The Virginia Tech Friday Q&A: Optimism For September

Virginia Tech, Brent Pry
Brent Pry is recruiting hard for Virginia Tech, but it will take time. (Ivan Morozov)

1) Why don’t we ever seem to get the new hire recruiting bump? And how do you think Pry feels recruiting is going? Harder than he thought? – jjhokie2

Chris Coleman: I have a few thoughts on this. First off, Tech did get a slight recruiting bump under Justin Fuente. Here were the last few recruiting rankings of the Frank Beamer era…

2013: No. 21
2014: No. 28
2015: No. 30
2016: No. 42

The 2016 class was affected by Frank’s impending retirement, though it was also positively impacted with Fuente’s signing of Jerod Evans, the top JUCO quarterback in the country. The general point, however, is that Tech’s recruiting rankings were trending down when Fuente first arrived. Each year, they dropped a little bit. Tech was understaffed, Beamer was close to retirement, Tech was behind with facilities and the Hokies weren’t winning as many games.

My guess is that had Beamer stayed, the rankings would have continued to fall a little bit, year-by-year. That’s what the four-year trend above tells me.

Here are the recruiting rankings from Justin Fuente’s first three years as head coach…

2017: No. 26
2018: No. 24
2019: No. 27

Only one of Beamer’s last four recruiting classes outranked Fuente’s first three classes, and that was way back in 2013 when his future wasn’t in quite as much doubt. Virginia Tech got a slight bump on paper with the Fuente hire in terms of recruiting rankings, but in my opinion, the actual bump was larger because I think Tech’s recruiting rankings would have continued to decline had Beamer stayed longer. Maybe Tech’s 2017 class would have been No. 41 under Beamer, but it was No. 26 under Fuente. That’s quite a substantial bump.

There’s also the matter of perception, and I’ll use another Beamer as an example. I’d put money on most people believing that Shane Beamer gave South Carolina a “new hire recruiting bump.” However, a quick glance shows that wasn’t really the case with his first full recruiting class in 2022…

2017: No. 20
2018: No. 18
2019: No. 22
2020: No. 19
2021: No. 56
2022: No. 24

It’s an upgrade from the 2021 class, but that’s the year Will Muschamp got fired, so the rankings are a bit out of whack from that standpoint. Still, every one of Muschamp’s previous four classes outranked the class Shane signed in his first class in 2022. Shane has a lot of energy and a good personality, so I would have bet that he would have gotten one of those new coach bumps, but that wasn’t the case.

Recruiting doesn’t always make sense. Last year, Fuente had a top-25 class committed on the day he and VT parted ways, including three of the top 10 prospects in Virginia. He managed to pull that off despite being on the hot seat. Don’t expect things to always make sense when it comes to recruiting.

I also think how college football has evolved in recent years is impacting things. Most people (recruits included) probably view teams in four different tiers these days, subconsciously.

Tier 1: Those who can win a National Title. Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma, and maybe one or two others. This is a very small group.

Tier 2: Big names with a ton of money, and who could potentially move up to Tier 1, but they aren’t quite at that level. Some of these teams have been Tier 1 in the past. Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M (though