I interviewed 247Sports National Recruiting Director J.C. Shurburtt for a different story I’m working on, but I also asked him about the recruiting reputations of the three new coaching hires Virginia Tech made this month — Scot Loeffler, Jeff Grimes and Aaron Moorehead.
Here’s what Shurburtt had to say about each:
– On Moorehead: “He is sort of an unknown, but I think he can end up being an excellent recruiter from what I’m told. He really resonates with kids that way and can certainly go out and sell and get the job done.”
– On Loeffler: “When he was at Auburn — and he wasn’t at Auburn very long — the few guys he recruited absolutely loved him. The guys he was responsible for. He has a good eye for quarterbacks. At Auburn he already spotted Jacob Park, a four-star player out of South Carolina [in 2014]. Offered him, was about to commit him up early and the coaching change happened. … But I think Loeffler has that rep.”
– On Grimes: “Jeff Grimes is a guy that has the reputation for going across the country and landing offensive linemen. Whether it’s Colorado or Arizona, he scopes mostly in the west, he’s got some connections out there. He’ll go anywhere to find linemen. And that’s good, because in the state of Virginia, it’s great for skill guys, it’s great for running backs, even a good-moving defensive lineman, and it’s really good for linebackers. But o-line, you have maybe one or two really elite, elite guys per year.
“So if you’re Virginia Tech, maybe you need to kind of expand your horizons looking for offensive linemen. I know the year Miami won the national title, they had a bunch of offensive linemen from Canada that they went up and got. So it’s one of those things where the unique nature of that position, much like quarterback, because it’s developmental, you really have to hit on the right guys. Regardless of where they’re at, you really need high-quality players. And I think Jeff Grimes is the kind of guy who can get that done for them, of the new coaches.”
That seems to fit with Grimes’ reputation. In four years with Auburn, Grimes recruited 11 linemen who were four stars or better. His recruits were from all over the country, including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Florida and community colleges in California and Kansas.
He’ll have an active hand recruiting all offensive linemen at Virginia Tech, regardless of a player’s hometown.
“I think it’s even more important at my position,” Grimes said. “If you just talk to kids out there in recruiting and you ask them, ‘What’s really important to you?’ And you listen to the answers, I bet if you took it all by position, you’d have more offensive linemen talk about their position coach than any other position.
“So that is by design. And that’s something that I’ve always done wherever I’ve been. When I worked with Dirk Koetter with Boise State and Arizona State, he was really the first guy that told me to do that. He said, ‘Hey Grimey, you’ve got your recruiting area, but you go sign the four best linemen that you can sign this year. That’s the No. 1 thing that you’ve got to do.’ So I’m going to be really involved with those guys wherever they are.”
Loeffler has bounced from location to location, so his recruiting profile isn’t as lengthy as Grimes’. Loeffler said he’d like to recruit a quarterback and develop him throughout all of his college career, although he doesn’t have a prototype.
“We’re looking for obviously a smart, tough football player,” he said. “And time you find smart and tough, it doesn’t matter if a he’s a great runner, a great passer, you’ve got a chance. We’re going to tailor the offense to a guy who’s smart and tough.
“Obviously if you can find the 6-foot-5, 245-pound guy that runs 4.4 that can throw it all over the yard, we’re going to try to find that guy. Is that hard to find? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, every quarterback that’s out there has some deficiency. They all do. But any time you’re smart and tough, you’re able to overcome some of your physical deficiencies.”
Moorehead has not recruited yet in his career, since this is his first full-time gig as a college coach. But he has some ideas for how he’ll approach it. Step 1: wear the Super Bowl ring he won as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
“There’s a 100 percent I’m going to be wearing that every time I’m on the road,” he said. “You’ve got to. That’s part of the deal. That’s part of the thing as a new recruiter. I think it breaks the ice when you walk in and they go, ‘OK, this guy has done it. He understands it. If you walk in and you talk to folks and you give them the respect they deserve, I think that on top of that, you can get a lot done.”