Bucky Hodges grew up idolizing Michael Vick and Tyrod Taylor, two quarterbacks from the 757 who played at Virginia Tech. He grew up to be 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, bearing a striking resemblance to the Hokies’ current quarterback, Logan Thomas.
Is it any wonder then that Hodges, who was one of six commitments the Hokies got despite their canceled spring game Saturday, found a comfort in choosing Virginia Tech?
“This [visit] just felt like I was at home,” Hodges said in a phone interview Sunday. “I was starting to like feel at home with the players and the coaching staff more.”
Hodges wanted to get his commitment done early but didn’t expect to make a decision this soon. He and Salem High teammate Andrew Motu’apuaka, a linebacker with a Tech offer as well, thought about committing right away. They slept on it Friday night, then made it official the next day.
“It feels like a whole lot of pressures will leave now after this,” Hodges said. “I can focus on the season and getting ready to go to Virginia Tech next year.”
It’s a considerable amount of pressure off of the Hokies too. Tech needed a quarterback in this class, with the chance that Thomas could go to the NFL if he has a strong junior season. The only other scholarship quarterback on the roster is Mark Leal. Christiansburg’s Brenden Motley, a 2012 signee, will arrive this summer.
Hodges, the top player in the state by The Roanoke Times, No. 3 by 247 Sports and No. 5 by VirginiaPreps.com, was the target all along. He had a dozen offers, listing his other top schools as West Virginia, Ohio State, Illinois, East Carolina and Maryland, but Tech made a big push for him. Offensive line coach Curt Newsome had recruited him for some time, and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring joined the fray once he returned to the 757 recruiting zone after years in the Roanoke/Lynchburg/Danville corridor.
In going after Hodges and getting him, Virginia Tech may be establishing a pattern with its quarterbacks, built off the Thomas prototype.
“Big, tall and we can both throw on the run,” said the 16-year-old Hodges, who threw for 2,142 yards and 26 touchdowns and ran for 434 yards and nine more scores last year but considers himself more of a passer than a runner.
Hodges also saw similarities in both his offense at Salem and that of the Hokies.
“It’s not exactly the same,” Hodges said, “but the way Virginia Tech is going now, they’re going a little bit more spread and putting in sweeps and all that, and going at a fast tempo, and that’s what my offense is. We run a fast, no-huddle offense and we spread.”
As for his recruitment, he sounded solid on his decision.
“I think I’m done,” he said.
“It’s not that I wanted to get it over with, it’s that I knew what I wanted to do and I was confident about it,” he said.
Clark was the first player to commit during the day, doing it in the late morning. He didn’t draw as much fanfare as Hodges, but the 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back emerged as a player last year, taking Southeastern District Defensive Player of the Year honors despite playing for a 2-8 team.
Clark had two offers — Virginia Tech and Virginia — although he had drawn some interest from Alabama, Clemson, Nebraska, Penn State, Tennessee and UCLA, according to Rivals. Still, none of those schools offered.
“I had my two offers from Virginia and Virginia Tech, and there were a bunch of other schools who were actually talking, but I feel like they had never come up and made offers yet,” he said. “When I’d see them go and offer somebody in the class of 2014, I mean … I was happy with the two offers I had. I could have finished the whole recruiting process with just two offers and gone all the way to February with two offers and I’d have been happy with it. But I just went on ahead and made a decision that I thought was best for me in a place I was confident with.”
Clark isn’t sure at what position he’ll end up quite yet in college. He said he plays primarily safety in high school but can switch back and forth between that and corner, a versatility that the Hokies like.
He’s a versatile offensive player as well, having rushed for 788 yards and six touchdowns last year. He’ll branch out as King’s Fork revamps its offense next year, playing some slot receiver and some out wide.
But defense is where he’ll play in college, so that’s his focus next season.
“I’ll probably just have to work more on my defense, footwork and things like that,” he said. “I’ve never had a coach tell me there’s a problem with my footwork or things like that, but I’ll just work more on things like that — footwork, opening and running, zone coverages and man coverages and things like that.”
Clark said he probably won’t take any recruiting trips elsewhere but will still try to attend some regular football camps this summer.
As for Tech, a couple reasons sold him on a decision.
“Just the whole family atmosphere there at Virginia Tech,” he said. “I’m trying to come in and play defense, and they’ve always had a great defense.”