The Virginia Tech Friday Q&A: Hiring Pry, Strength & Conditioning, Portal Players, And More

Virginia Tech
Tahj Gary’s injury set him back. (Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech Athletics)

1) Review the recruiting profile of our recently portalled-out football players. Did you hit your evaluation? Are there any trends that pop out to make you change the way you evaluate HS recruits? Maybe even adding a “portal probability percent” to each profile? – Spud

Chris Coleman: Good question. The players in question are Nadir Thompson, Jalen Hampton, Bryce Goodner, Jordan Brunson, Jared Gibble and Tahj Gary. I wrote scouting reports for Thompson, Hampton, Brunson and Gary, while Brandon Patterson and I both talked about Goodner and Gibble.

Thompson scouting report
Hampton scouting report
Goodner scouting report
Gibble scouting report
Brunson scouting report
Gary scouting report

I liked Nadir Thompson’s athleticism, but I questioned whether or not he would stay at cornerback due to the Hokies targeting bigger corners these days. If you recall, Thompson was also injured as a high school senior and missed the vast majority of that season. Nobody ever came out and said what his injury was, which was a clue that it was a pretty bad one, so there was always the question of whether or not he would ever fully recover from that injury.

Perhaps he never fully got over that injury? It’s possible, and he isn’t the first, nor will he be the last.

I liked Jalen Hampton because he was solidly built, he seemed like he had good vision, and in three years as a high school starter he rushed for 3,959 yards and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. However, he came from an I-formation/ACE formation offense in high school, and I noted that sometimes it can be difficult for guys like that to run out of the shotgun once they get to college. However, I did consider him a sleeper prospect and thought that he could develop if he stayed in the program.

Remember, Hampton was not on the team this past fall, and his first year of development (2020) was wrecked by COVID. He never really got a chance to play football for Virginia Tech until this past spring. I was a little surprised that he left, rather than Kenji Christian, because Hampton was getting the reps over Christian during the spring from what I saw. He had a nice 21-yard gain in the Spring Game, while Christian didn’t get any carries.

In the end, I think it was probably a game of chicken between those two backs, and it was Hampton who blinked first. I still believe that the potential was there for Hampton to help Tech, but he didn’t get a chance to develop properly in 2020, and then he wasn’t practicing with the team in 2021. That’s tough to overcome.

Brandon Patterson noted that Bryce Goodner looked like the type who would struggle with pass blocking. His team only averaged about 30 passing yards per game, so he was never asked to pass block in high school. Brandon also questioned his lateral quickness. I don’t think I had an opinion on Goodner one way or the other. I noted