Defensive End, Class of 2023
Clarkson Football North, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
In his first season playing organized American football, Ishmael Findlayter played safety. Afterward, between his sophomore and junior seasons, he underwent a huge, physical transformation.
Findlayter was already about 6-foot-4, but in that time, he gained 50 pounds. His coaches promptly moved him to the defensive line. Because of the subsequent lack of film at that position and being in Canada (at Clarkson North in Mississauga, Ontario), Findlayter went largely unnoticed in recruiting circles.
That changed when Findlayter camped at Virginia Tech on July 30. The Hokies promptly offered a scholarship afterward, and on Sunday he gave them a commitment. Now, Findlayter is hoping Virginia Tech can be a fit for him in a few ways. Based on what he’s seen and heard, he believes the Hokies can maximize his largely untapped talent.
“The facilities are great, the staff is even better,” Findlayter said. “Once I walked in there, I felt that family vibe. I love everything with the school and football. I also believe I can become what I want to become as a football player at Virginia Tech.”
Findlayter accumulated six total scholarship offers, but said he chose the Hokies over Arizona State and Ohio. He recounted the feeling he had during his visit for the camp, where he expanded on his relationship with graduate assistant Korey Rush and also met extensively with assistant coach JC Price and head coach Brent Pry.
“I talked to Price (yesterday) morning, and he’s a very good coach. He did it himself, so he knows what you have to do to get an offer. They’re players’ coaches and they have that love for the game that you can’t fake.”
In the time since that visit, including the days since his commitment, Findlayter said the coaches have also talked about the role he could have on Virginia Tech’s defensive front.
“They said they really believe I can be an All-American player with the talent I have,” he said. “I just started playing football not long ago, and they said they can mold me into the player I can be.”
Findlayter said he’s unsure when he’ll be back in Blacksburg, including for his official visit. When he does return, he said he hopes to connect with more of the current players, as well as the incoming class. Findlayter said he did bond, albeit briefly, with three-star pledge Dante Lovett.
“I talked to a couple of players, but it wasn’t much sit down conversation,” Findlayter said. “But I saw the way the players act to the coaches and act around them. You can tell they have that relationship on and off the field. I talked to Dante and he’s a cool guy. We talked for like five minutes, not too long.”
The plan is for Findlayter to graduate from high school in December, to enroll in classes and participate in spring practice. During the course of his senior season, he said he hopes to get more comfortable with his newfound position.
“I don’t want to be (just) a third-down player,” Findlayter said. “I still have a [long way] to go as a football player. I just need to fine tune some things, which I am every day… I’m 100% more comfortable.”
Findlayter said doctors have told him they believe he’s reached his growth potential. As his weight soared, he said he drank countless protein shakes to help his body adjust and calm his hunger.
Finally, Findlayter believes he’s comfortable...
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