Tech must look out of state for OL

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For the second time in as many years, the Tech coaching staff will have to find their offensive linemen outside the state of Virginia.  We already knew Matthew Burrell wasn’t considering Tech, and tonight we found out that the Hokies finished in the runner up position to South Carolina for Rockbridge County offensive tackle Austin Clark.

The state of Virginia hasn’t been a particularly strong state for offensive linemen in recent years, as we’ve documented in the past.  Tech has only offered three in-state linemen this year – Burrell and Clark, plus Roanoke’s Chance Hall.  In 2014, they offered Coleman Thomas of Fort Chiswell, but finished third behind Tennessee and West Virginia.  Jeff Grimes didn’t like Alec Elerbye (FSU) or Steven Moss (UVA) enough to heavily pursue them.  In fact, it’s hard to say exactly how hard Grimes pursued Coleman Thomas.

As a result, Grimes went out-of-state for offensive linemen, particularly in the northeast…

Billy Ray Mitchell: New Jersey
Tyrell Smith: New Jersy
Eric Gallo: Pennsylvania
Colt Pettit: Ohio

Tech also had a commitment from Brady Taylor of Ohio, but he decommited late in the process once he got an offer from his long-time favorite Ohio State.

This year is a bit different.  The Hokies gave legit offers to Burrell and Clark and recruited both very, very hard.  However, Burrell doesn’t have Tech in his top 15, and though Clark nearly picked VT, there are no points for second place in recruiting.

What does the loss of Clark mean for Virginia Tech?  Well, I don’t know.  Ask again in 3-4  years.  He might be a great player at South Carolina, or he might be a 4-star bust.  Tech fans should know that better than any other fanbase.  We’ve had a ton of 4-star offensive linemen sign with the Hokies but never contribute.  Meanwhile, guys like Jake Grove (one offer) and Will Montgomery (walkon) went on to be great players and have long NFL careers.

I’ve heard that Stacey Searels liked Clark, but he wasn’t in love with him.  The loss of Clark won’t hurt Searels’ feelings any, provided he can land a couple of offensive tackles in this class who he likes better.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t look good for local perception when the 4-star recruit from an hour up 81 picks South Carolina over the