BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech football program announced Thursday the signing of seven new scholarship members to its program who will join the Hokies in January. The seven players, listed alphabetically are: Adonis Alexander, a safety from Independence High in North Carolina; Xavier Burke, a tight end from Brunswick High and Fork Union in Virginia; Austin Clark, an offensive lineman from Rockbridge County High in Virginia; Carson Lydon, a linebacker from East Lake High in Florida; Yosuah Nijman, a defensive lineman from Maplewood High in New Jersey who is currently at Fork Union; Mook Reynolds, a cornerback from Northern Guilford High in North Carolina; and Tyrell Smith, an offensive lineman from Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey who is currently at Cushing (Mass.) Academy.
“Let me be the first to welcome the newest members of our football family to Virginia Tech and the Hokie Nation,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “We’re excited about them as players, and as people. They all come from great families and I hope their impacts on our university, community and program, are significant. Also, let me thank our recruiting and coaching staff for their hard work on the recruiting trail. These players represent our current trend of bringing in young, talented players that we hope can contribute as quickly as possible.”
All seven of these student-athletes will enroll at Virginia Tech in January and will begin working with the program immediately.
Safety • 6-3 • 193
Charlotte, N.C. • Independence HS
About Adonis: Rated as the No. 28 player in the state of North Carolina by Rivals … Listed as the No. 65 safety in the country and the No. 29 player in the state of North Carolina by 247Sports … Ranked as the No. 100 safety in the country and the No. 47 player in the state by ESPN Recruiting Nation … Named to the Charlotte Observer’s All-Mecklenburg second-team football as a junior … Was an all-conference safety as a junior.
Coach Shane Beamer on Adonis: “Adonis is a big guy with size who comes from a great program at Independence High School in Charlotte. We initially were drawn to Adonis because of his athletic ability and his size. He is a rangy safety and it will be exciting to see how he develops and where his body takes him once he gets in the weight room with Coach Gentry and has a chance to get bigger and stronger. He is a dynamic football player that we feel like has the ability, and flexibility, to play a lot of different spots. ”
TSL’s take: Alexander certainly has the size you are looking for in a safety. Depending on needs and how his body grows, he could end up at free safety, rover or whip.
Tight End • 6-4 • 250
Lawrenceville, Va. • Brunswick HS • Fork Union
About Xavier: A 2014 Virginia Tech signee … Played for Fork Union this past season as a post-graduate … Rated the No. 5 Prep School Recruit by the 247Sports Composite Rankings … Listed as the No. 1 prep tight end and the No. 2 prep player in Virginia by 247Sports … Ranked as the No. 33 player in the state of Virginia by The Roanoke Times as a senior … Listed as the No. 20 tight end in the country and the No. 18 prospect in Virginia by Rivals … Ranked as the No. 21 tight end in the country and the No. 20 player in his state by 247Sports … Listed as the No. 59 tight end in the country by Scout … Ranked as the No. 10 tight end-Y in the country, the No. 49 player in his region and the No. 15 player in the state by ESPN Recruiting Nation … A Semper Fidelis All-America Game selection … Caught a touchdown pass in that game … A first-team 2A all-state selection by VirginiaPreps at defensive end … The defensive player of the year, as named by VirginiaPreps … A first-team All-Conference 37 selection at defensive end … A first-team Tri-Rivers District selection … Helped lead his team to the state title game … Finished the season with 95 tackles, including 18 for loss and 10 sacks, along with 20 quarterback hurries and four pass breakups.
Coach Bryan Stinespring on Xavier: “Xavier is a terrific young man first and foremost. He comes from a terrific family. I think he has a lot of length to him, a lot of growth potential. I like his hands. He was a basketball player during his high school career and has really good hand-eye coordination. I has tremendous upside and potential. He is only going to get bigger and better as he goes along and the fact that he is coming in at mid-year is a tremendous benefit to him. I want to get him out there this spring and get him involved as quickly as we possibly can. He has a really good combination of size and movement ability, there is a skill set there that excites us moving forward. We’ve got to get him stronger, and that is going to be a major emphasis for us right from the start. ”
TSL’s take: After a year at Fork Union, Burke should be physically able to contribute very early in his career. With Tech’s depth at tight end, that likely won’t happen. He could also get a look at defensive end, if the coaches feel depth at that position warrants such a move.
Offensive Line • 6-6 • 297
Lexington, Va. • Rockbridge County HS
About Austin: Rated as the No. 84 player in the country, the No. 3 player in the state of Virginia and the No. 7 offensive tackle in the country by Rivals … Listed as the No. 165 player nationally, the No. 17 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 8 player in the state of Virginia by 247Sports … Ranked as the No. 40 offensive tackle in the country, the No. 39 player in his region and the No. 13 player in the state by ESPN Recruiting Nation … Was first-team all-state as a junior by VirginiaPreps … As a junior, was the Blue Ridge District and Conference 31 offensive lineman of the year.
Coach Stacy Searels on Austin: “Austin Clark was a very highly recruited athlete from here in the state. I’m proud that he stayed in state. He made a statement; he could have gone anywhere in the country but he knew where he fit and sees the need we have on the offensive line.”
TSL’s take: Tech needs offensive tackles, and Clark is a major prospect who will enroll early. He will get a chance to earn playing time this spring at one of the tackle positions.
Linebacker • 6-1 • 231
Tarpon Springs, Fla. • East Lake HS
About Carson: Listed as the No. 78 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 148 player in the state of Florida by 247Sports … Ranked as the No. 39 outside linebacker in the country, the No. 319 player in his region and the No. 106 player in the state by ESPN Recruiting Nation … Played at Raleigh’s Cardinal Gibbons High as a sophomore before moving to Florida for his last two seasons … Was a Tampa Bay Times first-team All-Pinellas County selection as a junior after recording 149 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions to help the Eagles reach the state semifinals for the first time …Was named third-team all-state that season.
Coach Torrian Gray on Carson: “Carson is a go-getter, an all-in type kid. He is going to be high-energy. He’s going to be a great leader who brings a lot of intangibles to us. We are excited about what Carson can contribute to our team. ”
Coach Bud Foster on Carson: “I’m really excited about Carson. He is a big, athletic linebacker who is very physical, runs extremely well and is very athletic in space. He is a guy that we will look at as a backer and /or would be an athletic mike.”
TSL’s take: Lydon has the mentality that Bud Foster looks for at linebacker. He could play either mike or backer, and he should be ready to contribute early on special teams. He’s a candidate for playing time as a true freshman.
Defensive Line • 6-7 • 268
Maplewood, N.J. • Columbia HS • Fork Union
About Yosuah: Played for Fork Union this past season as a post-graduate … Rated the No. 2 Top Prep School Recruit by the 247Sports Composite Rankings, along with the No. 1 defensive tackle and the top prep player in Virginia … A top-flight shot put competitor at Columbia High … Played football for Columbia, starring on both sides of the ball … Earned all-area honors from Worrall Media at Columbia Ran a 4.88 40-yard dash at the Nike Combine in high school … Played in the Phil Simms North-South All-Star Game … Named first-team all-state for Group 4 in the shot put … A state champion for the Group 4 level in the shot put.
Coach Charley Wiles on Yosuah: “Yosuah has a big-time body but is still very raw. He could play a couple of positions but we will probably start him out at defensive end to see how athletic he is.”
Coach Bud Foster on Yosuah: “Nijman is a big, athletic, raw defensive lineman. He could potentially be an end, but worst-case scenario, he would be an athletic defensive tackle. He is a talented big man who can run, who can bend his body and has a tremendous upside. ”
TSL’s take: Nijman looks good getting off the bus. At 6-7, 268, will he stay small enough and quick enough to stay at end for his career? Will he be able to play low enough for defensive tackle? He has the body to play offensive line. Wherever he ends up, he’ll be playing a major position of need.
Cornerback • 6-0 • 175
Greensboro, N.C. • Northern Guilford HS
About Mook: Invited to the 2015 The Opening … A member of the 247Sports Top 247 … Rated as the No. 30 cornerback in the country and the No. 11 player in the state of North Carolina by Rivals … Listed as the No. 224 player nationally, the No. 24 cornerback in the country and the No. 8 player in the state of North Carolina by 247Sports … Ranked as the No. 45 “athlete” in the country, the No. 209 player in his region and the No. 19 player in the state by ESPN Recruiting Nation … Named to the Carolina Gridiron Preseason All-Gridiron Team prior to his senior season … Led Northern Guilford to the North Carolina Group 3AA state championship as a senior.
Coach Charley Wiles on Mook: “Mook is a dynamic athlete who can play a number of positions – corner, nickel, safety, could play wide out. He had a big time senior year catching touchdown passes, but he is also a dynamic blitzer and a guy who I think can cover, so I think he makes us more versatile in the backend.”
Coach Torrian Gray on Mook: “Mook is a dynamic defensive back who can run. He can play cornerback, he can play safety, he can play nickel. We love his versatility. ”
TSL’s take: Mook Reynolds is a flexible defensive back who can play corner, safety or the nickel spot. If Chuck Clark moves to free safety next season, I expect Reynolds to challenge for playing time at the nickel spot, or at field corner. He’s another candidate for playing time as a true freshman.
Offensive Line • 6-4 • 285
North Brunswick, N.J. • Don Bosco Prep • Cushing (Mass.) Academy
About Tyrell: A 2014 Virginia Tech signee … Attended Cushing Academy in Massachusetts this past season as a post-graduate … Listed as the No. 27 prospect in New Jersey by Rivals as a senior … Ranked as the No. 125 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 44 player in his state by 247Sports … Listed as the No. 56 offensive guard in the country by Scout … Ranked as the No. 84 offensive tackle in the country, the No. 140 player in his region and the No. 29 player in the state by ESPN Recruiting Nation … A 2013 All-New Jersey second-team selection … A first-team all-state selection by the Star-Ledger following his senior season … A second-team all-state choice by MSG Varsity as a senior.
Coach Stacy Searels on Tyrell: “I’m very excited about Tyrell Smith signing with us this year. He is a young man who comes from a good family and we are excited about him being a part of our program. It is a position of need. We are working to build depth on the offensive line. I think Tyrell will be an outstanding center-guard prospect, and I’m looking forward to getting to work with him this spring.”
TSL’s take: Tyrell Smith spent a year at Fork Union, and was able to get bigger and stronger. Searels likes him at center and guard, and he could potentially play offensive tackle as well. Since offensive line is a major position of need, he’ll get his chance this spring.