Virginia Tech missed out on many of the top recruits from the state of Virginia and watched defending national champion Florida State poach two more highly regarded prospects Wednesday, but it didn’t stop the Hokies from declaring National Signing Day a success.
During his first recruiting cycle with a new offensive coaching staff, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer added three quarterbacks, replenished the program’s receiving corps with four wideouts and kept four offensive linemen in the fold even after former position coach Jeff Grimes left last month for LSU.
Rivals.com ranked Virginia Tech’s 2014 class, which included 24 prospects who signed national letters-of-intent or grant-in-aids Wednesday and four others who have enrolled in school early for spring practice, No. 25 in the country and fifth in the ACC. The Hokies have finished in the top 25 in the country in five of the past six seasons, according to Rivals.
But in a year with several high-profile in-state prospects, Virginia Tech was unable to sign any of the top eight recruits from the state of Virginia, according to Rivals. The Hokies’ highest-rated prospect from Virginia was defensive lineman Ricky Walker, the younger brother of Virginia defensive back Rijo Walker.
To start the day, Virginia Beach defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi, a four-star recruit whose father went to Virginia Tech, picked Florida State over the Hokies and Virginia.
“We missed,” Beamer said. “There were a couple really good players in that top group there. There’s no question about it. A lot of different things get into it. We try like heck and we always want to go after the best players.”
But the Hokies made up for it by extending their recruiting reach, snagging players from Maryland, Florida, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The class includes eight four-star recruits, including DeMatha All-Met Cameron Phillips and linebacker Melvin Keihn from the Gilman School in Baltimore.
Most notably, with Logan Thomas off to the NFL, quarterbacks Chris Durkin and Travon McMillian, an All-Met from Hyton, signed with Virginia Tech. Signal-caller Andrew Ford has already enrolled in school for spring practice. McMillian could be moved to defensive back or wide receiver, but will get a chance to line up under center at first. Durkin was originally committed to Michigan State.
“He’s not a waffle guy whatsoever,” offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said of Durkin. “The reason he chose Virginia Tech is he saw a chance to play at a young age.”
The Hokies did watch four-star wide receiver Javon Harrison, who had orally committed to Virginia Tech in July 2012, sign a national letter-of-intent with Florida State. Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, another wide receiver considering Virginia Tech, elected to sign with Georgia.
But Virginia Tech received good news on a couple of last-minute decisions. In the morning, linebacker Raymon Minor from the Richmond area picked Virginia Tech over Nebraska and Marshall. To close the day, the Hokies signed wide receiver Isaiah Ford, a former Louisville commit who re-opened his recruitment after Coach Charlie Strong went to Texas. Ford, of Jacksonville, Fla., picked Virginia Tech over the Cardinals, Florida, Miami and South Carolina.
The offensive line was also a priority in this class.
“We felt right from the very beginning, it was going to be important how we recruited up front,” recruiting coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. “You’re going to like the way they move and you’re going to like the way they play.”
In addition, 2013 signees Braxton Pfaff, Holland Fisher and D.J. Reid officially joined the program. Pfaff, a 6-foot-7 offensive lineman, suffered a shoulder injury a year ago. Fisher, a safety, and Reid, a running back, spent this past fall at Fork Union Military Academy and are considered the top prep school players in the country at their positions.
Running backs Marshawn Williams and Shai McKenzie and defensive lineman Vinny Mihota, whose older brother Anthony Mihota played for the Cavaliers, enrolled early to participate in spring practice. Defensive back Terrell Edmunds, the younger brother of Hokies tailback Trey Edmunds, also signed with Virginia Tech.