By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
September 20, 2004 In 18 years as the head coach at Virginia Tech, his alma mater, coach Frank Beamer has built teams famous for many things, including consistency, toughness, strong offensive lines, solid defense and outstanding special teams. On the recruiting trail, the Hokies have become famous for something else under Beamer: building a successful program without straying far from home very often. (For some recent adaptations of that philosophy, please see pages 4-5.) Tech's starting lineup this fall includes 16 players (out of 22) who attended high school and/or prep school in Virginia. Two others are from the nearby Maryland/D.C. area, which the Hokies also consider part of their home turf.
"We certainly believe in the inside-out (recruiting) philosophy," Beamer said. "We feel we know Virginia very well, and we've considered Maryland/D.C. part of that for a long time. We're comfortable with the high school coaches here, and we do everything we can to make sure they're comfortable with us. Those relationships are very important. We've been here for 18 years now, and that familiarity really helps both sides in recruiting."
Beamer places such a high priority on in-state prospects that all nine of his full-time assistants have a part of the Commonwealth included in their assigned territories. Of Tech's first 10 commitments from the Class of 2005, six came from Virginia, two from Maryland, one from D.C. and one from Georgia.
Below is a review of Virginia Tech's commitments whose information capsules were not included in previous editions of the Sports Journal:
Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha Catholic FB Kenny Jefferson, rated one of the top 25 seniors in the Maryland/D.C. region, committed to Virginia Tech in May over Penn State and Syracuse. Boston College, NCSU, Stanford and Virginia also showed interest. DeMatha has sent many of its graduates to Tech in recent years, including senior linebacker Mikal Baaqee and senior defensive tackle Jason Lallis on this year's team. Jefferson rushed for more than 400 yards and seven touchdowns last fall as a junior, while serving as DeMatha's top blocking back. Also an accomplished wrestler, he ranked sixth nationally in the 215-pound weight class last year. He benches 350 pounds, squats 600 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.6 GPA, a 1,230 SAT score and hopes to study architecture at Tech. His main recruiter with the Hokies is running backs coach Billy Hite.
"Tech is the perfect fit for me," Jefferson said. "I wanted to stay pretty close to home, I wanted a school that's strong in my major, and I wanted a winning program like we have here at DeMatha. Tech's coaches have been there a long time, so it's a very stable situation, and a lot of people from my school have had a good experience there. They also have a pretty good record for sending fullbacks to the NFL."
Hampton (VA) Phoebus RB Elan Lewis, rated one of the top 25 tailbacks in the nation, chose Virginia Tech in mid-September over Maryland and Virginia. He also had offers from UNC, NCSU, Ohio State, Syracuse, Tennessee, Wake Forest, West Virginia and others. Phoebus has sent several of its graduates to Tech in recent years, including redshirt freshman linebacker Xavier Adibi and freshman cornerback D.J. Parker on this year's team. A two-time first-team all-state selection, Lewis rushed for 2,474 yards and notched 40 touchdowns as a junior for a 10-2 team, breaking Ronald Curry's Group 3A scoring record with 242 total points. As a sophomore, Lewis ran for 1,866 yards and 18 TDs. He benches 360 pounds, squats 700 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.5 GPA and an 800 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hokies is outside linebackers coach Jim Cavanaugh.
"Elan is the best player, regardless of position, that I have ever coached," Phoebus coach Bill Dee said. "He has amazing strength in his legs, and he's a very rare combination of speed and power. He can beat you inside or outside, around you or through you. He will be an outstanding player at the next level."
Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha Catholic OL Robert Norris, rated one of the top 25 seniors in the Maryland/D.C. region, picked Virginia Tech in May over Maryland and Syracuse. Virginia also showed interest. As a junior, Norris served as a backup at right tackle for Edwin Williams, who signed with Maryland in the Class of 2004. While Tech didn't have much game tape of Norris to review, some of its coaches saw him in one-on-one drills at a May camp and offered him a scholarship soon thereafter. His main recruiter with the Hokies is running backs coach Billy Hite.
"He's big, he's strong and he's aggressive," DeMatha coach Bill McGregor said. "He's a great young man, and he has incredible potential. He just needs more experience."
Stafford (VA) North Stafford OL Antonio North, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, opted for Virginia Tech over NCSU. He also had offers from Virginia and West Virginia, plus interest from Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee. A two-way starter as a junior, North earned first-team all-district and second-team all-conference honors on offense. This summer he earned recognition as one of the top 10 performers at the Nike camp held in Charlottesville. He benches 380 pounds, squats 430 and runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds. His main recruiter with the Hokies is defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
"I went up (to Blacksburg) a few times last year, and I had a good feeling every time I was there," North said. "One thing I noticed is that the players and coaches have very strong relationships with each other, and that's something I wanted to be a part of. I saw a lot of the same things (at NCSU), and that's what made it such a difficult decision, but I was just more comfortable at Tech."
Calhoun (GA) Gordon Central DB Dorian Porch, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Georgia, chose Virginia Tech over Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. Georgia, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest also showed interest. A first-team all-area selection, Porch played quarterback, receiver, safety, cornerback, punter and return man as a junior, throwing for more than 1,000 yards, rushing for more than 500 and being a part (throwing or scoring) of 10 touchdowns. A projected cornerback or receiver for the Hokies, he benches 260 pounds, squats 430 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 3.2 GPA and an 1,100 SAT score.
"He's a smart kid, a leader and a very productive football player," Gordon Central coach Bill Long said. "He has good speed and makes good decisions, whether he's at quarterback or safety or anywhere else. I think he's only going to get better in college, because he'll be able to concentrate on one position instead of doing everything at once."
Virginia Beach (VA) Kellam LB Demetrius Taylor, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, selected Virginia Tech in May over Duke and UNC. His older sister is a student at Tech. As a junior, Taylor had 110 tackles, six sacks and an interception for a 6-4 team. He benches 360 pounds, squats 500 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.2 GPA, a 920 SAT score and wants to study architecture at Tech. His main recruiter with the Hokies is offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring.
"Tech was the first school to offer, and that means a lot when everyone else is telling you they still want to evaluate you," Taylor said. "I like the campus, the coaching staff and the blue-collar work ethic of the whole team. I believe in hard work, and I wanted to be in an environment where that is emphasized. Tech really has the whole package."
Others Select ACC Programs
Midlothian (VA) Manchester RB/DB Kavell Conner, rated one of the top 30 seniors in Virginia, committed to Clemson over Marshall and Pittsburgh. Boston College, Maryland, Oklahoma and West Virginia also showed interest. A four-year, two-way starter and three-time team captain, he rushed for 1,187 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior, with 43 tackles and two sacks on defense. He had 1,223 yards and 16 TDs as a sophomore, and in his first outing this fall he became Manchester's all-time rushing leader. A Clemson summer camper who projects as a safety for the Tigers, he benches 270 pounds, squats 450 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.4 GPA and a 950 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is defensive coordinator John Lovett.
Charlotte (NC) Latin FB/LB Mark Paschal, rated one of the top 25 seniors in North Carolina, selected childhood favorite UNC over UCLA. He also had offers from Air Force, Army, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Marshall, Mississippi State, Northwestern, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest, plus interest from Georgia, Virginia and Virginia Tech. His father, Doug, played for UNC from 1976-79 (he still ranks No. 14 on the school's all-time rushing list) and in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings. A four-year starter and 2003 all-state selection, Mark rushed for 1,397 yards and scored 26 touchdowns as a junior for a private-schools state championship team. He had 120 tackles on defense. A UNC summer camper, he benches 330 pounds, squats 470 and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 3.1 GPA and an 1,120 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels is receivers coach Gunter Brewer.
Maple Heights (OH) High TE Richard Quinn, rated one of the top 30 seniors in Ohio, picked UNC over Iowa and Pittsburgh. He also had offers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue. Quinn, whose father recently retired from the Marines, has lived on or near military bases in several states. His family moved to Ohio from North Carolina in 2003 but plans to settle in North Carolina. He plays receiver (12 catches for 254 yards in 2003) and defensive end in high school but is expected to begin his college career at tight end. A UNC summer camper, he benches 320 pounds, squats 480 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 2.7 GPA and an 18 ACT score.
Norfolk (VA) Granby QB Bobby Rome, rated one of the top 30 seniors in Virginia, chose UNC over Penn State. Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, NCSU, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech also showed interest, with some willing to offer for other (non-QB) positions. Rome calls former Granby star Dexter Reid (who finished his career at Carolina in 2003) a good friend, and he said former UNC quarterback Ronald Curry is his favorite athlete. A four-year starter and two-time all-district selection, Rome threw for almost 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 459 yards and nine scores in seven games last fall for a 7-3 team, missing three contests with an ankle sprain. A UNC summer camper who has been promised an opportunity to play QB in Chapel Hill, he benches 320 pounds, squats 470 and runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. He has a 2.6 GPA. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels is tight ends coach Kenny Browning.
Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood LB Marvin Sapp, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Florida, opted for Georgia Tech over UNC. He also had offers from Central Florida, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Louisville, Memphis, Mississippi, NCSU, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tulane and Vanderbilt. Sapp has two cousins in the NFL, one (Patrick Sapp) who played at Clemson and another (Warren Sapp) who played at Miami. A third-team Class 3A all-state selection, Marvin had 120 tackles and three interceptions as a junior, then transferred within Jacksonville from The Bolles School to Sandalwood, reportedly because of friction with the Bolles coaching staff. He benches 370 pounds, squats 470 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.1 GPA and a 980 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Yellow Jackets is receivers coach Buddy Geis, the father of Sandalwood head coach Adam Geis.
Cincinnati (OH) Moeller OL Matt Tennant, rated one of the top 40 seniors in Ohio, chose Boston College over Penn State and Purdue. He also had offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville and Minnesota. Six Cincinnati high school products, redshirt freshman guard Tom Anevski (Elder), junior linebacker Ricky Brown (Elder), redshirt freshman tackle Ty Hall (Anderson), redshirt freshman end Nick Larkin (St. Xavier), junior center Pat Ross (St. Xavier) and redshirt freshman DeJuan Tribble (North College Hill), are on the BC roster this fall. A projected guard for the Eagles, Tennant benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds. He has a 2.7 GPA and a qualifying SAT score. His main recruiter with the Eagles is offensive line coach Don Horton.
College Park (GA) Banneker WR Carlos Thomas, rated one of the top 25 receivers in the nation, selected Georgia Tech over Clemson, Florida, Georgia and LSU. He also had offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and others. His brother Levon is a senior wide receiver for the Yellow Jackets this fall, and his family lives 10 minutes from the Tech campus. As a junior at Banneker, which is located in the Atlanta suburbs, Carlos had 20 receptions for 411 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He also had 34 tackles and two interceptions on defense. In his first three games this fall, he had 17 catches for 278 yards and four TDs. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. He has a 2.5 GPA and an 870 SAT score.
Lawrenceville (VA) Brunswick LB E.J. Wilson, rated one of the top 30 seniors in Virginia, picked UNC over Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Navy and Towson. As a basketball player, he played AAU ball with Carolina freshman Kentwan Balmer and UNC signee Darrius Massenburg. A quarterback, linebacker and safety in high school, Wilson projects as a linebacker for the Tar Heels. A UNC summer camper, he benches 270 pounds, squats 520 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 4.2 GPA and an 1,120 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels is tight ends coach Kenny Browning.