Recruiting Classes of the Past: 1985

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For those of you who follow recruiting, you are no doubt familiar with’s recruiting database. It contains information on Tech
recruiting prospects from this year and years past. Here in the TechSideline office, we have Hokie Huddlers dating back to 1985, and media guides that
go back to 1987, Frank Beamer’s first season in Blacksburg. So we have resources for information on past Virginia Tech recruiting classes that the
general fan does not. This spring and summer, that will change.

A project that I have been assigned is to enter every Virginia Tech recruiting class dating back to 1985 in our database. And it won’t just be
names and positions. It will be recruiting stars, interesting facts that I can manage to dig up, as well as a report in how they fared in their
careers at Virginia Tech. For some recruits, information is difficult to impossible to find. For others, it’s overflowing.

It’s going to be a fun project. It’s already been fun actually, as I’ve just completed entries for the 1985 recruiting class. You can see
what the class looks like here.
Now let’s take a deeper look at the class.

First of all, I’ll explain how I came up with my star ratings, considering that the 1985 class was from a time before star-oriented rating
services like Rivals and Scout existed. Looking through the old Hokie Huddlers, there were actually a few recruiting services in the 1980s. Joe
Terranova, who basically got recruiting coverage started back in the 1970s, did star rankings. His ratings system went no higher than four stars, and
the old Huddlers gave his star ratings for many Tech recruits.

Using Terranova’s star ratings, as well as how recruits were viewed by Max Emfinger, The Poop Sheet and a few others, and also by reading their
recruiting profiles, I gave each recruit a star ranking. There’s no exact science to it, and I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it, so you
may not agree with some of them, or even any of them … kind of like today’s star ratings.

Since Terranova’s star ratings went only as high as four stars, that’s as high as mine will go. That means a three-star recruit from the class
of 1985 would equate to either a four-star or a three-star in today’s recruiting world. With that in mind, let’s see how the 1985 class shaped out
in terms of star ratings.

1985 Star Ratings




3-Star Recruits

Tim Dudley


Bill Cox


Rodney Good


Rick Singleton


Leslie Bailey


Randy Cockrell


Donald Stokes


2-Star Recruits

Richard Fox


Ken Barefoot


Brian McCall


Richie Hasson


Horacio Moronta


Joe Matyiko


Roger Brown


Mitch Dove


Robert Majors


Larry Bryant


Dan Eddy


Chris Kinzer


1-Star Recruits

Ernie Davis


Chris Henderson


Shane Spence


Bobby Martin


Steve Mitchum


Shawn Prather


That’s not a lot of star power, at least not by what we’re used to seeing from Tech recruiting class in these days. Tech signed zero four-star
players in 1985. And it’s definitely worth noting what a poor offensive class this was for Bill Dooley.

Virginia Tech signed a trio of three-star recruits in 1985. They combined for a total of one varsity letter during their Virginia Tech careers. Tim
Dudley was a tailback out of Roanoke who played as a true freshman, and who had an extremely bright future according to running backs coach Billy
Hite. But Dudley was arrested and charged with grand larceny for stealing car stereos and was dismissed from the team.

Bill Cox redshirted his first season in Blacksburg, and was expected to be a major contributor, if not a starter during his r-freshman season.
However he suffered a broken femur in an offseason car accident and never played for the Hokies. The other three-star player, JUCO transfer Rodney
Good, also never lettered at Tech.

Tech got some production from their two-star offensive recruits. Richie Hasson never materialized, but Richard Fox developed into a starter at
fullback. Brian McCall started at tight end for two seasons, and Ken Barefoot was a contributor. Of Tech’s three one-star offensive recruits, Ernie
Davis lettered for four years and Chris Henderson for three years. Only Shane Spence did not contribute. Go figure.

In 1985, as they do today, the Hokies had more luck on the defensive side of the ball. All four of Tech’s three-star defensive recruits worked
out. Rick Singleton was a JUCO who contributed along the defensive line, while Randy Cockrell, Leslie Bailey and Donald Stokes all saw a lot of
playing time at linebacker.

The Hokies got a few major sleepers with their two-star defensive recruits. Horacio Moronta was a very good defensive tackle for Tech. He and Scott
Hill, another defensive tackle, led the team in tackles in 1988. Moronta had 81 that year, while Hill had 76. That’s impressive production from a
defensive tackle. Unfortunately Moronta was academically ineligible in 1987 and 1989, so he never quite lived up to his full potential.

Roger Brown was a very good cornerback for the Hokies, and he went on to win Super Bowl XXV with the New York Giants. He was one of the earlier
“Beamerball” type players. He blocked two field goals against Florida State in 1988 and another against Cincinnati in 1987. He also came up
with big plays on defense, returning two interceptions for touchdowns in his career.

The last major sleeper of the class was Bobby Martin. Martin is the uncle of Cam and Orion Martin, both current Virginia Tech players. He was
recruited as a defensive end, but he played linebacker for Tech and played it well.

One last interesting note on this class. The Hokie Huddler listed defensive lineman Joe Ledbetter as a member of the 1985 recruiting class, but
noted that he had originally “committed to Tennessee” and “will enter this fall as a freshman with no redshirt remaining.”

It also noted that Ledbetter graduated high school in 1984. The 1985 recruiting edition of The Huddler mentions that he “enrolled at Tech this
past year”, meaning he arrived in 1984. So if he redshirted at Tech in 1984, why did the Hokies count him as part of the 1985 class? Or did he
actually attend Tennessee, and then transfer to Virginia Tech? I’m not sure, and the Hokie Huddler doesn’t say specifically.

In all likelihood, Ledbetter pulled a Carl Howard. Howard, a Virginia Tech class of 2004 signee from New Jersey, came to Blacksburg at the start of
camp in 2004. Before the semester started, he decided he didn’t want to be away from home and left Virginia Tech to go to Rutgers. The NCAA mandates
that you sit out for a season if you transfer, but if you still have a redshirt season available, it can be used.

This is probably what happened to Ledbetter. He probably went to Knoxville from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, didn’t like it, and
decided to leave. He spent the fall of 1984 in Blacksburg and practiced with the team, and was a r-freshman in 1985. But since he did not sign an LOI
with the Hokies in 1984, VT counted him as part of the 1985 recruiting class. Since he was (probably) a transfer, TSL is not counting him as part of
the 1985 recruiting class.

But Ledbetter’s story gets stranger. He earned a letter in 1985, and the 1986 season preview mentions him as being expected to contribute a lot to
the defensive line for the upcoming season. But Ledbetter didn’t even letter for the Hokies in 1986. Our media guide collection starts in 1987,
Ledbetter’s junior season, but he isn’t listed anywhere in the guide. In the 1988 media guide, which would have been his senior season, he again
isn’t listed on the roster, but is credited with making 61 tackles in 1987. Weird.

We do know that Ledbetter lettered in 1985 and 1987, and that he made 61 tackles in 1987. But that’s it. So why am I going on and on about
Ledbetter? Because by today’s standards he would be the second-highest rated recruit to ever enroll at Virginia Tech. He was rated as a four-star
player (the highest at that time) by Terranova and rated the #25 prospect in the country in 1984. He was an Adidas All-American and a USA Today
All-American. He was about as big-time as big-time gets. By today’s standards, he would be somewhere in between a Kevin Jones and a Macho Harris.
Yet he only lettered twice for the Hokies, and his 61 tackles in 1987 included no sacks and no tackles for loss. With that type of career, he’s on
the short list for biggest busts in Virginia Tech history. If anyone knows the whole story with Ledbetter, let me know.

So there you have it…your introduction to the 1985 recruiting class. Guys that played at Virginia Tech 20 years ago, or thereabouts. If
you know any interesting facts on any of these players, don’t hesitate to send me an email.

To see the complete list of 1985 recruits, click
, and to read about each player, click their player profile link.

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