There are plenty of position battles to pay attention to when Virginia Tech holds its spring game Saturday at 2 p.m. — like the whip linebackers, the left tackles or the punters. But ultimately, who starts at those positions won’t be decided definitively until the Hokies re-convene this August for preseason practices.
The more notable part of Saturday’s game will involve the bevy of recruits scheduled to be in Blacksburg. New director of high school relations Jim Cavanaugh said this week he expected at least 50, if not more, potential recruits to be at Lane Stadium.
This represents the first big litmus test for the offseason changes Coach Frank Beamer initiated by moving Cavanaugh and longtime assistant Billy Hite to administrative roles and bringing in new assistants Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown. The moves were largely done to enhance the Hokies’ recruiting efforts.
Spring games tend to inspire a wave of recruits to give oral commitments (although with recruits these days, oral commitments can’t sometimes end up being irrelevant). The Hokies currently have five players orally committed to join their 2012 recruiting class.
Among those expected to be in attendance Saturday is 5-star athlete Joel Caleb, who is considered to be the top recruit from Virginia this year. Caleb is from the Richmond area, which also happens to be Shane Beamer’s new recruiting territory. And considering Beamer was previously the recruiting coordinator at South Carolina before returning to Virginia Tech this winter, what better person to ask about the significance of this spring game when it comes to the neverending recruiting cycle.
“I think it’s important just because anytime you can get a prospect on your campus, it’s huge. We’ve got so many things to sell here,” Beamer said. “But then you get them on your campus with how many thousand people are going to be there Saturday and let them see, ‘Gosh, I’ve been to some spring games up the road where we might have 3,000, 4,000 people and I come here and we’ve got 40-some thousand. I think it makes a statement about how important football is here at Virginia Tech.”
Beamer was quick to correct himself by saying that it’s not just schools “up the road” (he never directly said Virginia), but also other places in the region. There’s little doubt, though, that while the Hokies liked their 2011 recruiting class, they weren’t satisfied being ranked behind Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia according to most recruiting Web sites.
In particular, Virginia Tech seemed to be lacking when it came to recruiting the Tidewater region that it normally is a major player in, getting just one recruit from the area last year. So Beamer decided to move offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring back into that territory after he’d been quite successful there earlier this decade.
Here’s what Stinespring had to say about the importance of Saturday:
“There’s no such thing as status quo. There’s no such thing as just another spring game,” Stinespring said. “Every year recruiting gets a little more significant . . . Obviously, one of the selling attractions to Virginia Tech is the atmosphere, the excitement, the energy when you step on this campus. When you’re here for one minute, you realize what it is to be a part of Virginia Tech and this program, and the excitement that surrounds it.”
Among prominent Washington area recruits, five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs of Good Counsel and wide receiver Kenny Crawley of H.D. Woodson — who both reportedly have offers from around the country — are expected to be in attendance.
Alumni like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall and Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, among others, are also rumored to be making appearances on the sideline.
It’s just another tool Virginia Tech can use as it tries to reel in recruits Saturday.