Only a couple months ago, it looked as if Virginia Tech football’s offseason would be defined by a crushing Orange Bowl loss to Stanford and the subsequent staff shake-up initiated by Coach Frank Beamer. That story line, though, has certainly been modified in recent weeks now that the Hokies find themselves in the midst of a hot streak on the recruiting trail.
And Hokies fans should look no further than Beamer’s son, new running backs coach Shane Beamer, when trying to figure out the principal characters in this resurgence. Since returning to Blacksburg five months ago, Beamer is already responsible for securing four 2012 oral commitments — including Deon Clarke out of the Richmond area, the highest-rated 2012 recruit currently committed to Virginia Tech according to Rivals.com — and served as the primary contact for transfer Brent Benedict.
Most fans (and beat writers) assumed the 34-year-old Beamer would hit the ground running based on his previous stint as recruiting coordinator and secondary coach at South Carolina. But when I caught up with Beamer on Monday afternoon — just before Benedict announced he would be transferring to Virginia Tech — even he admitted the past few weeks of recruiting have been “a whirlwind.”
“But once they get here on campus, Virginia Tech sells itself,” Beamer said. “With the people, the facilities, and all that, we feel good about our chances.”
Like director of recruiting Jim Cavanaugh said in Monday’s story, Shane Beamer thinks much of the Hokies’ success on the recruiting trail stems from its earlier-than-usual verbal offers to many of Virginia’s top recruits. Beamer said there are only five prospects he’s currently recruiting that did not have Virginia Tech offers before he arrived on campus in February.
Shane Beamer’s biggest splash, though, could be on the horizon. He’s responsible for recruiting four-star wide receiver Joel Caleb out of Richmond — a prospect Rivals.com considers to be the best in the state of Virginia this year -- as well as four-star running back Drew Harris from Pennsylvania. Beamer already persuaded Harris’s teammate, offensive lineman Jack Willenbrock, to orally commit to Virginia Tech earlier this spring.
Because 14 of Virginia Tech’s 20 oral commitments for 2012 are on the defensive side of the ball, Beamer said the Hokies’ priority as they put the finishing touches on this recruiting class will be “every offensive position except tight end.” Cavanaugh said Monday the Hokies plan to use 25 scholarships for the 2012 class, but emphasized that number is flexible.
Regardless of how this class finishes up, though, it’s becoming more and more clear with every new commitment that the Hokies have a new recruiting star in their coaching stable these days.
“When you’re able to walk into a high school and you have that Virginia Tech logo on your shirt, that carries a lot of weight,” Shane Beamer said. “I’ve been received well by high school coaches. There’s great high school coaches in this state and I’ve known them a long time even though I haven’t been recruiting this state. Meeting people in the hallways and being at these high schools, it’s been a neat transition.”