Virginia Tech’s Brent Pry: February 2022 Signees, Recruiting Virginia and More

Brent Pry & Co. added signed three players on Wednesday. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

February 2 marked National Signing Day 2.0, and Brent Pry and Virginia Tech signed three prospects.

Xavier Chaplin, Daequan Wright and Devin Alves all signed before 8 a.m. ET, capping Tech’s 2022 recruiting class at 24* prospects. With the four mid-year additions from the transfer portal – Grant Wells, Jason Brown, Jadan Blue, Stephen Gosnell – the Hokies added a total of 28 players. 

Editor’s note: For those curious about the difference between Tech Sideline’s number (24) and Tech’s official number (23) of signees, defensive lineman Malachi Madison has a military component to his scholarship that allows him to count as a walk-on. TSL will continue to list the Hokies with 24 signees for the 2022 class.

Pry addressed the media at 10 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss the latest signees, recruiting the Commonwealth and the 2023 class, among many topics.

Three New Faces

Offensive lineman Xavier Chaplin, tight end Daequan Wright and defensive back Devin Alves are the latest signees to Virginia Tech’s class. Chaplin and Wright were committed before December’s early signing day period but did not ink their letters of intent, while Alves committed to the Hokies on Monday, Feb. 1.

(Malcolm Stewart)

Xavier Chaplin

Standing at 6-6, 355, Chaplin is a very large man. A Seabrook, S.C. native, Pry admitted that there were mixed feelings about him from the jump. However, that all changed when offensive line coach Joe Rudolph paid him a visit and interacted face-to-face at first opportunity.

“Just a really good kid, tremendous size, elite size,” Pry said of Chaplin. “You always look for elite qualities, and Xavier certainly has elite size. He lost 30 pounds since he was in camp here. His body is in a much better place. I thought when I’d walk in and meet him that there’d be a lot of sloppiness to him, and there’s not.

“Xavier is, to me, all 6-6, 6-7, fills the doorway, doesn’t have a lot of bad weight on him right now. He’s got an athletic build. He’s a shot put guy, a discus guy, he plays basketball, played on the d-line. This guy has really good movement for a guy his size. I think a college strength & conditioning program, we’ve got a chance to have something special right there.”

Chaplin is one of five offensive line commits in this class. Johnny Dickson and Johnny Garrett were committed to the Hokies ahead of December’s signing day and joined the program, while Brody Meadows flipped from UVa and Hunter Mclain committed after he was offered a scholarship.

Pry admitted that there isn’t a “quick fix” up front on either side of the ball, but praised the talent that the coaching staff was able to round up in those areas in such a short amount of time.

Daequan Wright

One of three tight end commits in the class, Wright joins Benji Gosnell and Harrison Saint-Germain. A Perry, Ga. native, Wright is at 6-4, 230.

In the past, offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen has mentioned how crucial the tight end position is to his offensive scheme. Pry elaborated on that on Wednesday.

“We want to be tight end-oriented, and those guys are going to be a big piece of our offense,” Pry said, “and we’re going to do a lot with them. They can line up at the home spot, they can be wings, they’re going to be spread out.”

Wright’s athleticism could play a huge role in that. As Chris Coleman’s alluded to, he should remind Tech fans of Bucky Hodges. Hodges played quarterback in high school but was a fantastic fit at “tight end” (he had more of a wide receiver role) at 6-5, 230.

One glimpse of Wright’s high school film and you’ll notice he has the speed and ability to be slotted at receiver if needed. In fact, he often found himself at that position in high school games.

“Daequan brings a ton of athleticism to that position,” Pry said. “He’s a 230-pound guy that has a lot of traits that liken to a wide receiver. Daequan’s just another piece to that. He adds to those tight ends we signed in December with Benji and Harrison Saint-Germain. I think it has to be one of the better tight end groups in the country.”

Devin Alves Virginia Tech
(Malcolm Stewart)

Devin Alves

A very late commitment, Alves didn’t have any star ratings on 247Sports until he visited Virginia Tech last weekend. A 6-3, 180-pound athlete from Melbourne, Fla., he excelled at both cornerback and wide receiver in high school. The Hokies have him listed as a defensive back, though Pry mentioned his comfortability at multiple positions.

“To be honest, we tried very hard to keep him on the down low and keep it quiet,” Pry said. “I think he’s going to be a 6-2, 6-3 kid that’s 200, 205. He can play right now boundary corner. He’s got a chance to be a safety, has great range, he’s a good tackler. And then coach Bowen and coach Mines believe he’s a really good receiver prospect. I want guys that project on either side of the ball.”

Pry noted how difficult it is to project what 18- and 19-year-olds will look like in two or three years down the road, especially once influenced by nutrition facilities and weight rooms at the collegiate level. He said that’s an area the staff expects Wright to improve dramatically in, and compared him to talent he worked with at Penn State.

“We had a number of long guys at Penn State that came in and maybe didn’t run like we wanted initially,” Pry said, “but as their development in the weight room and speed and conditioning, in a couple of years you have exactly what you want: a long guy that’s a good athlete and can run. I’m excited about him. I thought we needed one more guy in that back end and he was the answer.”

Recruiting The Commonwealth

When Pry took over, one of the very first things he made clear was Virginia was going to be a priority.

In January, the new Hokies’ staff finally had an opportunity to get on the road recruiting, and they sure made a ton of headway. Just going off visits the assistants publicized, the staff visited 69 total schools in the Commonwealth. That list ranges from Abingdon and John Handley to King George, Oscar Smith and Varina.

As Pry pointed out in his opening statement on Wednesday, 13 of the 24 members of the 2022 class hail from Virginia. Here’s how the numbers compare to the four previous classes:

2022: 13
2021: 5
2020: 1
2019: 7
2018: 7

“It was a commitment to really work the state,” Pry said. “Didn’t matter if they had a prospect or not. That was a part of it, but we were certainly in a lot of schools that didn’t have a prospect right now. But as I mentioned previously, we’re in there to build relationships with these coaches and faculty and the counselors. When they do have a player, we hope they’ll give Virginia Tech strong consideration.”

46 of the 70 high schools Tech publicly visited have a connection with VT through a former player. Among those are perennial powers like Highland Springs and Phoebus, or smaller schools that haven’t produced a Hokie in quite some time, like Bassett or Spotsylvania.

Among the 24 high schools that have never sent a player to Virginia Tech are the likes of Briar Woods (Ashburn), Flint Hill (Oakton), Narrows and Virginia (Bristol).

Building Bridges

The past few weeks were about creating connections that will help find talent early in the process, and Pry said the Hokies received pretty good feedback.

“I think the idea is to identify prospects early, get them on campus early, and start that relationship early,” Pry said. “The coaches are important, the faculty is important, but you’re ultimately getting that young man on campus. I think we got good dividends, good return.”

Virginia Tech running backs coach and special teams coordinator Stu Holt at Thomas Walker High School on Jan. 26. (Stu Holt)

Rebuilding bridges or establishing new ones was huge, too. Pry said many times, high schools were just happy to see a Tech assistant walk through their hallways and show that the Hokies are making an effort. He even referenced an email he received on Wednesday morning from a principal in southwest Virginia, who was so excited that Pry’s group visited.

“The principal even admitted, ‘we’re going to have a player about once every ten years,’” Pry said. “Obviously, we’d like to see them at Virginia Tech when we do have one. … I think it’s all good will, it’s fellowship with those coaches and faculty. I went in a school this January and there were 12-to-15 faculty members waiting for me in the lobby, all Hokies. That’s the fun part of the job, and they’re connected.

“Those are the things we’re going to do. … We’re going to provide clinics, we’re going to provide camps. This isn’t just a one-way street. We’re going to be there for these coaches and work together on making the best brand for Virginia high school football and Virginia Tech football.”

The 2023 Class

One of the other topics Pry discussed was the next batch of recruits, the 2023 class.

Looking at the top 10 2023 recruits in Virginia on 247Sports, the Hokies have offered seven of those prospects. However, three have already committed to Penn State. That’s a small sample size, but Pry and his staff are trying to be in consideration for those talents.

“I’d say we’re still behind,” Pry said. “Those relationships with the 2023s, they start when they’re in ninth grade. To dive in on some of these guys across the state in our footprint that did not have Virginia Tech offers and their feelings were kind of hurt so you have to change that, you have to reach out and try to get back in the fight.

“A lot of these kids already had top-fives, top-sevens, and Virginia Tech wasn’t in the conversation. Right now, it’s identifying the best players in the footprint and trying to get in the fight.”

Especially in-state, visiting schools, creating new connections and mending old ones will go a long way.

25 Responses You are logged in as Test

    1. If Pry came to Lexington – they’d close down Main Street for a parade – and I’d be there. .

    2. Ain’t but two…used to be four….Rockbridge, Natural Bridge, Lexington, Parry McCluer. Rockbridge, Lexington, and Natural Bridge were rolled up into Rockbridge consolidated.

  1. Was Scott Jones from Virginia High in Bristol a walk-on? He played at Tech in the early 90’s. He was a heck of an athlete.

    1. Pretty sure he was. He came in fall of ’89. We had limited scholarships because of probation.

  2. Kudos to Pry and Staff for the strategy and the high-end effort to execute well. What a breath of fresh air!!!

  3. The article incorrectly states Narrows has never sent a player to Virginia Tech. Cole Blaker has been on the roster since 2017.

  4. Good article and the staff is making the right moves. The prior staff never did anything like this, and there were no articles like this the prior 6 years. We heard about NC2VT and TX2VT. The difference between the two staffs is night and day.

    1. Thanks. Our database had it wrong, and that’s what I went off of. Appreciate the tip.

    1. Thanks. Our database had it wrong, and that’s what I went off of. Appreciate the tip.

  5. I am not sure of the comment of the 24 schools that have never had a prospect… Briar Woods is mentioned. Tracey McSorley went to Penn State and Alex Carter went to Stanford. Maybe i misunderstood the statement?

    1. Those are schools that have never sent a player to Virginia Tech. I clarified it now.

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