The Washington Post

With Butch Davis gone, Virginia Tech loses a thorn in its (recruiting) side

In terms of wins and losses, the impact felt from North Carolina’s abrupt firing of Coach Butch Davis on Wednesday will be minimal from Virginia Tech’s perspective. For all the bluster surrounding Davis’s hiring back in 2007, he won just one of his four games against the Hokies and never did capture an ACC Coastal Division crown.

The real ramifications, though, will come on the recruiting trail, where Davis proved during his four years on the job that he was more than capable of beating out Virginia Tech for top recruits despite his less-than-stellar record against the Hokies on the field.

For many Virginia Tech fans, that fact reached a fever pitch this past year when North Carolina grabbed two heralded recruits from the state of Virginia (four-star linebacker Travis Hughes and four star offensive lineman Landon Turner), an offensive lineman from a traditional Virginia Tech stronghold (four-star Kiaro Holts from Darren Evans’s high school alma mater in Indianapolis) and a top quarterback from the Charlotte area (four-star recruit Marquise Williams) – all of whom were also strongly considering Virginia Tech at the time.

According to, during Davis’s five recruiting cycles at North Carolina, he snagged 20 recruits that also held Virginia Tech offers. That includes two five-star recruits, 10 four-star recruits and five prospects from Virginia. In three of those five years, ranked the Tar Heels’ recruiting class ahead of Virginia Tech’s haul of recruits.

“It’s a tough profession,” Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer told Richmond’s WRN L radio when asked about Davis’s dismissal Wednesday. “I do know this — everybody wants a level playing field.”

While Beamer never publicly critiqued Davis during the year-long investigation into the North Carolina football program, he never did mention Davis by name leading up to the Hokies’ 26-10 win over the Tar Heels last November. Beamer, like most coaches, usually goes out of his way to praise an opposing coaching staff before Virginia Tech faces them.

But that’s not to say Virginia Tech wasn’t able to hold its own against the Tar Heels. In fact, considering it has become increasingly clear Davis’s staff was running roughshod over the NCAA rulebook, Beamer and company actually did quite well when dealing with North Carolina on the recruiting trail.

According to, the Hokies signed 18 recruits that also held an offer from the Tar Heels, including eight four-star recruits and three from North Carolina, during the Davis era in Chapel Hill.

Notable Virginia Tech signees that held North Carolina offers include linebacker Bruce Taylor, safety Eddie Whitley and wide receiver Dyrell Roberts (2008) as well as quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson (2009). The Tar Heels, meanwhile, got future contributors like wide receiver Dwight Jones and defensive tackle Tydreke Powell (2007), defensive end Robert Quinn (2008) and quarterback Bryn Renner (2009) over the Hokies.

So how does this affect the Hokies going forward? Well, it starts with the 2012 recruiting class. According to Rivals, one North Carolina oral commit – tight end Justin Meredith out of South Carolina – was also offered by Virginia Tech.

More importantly, though, several of Virginia Tech’s top remaining targets for 2012 were also strongly considering North Carolina before Davis’s dismissal. They include Washington area running back Wes Brown (Good Counsel) and defensive lineman Ken Ekanem (Centreville). Two other top in-state recruits – wide receiver Joel Caleb from the Richmond area and linebacker Trey Edmunds from Danville – were also considering both Virginia Tech and North Carolina, among other schools.

Perhaps the biggest ramifications could come when North Carolina hires a permanent replacement for Davis. Several outlets have suggested Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster could be a prime candidate for the job.

If that were to happen, though, it likely wouldn’t come until the 2011 college football season is over. During the news conference on Thursday to announce Davis’s firing, UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour resigned and said the next Tar Heels head coach won’t be hired until a new athletic director is found. In addition, North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp said an interim coach would be hired this week from within the Tar Heels current staff.

For Hokies supporters, though, the removal of Davis simply means a significant thorn has been removed from Virginia Tech’s collective side.

Below, you’ll find a complete list of all the players Virginia Tech and North Carolina battled over during the four years Davis was on the job.

UNC signees that held VT offers (Note: all star ratings are according to


OT Kiaro Holts (IN) 4 star

OL Landon Turner (VA) 4 star

QB Marquise Williams (NC) 4 star

LB Travis Hughes (VA) 4 star


OL Russell Bodine (VA) 3 star

TE Ethan Farmer (NC) 3 star

DE Kareem Martin (NC) 3 star


OL Travis Bond (NC) 3 star

DB Josh Hunter (NC) 4 star

DE Donte Moss (NC) 5 star

LB Kevin Reddick (NC) 4 star

QB Bryn Renner (VA) 4 star


WR Todd Harrelson (VA 757) 3 star

LB Ebele Okakpu (GA) 3 star

DE Robert Quinn (SC) 4 star

ATH Christian Wilson (PA) 4 star


LB Albert Craddock (NC) 3 star

WR Dwight Jones (NC) 5 star

DL Tydreke Powell (NC) 4 star

RB Da-Norris Searcy (GA) 2 star

VT signees that held UNC offers:


DB Adeboye Aromire (DC) 3 stars

DL Kris Harley (IN) 4 star

TE Darius Redman (DC) 2 stars


DL Zack McCray (VA) 4 stars

OL Mark Shuman (VA) 4 stars


LB Telvion Clark (NC) 3 stars

DL J.R. Collins (VA) 3 stars

LB Tariq Edwards (SC) 3 stars

QB Logan Thomas (VA) 4 stars

DB Jerrodd Williams (SC) 4 stars

RB David Wilson (VA) 4 stars


WR Ben Barber (VA) 3 star

WR Marcus Davis (VA) 3 star

TE Randall Dunn (VA) 3 star

DE Leon Mackey (NC) 3 star

WR Dyrell Roberts (VA) 4 star

LB Bruce Taylor (SC) 4 star

DB Eddie Whitley (NC) 3 stars



Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.


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