dorian Porch
out of Gordon Central High School in Calhoun, Georgia. The Hokies are the clear
leader right now for Dorian, who may decide very soon according to his head
With the loss of Rod Council to Louisville, cornerback becomes a bigger need
for this year’s recruiting class. In addition to Ghee, McCollough and Porch,
Tech is also heavily involved with Freedom High School (NC) standout Jordan
Hemby and Hackensack’s Danny Oquendo. Several “athletes” who could end up
at cornerback on the next level include Jahre Cheeseman, Montario Hardesty,
Willie Harriott and Victor Harris.
A new name has surfaced from the defensive end position. Braxton Kelley, a
6-1, 220-pound prospect out of LaGrange High School (GA), has an official offer
from Virginia Tech. He also has offers from Kentucky and South Carolina.
Next month, look for the recruiting news to pick up considerably as prospects
begin taking official visits. Coaches can start calling recruits as well, as
September 1st thru November 27th is an Evaluation period.
The following players have received scholarship offers from and have serious
interest in Virginia Tech…
· DE’s: Melvin Alaeze, Everette Brown, Jeffrey
Fitzgerald, Steven Friday, Hivera Green, Braxton Kelley, Barry Turner, Doug
· DT’s: Joseph Johnson, Kade Weston
· LB’s: Brian Cushing, Charles Gamble, Jerome
Hayes, Derek Nicholson
· CB’s: Brandon Ghee, Jordan Hemby, Jamari
McCullough, Danny Oquendo, Dorian Porch
· S’s/Rovers: Antonio Wardlow, Andre Pope
· Ath’s/JAth’s: Jahre Cheeseman, Montario
Hardesty, Willie Harriott, Victor Harris
(Note: Brunswick star EJ Wilson may be listed as an athlete in the DB,
but I’m trying to reach him to see if there is a specific position Tech is
recruiting him to play. Once I find out, I’ll enter him into the
respective War Room.)
2005 Losses to Eligibility
Sr. Darryl Tapp
Sr. Jordan Trott
Jr. Noland Burchette
Soph. Chris Ellis.
Comments: Defensive end is probably the top
need position for the 2005 class. Tech missed out on 2004 targets Olu
Hall, Mike Mangold, and Clint Sintim, which made the need even more
pressing this year. One of the top targets of the 2005 class, Antonio
Appleby, surprised many by choosing UVa when Tech was thought to be the
For 2005, Tech already has a commitment from William Wall. Sam Wheeler,
a 2004 signee who is attending Hargrave as well, may also project as a
defensive end. Wall is big and athletic and will get more experience in
playing for Coach Prunty at Hargrave Military Academy. Look for the Hokies
to try and land at least two more prospects. They are involved with
several blue-chip targets from different areas.
DE Commitments – 1
Wall 6-3, 258, 4.6 HD Woodson (Washington, DC)
The Skinny: Wall committed to Tech for the 2004 class but did not qualify
academically. He will attend Hargrave Military Academy for one year
beginning late summer/fall of this year and plans on signing with Tech in
February of 2005. Wall remains very much committed to Virginia Tech.
Wall is a defensive end with excellent athleticism for a player his size.
He played wide receiver for HD Woodson as well, a testament to his athletic
prowess. Look for him to play defensive end for Coach Prunty at Hargrave as
DE Top Targets
Alaeze, 6-2, 270, 4.7, Randallstown (Randallstown,
Offers: Over 20 offers including Boston College, Florida, Maryland, Miami (Fl),
Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Southern California, and Virginia Tech
Camps: Elite Combine in New Jersey
Official Visits: Maryland, Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Melvin says Maryland and Virginia Tech will more than likely
be two of his official visits. Other schools in the hunt for the final 3
spots include Penn State, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, USC, Miami, Florida and
Florida State. Alaeze likes Tech, and the Hokies have 2 things going for
them right now: 1) They have offered and impressed Jamari McCollough. Melvin
and Jamari plan on visiting the same schools and may attend the same school.
Maryland will be tough to beat, and of course you can’t count out any
of the aforementioned schools either.
Brown, 6-3, 230, 4.6, Beddingfield (Wilson, NC)
Offers: Duke, Florida State, Kansas State, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State,
Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Camps: Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest
The Skinny: Brown plans on narrowing his list soon, possibly within the
next few weeks. He wasn’t able to visit Tech this summer, but wants to
visit for a game this Fall. Brown still seems interested in Tech, but the
Hokies probably have some ground to make up since he has not yet visited.
Fitzgerald, 6-4, 250, 4.8, Hermitage (Richmond,
Offers: Boston College, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Nebraska, North
Carolina, Penn State, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
Camps: Maryland, NC State, Nike Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia, Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Jeff still has not narrowed his list of schools down. He
originally wanted to do so by the start of his senior season, but now it’s
anyone’s guess as to when he will do it. He doesn’t know much about
Virginia Tech, but the fact that they are in-state may help the Hokies land
an official visit.
Friday, 6-5, 215, 4.7, Phoebus (Hampton, VA)
Offers: North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Other Interest: Maryland, NC State
Favorites: Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Friday may make an official visit to Tech on the weekend of
September 11th. That is the weekend Elan Lewis is supposed to visit as well.
Tech is the favorite here, although Maryland, Syracuse and Virginia remain
Green, 6-5, 255, 4.8, Conway (Conway, SC)
Offers: Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Mississippi State,
South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Michigan may be tough to beat here. Florida, Florida State,
and Tennessee have offered as well, providing tough competition for anyone.
Virginia Tech has to get him up for a visit to have any chance. He seems to
want to visit Tech, but if Michigan is one of his first visits, don’t be
surprised if he commits to the Wolverines before making all of his trips.
Kelley, 6-1, 220, 4.7, LaGrange (GA)
Offers: Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia Tech
Other Interest: Auburn, Florida, Georgia
The Skinny: Kelley is open right now according to LaGrange Head Coach
Steve Pardue. If Georgia were to offer, they would be tough to beat. Right
now, it looks like Braxton may wait in his recruiting process to see which
other programs come in with offers.
Turner, 6-3, 230, 4.6, Brentwood Academy
Offers: Auburn, Florida, Miami (Fl), Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee,
Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, among others
The Skinny: Turner’s coach says Turner reminds him of former Virginia
Tech great Corey Moore. Turner’s offer sheet is certainly very impressive.
It may be tough to get him out of the SEC and Miami has offered as well,
however Tech is in the picture right now.
Worthington, 6-7, 250, 4.75, St. Francis (Athol
Offers: Alabama, Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn
State, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Camps: Ohio State
Official Visits: Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee
The Skinny: I haven’t been able to reach Doug recently, but as far as I
know he did not visit Tech this summer. Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee
may be the favorites, as Doug indicated that he wanted to make official
visits to all three.
2005 Losses to Eligibility
Sr. Tim Sandidge
Sr. Jonathan Lewis
Soph. Barry Booker
Soph. Kory Robertson
Soph. Carlton Powell
RS Fr. or Soph. Carl Howard
Needs: Virginia Tech landed one of its top
defensive tackle targets in last year’s class in Carl Howard. Howard is
a great addition to an already solid young foundation of Booker,
Robertson, and Powell. Sandidge and Jonathan Lewis have one more year
after this year as well, so the Hokies are looking good for this year and
next. That being said, Virginia Tech would probably like to land at least
one top defensive tackle target in this year’s class. With the depth
they already have on board, the Hokies have the luxury of going after only
their top targets.
Johnson, 6-2, 330, Varina (Richmond, VA)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech (verbal offers?)
Camps: Clemson, Virginia Tech
Weston, 6-6, 312, Red Bank (Red Bank, NJ)
The Skinny: Johnson likes Virginia Tech, but still remains open in the
recruiting process. He wants to focus on recruiting following his senior
Offers: 21 offers including Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Maryland,
Miami (Fl) (verbal offer), Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh,
Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Camps: Elite College Combine in New Jersey
The Skinny: Weston all but eliminated Virginia Tech in his last update.
He seems to be looking elsewhere, and Tech looks like a long-shot right now.
2005 Losses to Eligibility
Sr. Blake Warren
Sr. James Anderson
Jr. Aaron Rouse
Soph. Xavier Adibi
Soph. Vince Hall
RS Fr. or Soph. Andrew Bowman
RS Fr. or Soph. Brett Warren
Needs: Sources say Virginia Tech would like
to land at least two linebackers in every class, and this year is no
exception. Well, the Hokies already landed two top linebackers from the
state and are now concentrating on the third. Recently, Tech scored a
commitment from Deveon Simmons, who is rated Techsideline.com’s #4
prospect in the state. He is an excellent pickup, adding speed and
crushing hitting ability to the linebacker corps. Simmons has the speed to
play Rover as well.
Tech has excellent depth on the roster with young studs Adibi, Hall,
and Bowman. Reevey may play linebacker or he could play offense. If he’s
on defense, he has excellent athletic potential. Currently, he’s listed
at tight end, but we’ll have to see.
Look for Tech to try and corral one more top linebacker prospect to
join Simmons and Taylor.
LB Commitments – 1
Simmons, 6-0, 218, 4.5, Landstown (Virginia Beach,
Taylor, 6-1, 220, 4.5 Floyd Kellam (Virginia
The Skinny: Simmons is the hardest hitting prospect in the state. A
devastating hitter, he plays the middle well and really runs well from
sideline to sideline. Deveon earned all-state honors for his junior year
performance. As a junior, he finished with 91 tackles, 42 tackles-for-loss,
and six sacks. He helped Landstown to a Group AAA State Championship game
“Deveon is about the most explosive player on defense I’ve ever seen,”
Landstown Head Coach Chris Beatty said. “When he hits people, he runs
through them. He covers so much ground and he has unbelievable instincts
that you just can’t teach. He also has tremendous athletic ability.
Nebraska’s coach called him a Lawrence Taylor-type player. He’s
obviously not as big, but he makes the same type of plays sideline to
sideline as well as getting to the quarterback.”
The Skinny: Demetrius Taylor is very fast with solid size. In addition,
Taylor is a strong player.
“He can run like no one his size,” Kellam Head Coach Chris DeWitt
said in an earlier interview. “He’s our fastest sprinter. He runs a 4.5,
but we’ve timed him under 4.5 before. He can bench press 355 pounds, and
his squat is huge. We do hang-cleans, and Demetrius can hang-clean 325
pounds, which is our highest ever.”
As good of a season as he had last year as a two-way player, an opposing
coach indicated Taylor was very dominating as a sophomore. That year, Taylor
only played linebacker.
“Taylor was a good running back, but he’s an even better linebacker,”
the opposing coach said. “He was awesome when he only played linebacker
his sophomore season.”
Taylor, who was receiving interest programs including Michigan and Notre
Dame, chose Tech over an offer from Duke. He was recruited as a Mike
LB Top Targets
Cushing, 6-3, 231, 4.49, Bergen Cathoic (Oradell,
Offers: 48 Division I-A scholarship offers
Favorites: Virginia, Miami (Fl), Southern California are three very likely
official visits. Penn State may be another. Other schools Brian has mentioned in
his top 8 include Ohio State, Oklahoma, Rutgers and Maryland.
Official Visits: Miami (12/10/04), USC (12/17/04), UVA (undecided)
Gamble, 6-3, 210, 4.4, Southern (Durham, NC)
The Skinny: Cushing doesn’t want to eliminate anyone just yet, but
Virginia Tech looks to be a long-shot.
Offers: Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech
Other Interest: Florida State, Miami (Fl)
Favorites: South Carolina, Virginia Tech
Hayes, 6-2, 225, 4.6, Bayonne (Bayonne, NJ)
The Skinny: According to Southern Durham Head Coach Gordon Walters,
Gamble has Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Florida State
on his final list. Tech seems to be in good shape, with South Carolina as
the primary competition.
Offers: Hayes has 25 scholarship offers, including Boston College, Maryland,
Miami, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and
Nicholson, 6-2, 228, 4.55, Mount Tabor
The Skinny: Hayes, who is one of the top prospects in the state of New
Jersey, may be close to setting his official visits. Virginia Tech has some
work to do and must get an official visit to have a chance.
Offers: Derek has at least 30 offers, and all of his favorites have offered
Favorites: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Miami (Fl), Michigan, Nebraska,
North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Nicholson narrowed his list to 10 recently – Clemson, FSU,
Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma,
and Virginia Tech. Nicholson says other teams still have a good chance,
however, and did not rule anyone out.
Most insiders believe UNC (where Derek’s father played) and FSU (where
his brother AJ plays) are the top two teams here. Derek insists he doesn’t
have any favorites at the time.
2005 Losses to Eligibility
Sr. Jimmy Williams
Jr. Chris Caesar
Jr. Brian McPherson
Soph. Roland Minor
RS Fr. or Soph. Brandon Flowers
RS Fr. or Soph. Theodore Miller
RS Fr. or Soph. DJ Parker
Needs: Virginia Tech lost former West
Charlotte star Rod Council to Louisville, making the need for at
least one cornerback in this year’s class an even greater one. Tech is
involved with several good prospects right now, and is in very serious
contention for each of them. Tech could very easily land two of the
targets they are after, any of which would be excellent additions to the
CB Commitments – None
CB Top Targets
Ghee, 5-11, 178, 4.4, Jack Britt (Fayetteville,
Offers: Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech,
Favorites: Clemson, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Hemby, 5-11 ½, 185, 4.4, Freedom (Morganton, NC)
The Skinny: Ghee has narrowed his list to 5 schools. He will next cut his
list down to 2 schools, and will then take official visits to each.
Following his official visits, he plans on making a commitment. Tech has a
good chance of making the top 2 because of their Engineering program as well
as Ghee’s relationship with the coaching staff. Education is a major
factor in Brandon’s decision.
Offers: Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech
Other Interest: Duke, Wake Forest
Camps: Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech
Official Visits: Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech
McCollough, 5-11, 177, 4.5, Randallstown
The Skinny: Hemby showed off his tremendous speed during the above camps
and left each school with a scholarship offer. Hemby is open right now, but
says he will make official visits to each of his 4 official offers.
Offers: Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, UCLA,
Official Visits: Maryland, Virginia Tech
Oquendo, 6-2, 180, 4.5, Hackensack (Hackensack,
The Skinny: According to teammate Melvin Alaeze, McCollough plans on
making official visits to Maryland and Tech. Alaeze and McCollough plan on
making official visits to the same schools and may end up signing with the
same school. If that is the case, Maryland and Virginia Tech are very
serious contenders here.
Offers: Boston College, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Rutgers,
Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin
Other Interest: North Carolina
Favorites: Boston College, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia Tech
Porch, 5-11, 180, 4.4, Gordon Central (Calhoun,
The Skinny: Oquendo has unofficially visited Maryland and Rutgers this
summer, and plans on taking trips to Boston College and Virginia Tech before
the school year begins. Oquendo says Maryland and Rutgers are two likely
official visits, with the other 3 being wide open. He seems to think
favorably upon the state of Virginia (liked Virginia Tech and Virginia
earlier this year), but Tech needs to get him down for a visit of some kind.
Maryland and Rutgers may have the early inside track, but Oquendo plans on
taking his time in the recruiting process.
Offers: Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin
Official Visits: Virginia Tech
Favorites: Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Virginia Tech is the clear leader right now for Porch. Gordon
Central Head Coach Bill Long believes Porch may decide very soon, and if he
does, it will be for Virginia Tech.
2005 Losses to Eligibility
FS Mike Daniels
FS Vince Fuller
ROV James Griffin
Soph. Corey Gordon
Sr. Cary Wade
Sr. DJ Walton
Soph. Brenden Hill
RS Fr or Soph Purnell Sturdivant
RS Fr or Soph Kent Hicks
Needs: The addition of Kent Hicks is a
surprising and huge boost to the safety/rover position. Hicks combines
great speed and a physical playing style. In the 2005 class, landing
Cameron Martin was an awesome get for the staff. The remaining targets are
very athletic and could play either defensive back position. Look for Tech
to try and land one more safety/defensive back in this year’s class.
Safety/Rover Commitments – 1
Martin, 6-2, 180, 4.5, George-Washington
The Skinny: Martin is a hard-hitting and savvy safety prospect. GW-Danville
Head Coach Dan Newell had this to say about his star prospect.
"I defer to what the colleges tell me, and they like the way he
plays the run from the safety position. Cameron really fills the alleys.
It's one thing to get there, but he gets there and he's a fearless tackler.
One coach described him as ferocious. He's not the biggest guy yet, but he
plays with great leverage. Cameron has deceptive closing speed. He gets his
hand on a lot of passes."
He chose Virginia Tech over offers from UVa, Boston College, Tennessee,
Maryland, NC State, UNC, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. I have him rated
the number 9 overall prospect in the state of Virginia.
Pope, 5-11, 205, 4.5, Fort Hill (Cumberland, MD)
Offers: Clemson, North Carolina, Penn State, Virginia Tech
Other Interest: Georgia, Maryland, West Virginia
Camps: Georgia, North Carolina
Favorites: Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia Tech
Wardlow, 6-1, 175, 4.4, Parkland (Winston-Salem,
The Skinny: I’m hoping to get an update on Pope very soon. Andre seems
to want to play his college football in the south, but Tech may not be as
far south as he wants. Clemson and North Carolina may have the edge over
Tech right now.
Offers: 14 offers including Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia
Camps: North Carolina, Wake Forest
The Skinny: Wardlow wants to narrow his list down to 4 or 5 schools by
the end of August. He enjoyed his visit to Tech earlier this summer, and
Tech has a good chance of landing in the top 5.
Ath/JAth Commitments – None
Cheeseman, 5-9, 175, 4.4, Eastern (Voorhees, N.J.)
Offers: 17 offers including Connecticut, Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan
State, Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia
Possible Positions: RB, CB
Favorites: Virginia Tech leads Penn State (Tennessee and UVa are there as well)
Official Visits: Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Cheeseman recently named Virginia Tech as his leader over
Penn State, Tennessee and Virginia. Penn State would be second. Jahre wants
to take 4 official visits and then make a commitment. Tech leads right now,
but an official visit to Tennessee looms and Jahre immediately moved Penn
State to the forefront of his list after receiving an offer this week.
Hardesty, 6-1, 197, 4.39, New Bern (NC)
Offers: Clemson, Maryland, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia,
Camps: Nike Camp in Charlottesville
Possible Positions: CB, RB, WR
The Skinny: The Hokies offered Hardesty during the spring evaluation
period per New Bern Head Coach Chip Williams. Williams, who feels his star
may be a better cornerback on the next level, believes Hardesty is open
among the schools who have offered.
Harriott, 5-9, 180, 4.3, Hyde Leadership (New
Offers: Boston College, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers,
Virginia, Virginia Tech
Other Interest: Florida State, Miami (Fl)
Camps: Virginia Tech
Possible Positions: CB, WR
The Skinny: Willie attended Virginia Tech’s July 10th camp and had a
good time according to his father.
“We enjoyed it,” Willie’s father said. “I think Willie really
liked it down there.”
Harriott will narrow his list by the end of the summer. Right now he is
open among all of his schools, although if Florida State or Miami offer,
then they could be tough to beat.
Harris, 6-0, 180, 4.46, Highland Springs (Highland
Offers: Macho has close to 50 offers
Possible Positions: CB, RB
Favorites: Top 12 are Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Miami
(FL), Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Southern California, Virginia, Virginia Tech
The Skinny: The best player in the state of Virginia has narrowed his
list to the twelve schools listed above. He has no leaders among the twelve.
Right now, Macho would like to take all five official visits following his
Virginia Tech is recruiting Harris “for whatever position he wants to
play” per Highland Springs Head Coach Scott Burton.
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