Monday Thoughts: The Path is Clear

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The Virginia Tech Hokies take the field for the 2016 ACC Championship Game (photo: Don Montague)

There are pivotal moments in the evolution of a program, watershed moments where things come together and the present and the future both become more clear. There are games where people say later, “That was the game where …”

I think Saturday night was one of those games for the Hokies and their fan base.

This ACC Championship Game against Clemson was the first time all year the Hokies have played against a team that was head and shoulders above them in terms of pure talent. I thought before the season that Tennessee was such a team, and if you look at the recruiting rankings, technically the Vols are much more talented than the Hokies.

But unlike Tennessee, Clemson is a program that is firing on all cylinders. Something is wrong with Tennessee, and the Vols are less than the sum of their parts. Clemson, on the other hand, is exactly the sum of their parts. They’re loaded with four-star recruits and a smattering of five-star recruits, and they’re playing like it. Dabo Swinney is in his eighth full season as head coach of the Tigers and has been recruiting at a high level for six classes in a row now. They just won their second straight ACC championship and their third in the last six seasons. They’re peaking on and off the field.

Saturday night, Virginia Tech took the measure of themselves against a Clemson program in its prime, and the Hokies found themselves lacking, but not