About an hour before Virginia Tech’s regular season finale against the University of Virginia, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD) punter/place-kicker Michael Branthover broke the news to Tech head coach Frank Beamer.
“I wanted to get a chance to talk to Coach Beamer, and I had a chance to talk to him before the game,” Branthover recalled. “He said he was glad I came and he really wanted me to come there. I told him that I had some good news for him then. I told him I wanted to commit. He said that was great news right there.”
Branthover, the first of two high school seniors to commit to the Hokies on the day of the Virginia game, accepted Tech’s offer over home-state Maryland. Virginia Tech’s dedication to special teams was one of the deciding factors.
“[Primary recruiter] Billy Hite went to DeMatha and is part of the DeMatha family,” said Branthover. “He guided me through Virginia Tech. Coach Beamer is all about special teams. Maryland also does pretty good at special teams, but I don’t think they make it the priority Coach Beamer does. Maryland wasn’t sure what they wanted to do for me. They weren’t precise with regular enrollment or grey-shirt or whatever. Virginia Tech had it set in stone. They gave me a letter, so everything is official. Of course, it will really be official in February when I sign. There is a trust there. Virginia Tech has a beautiful campus. The Blacksburg feel was great. Everyone was going crazy at the game. It was a great turnout.”
Virginia Tech has been recruiting the DeMatha senior since last spring. Originally, the staff offered Branthover a recruited walk-on spot, meaning he would come in and compete for a starting job but there would be no scholarship guarantees. Maryland came through with an offer in early November and, shortly thereafter, the Hokies came through as well. Branthover will pay his own way next fall before going on scholarship in January of 2012.
Having kicked 14 field goals over the course of the past two seasons, the 5-11, 180-pound standout is perhaps known more for his place-kicking than his punting. But he will compete next season for Virginia Tech’s starting punter position.
“I haven’t had to do a whole lot of punting at my school. Most of the time, I was placing the ball inside the other team’s 15,” Branthover said. “I did have a couple of long punts. Overall, punting is something...
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