Virginia Tech has announced the signing of 14 new football players to National Letters of Intent. They also announced the signing of Kansas graduate transfer running back Khalil Herbert, though he is not included in the recruiting numbers.
2020 Virginia Tech Football Signees
|DE||Alec Bryant||6-3||240||Pearland, TX|
|DE||Robert Wooten||6-3||230||Stafford, TX|
|DE||Justin Beadles||6-5||232||Tyrone, GA|
|DL||Derrell Bailey, Jr.||6-5||255||Greenback, TN|
|CB||Dorian Strong||6-0||160||Upper Marlboro, MD|
|S||Lakeem Rudolph||6-4||202||VA Beach, VA|
|S||Keonta Jenkins||6-3||180||Jacksonville, FL|
|OL||Parker Clements||6-7||270||Elgin, SC|
|OL||Kaden Moore||6-3||305||Bethlehem, PA|
|RB||Marco Lee||5-11||225||Coffeyville, KS|
|RB||Jalen Hampton||5-9||195||Rockville, MD|
|RB||Jordan Brunson||5-11||210||Alpharetta, GA|
|TE||Wilfried Pene||6-3||235||Oakdale, CT|
|WR||Tyree Saunders||6-0||174||Jacksonville, FL|
Tech’s top signing is 4-star defensive end Alec Bryant (6-3, 240), a former LSU commit from Pearland, TX just outside of Houston. He joins fellow Texan Robert Wooten (6-3, 230) and Georgian Justin Beadle (6-5, 235) to make up a strong 3-man defensive end class. Derrell Bailey Jr., at 6-5, 255, could also play defensive end, though if he grows as much as projected then a position change could be in order. Like Alec Bryant, Wooten and Beadle were once committed to other schools. Wooten was a Missouri pledge, while Beadle was committed to Arizona State.
Justin Fuente told the media on Wednesday that the plan was to get more length on the defensive line.
“I do think relative speed and relative length are important,” Fuente said. “We have made a concerted effort to get longer. We have really historically been long in the defensive secondary, but maybe not as long up front. So we made a concerted effort to get a little bit longer up front going forward.
“That doesn’t mean that if you’re just tall that you can play, obviously. But trying to take up some more space on the field…they’re all developmental players. They’re all players that will have to get into the system and lift…but I think you can restrict some space, and long-term lead to the opportunity for some more productive play.”
The class also features three new running backs, including JUCO prospect Marco Lee (5-11, 225), Jordan Brunson (5-11, 210) and Jalen Hampton (5-9, 195). That doesn’t include Herbert, the graduate transfer from Kansas who will be eligible right away.
Fuente noted that Tech wanted immediate help at running back in this class, while also adding size to the position.
“I feel like Khalil [Herbert] is going to fit right in. He’s got some experience, he’s got some games under his belt, he’s a great worker, just a highly intelligent young man from a great family who I think is going to blend right in with our crew seamlessly.”
One of the most noticeable things about this recruiting class is the fact that Virginia Tech signed just one in-state player, safety prospect Lakeem Rudolph of Green Run High School in Virginia Beach. Fuente addressed that.
“Quite honestly, there’s some that we didn’t get, and there’s some that we didn’t like,” Fuente said of the in-state 2020 class. “That’s the truth. And I was pretty slow with some things, because of the small numbers. I was pretty hyper-sensitive to trying to make sure we did things the right way with our numbers situation. I’d say it was all those factors. I don’t think it’s going to be anything indicative of the years to come.”
Virginia Tech could potentially sign more players in February, but with what Fuente said above about managing the numbers situation in the right way, they could elect to stand pat with a 14-man class. If so, that would be Tech’s smallest recruiting class since 1988, when they also signed just 14 players. However, the program was on probation at the time and had limited scholarships to offer. The Hokies have just five seniors on their 2019 roster, and one of those – offensive lineman Tyrell Smith – currently plans to return for his sixth year of eligibility.
Fuente knows there will be attrition, and he responded to a question about whether there would be attrition at the running back position with a laugh.
“Would you anticipate some attrition if you were a head coach in Division I football these days? We’ll see how it goes. We’ll put the ball down and compete. But in this day and age, there’s no telling.”
Of course, the elephant in the room is Virginia Tech’s recruiting ranking. The 2020 class currently ranks No. 59 in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and No. 57 nationally by the 247Sports proprietary rankings. That ranks No. 13 in the ACC in the composite rankings and No. 12 in the 247 rankings. Reasons for that low ranking include things that were out of Virginia Tech’s control, such as the small size of the class and Bud Foster’s retirement affecting recruiting on the defensive side of the ball. However, there were also other issues, including issues that Justin Fuente is attempting to fix with this offseason’s staff overhaul. We’ll get into those details and talk about this class as a whole in upcoming TSL Pass articles.