National Signing Day is Wednesday, and the Hokies aren’t expecting any last-second surprises with their 2013 recruiting class. Right now, that group is expected to have 20 signees. Five of them have already signed, and two holdovers from the 2012 class that didn’t go to prep school – Seth Dooley and Woody Baron — also started school in January as well.
It should make for a relatively relaxed signing day, unlike last year, when the Hokies went down to the wire with four signees, getting three of them to sign on the dotted line on the final day.
To get things geared up, I chatted with 247Sports National Recruiting Director J.C. Shurburtt about Virginia Tech’s class. He talked a little bit about the new coaches’ recruiting reputations, which I wrote about Saturday. Here’s some more of what he had to say:
AB: What do you think of Virginia Tech’s class overall?
JC: ”On paper, it’s probably the highest-ranked Virginia Tech class in the modern era of recruiting. And they do a good job. They went down and got D.J. Reid and Holland Fisher out of Richmond and Cequan Jefferson. I think anytime you can get a Wyatt Teller to change his mind like that, that’s good. He’s an excellent player. So in-state, the Hokies did very, very well and sort of brushed back some of the momentum that maybe Virginia had.
“And then out of state, it’s the normal Virginia Tech recruiting. You go and get a guy like Brandon Facyson out of Georgia, a versatile corner, a receiver-type, 6-1, fits the prototype, that sort of thing. So I think that overall, considering it was the worst Virginia Tech team record-wise in 20 years, they’re going to get probably the best-ranked recruiting class they’ve gotten in some time. So that’s one of those positive things that the Hokies fans can look forward to is the influx of talent.”
AB: Is it odd that one of Virginia Tech’s better recruiting classes is coming on the heels of its worst season in 20 years? Or do recruits look more at relationships than on-field results in a small window?
JC: “I think recruiting overwhelmingly, as a rule of thumb, is decided by relationships. I think that you always hear recruits say, ‘Well, I want to go where I feel comfortable.’ Well, where you’re comfortable is having a good relationship with the coaching staff. And all the kids that committed to Virginia Tech during the season — your Parker Osterlohs, your Braxton Pfaffs, your Wyatt Tellers, your Holland Fishers — they didn’t really waver. I mean, Holland Fisher was talking about setting up visits and then he decided not to, that type of thing. So I think that you’re absolutely right, it is about relationships and stability and all that. Tech did change some coaches on their staff, but Frank Beamer is still there, many of the primary recruiters on that staff are still there. So they’ve done a good job of keeping everybody in the boat.”
AB: Do the Hokies need to expand their recruiting base to reach that next level?
JC: “I think there are certain positions that you really do need to go national. And o-line is one, quarterback is probably the other. But you can’t really argue with the way quarterback has recruited in-state quarterbacks. But yeah, I think that when there’s a need and your state doesn’t have it, and Virginia Tech has a very good national name. They’ve played in lots of BCS games and won lots of ACC titles, you can go get in the door and see what happens. There’s not a defensive player out there that hasn’t heard of Bud Foster. There’s not a whole lot of people out there that haven’t heard of Frank Beamer, that haven’t heard of the Hokies. So that allows him to get in the door and maybe get some of these guys in on visits.
“It’s tough, though, because you can get them on campus and stuff like that, but that still doesn’t mean you’re going to land them. That’s the problem with going out and putting all your eggs in your out-of-state basket is that even if you’re Alabama, you don’t just walk into any state and take their homegrown players. It’s hard to get commits from out of state to commit. So if there was an issue at all, that would be it.”
AB: Who in this class do you think can play right away? Who could be a sleeper?
JC: “I like Holland Fisher a lot. A big, versatile safety prospect, the type of player that fits into Virginia Tech’s defensive scheme perfectly. Every time I saw him this spring and summer at camps, combines, what have you, he went out and competed. He competes on the football field. He’s an all around good football player and he plays the game every snap like it needs to be played. And that’s tough nowadays. A lot of guys that are high-level recruits don’t really like football. But Holland Fisher likes football and I think he’ll fit in just fine.
“If there’s a sleeper, I think it’d be Jefferson. Here’s a guy that’s got pretty good size, good long arms, 5-8, 5-9, 5-10, something like that, 175 pounds, but runs 4.34. Can turn. When I saw him this last spring, there were some fundamental things that he needed to work on, but skill level-wise, high-end ceiling-wise, he’s a better prospect than Donovan Riley or Donaldven Manning that came through in last year’s class.”