Well, Tech fans, the ink is dry. The Class of 2009 is a done deal. Tech's latest recruiting class numbered 21 prospects today, of which 17 or 18 are expected to actually enroll this fall. The others will greyshirt, meaning they'll arrive in January 2010 and count against that class. Of course, there's always the possibility of some fellas needing to attend prep school, too.
So ... with everyone signed, sealed and delivered, what can we make of this class? Not a whole heckuva a lot. This looks like a very solid and versatile group for Tech -- on paper. But if championships were won on paper, we’d have to go back and hand Florida State a whole bunch of trophies.
The Seminoles reeled in the No. 6 class in the country today, according to Rivals.com, marking their fifth top-10 class in the past six recruiting seasons. How many ACC titles have they won in that span? One. National titles? Not even a sniff.
So who really knows? Grades and behavior and “coaching ‘em up” isn’t taken into account, for the most part, in these rankings. Mostly, they’re just fun for fans to talk (and dream) about.
For the record, Tech’s class this year ranks 24th according to Rivals – fourth in the ACC behind FSU, UNC (8th) and Miami (11th).
The only people who know exactly what a team got this year are that team’s coaches. And even they, the real experts, routinely miss. We’re talking teenagers here, folks.
But in the spirit of (slightly) educated guessing, I’ll give you my five picks for players to watch for immediately, fellas I think could play as true freshmen. Remmber, 10 guys from last year’s class saw action this year.
1.) TE LOGAN THOMAS – For what it’s worth, Rivals rates him the No. 1 tight end, No. 1 “jumbo athlete” and No. 71 overall prospect in America. The Hokies rate him as an athletic freak who, at 6-6, 230 pounds, could play WR, TE, QB, DE, LB or SS. Thomas’ high school coach said Notre Dame big whistle Charlie Weiss marveled at Thomas, saying he truly had no idea where he’d use the giagantic athlete – and that he loved that. Check back later tonight for Q&As with Thomas, his coach and Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who says Thomas will start out at wide receiver, then eventually be used as an H-back, probably in the Wild Turkey like Greg Boone, and that QB is not out of the question. Thomas will play next season. That is not a question. Where, or how many places, is the only mystery.
2.) ONE OF CB JERRODD WILLIAMS AND CB JAYRON HOSLEY – I doubt both will play as true freshmen, but I’d be shocked if one of them didn’t. Tech needs depth at corner and playmakers in the kicking game. Williams and Hosley, both four-star corners, fit those bills. Hosley is rated the No. 11 corner in the country. He picked off five passes as a senior and returned five kicks for TDs. Williams is the top corner in South Carolina and has eight INTs and five kick return TDs over the past two seasons. The future of the Hokies’ secondary (and return game) appears to be bright.
3. WR D.J. COLES – He signed last year and spent this year prepping at Fork Union, but Coles is a big target (6-3, 215) and a big-time prospect. Rivals rates him the No. 9 prep school player in the country. The extra year helped him make his transition for stud high school running back to college-ready receiver. Last year’s freshmen receivers blossomed late in the year for Tech, but Tyrod Taylor still needs more playmakers around him. If Coles and rising sophomore Jarrett Boykin are on the field together, Hokies opponents will have to stop a pair of imposing, tackle-breaking wideouts.
4. RB DAVID WILSON – This one will be a VERy difficult decision, I’m guessing, for Tech running backs coach Billy Hite. He’s going to be loaded at tailback this fall with Darren Evans (who set a freshman record this season) returning and budding star Ryan Williams coming off his redshirt season. If Hite could sit Williams, who Tech’s starting defense said was the quickest back they faced all season (and he was playing on Tech’s SCOUT TEAM), then logic would say Wilson will have to redshirt, too. BUT … the kid might just be too darn good to keep on the sideline. Rivals rates him the No. 4 RB and No. 40 overall prospect in the country. He has elite sprinter speed and rushed for 2,291 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior. He averaged more than 10 yards per carry over his final two high school seasons. He’s simply a game-changer and I have to think he’s got a chance to dazzle enough during practice to get a shot on gamedays in 2009. Maybe even if it’s just to address the previously mentioned need for an explosive player in the return game.
5. K CODY JOURNELL – The Hokies will be trying to replace Dustin Keys, who set a school record for made field goals this season, and Frank Beamer thought enough of Journell to give him a full ride. Kickers for Beamer (and nearly every program) typically start out as walk-ons and earn their scholarship when the win the job. So this should tell you something. Journell is rated anywhere from the No. 3 to the No. 13 kicking prospect in the country by a variety of recruiting services. He hit six field goals as a senior Giles, but three of those were 42 yards or longer. Word is, he’s got a seriously big leg. Among his 10 field goals as a junior, Journell nailed one from 54 yards. He’s also quite and athlete, rushing for 1,060 yards and 13 TDs – and returning a kickoff for a score – in his senior season. Maybe Beamer will get crazy and try some trickery that utilizes the incoming freshman’s speed on a fake.
OK, that’s enough speculation from me. I could be totally wrong. ATH Antone Exum could be a kick returner and back-up QB. OL Andre Miller might very well work his way into the two-deep. DE Lanford Collins could come in and wow the coaches, taking over the No. 2 spot on the edge of Tech’s D-line.
As I said to start: Who the heck knows?!?!?!
One guy, though, who thinks he knows that he’s got a good group of prospects is the Hokies’ big whistle. So I’ll shut up now and let you see what he had to say about this group after the fax machines finally stopped spinning today.
Come back later for more …
OPENING REMARKS ON THE 2009 RECRUITING CLASS: “I think we got a terrific recruiting class. Not just a good class, but I think really a terrific class. I like our athletic ability, but I really like the academics and the character of this class. I think that’s very, very strong. We got some defensive ends, which were important to us. Lanford Collins, James Gayle, Duan Perez-Means, and then we’re hoping Tyrel Wilson is going to get big enough to put his hand on the ground. These are all kids that can really run. They’ve got to grow into the position a little bit, but they all can really run. I think overall it’s very good.”
ON THE LATE PICK-UP OF FLORIDA CORNERBACK JAYRON HOSLEY: “I think it says something about our former players and their opinion of our program. (Former Tech CB) Brandon Flowers (from the same high school as Hosley) was a key guy here. He informed us about him. Brandon spoke very highly of him. And then when we got involved, we got him up here for a visit here last weekend, and I think everything just hit. I think probably having Brandon Flowers in that position – and Brandon knew the kid well, had a good relationship with him – that was part of that.”
ON WHETHER HE WAS SURPRISED THEY PULLED HOSLEY TODAY: “Well, again, I’ve said for a while, if we can get them to visit, I think we’ve got a pretty good shot. This year, we signed 20 of the 22 people that visited here that we offered. That’s not wasting much money there. I think that makes a statement about Virginia Tech and what we try to sell. If we get you here, we’ve got a pretty good shot of you coming to school here.”
ON INITIALLY THINKING THEY’D HAVE 12-15 SCHOLARSHIPS TO GIVE IN THIS CLASS AND SIGNING 21 TODAY, AND HOW THOSE NUMBERS WORKED OUT: “We have some people that’s not in the program that were here earlier. And then some of these guys that signed with us today, they’ll greyshirt. They’ll come in January. So when you say there’s 21, not all 21 of them are going to start next fall.”
ON HOW MANY OF THE 21 WILL BE THERE IN THE FALL: “I’m not sure exactly. We’ve got it worked out with each situation, when we expect you to come in, and if we can bring you in before, we will. I think it’s a few.”
ON WHY HE SPENT A SCHOLARSHIP ON A KICKER, CODY JOURNELL: “You’ve got a guy here that’s 30 minutes away from you that we think is an excellent kicker and if we don’t sign him, I think somebody else will. I didn’t want to lose Shayne Graham, who was right here close, and I didn’t want to lose Cody Journell, who’s right here close. That was the thought process on that.”
ON SAYING FOUR YEARS AGO TODAY THAT GREG BOONE WAS MAYBE THE MOST VERSATILE ATHLETE TECH HAD EVER SIGNED AND WHETHER THAT’S TRUE TODAY OF LOGAN THOMAS: “I think that’s an accurate statement. I think Logan could play any athletic position on the football field, probably – including quarterback, which he played this year. I was very impressed with him there. I think Logan is a terrific athlete, and what I like: a terrific person. We’re really pleased he’s going to be part of our program.”
ON WHERE THOMAS PROJECTS RIGHT AWAY: “I think he’s a guy that you want to move around. I think he’s going to be athletic (enough) to do a lot of things for you. I think he’s got possibilities at a lot of places. We’re very, very excited about him.”
ON WHETHER ATHLETE ANTONE EXUM WILL GET HIS FIRST SHOT AT QB: “I think our quarterback situation, I think we’ve got some excellent athletes in our program that have the ability to play quarterback. Two of them would be Exum and Logan Thomas. I think when you put that and JuJu Clayton in there and Marcus Davis, and we’re going to work Greg Boone some at quarterback here this spring, I think our quarterback situation will be OK.”
ON WHETHER, THOUGH, HE WOULD’VE LIKED TO GET A PURE QB IN THIS CLASS: “I’m not sure these guys are not pure quartebacks. But yeah, we missed on a couple. But we think we’ve got a couple good ones in our program, too.”
ON HOW MUCH WEIGHT HE’D LIKE D-END TYREL WILSON TO GAIN: “We visited not too long ago. I think he can play linebacker, but I really like it when he’s got his hand on the ground, coming off that corner with speed. I think he does that well. I think a few more pounds will help him out. I don’t get into: You’ve got to be a certain size or a certain height or a certain weight to do something. We haven’t set an exact pounds. We just talked about getting heavier and see if we can’t get big enough to put your hand on the ground.”
ON CHRIS ELLIS COMPARISONS WITH SIGNEE JAMES GAYLE: “Absolutely. A guy that’s tall and fast and athletic. I think he’s got a great future in front of him.”
ON WHETHER THE STAFF GOT AHEAD ON 2010 RECRUITING WITH MOST OF THIS CLASS SEWN UP EARLY: “I think we’re ahead. We’ve watched probably more video and we’re more ahead than we’ve ever been on next year’s class. And really think we’ve got a shot to have another terrific class next year. I think everything’s kind of moving up in college football and we’ve got some names on the board and have watched a lot of video for next year.”
ON HOW, EXACTLY, TECH PULLED HOSLEY AT THE VERY END: “The thing with him: he kept it open until the very end. Us having the last visit, it turned out to be a good thing. That’s a risky thing, too. But he was a kid that kep it open. And David Clowney (also from his high school) having a good experience here, and particularly Brandon Flowers was so high on this kid. We don’t get down into Florida on a regular basis much anymore, but how highly he spoke of the kid got our interest. It was one of those things that just worked out well. Maybe it was meant to work out. We liked him and he liked us, so this was a good deal.”
ON A LOT OF LAST YEAR’S CLASS PLAYING THIS SEASON AS TRUE FRESHMEN AND WHICH OF THIS CLASS’ STARS COULD PLAY RIGHT AWAY: “I think we go into it and give them all a shot here, but I think an offensive lineman could play. I think the skilled athletes … some of those guys could play. The field goal situation is open right now, so we’ll see where that goes. I hate to get into names, but I can tell you … if they’re ready to play and we can play them enough plays, then I like playing freshmen. I think the excitement and the enthusiasm they bring is all good.”
ON STAR RUNNNG BACK RECRUIT DAVID WILSON AND WHETHER, WITH ALL THE RB DEPTHY, HE’S COMING IN PLANNING TO REDSHIRT: “Nah, come in here with the idea that you’re going to work for playing time. We’re going to put the best players out there on the field, and that’s just the deal. It’s up to him and how he does when he gets here. What I like, Wilson and Logan Thomas both … They’re not only terrific players, but they’re terrific people. They were the homecoming king at their school. That kind of makes a statement … people from the school like them and respect them. I like that. I like having those kind of people in the program.”
ON WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT WILSON: “He’s the kind of guy that gets your attention pretty quickly. He’s fast, that’s for sure. He’s a stocky guy. He just has a nice running style. It’s just a very natural gift for him. He’s such a great player … but such a good person.”
ON NEXT YEAR’S STACKED BACKFIELD: “Yeah, there’s some talent back there. Coach Hite’s had to work here for a couple years. (Now) he can slack off a little bit. Nah, but there’s some talented kids. We’re going to let the compete and work out the playing time.”