July of 2006 set the world of Virginia Tech football recruiting on its ear.
From July 5th, 2006 to August 1st, 2006 — a span of 28 days inclusive — the
Hokies received an astounding 19 verbal commitments. By the time the hysteria
was over, the way Virginia Tech recruited football players had changed, and it
continues to change to this day.
By July of 2006, the Virginia Tech football coaching staff was already in the
process of changing the way it was recruiting football players. Prior to the
1990s, recruiting didn’t start in earnest until the season was over. January was
the intense recruiting month, as coaches hit the road to see players and hosted
them for official on-campus visits. January was the big push towards signing day
on the first Wednesday in February.
Back then, the way a football coach ran his program was clearly defined by
the time of year:
- August: pre-season practice
- September-November: football season (includes December for teams that went
- January: recruit, recruit, recruit; sign players in early February
- February-mid March: take a break
- Mid March-late April: spring practice
- May: take a break
- June-July: summer vacation; hold youth football camps
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the exception of Maurice DeShazo
signing with Tech in 1990, the Hokies routinely got crushed in recruiting by the
Virginia Cavaliers. The top five players in the state of Virginia, as defined by
Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times, were the property of UVa and out of state
programs like Penn State and Notre Dame.
That started to change in 1993 and 1994, when Frank Beamer and staff had more
success, landing top-five in-state players Cornell Brown (#2 in 1993), Ken
Oxendine (#2 in 1994) and Tony Morrison (#4 in 1994).
That was the first time VT had consistently threatened UVa’s stranglehold on
highly-ranked in-state talent, and Virginia coach George Welsh didn’t take it
lying down. In the 1995 recruiting class, Welsh surprised Beamer by pushing
players to visit Virginia earlier … and commit.
While Frank Beamer was still relying on January visits to land recruits,
Welsh and his staff pushed recruits to commit earlier, and by Christmas of 1994,
the Cavaliers had 20 commitments for the 1995 class, almost unheard of in those
days. Many of the in-state players on Tech’s board were off the board to
Virginia by the time January 1st, 1995
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