Losing out on high-level in-state recruits has hurt Virginia Tech on the recruiting trail over the last few years. The names are infamous — Levonta Taylor in 2016, Josh Sweat and Clelin Ferrell in 2015, Da’Shawn Hand in 2014 and Jonathan Allen in 2013.
If Virginia Tech wants to nail down their in-state recruiting once again, they might want to look at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School and head coach Chris Scott.
Bishop Sullivan is a private Catholic institution in Virginia Beach, VA. and with Scott at the helm, is on its way to becoming a powerhouse at the high school level. The Crusaders boast tons of FBS-level talent, including Hokies’ commit Tahj Capehart.
When Scott left Ocean Lakes High School and took over at Bishop Sullivan, he entered an entirely new landscape. Private high school football is a lot different than public school. Fortunately for Scott, several of his players from Ocean Lakes followed him over, including Capehart, Teradja Mitchell and Tayvion Land.
“The fact that we had a number of guys with familiarity is great,” Scott said. “It helps knowing an offense, knowing a defense. Anytime you have somebody returning, that helps. Having people that knew a little bit of our system was beneficial.”
Scott took Bishop Sullivan to a 7-3 record in his first season, including a near victory over the well-known IMG Academy at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. Bishop Sullivan shut out the second-ranked IMG Academy through three quarters but failed to seal the win.
“Given that this was the first year and a lot of things were all new to the history of Hampton Roads, playing a team like we did at the Sportsplex and competing against them the way we did is unprecedented,” Scott said. “I have to be proud of the guys there. I wish at times I could have been better in some management to not let some of those games get away from us.”
Scott is no stranger to competitive football. Scott sent several players to FBS programs while at Ocean Lakes High School, going 86-10 over his career with five district titles and a state title in 2014. The move to Bishop Sullivan allowed him to pursue a different, albeit similar challenge.
“I think the biggest thing was the opportunities that my family would have, being a part of a private school education,” Scott said. “My wife is Catholic, so when you look at those things, the spectrum of national football and our state football, a lot of times it’s the private schools that tend to dominate that around the country.
“There were a lot of things we accomplished at Ocean Lakes and things maybe that had not been done before, but we accomplished possibly all that we could have there,” Scott said. “To see new challenges and new parts of the private sector has been a good portion of my overall growth.”
Scott has assembled quite a roster at Bishop Sullivan, and the Virginia Tech recruiting staff has taken notice. The Hokies have offered scholarships to over 10 of Scott’s players and could be offering more as the Class of 2017 moves to a close. Scott glowed about those players, especially the ones Tech is after. (Note: all rankings are from 247Sports.com’s composite rankings.)
Tahj Capehart — Scott said that despite dealing with a hamstring injury all season, Capehart still produced on and off the field at a high level.
“Tahj went into the offseason and the summer with very high expectations for himself,” Scott said. “When you’re a player of that caliber, whether you put them on yourself or other people put them on you, they come. The thing he did show where he grew was, maybe he didn’t grow in production, but he grew up as an athlete. Understanding what you have to do to take care of your body, when it’s injured.”
Scott mentioned that Virginia Tech Running Backs Coach Zohn Burden had built a close relationship with Capehart and help mentor him throughout this season.
“He never ceased to be a leader,” Scott said. “He was at every practice. If he couldn’t participate, he would do the stretches that he could, the warm-up, then when it came to a certain lift he couldn’t do, and this happened all season because it lingered. It’s not just until recently he’s been cleared.”
Teradja Mitchell — Mitchell is one of the top-rated players in the country for 2018 and has Virginia Tech in his top group as of now.
“He’s unbelievable,” Scott said. “He’s one of the best in the country. I tell you, it all comes from his sense and his focus. Everybody was getting excited about Christmas break… and he’s talking about, ‘Do not forget the reason for the season.’ His focus, he’s focused on giving glory to God and being Christian-oriented and community-based, which is how his Mom and Dad are. That focus has been tremendous in the classroom as an Honor Roll student, his focus on a ball carrier, he tackles him and has bad intentions there. He’s done a great job all the way around.”
Tyler Desue — Desue hasn’t picked up a Virginia Tech offer yet, but that could change soon. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback is rated as the eighth-best player in Virginia for the Class of 2018 and is a 4-star recruit. With Virginia Tech’s quarterback depth a question moving forward, Desue could be the answer.
“Tyler I thought had a really good year when you look at his efficiency,” Scott said. “He only had one interception that was a miscue by him. The others were a tipped ball or something. That’s not anything you put in the paper but in regards to the meeting room and where is the ball placed and what are you doing with it… but how accurate he was and how he led us in the IMG game.”
Zach Bevins — Bevins is another ’18 recruit who could pick up a Virginia Tech offer. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound offensive lineman is a 3-star recruit and rated as the 18th-best player in the Virginia.
“He’s athletic,” Scott said. “In middle school he played linebacker, he’s a lacrosse-type of guy but he;s played tackle. He’s more than likely a center in college because of his athleticism and what we needed. You saw the 5-star guy that’s committed to Florida State (Joshua Kaindoh) at defensive end from IMG, he had an unbelievable game in the all-star game and he didn’t have any sacks against us. I know how great and talented (Kaindoh) is, but Zach is that kind of guy and I would expect to see a lot more for him in the future.”
Tayvion Land — Land (class of 2019) is currently committed to Virginia Tech and Scott doesn’t see that changing, saying Land has been a Virginia Tech fan since he was a kid. Scott also said that Land grew as an all-around football player in his sophomore season.
“Every time he touched the ball, it was a highlight,” Scott said. “It’s the prettiest two or three yards. I grew up watching Barry Sanders, and even when he got two or three yards, it was electrifying. People watch him and go, ‘What about his size?’ (5-8, 160) Well, look at the guys he played against, at 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-4, going to these Division I schools that are these 4 and 5 stars, and he continues to battle with them.”
Sheridan Jones — Jones picked up five scholarship offers before he even played a down of football at the high school level. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound cornerback has offers from Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, West Virginia, as well as Virginia Tech. He’ll likely be one of the top players in the Class of 2020.
Jones’ brother was recruited by Virginia Tech’s Burden when Burden coached at Richmond. Jones’ brother ended up attending New York University and leaving the game, but Scott says the Jones family has a great relationship with Burden.
“Zohn goes back far with their family. There’s ties there,” Scott said.
Gaberiel Fuster — Fuster is another rising sophomore to watch. He already has a Virginia Tech offer and started alongside Mitchell at linebacker this season.
“He went from the young guy that’s coming in there with his eyes wide open, just see ball, hit ball,” Fuster said. “Now, it wasn’t just see ball, hit ball, it was understanding where guards were taking you and you can get to the ball a lot faster by just reading your keys. He played defensive line to just being a speed rush-type and walked him up as a linebacker off the edge on a blitz.”
Jake Low — Low is another name to keep an eye on. The 5-foot-10, 194-pound rising junior plays running back and linebacker for the Crusaders and was the team’s second leading rusher behind Khalan Laborn. He doesn’t have any offers yet, but Scott is very high on Low’s ability.
“I think Jake Low, all-around, is one of our best football players,” Scott said. “He’s very much like a Sam Rogers-type of guy. Very high academics, has been an All-American since sixth grade, seventh, eighth grade… He actually ended up leading us in tackles at the linebacker spot, he was also our second-leading rusher.”
With all of these FBS-level players, Bishop Sullivan is destined to make noise at the high school level for a long time. A lot of that can be traced back to Scott, who sees Virginia Tech on the rise as well.
“I think Virginia Tech has done exactly what they needed to do,” Scott said. “The excitement, what they do on offense, as opposed to the competition of schools, you look at Florida State possibly, with Khalan Laborn being committed there, does that mean Florida State is their rival? I think it goes to which schools are going after that guy and focused in. You never know what the history is between some of the players.
“Tank (Tayvion Land‘s nickname) has grown up always wanting to go to Virginia Tech,” Scott said. “Some would say, ‘Well that’s committing kind of early.’ At some point he said, I can continue to go through all of this but this is where I want to go. He’s picked up an offer from a Tennessee and LSU and guys have thrown stuff out there, but you look at that, you look at Tahj Capehart and the voice that he’s been. Trevon Hill and Bucky Hodges, a lot of those guys actually played with each other in the Pop Warner leagues before. I think that relationship, along with the success they’ve had, it brings higher stakes and higher interest. It’s exciting.”