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Virginia Tech bolsters defense, offensive line
Virginia Tech and Virginia each ink a five-star recruit on National Signing Day
AUG 31, 2012 : Good Counsel's Kendall Fuller (5) during an early season match between Gilman School and Our Lady of Good Counsel at Kline Stadium in Olney, MD. Good Counsel defeated Gilman in OT 20-19. (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
Thursday, February 7, 2013
BLACKSBURG — A down football season that produced Virginia Tech’s worst record in 20 years didn’t have any detrimental effect on the Hokies’ signing class Wednesday.
By all measures, the Hokies landed one of their highest-ranked recruiting classes since the explosion of recruiting websites in the past decade.
Virginia Tech’s group of 18 signees was ranked 22nd nationally by Rivals, tied for the school’s third-highest mark since 2002. Rivals pegged it as the third-ranked class in the ACC.
247Sports ranked the Hokies’ signees 20th nationally and fourth in the league.
That happened despite a 7-6 record in 2012 and an offensive coaching staff shake-up after the season that could have soured recruits on Tech.
“We had this class committed … for a long time, and we haven’t had anyone flip on us,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “A decision’s a final decision.
“And then I think it goes back to the character of the kids, too. They’re not guys who can’t figure out what they want to do. They’re not flipping and flopping.”
Five-star cornerback Kendall Fuller and several four-star signees, including safety Holland Fisher, defensive end Wyatt Teller and quarterback Bucky Hodges, highlight a recruiting class that was heavy on defensive backs and offensive linemen.
The only setback was the lack of a letter-of-intent from four-star running back Drew Harris, a 2012 signee who prepped last semester at Fork Union because of academic issues and continues to try to navigate the NCAA Clearinghouse maze.
Harris, who remains a recruitable athlete, has remained committed to the Hokies throughout the process, although it’s unclear when, or if, he’ll end up in Blacksburg at this point. Since Harris didn’t sign, Virginia Tech coaches were not allowed to comment about him.
But the day’s news centered on the blue-chip players, particularly Fuller, the No. 9-ranked player by Rivals and the Hokies’ first five-star signee since quarterback Tyrod Taylor in 2007. He’s a cornerback who defensive coordinator Bud Foster thinks can compete for playing time right away, especially with Antone Exum out for a period of time with an ACL tear.
Fuller is the youngest of the football-playing brothers from Baltimore, all of whom have ended up at Tech. Vincent was a safety from 2001-04 who played in the NFL. Corey just finished his senior season as a receiver. Kyle will be a senior cornerback in 2013.
“The tough thing about Kendall Fuller is he’s the last one,” Beamer joked.
The Hokies have big plans for him. Beamer envisions Fuller as an impact defensive player who could handle returns and even get reps on offense. He was the Washington Post’s All-Met Offensive Player of the Year as a senior receiver at Our Lady of Good Counsel, catching 44 passes for 695 yards and seven touchdowns.
“I think he needs to get his hands on the ball some,” Beamer said.
The Hokies held off two-time defending national champion Alabama to keep Fisher, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound free safety from Midlothian whose stock soared during summer camps. 247Sports listed him as the No. 36 player nationally.
Running backs coach Shane Beamer called Fisher a “Kam Chancellor-like safety,” referring to the former All-ACC honoree from Virginia Tech now with the Seattle Seahawks.
Teller, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive lineman from Bealeton, will start out at end, a position with considerable depth.
“You don’t always see guys play as hard as he plays,” Beamer said. “For a guy that’s his size and his ability, he plays hard. I think it gives him a chance to get in there and we’ll see what happens.”
With quarterback Logan Thomas back for his senior season, Hodges, a Salem High product from Virginia Beach, will have the luxury of being able to sit and learn. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Hodges bears a striking resemblance to the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Thomas.
“It’s hard not to compare those two,” recruiting coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. “They’ve both got height, they’ve both got length … They can fend off defenders and either pull the ball down and be effective running it or pull the ball down and get out of the pocket and continue to look downfield to make plays.”
Hodges isn’t the only quarterback in the class. Carlis Parker, an elusive 6-foot-3, 180-pound lefty from Statesville, N.C., also signed, hearkening back to another famous left-hander from Virginia Tech’s past.
“I told him he reminded me a little bit of Michael Vick, and not only because he’s left-handed, but some of the things he does on the field would remind you of that,” said Beamer, who thinks Parker will remain at quarterback.
How many future Michael Vicks has Beamer been told about in the last decade?
“There’s been a bunch over the years,” he said with a chuckle. “But this is one that’s legit in my opinion. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him early, but he does do some things like Michael did.”
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