Virginia Tech Recruiting Update: Preliminary Rankings & The Defensive Tackle Situation

Braylon Johnson, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech commit Braylon Johnson has the long arms you look for in a defensive back. (Braylon Johnson‘s Instagram)

The first thing I’ll do is reveal my star rankings for current Virginia Tech recruits. Remember, I use half-star ratings for my own personal system. They don’t show in our database for programming reasons, but I’ll sticky them at the top of the board or create a separate page for them for easy reference and for historical perspective.

My reasoning for a half-star system is simple. Normally, the No. 35 recruit in the country is a 4-star player, and the No. 350 recruit in the country is also a 4-star player. In reality, that No. 35 player is just a couple of spots away from being a 5-star guy, and the No. 350 player is very close to being rated as a 3-star guy. Because of the basic star system, people see both guys as essentially the same recruit, but that’s not accurate.

The half-star system was created to give you a more accurate view of how I view a recruit. Things I’ve considered in the rankings include…

Listed Offers: I take this with a grain of salt, however, because not all offers are committable.

Official Visits: These indicate legitimate interest from both parties.

Other sites: I do value the views of the scouting/recruiting services, so I take their rankings into account.

Fit for scheme*: If I think they are a particularly good fit for VT’s scheme, they get a higher ranking.

Personal view: My own view of their talent level, which isn’t worth more or less than anyone else’s.

Remember that information is limited to highlight film, which can range anywhere from two minutes to 15 minutes in length. That also doesn’t include any bad plays. If I had access to complete film, my views on each player could change a lot. For example, one of the reasons I ranked Gunner Givens lower than everyone is else because when watching film from the state playoffs highlighting his opponent, some of his weaknesses were exposed. That’s probably not fair to Gunner, because I had no such film to evaluate the weaknesses of Tech’s other signees, but it’s all I have to go on.

Miscellaneous feedback: This can vary. If I hear something about one particular recruit from a good source (such as someone who knows his high school coach), that can influence my view on each prospect. If this changes my view to the positive side, I will tell you. And as long as he’s a VT player/recruit, I probably won’t get into specifics if it’s negative news.

High school: Recruits from high schools who I know regularly produce good players at the college level could potentially get a bump. For example, Highland Springs in the Richmond area and Trinity Christian in Jacksonville are two such schools. They won’t get a bump all the time, but it could happen in some cases.

Gut feel: Sometimes, even after all that, I have trouble deciding how to rank a prospect, so I just have to go with a gut feeling at the end of the day.

*Right now, I know more about VT’s defensive scheme, which could possible skew my rankings in the favor of defensive recruits.

In case you’re curious, here are my rankings from the 2021 recruiting class.

I want to stress that these preliminary rankings are just that – preliminary. Some of them will change between now and Signing Day as more information becomes available and senior film gets released so we can judge progress. I disagree with all of the recruiting services issuing rankings before the month of July, which is before evaluations have taken place. All it does is create confusion among fans as those rankings predictably change as more information becomes available.

July is the earliest that