Checking in with Bethel Star James Gayle

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James Gayle turned a lot of heads – most importantly, the Tech coaches – at Virginia Tech’s July camp, showing off quickness, athleticism and speed. The Bethel (Hampton, VA) product, a defensive end recruit for Virginia Tech, has demonstrated his athletic abilities and versatility on the gridiron as well… especially this season.

“I’ve been starting at defensive end, but then coach moves me to outside linebacker or inside linebacker,” Gayle said. “I’ve been playing those three positions and blitzing a lot from each of the linebacker spots. I’m starting to like inside linebacker a lot. I like it because I basically get to be part of the play no matter where it goes. You can only do so much at defensive end.”

With the success he has enjoyed at linebacker, is there a chance the 6-4, 215-pound prospect ends up playing linebacker at Virginia Tech?

“They are still recruiting me as a defensive end, but I’m pretty sure they could try me out at linebacker because of my size and speed,” said Gayle, who has also gained strength since last season. He can bench press a max of 335 pounds, up 90 pounds from his junior year.

Totaling five sacks on the season, Gayle, who believes he has improved his pass-rushing and run-stopping abilities, has helped Bethel to a 4-1 start to the 2008 season. The only loss came to Phoebus, which defeated the Bruins 52-0. In hindsight, the loss may be a blessing in disguise.

“I think we thought we couldn’t be beat, so that got us focused and working harder,” Gayle said. “That first practice after the Phoebus game was pretty intense. We worked real hard.”

Helping Bethel to a state championship is Gayle’s primary goal right now. He has thought about his future at Virginia Tech, though, and he remains very solid in his commitment.

“I’m real excited about Virginia Tech,” Gayle said. “I just had a good feeling about it when I went there. Plus, it is in the state. I’m ready to go and watch a game there. I’ve never been there for a game. And I’m looking forward to my official visit there.”

Gayle keeps in close contact with primary recruiter Jim Cavanaugh, who tells the talented Tidewater product to stay sharp on and off the field.