Offseason mailbag, Part I: Georgia Tech prep, Kendall Fuller’s effect on future recruits and ACC title game talk
The mailbag is upon us. I received plenty of responses this week, so I decided to split it into two parts. Look for Part II tomorrow.
To the questions …
Any thoughts on if the staff will stick to their normal game week preparation schedule for GT, or do you think they might deviate a little and use the extra time to focus on GT? I know last year they used some of the Duke week to prepare for GT, but I wonder if that almost backfired since the Duke game was much closer than desired.
– James Copeland
Frank Beamer and his staff are very much about routine. It’s why they alter the days on their schedule to match up to the usual days in the week of practice leading up to a game. For instance, the Wednesday before the Georgia Tech game on Labor Day will be the team’s “Monday” practice. It’s even labeled such on their practice schedule. That said, they’d be foolish not to use at least some extra time to prepare for Georgia Tech’s option offense. Coaches have been preparing for the matchup since earlier in the summer. Even if it’s not a full-scale practice devoted to the Yellow Jackets’ scheme, I’m sure they’ll take a look in bits and pieces leading up to the week of actual game prep. I don’t think there’s the same risk there was last year, since the Georgia Tech game is the next game on the schedule. It should be the one you’re preparing for anyway.
What recruits should we be watching to finish out the 2013 recruiting class? Does Kendall Fuller have a chance to play as a True-Freshman and play with his brother Kyle?
– Christian Case, Grundy
I just wanted to share a bit of info that you are probably aware of. Derrick Green has Ohio State off his list of potential destinations. They pulled their scholarship offer!! This should make VT the frontrunner for the 5 star running back don’t you think? This would mark their first time of getting 2 five star recruits, if they are successful, with the recruitment of Green. Shane is on the case, so things look much better for VT’s success in this instance!!
– Tim Salyers
I’ll combine these questions into one answer. Green, from Hermitage High in Richmond, is certainly high on Virginia Tech’s list. The Hokies are in the final six he announced Thursday, along with Michigan, Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Oregon, although it sounds like Michigan and Auburn are the teams to beat.
Other than him, it’s actually a pretty small list of targets. The Hokies have 15 commitments already for 2013, and with 15 scholarship seniors that I count coming off the books at the end of the year, Tech is still going to be right up against the 85-man scholarship limit. (There’s a little bit more room than there was after some offseason attrition, but not a ton.)
Other names to watch, according to the recruiting sites, are defensive end Wyatt Teller of Bealeton (UVa is a big competitor for him), athlete D.J. Reid of Chester, wide receiver/defensive back DaeSean Hamilton of Stafford and outside linebacker Oren Burks of Lorton. Expect some offensive linemen to be looked at too, but it’s not going to be a 28-man class like last year. Tech simply doesn’t have the scholarships available for that this year.
As for Kendall playing with Kyle, there are two things involved: is he good enough to play right away and will Kyle stick around for his senior season?
First, everything indicates Kendall is a special talent who can get on the field as a true freshman. Looking at Virginia Tech’s depth situation at cornerback right now, it seems very possible. After Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, none of the scholarship cornerbacks have played a down of college football. That sounds like a good opportunity right there.
The other issue is whether or not Kyle will be around for his senior season. After Kendall committed, Kyle tweeted that he was looking forward to playing with his brother, so there’s at least a strong indication that he’s leaning toward coming back. But you can never tell with these things. What if Fuller has a huge year? What if he’s first-team All-ACC and a lock to go high in the NFL Draft? Circumstances can change quickly. So for now, I’d lean on the side of Kyle coming back to play a year with Kendall, but I wouldn’t rule anything out, especially when you’re talking about NFL money.
I’m a big proponent of an ACC Championship game. However, due to its short history and lackluster out-of-conference performance of the subsequent Championship Game winners, the overall prestige of the ACC title game, along with the conference in general, leaves something to be desired.
The national perception of ACC football is lacking respect, and the less-than-capacity attendance of the ACC title game only adds to the ridicule.
I believe that, instead of a neutral-sited championship game that may take place in an area that is generally indifferent to ACC football, the title game should be held at the home field of the one of the participating schools. Home field would be determined by some ranking system (e.g., polls, conference performance, etc.) with tie-breakers in place as needed. An allotment of tickets could be reserved for the visiting school. This would ensure packed stadiums and allow for an atmosphere that hasn’t been realized by remote ACC Championship games.
After ACC builds its football reputation, perhaps a neutral site title game could be considered again. I don’t think the ACC title is at that point yet, and home field for the regular season ACC winner would further emphasize the importance of regular season matchups.
Has this approach to determining the ACC Championship game location been considered? What are your thoughts?
– Allan Pineda, Virginia Beach
That’s exactly what the Pac-12 did once it went to a title-game format last year. UCLA played at Oregon and the Ducks ran them off the field. It’s an idea that I’m sure the conference has considered, but I don’t think it’s going to gain much traction.
Charlotte has established itself as a good location for the game. It’s within driving distance for a good chunk of the league, is a nice facility and is in a city that is able to accommodate an event like that. The ACC actually bids for the right to host the game (although the league didn’t take any competing bids the last time the game was put out there), so moving to a home-field site would mean the loss of at least some revenue, something you won’t see happen in today’s college football.
Honestly, the game lacks prestige because the teams involved haven’t been too good. It comes back down to the same argument you see in TV ratings: if Florida State, Miami and others elevate their teams back to where they used to be, you’d see a much more attractive matchup and larger interest in the game. But when you have three-loss, four-loss teams making it to the championship game or teams that aren’t in the top 15, of course it’s going to suffer.
I have no problem with the neutral site model. You’d like to not have a homefield advantage and give both participants a level playing field (mostly to offset any random regular season advantages a team might have had in scheduling). As long as it’s in an easily accessible place and not on the fringes of the league’s footprint like Jacksonville and Tampa, I think it’s a good setup.
Have you seen anything lately that suggest that the ACC will add two more Teams? What’s your thoughts on this and will ND be the next team to join the ACC ? IMO, ND is in the works and I have no idea who the 16th team would be, my guess, Rutgers
– Jack L. Ratcliffe Sr., Radford
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you will get take Notre Dame’s football independence away from it when you pry it from the school’s cold, dead hands. The Irish like to flirt with a lot of conferences, but that’s mostly to find a landing spot for all their non-football sports. Football never seems to be in the talks, at least by the people who are actually making the decisions.
The larger point is that there’s still no need for Notre Dame to move its football team into a conference. Everyone anticipated the new postseason format would force its hand, but it didn’t. There’s no conference championship requirement to get into the four-team playoff (it’s a component the selection committee will consider, but not mandatory). And if you wonder how much clout Notre Dame will have in the new landscape of college football, remember that 11 conference commissioners met to decide the new playoff system, plus a representative from Notre Dame. BYU, another independent, didn’t get that consideration, so that tells you how influential the Irish are in the process.
So no, I don’t see Notre Dame joining a league anytime soon, no matter how much people want to see it happen. It’ll give people plenty to speculate about every offseason, though.
Given the fact that Tech doesn’t always have great recruiting classes but excels in player development, I often wondered what would happen if we had a top 10 recruiting class for example. Do you think the recent recruitment of Kendall Fuller can help attract some other highly-rated recruit to Tech in the future and is that what we need to go to the next level (by that I mean a national championship/BCS bowls wins) or is there something else to change (style of play, play-calling…) ?
Most dangerous non-conference game: at Pitt or “neutral field” against Cincy ? I think Cincinnati is a better team but in DC we kind of have “home-court advantage” right?
– Fred, Strasburg
I was just wondering what affect you see Kendall Fuller’s commitment having on the future recruiting classes. Obviously, he has to play well to get anymore recognition than he has now, but do other high profile recruits remember previous year commitments? And how much did Shane Beamer have to do with getting Fuller?
– Lucas Branson, Blacksburg
I’ve never been a big believer in recruits affecting future recruits, whether it’s laying the groundwork by showing that top-notch talent can go to a school or by directly trying to influence their friends to go somewhere. Players go where they’re most comfortable with the staff, where they think they can get to the next level, where they can get early playing time and (usually) where they are close enough to home for their family to make easy trips to see them play. That’s pretty universal. You always hear about how some top-flight commitment “recruits” other guys to come play with him, but I honestly think in the end that players make decisions based on what’s best for them, not what their friends from prospect camps want them to do.
And I think that extends to whether or not players see a five-star guy like Fuller commit to a place. Sustained success and the coaches’ ability to recruit quality players are the big factors. Virginia Tech has done that well in the last few decades and seems to be ramping that up a notch of late. Shane Beamer’s addition to the staff certainly helps, but he’s not the only reason (and from what I can tell, he wasn’t really involved in Fuller’s recruitment).
Obviously talent always helps you compete on the field, but recruiting rankings don’t necessarily equal success on the field (ask Florida State about that). As I’ve written before, winning a national championship take a combination of good players, good coaching and good luck. A lot of times you need all the pieces to fit at the same time (ie. Auburn in 2010), and that doesn’t happen often. Schools like Alabama, which has 5-stars on its bench ready to go in the game, obviously have a larger margin of error. I don’t think you’ll see Tech get to that point (mostly because only a handful of teams ever get to that point), but the addition of top-100 talents like Fuller and Holland Fisher and Joel Caleb certainly gives the coaching staff more to work with.
As for the toughest non-conference game, I’d probably go with Cincinnati in FedEx Field. The Bearcats at least have the same coach in place from the previous year and have been successful in the recent past. Pittsburgh has been up and down and is getting used to first-year coach Paul Chryst. That adjustment will take time, so I think it’s less of a threatening game, even if it is a true road game vs. a neutral site one.