Virginia Tech has taken full advantage of the early signing period, and announced on Wednesday that the program has received 22 National Letters of Intent from Class of 2018 recruits.
“Obviously, we’re excited about everybody that joined the Virginia Tech family today,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “I think it’s an accumulation of a tremendous amount of hard work from our coaching staff, and really people across campus.”
Though recruiting classes are still unfinished, Virginia Tech is sitting well in the national team recruiting rankings. As of Wednesday evening, Virginia Tech sits at No. 15 in 247Sports’s rankings, No. 14 in Rivals’ team rankings and No. 14 in ESPN’s team rankings. 247Sports rates four of Virginia Tech’s 22 current signees as 4-star recruits, while Rivals rates six of Tech’s 22 signees as 4-star recruits.
Headlining Virginia Tech’s current Class of 2018 is quarterback Quincy Patterson, a 6-foot-4, 229-pound star from Solorio Academy High School in Chicago. Patterson is a 4-star prospect who held offers from schools like Penn State, North Carolina, NC State and others. Patterson was named to Nike’s Elite 11 and was invited to The Opening this past summer.
Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen flew out to see Patterson throw in person early in his recruitment, and immediately fell in love with the prospect.
“I don’t remember if they were practicing or throwing or what was going on, but it certainly piqued Brad’s interest,” Fuente said. “Then, as we started to develop a relationship with him, we realized this is a kid mature beyond his years. Obviously a highly intelligent young man. It really got us excited, and we began to continue that relationship and really felt convinced that he was the guy we wanted.”
As far as Patterson’s skill set, both Fuente and Cornelsen believe Patterson could be a special player. However, he will need time to develop as a passer.
“It’s going to be a process,” Fuente said. “Quincy’s got a maturity about him that’s awfully impressive. He is a physically developed kid. He’s not one of those kids that you’re going to bring in that you’re going to say, ‘He really needs a lot of time in the weight room.’ He’s going to continue to develop, but he’s already matured a little bit physically. He’s got a big, strong arm. He’s been well-schooled in the fundamentals of throwing the football.”
Virginia Tech also signed quarterback DeJuan Ellis, a speedy prospect out of McDonogh School in Maryland. Ellis is listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, but Virginia Tech is excited about his skill set as a quarterback.
At running back, Virginia Tech signed Caleb Steward (5-foot-11, 203 pounds) and Cole Beck (6-feet, 185 pounds). Steward is a Florida native, while Beck hails from Blacksburg High School, just minutes away from Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech has signed two wide receivers for the Class of 2018 in Tre Turner and Darryle Simmons. Both are 4-star prospects, and both are 6-foot-2 or taller. Simmons provides a bigger frame at 200 pounds, while Turner reminds coaches of Isaiah Ford at 177 pounds.
James Mitchell is listed as a tight end, but could play receiver/tight end hybrid role at Virginia Tech. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Mitchell brings solid athleticism with his big frame.
On the offensive line, Virginia Tech signed three prospects. Luke Tenuta (6-foot-7, 275 pounds), John Harris (6-foot-4, 278 pounds) and Walker Culver (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) all signed with the Hokies on Wednesday and will add depth and talent to the trenches for the Hokies. The Hokies are especially excited about Tenuta, thanks to his massive frame and family background. Tenuta’s father, Jon, is a retired defensive coach at the collegiate level, and was on the Oklahoma staff during Justin Fuente’s redshirt season in 1996.
“Luke has got a tremendous frame,” Fuente said. “Obviously, he comes from a football family. His dad is a very well-respected defensive coach. I think he’s going to continue to improve and get bigger. He’s already a big young man. I’ve really enjoyed his family, but I think the thing was — he was an evaluation guy for us. We really wanted to see him play live. We saw him play live, and it was an immediate yes for us. We were full bore in.”
The Hokies signed two defensive linemen on Wednesday in defensive end Eli Adams and defensive tackle Joe Kane. Adams doesn’t boast elite size at 5-foot-11 and 236 pounds, but reminds the Virginia Tech staff of Hokie legend Corey Moore. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster acknowledged that the Moore comparison has been thrown around multiple times, but that he really sees it with Adams.
“Eli, to me, is the guy that’s the closest thing I’ve really seen to that, to that kind of guy, as far as his explosiveness, as far as his ability to make plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage, as far as a guy that is tough to block 1-on-1, a guy that played with tremendous effort and a guy that can bend his body, redirect, and just be very disruptive,” Foster said. “He’s a little bigger, as far as his weight and that type of thing, but he’s got some similar characteristics and I hope that will continue to develop that way.”
At linebacker, Virginia Tech signed two intriguing prospects in Keshon Artis and Alan Tisdale. Artis (5-foot-11, 227 pounds) led Oscar Smith High School to a state championship appearance in 2017, and has impressed the Hokies with his football IQ.
“I like his movement, I like his explosiveness,” Foster said of Artis. “Again, he’s played in a good program. He knows how to work and he knows how to compete. He played for a guy that I had a lot of respect for in Bill Dee, who unfortunately lost a battle with cancer. How Bill felt about him meant a lot to me. Bill felt like he was a Virginia Tech kind of guy in number one, his ability, number two, in his work ethic and his mindset and those types of things, and as I’ve gotten to know Keshon, I’ve always trusted Bill’s judgement and it was the truth.”
Tisdale is a long, rangy outside linebacker from Greensboro, N.C. Tisdale is listed at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds, and has reminded Tech coaches of current Virginia Tech starter Tremaine Edmunds.
Virginia Tech loaded up on defensive backs for their Class of 2018. The Hokies signed DJ Crossen (6-foot-1, 186 pounds), Jeremy Webb (6-foot-3, 190 pounds), Armani Chatman (6-feet, 173 pounds), Nasir Peoples (6-feet, 178 pounds), Jermaine Waller (6-foot-1, 178 pounds), Nadir Thompson (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) and Chamarri Conner (6-feet, 195 pounds). Given how spread out college offenses have become in recent years, Tech needed to take more defensive backs than normal to keep their numbers up.
“When you play five guys in the secondary, with essentially three safeties and two corners, you need to sign a large volume of guys. A lot of them get to play,” Fuente said. “I just think it’s going to take a little time for us to add to that depth, and it’s the same thing at wideout. When you don’t have depth, and you get a couple guys who go early, you just try to catch up a little bit.”
Of the group, Webb is the highest-rated defensive back in this class. Webb is JUCO transfer from ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., and will have two years of eligibility remaining at Virginia Tech. With Greg Stroman and Brandon Facyson both graduating and moving on from Blacksburg, Webb’s experience is needed.
“I’m really excited about Jeremy for a couple of reasons,” Foster said. “Number one, his ability. Number two, his maturity. We’re losing two corners to graduation, we’re young there, we’re bringing some young guys along this winter, and him being a guy that’s mature, knows how to work, knows how to compete. I know Coach (Brian) Mitchell went out to watch him practice and watch him play, and was really impressed with his work ethic and his demeanor in practice, and how he’s approached practice. That’s what we’re going to need.”
Eight of Virginia Tech’s 2018 signees are likely to enroll early, as are 2017 signee Christian Darrisaw and preferred walk-on Kaleb Smith. Eli Adams, DJ Crossen, Joe Kane, Oscar Shadley, Caleb Steward, Alan Tisdale, Tre Turner and Jermaine Waller all plan to enroll for the spring semester, giving them a leg up on the transition from high school to college football.
“It is a pretty big advantage,” Fuente said of enrolling early. “It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to play, or redshirt or not redshirt. To be able to get in there, I think early in your career, it’s an advantage. To go through an extra 15 practices in spring, to have an entire summer and spring of training and lifting weights. It certainly is an advantage for some of those people earlier in their career, but I don’t think it’s the definitive choice in their career that determines if they’re going to be a good player or not.”
Two of Virginia Tech’s verbal commitments have yet to sign a National Letter of Intent, at least one that has been announced publicly. Defensive tackle Cam Goode told TechSideline.com on Wednesday that he plans to announce his college decision in February, while athlete James Graham is still deciding between sticking with the Hokies or signing with Georgia Tech.
Fuente was very adamant about Virginia Tech’s verbal commitments signing at the beginning of the early signing period, and he stands by that statement. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to recruit Goode and Graham, along with their remaining targets for the Class of 2018.
“I think that would still stand,” Fuente said. “It doesn’t mean that we’re pulling their scholarship. It just means that they’re not committed. That’s pretty straightforward. We’ve got to find people to fill certain needs at spots with a limited number of opportunities. The guys that signed today are obviously committed to Virginia Tech. And the guys that aren’t, we’ll either continue to deal with or move in a different direction, based on our conversations.”
Here is the list of recruits who signed with Virginia Tech today (Christian Darrisaw and Kaleb Smith not included).
POS PLAYER STARS STATUS
QB, ATH DeJuan Ellis VT Signee
ATH Nadir Thompson VT Signee
OL John Harris VT Signee
S Chamarri Conner VT Signee
LS Oscar Shadley VT Signee
OL Walker Culver VT Signee
CB Jermaine Waller VT Signee
OL Luke Tenuta VT Signee
S Nasir Peoples VT Signee
WR Darryle Simmons VT Signee
ATH Armani Chatman VT Signee
DT Joe Kane VT Signee
LB Keshon Artis VT Signee
WR, TE James Mitchell VT Signee
DE Eli Adams VT Signee
RB Caleb Steward VT Signee
CB Jeremy Webb VT Signee
QB Quincy Patterson VT Signee
RB Coleton Beck VT Signee
CB DJ Crossen VT Signee
LB Alan Tisdale VT Signee
WR Tre Turner VT Signee