It was a good National Signing Day for Virginia Tech. It could have ended better, as the Hokies did miss on a few of their remaining targets. However, once Virginia Tech added Dax Hollifield to the Class of 2018, Wednesday became an immediate success.
Virginia Tech added three recruits to their Class of 2018 on Wednesday, with Hollifield, a consensus four-star linebacker, headlining the Hokies’ additions. Tech had to fend off several programs for Hollifield’s signature, including Clemson, Stanford and North Carolina. But in the end, the Hokies got their guy.
“Dax was highly coveted by a lot of people, and part of that is because of the talent that he has on the football field, and part of it is because the type of person and the type of worker and student that he is,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “We felt good the whole time about Dax, but you never really take that sigh of relief until it’s all done. We had a conversation this morning on the telephone that solidified things, and kind of made for certain that this is what was going to happen, and we’re all excited.”
Sponsored by the Hokie Club’s Drive for 25: The “Drive for 25” initiative seeks to increase membership in the Hokie Club to 25,000 members in order to provide student-athletes with scholarships for a Virginia Tech education, as well as the resources necessary to compete athletically at the highest levels. Click here to join us today!
As important as Dax Hollifield is to Fuente, he’s even more important to defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Virginia Tech’s long-time defensive genius had been recruiting Hollifield for over two years, and all of the effort and energy paid off on Wednesday.
“Bud played a huge role in Dax’s recruitment for many years now, and did a fantastic job developing that relationship,” Fuente said. “I also think it’s Dax seeing the vision and the future of Virginia Tech football, and what we’re doing and where we’re going.”
Wednesday was the culmination of years of recruiting Hollifield. Virginia Tech offered Hollifield in Feb. 2016, after Fuente was hired, but his recruitment began before then. Fuente was named head coach at Virginia Tech in Nov. 2015, and immediately made Dax Hollifield a priority.
Hollifield also made the Hokies a priority. The Charlotte, N.C.-area recruit took roughly 20 visits to Virginia Tech, and always held the Hokies in his top group. Hollifield considered schools like South Carolina and Florida State in various stages of his recruitment, and heavily considered Clemson down the stretch. But in the end, Hollifield came back to his original favorite.
“The thing about it is, Dax spent a lot of time and had a lot of time invested in Virginia Tech,” Fuente said. “Of those 20 trips that he made up here, only one was an official visit. So Dax and his family, they devoted a lot of time, money and energy to come and see Virginia Tech as well. That always makes you feel good, when guys continue to come up and continue to want to get a feel for it, or want to spend a day just watching practice, or just walking across campus. Needless to say, Dax was very thorough in his evaluation.”
Virginia Tech also signed Cam Goode and Jaevon Becton on Wednesday, adding two defensive linemen to the Hokies’ class. Virginia Tech earned Goode’s commitment in June 2017, and the Hokies are looking forward to bringing the jovial defensive tackle into the fold.
“He’s a big personality for now. No, he’s a joy to be around,” Fuente said. “We’ve had him in camp, he works incredibly hard. He’s one of those guys that’s popular in his school, he’s got a great personality. You’ve seen him dancing at, I guess it was a basketball game or whatever. He’s just a fun guy to be around.”
Virginia Tech had to work a little harder to sign Becton. The defensive end from Virginia Beach, Va. committed to Georgia in May 2017, but reopened his recruitment prior to the early signing period in Dec. 2017.
“Quite honestly, we wanted to evaluate him further,” Fuente said of Becton. “We liked the kid. Joe Jones is the coach over there and does a great job. He’s a Hokie, and we were up front and honest that we just needed to continue to see him. He had a really good year, we felt like. Made some large strides, so we tried to enter the race again, so to speak. Then all sorts of things happened with his recruitment, around the first signing day. People coming out of nowhere, and him trying to manage all of that stuff. Our recommendation was, ‘Let’s just take a step back from this and relax, and once you come see us in January, we’ll kind of take stock in where you’re at before we rush into a decision here in December,’ and that’s what he did. I’m awfully happy. I’m happy that’s what he did.”
In all, Virginia Tech’s Class of 2018 includes 25 scholarship players, plus Christian Darrisaw, who signed as a member of the Class of 2017. ESPN ranks Virginia Tech’s class as the 20th-best in the country, while 247Sports and Rivals rank Virginia Tech No. 21 and No. 22 respectively. Virginia Tech added a multitude of four-star recruits in this class, with the number ranging from seven to 10, depending on what recruiting service you use.
The Hokies have made recruiting a bigger emphasis since Fuente’s arrival after the 2015 season, and the hard work seems to be paying off.
“I think part of it is a function of stability,” Fuente said. “There was a time when there was just uncertainty at Virginia Tech. Coach (Beamer) had been here a long time and it was just uncertain. I think there is a little more stability, and I think we have a chance to capitalize on that. We are now in our second year of developing those relationships. We’re around kids at a younger age now, and I think that’s helping, as we continue to devote money to our facilities. That continues to help us. We have a great gameday atmosphere, we have a fantastic tradition, but we still have to build on those things.
“To go into Chicago, and pull out a young man like Quincy (Patterson), and to go into North Carolina, and pull out a young man like Dax (Hollifield), I think that speaks volumes about the perception of this place, of what it can be, and what it’s going to be in the future.”