Football coach Jim Pletcher admitted he kept tabs on recent Hokies tight end commit Kalvin Cline for a few years at Pine Crest School in Boca Raton, Fla., watching him play basketball but hoping he would come out for football.
“I had stalked him for about three years,” Pletcher joked. “This last April he came in and said, ‘Coach, I think I want to play.’ I’m not stupid now. I said here’s how we do it.”
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Cline, who committed to the Hokies on Thursday as a late addition to the 2013 class, has only 11 games of football under his belt, but Pletcher thinks Virginia Tech got a good, under-the-radar prospect.
In his one year of football, Cline earned first-team all-conference honors at defensive end and played wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner.
“And excelled at all four,” said Cline, whose team went 9-2 and lost in the conference championship. “So again, if you knew about him, you came in and looked at him. … They’re going to have one heck of a tight end at Tech.”
Pletcher, who coached for 29 years at the college level, including at James Madison from 1985-94 and later for a year at William & Mary, is familiar with Frank Beamer and the Tech program.
But he didn’t start to hear much from schools about Cline until Jeff Grimes made contact about two weeks ago. Charley Wiles made an in-person visit to discuss Cline and things moved forward. Instead of trying to walk on at Miami, like he had planned, Cline accepted a scholarship at Virginia Tech.
Cline has as strong athletic background. His father, Mike, was a defensive tackle at Arkansas State who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the eighth round in 1985.
But the younger Cline went down a basketball path growing up. He played on a pair of state champion teams at Pine Crest, where he was teammates with former Kentucky and current Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight. Pletcher, who has been a football coach for 40 years and saw Cline’s potential, has a disdain for the specialization of young athletes.
“It’s what we’re doing to this whole generation of young kids, rather than letting them be athletes,” he said. “We force them to make selections or they feel forced to make selections. And it’s not always the right selection. … I’ve had a couple kids in that situation here that have pigeon-holed their way and then they realize that their bodies were changing.”
Cline was 6-foot-4, 215 pounds when he came to Pletcher last April, but Pletcher said he “fell in love with the weight room” and is now around 6-5, 240.
“He’s going to be a large young man when it’s all said and done, because he’s got the frame to do it,” Pletcher said.
Still, many schools didn’t know about him.
“People will come in in recruiting and say, ‘Why didn’t I know about this guy in September, October, November?’” Pletcher said. “Well, he’s only played 11 games of high school football.
“So all the five stars and all that tech following and Rivals and all that stuff, he wasn’t on the radar. And quite honestly, I don’t believe in all that stuff, so I don’t put my kids on that radar. The schools that come in here to recruit get a look at what we have and then they get into what they do. … You don’t need the dot-com services to get recruited.”