Recruiting Classes of the Past: 1987

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The class of 1987 was Frank Beamer’s first recruiting class at Virginia
Tech. It was his first opportunity to make an impact on Virginia Tech football,
and for the most part he was pretty successful with his first recruiting class.
The Hokies only signed 17 players that year because of the coaching staff
changeover, but they made up for the lack of quantity with quality.

Four of Tech’s 17 signees that year went on to be drafted by NFL teams. Two
others were picked up as free agents. Another might have had a pro career, but
he was bitten by the dreaded injury bug. All but two members of the class of
1987 lettered for at least one season. Beamer definitely found production in his
first recruiting class.

Without further adieu, here’s a look at the class of 1987:

1987
Recruiting Class

Stars

Player

Position

3-Stars

Greg Daniels

QB

Jon Jeffries

RB

Jay Foran

OL

Todd Meade

OL

Matt Jefferson

DE

Shon Grantz

LB

2-Stars

Will Furrer

QB

Rodd Wooten

QB

Nick Cullen

WR

William Boatwright

OL

Eugene Chung

OL

Baird Kilpatrick

DT

John Rehme

DT

Jason Wilson

DT

James Hargrove

LB

1-Star

John Granby

RB

Ron Davidson

TE

And now here’s a position by position comparison of the 1987 recruiting class.
Remember, not all players ended up at the positions they were originally
projected.

1987
Recruiting Class Position Comparison

Position

Total
Players

Average
Stars

Quarterback
3 2.33

Running Back
2 2

Wide Receiver
1 2

Tight End
1 1

Offensive Line
4 2.5

Defensive Tackle
3 2

Defensive End
1 3

Linebacker
2 2.5

Totals
17 2.24

First, let’s take a look at those players who went on to the NFL. Eugene Chung
(first round), Will Furrer (fourth round), William Boatwright (seventh round)
and John Granby (12th round) were all drafted. Nick Cullen and Greg Daniels
signed free agent deals with the Eagles. Now scroll back up and take a look at
their star ratings.

The only 3-star recruit that went to the NFL was free agent signee Greg
Daniels, and he ended up playing tight end at Tech, rather than quarterback.
However, four of Tech’s nine 2-star recruits were drafted or signed by an NFL
team. Also, 1-star recruit John Granby went on to the NFL. So if you think that
Tech’s streak of turning unheralded recruits such as Andre Davis and Ben
Taylor into NFLers began during the Beamer Bowl Era, take a look again. The
Hokies have been doing it for a long time.

There weren’t many busts in the class of 1987. After all, 15 of the 17
players eventually lettered at Tech. However, more of the disappointing results
came from the group of 3-star recruits rather than the 2-star and 1-star
players. First of all, 3-star defensive end Matt Jefferson never lettered for
the Hokies. He was a Top 25 player by the Roanoke Times and the #28 player in
the Mid-Atlantic region. He chose the Hokies over Virginia, South Carolina,
Maryland and Wake Forest.

Jefferson was once described by Bud Foster as “the best high school player
I saw.” It’s not clear what Foster meant. He could have meant the best
player he saw when recruiting prospects for the class of 1987, and that probably
is what he meant. Whatever he meant, it’s clear that the Tech coaching staff,
as well as many other people, were very high on Jefferson when he signed. But he
never lettered.

Two other 3-star players only lettered one year each for Tech, Offensive
lineman Jay Foran and linebacker Shon Grantz. Like Jefferson, Grontz was
considered one of the top players in the region. He was a Roanoke Times Top 25
player and ranked the #47 player in the Mid-Atlantic.

Besides Matt Jefferson, the only other signee that never lettered was Ron
Davidson. Davidson was the son of Ron Davidson, who started at cornerback
opposite Frank Beamer in the 1960s. But Davidson not lettering was no big deal.
He was a 1-star recruit, and he wasn’t expected to contribute by most
analysts.

Here’s one more interesting note about the class. The Hokies signed four
offensive linemen. Two were 2-star players, and the others were 3-stars. The
3-star players combined to earn four letters, while the 2-star players were both
4-year lettermen and went on to be selected in the 1992 NFL draft.

Another player in that class had a chance to be an excellent player, but
injuries set him back. Jon Jeffries took the first kickoff he ever received in
his college career back for a touchdown in the season opener of 1987. Before the
year was out, he was Tech’s starting tailback. He rushed for 599 yards on 125
yards that season. In 1988 he suffered nagging injuries throughout the season.
In 1989 he got off to a great start, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and rushing
for 152 yards in less than two games. But he blew out his knee in the second
game against South Carolina and had to have reconstructive knee surgery.

Unfortunately, Jeffries was never the same player. He took a medical redshirt
year, but still rushed for just 13 yards on seven carries in 1990. He played in
all 11 games as a special teams player, but by this time he had fallen behind
Tony Kennedy and Vaughn Hebron. Jeffries returned for his senior season in 1991
but had just 11 carries for 34 yards.

One thing that played a factor in this class being so small was the coaching
change. Frank Beamer was officially named the head coach at Virginia Tech at
dinner on December 22, 1986. The next day, he had to deal with press conferences
and the media. By the time that circus was over, it was Christmas. After
Christmas, he had to hire a staff. It was January by the time Beamer could get
his staff into place, meaning they only had a month to recruit. Considering
their time constraints, they did an excellent job.

Unfortunately, the small class would come back to bite the Hokies. In October
of 1987, Tech went on probation for violations committed under former coach Bill
Dooley. As a result, their scholarships were extremely limited for the next
couple of years. Tech could offer no more than 17 scholarships in 1988 and 1989.
In those days teams could give 30 scholarships a year, making the penalty
extremely harsh.

So Tech’s 1987 recruiting class was basically the same size as their
probation-era recruiting classes. Those lost scholarships severely limited the
growth of the program for years.

You can find a listing for the entire class of 1987 here,
including bios of each player.

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