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2014 Virginia Tech Recruiting Class Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 6, 2014


Virginia Tech Hokies 2014 ... Head Coach: Frank Beamer


Virginia Tech Hokies

2013 Record: 8-5
8/31 Alabama (in Atl) L 35-10
9/7 Western Carolina W 45-3
9/14 at East Carolina W 15-12
9/21 Marshall W 29-21 3OT
9/26 at Georgia Tech W 17-10
10/5 North Carolina W 27-17
10/12 Pitt W 19-9
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 Duke L 13-10
11/2 at Boston Coll L 34-27
11/9 at Miami W 42-24
11/16 Maryland L 27-24 OT
11/23 OPEN DATE
11/30 at Virginia W 16-6
Hyundai Sun Bowl
12/31 UCLA L 42-12


- The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: The offense … again. The familiar refrain in Blacksburg is that the defense is championship-caliber, yet the offense is frustratingly inept. Even with a senior at the controls in 2013, the Hokies still scored less than 20 points in seven games. For starters, Tech can’t average 119 rushing yards a game, as it did a year ago. The production of Frank Beamer’s running game has slipped in each of the last four seasons, a trend that needs to be halted and reversed in 2014.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Quarterback. After a disappointing run with Logan Thomas, the Hokies are trying to find the right quarterback for the future with three good prospects coming in. Travon McMillian is the best of the crew, but he’s not all that big, while Chris Durkin and Andrew Ford add more size to the equation. Running back Shai McKenzie is a big runner, and there are just enough good receivers to boost up the passing game. Raymon Minor will be an All-ACC linebacker before he’s done, and defensive tackle Ricky Walker has the potential to be a good one with a little bit of time.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 34. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive back. The receiving corps needs help right away, so there's a chance for David Price, Deon Newsome or Carlis Parker to be factors right away. Linebacker Holland Fisher is the star of the class and defensive line prospect Wyatt Teller has tremendous upside, but the strength is in the secondary with Kendall Fuller an NFL caliber corner who could see time right away. CeQuan Jefferson and Charles Clark are nice pickups at corner, while Anthony Shegog and Brandon Facyson are good safety options.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 18. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive skill players. Frank Beamer is always going after the next great running back, and he’s bringing in several options along with plenty of receivers with size and talent. This will be a class to boost up the offense for 2014 and beyond, while the defense will get the most help at linebacker. It’ll take a few years in the weight room, but this year’s class is big on speed and athleticism for the back seven. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 33. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. It’s a surprisingly mediocre class considering Virginia swooped up several key local players and Florida State and Clemson dominated the ACC, but there’s good bulk for the defensive line with Corey Marshall showing the potential to be the next great Hokie defensive end and Kris Hailey, a whirling dervish of a defensive tackle prospect. The stars of the class are at corner with Kyshoen Jarrett and James Farrow two big, talented defenders. The star skill prospects aren’t there, but the hope is for Michael Holmes to go from good to special once he gets into the program.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 32. That Class Was Heavy On ... The lines. The stars are in the secondary with Nick Dew, Brian Laiti, and Theron Norman very big and very good safety prospects, and Kyle Fuller and Detrick Bonner are going to be good corners in a few years. The quarterback situation will be interesting with Ricardo Young and Mark Leal each athletic enough to fit the Virginia Tech mold, while WR E.J. Smiling is big and fast. However, the class is all about the lines with Laurence Gibson a ready-made offensive guard with good athleticism and big-time upside. Zack McCray should be the next great Hokie pass rusher, while Derrick Hopkins and De'Antre Rhodes are pluggers for the defensive interior.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 43. That Class Was Heavy On ... backs. Even after watching redshirt freshman Darren Evans emerge as the feature back, the Hokies concentrated on further building depth at the position. Being brought to Blacksburg are three playmakers, which was missing from the offense a year ago. Two of those backs, David Wilson and Tony Gregory, are four-star gems with enough wiggle to make people miss in the open field. Both provide a nice complement to the north-south style of Evans.   

Hyundai Sun Bowl
UCLA 42, Virginia Tech 12
Basically … Brett Hundley ran for a seven-yard scores early less than two minutes into the game, and Virginia Tech came back on a 74-yard drive culminating in a one-yard J.C. Coleman touchdown run. And then it was all Hundley, and it was all about the UCLA defense that held the Hokies to just three points the rest of the way on a 22-yard Michael Branthover field goal. Hundley took off for an 86-yard touchdown dash in the second quarter and hit Thomas Duarte for an eight-yard touchdown and Shaquelle Evans for a 59-yard touchdown in the fourth. The Bruin D did its part with two picks of Virginia Tech backup Mark Leal – Logan Thomas was knocked out of the game on a big hit - with Myles Jack taking a desperation throw 24 yards for a score.

- Penalties: Virginia Tech 13 for 104 yards – UCLA 8 for 74 yards.
- UCLA QB Brett Hundley completed 16-of-27 passes for 226 yards and two scores, and he ran ten times for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
- Before getting hurt, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas completed 3-of-11 passes for 46 yards and ran three times for a team-leading 50 yards.
- Virginia Tech P A.J. Hughes punted nine times averaging 41 yards per kick putting five inside the 20.
- UCLA P Sean Covington averaged 43.5 yards per punt on his six kicks, putting four inside the 20.

at Maryland 27, Virginia Tech 24 OT
Basically … In overtime, Virginia Tech got a 31-yard Eric Kristensen field goal, but Maryland answered with a C.J. Brown three-yard touchdown run for the win. The Terps took a 21-7 lead in the third quarter on a 16-yard Brown pass to Nigel King, after Brown ran for a one-yard score in the second quarter and William Likely returned a punt 63 yards for a score, but the Hokies roared back with 14 points in the second half with Logan Thomas throwing two short touchdown passes to tie it up, but the offense couldn’t generate anything on its two final first half drives.
- Maryland RB C.J. Brown completed 12-of-25 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and he ran 23 times for a team-leading 122 yards and two touchdowns.
- Virginia Tech ran 38 times for 54 yards. Maryland ran for 184 yards.
- Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas completed 19-of-31 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
- Hokie K Eric Kristensen, in place of the dismissed Cody Journell, missed a 34-yard field goal.

Virginia Tech 42, at Miami 24
Basically … Virginia Tech got four touchdown runs from Trey Edmunds including three in the first half to overcome an 81-yard Stacy Coley touchdown catch for a 21-7 lead. Logan Thomas threw two touchdown passes including a 32-yarder to Joshua Stanford, but Miami stayed alive in the third quarter on an 84-yard Allen Hurns touchdown catch. Up 35-24, Virginia Tech put the game away on Edmunds fourth score.
- Virginia Tech RB Trey Edmunds ran 14 times for 74 yards and four scores, and Logan Thomas completed 25-of-31 passes for 366 yards and two scores.
- Miami QB Steven Morris completed 16-of-29 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, and Allen Hurns caught four passes for 142 yards and a score.
- The Hokies didn’t turn the ball over and held on to the ball for 39:30, but they committed 11 penalties for 71 yards.
- Without Duke Johnson, Miami finished with 28 rushing yards and a score on 24 carries. Dallas Crawford led the way with 37 yards and a score on ten carries.

at Boston College 34, Virginia Tech 27, Nov. 2
Basically … Boston College outscored Virginia Tech, 17-10, in the fourth quarter to hand rookie head coach Steve Addazio his first signature win with the program. The Eagles overcame a deficit early in the final frame by scoring 17 unanswered points, highlighted by a 33-yard Kevin Pierre-Louis interception return for a touchdown. The Hokies made it a one score game on a Logan Thomas touchdown pass with 2:54 left, but couldn’t get any closer from that point.
- RB Andre Williams spearheaded the Boston College offense by rushing 33 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
- Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas completed 24-of-41 passes for 391 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
- Hokie WR Joshua Stanford had a career day, leading all receivers with six catches for 171 yards.
- Boston College was victorious, despite only passing for 93 yards and only converting 2-of-12 third-down attempts.

Duke 13, at Virginia Tech 10
Basically … Duke scored the first 13 points of the game on Ross Martin field goals from 51 and 53 yards out in the second quarter and a nine-yard Anthony Boone touchdown run in the third, and then the defense took over. Virginia Tech scored late in the third on a five-yard Logan Thomas run, and got a 42-yard Cody Journell field goal midway through the fourth, but the Duke D held on finishing with four interceptions of Thomas.
- Duke’s Anthony Boone completed 7-of-25 passes for 107 yards with four interceptions, and he led the team with 44 rushing yards and a score on 11 carries. In all, Duke finished 0-11 on third downs with 198 yards of total offense and had the ball for just over 20 minutes … and won. Give credit to two bombs from kicker Ross Martin, along with a secondary that gave Logan Thomas a really, really bad day.
- Duke is bowl eligible in October. Think about that for a moment. In a strong year for the ACC, Duke has won four straight, highlighted by this thrilling victory, and now it has its six wins and looking for a decent bowl spot. It already played spoiler, and now can it do more with home games against NC State and Miami coming up after the break? If the D plays like it did this week, yeah.
- Virginia Tech hasn’t been sharp throughout the season, and now it got tagged. Kendall Fuller was outstanding with three interceptions, and the defense allowed fewer than 200 yards of total Duke offense, but four picks thrown by Logan Thomas and the lack of a steady running game from the backs proved costly. Tomas threw for 214 yards and ran for 101 yards and a score, but it’s all about the mistakes.
- Don’t lose focus, Virginia Tech. This loss really doesn’t matter. Three of the last four games are on the road, but Boston College, Miami - despite being unbeaten – and Virginia aren’t world-beaters, and Maryland is a winnable final home game. The ACC championship is hardly out of reach. Win out, and this is an aberration.

at Virginia Tech 19, Pitt 9
Basically … Virginia Tech dominated defensively, but it settled for four Cody Journell field goals after starting out the scoring on a 27-yard Kalvin Cline touchdown catch early in the first. Pitt managed a 47-yard Chris Blewitt field goal late in the first half, but couldn’t get into the end zone until the final few minutes on a nine-yard Tom Savage run.
- It might not be pretty, and there might be way too many close calls, but Virginia Tech is now 6-1 and 3-0 in the ACC. The defense was fantastic against the Panther ground game, and while the offense sputtered and coughed a bit too much, it didn’t turn the ball over.
- Pitt finished with 23 rushing yards on 26 carries. The line gave up too many sacks which skewed the stats, but there wasn’t any push whatsoever for the Panther ground game. Isaac Bennett finished with just 31 yards on seven carries.
- Virginia Tech sophomore defensive end Dadi Nicolas was a terror, coming up with three sacks and tying for a team-leading seven tackles. He was unblockable at times for a defensive front that destroyed Pitt with eight sacks.
- Pitt has some legitimate all-star candidates, and they showed why. WR Devin Street came up with 104 yards on five catches, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald continued to be one of the nation’s best interior pass rushers with six tackles with two sacks and three tackles for loss.

at Virginia Tech 27, North Carolina 17
Basically … Virginia Tech got touchdown passes from Logan Thomas from 45 and nine yards out to get up 14-0, and it stayed ahead with a five-yard scoring pass to D.J. Coles. North Carolina was able to stay around on a six-yard touchdown pass from Marquise Williams to Eric Ebron, and it scored late on a 24-yard pass play to Quinshad Davis, but the offense kept turning the ball over and mistakes proved to be too costly.
- It’s been a big-time fight, but Virginia Tech is 4-1 with the Alabama loss the only blemish. Logan Thomas settled in and completed 19-of-28 passes for 293 yards and three scores to make up for a woeful ground game that gained just 48 yards.
- With Bryn Renner out with an injured foot, Marquise Williams tried to make the offense go, and he was able to do a little of everything completing 23-of-35 passes for 277 yards and two scores, and he led the team with 56 rushing yards with 18 carries, but the Hokies dared him to win through the air and he couldn’t do it. The UNC backs combined to run for 43 yards.
- The Tar Heels might have had problems dealing with Thomas when he was on, but there weren’t any issues against the run. Jeff Schoettmer did his part with 13 tackles and a tackle for loss, but there wasn’t enough consistent pressure on Thomas.
- It’s danger time for a North Carolina team that came into the season with high expectations. The Tar Heels are sitting at 1-4 with Miami coming up next, but that’s about it. As rocky as the record might be, it’s not crazy to hope to roll over Boston College, NC State, Virginia, Pitt, Old Dominion and Duke.

Virginia Tech 17, at Georgia Tech 10
Basically … Virginia Tech stuffed Georgia Tech’s running game, allowing just 129 yards, while Logan Thomas did what he needed to for the Hokie offense, running for a five-yard score and hitting D.J. Coles for a 21-yard touchdown. The Yellow Jackets fought back, pulling within four on a two-yard David Sims run, but Cody Journell hit a 39-yarder to put the Hokies up seven. A missed chip shot gave Georgia Tech some life, but the offense couldn’t do anything with the chance.
- How do you stop the Georgia Tech option? Clog everything up in the middle and the Virginia Tech defensive tackles destroyed the interior of the line from the start. There was no place for the Yellow Jacket offense to move. This was a masterful performance from the Hokie defensive front.
- You wanted a big performance in a big game from Logan Thomas? 19-of-25, 221 yards, one touchdown and no picks. Even more than that, he led the anemic rushing attack with 58 yards and a score on 16 carries, while the team finished with just 55 net yards. He did everything for the offense to keep things under control, even with Georgia Tech dominating the time of possession for stretches.
- This only works if Vad Lee and the Yellow Jacket passing game is efficient. Lee was able to hit on some huge plays, but he only completed 7-of-24 passes for 144 yards with two picks.
- Give the Virginia Tech secondary a ton of credit. The defensive backs handled the Georgia Tech receives without a problem, and everyone else was able to cheat up to handle the run. The longest run allowed was just 15 yards, and no running back gained more than 11 yards a dash.

at Virginia Tech 29, Marshal 21 3OT
Basically … In a sloppy, rain-soaked game, Virginia Tech rallied late with Logan Thomas forcing overtime, helped out by a late pick from Kyshoen Jarrett, with a two-yard touchdown pass to Willie Byrn, and then the fun began. In the first overtime Tech’s backup kicker Ethan Keyserling missed from 50 yards out, but Marshall’s Justin Haig’s kick was blocked. In the second overtime, Marshall QB Rakeem Cato was stripped, and Derrick Hopkins took it the other way before being tackled on the Herd 19. However, Keyserling missed a 32-yard game-winning attempt. Thomas ran for a two-yard touchdown in the third OT, but Marshall couldn’t answer as a perfectly thrown Cato pass went through Davonte Allen’s hands.
- In awful conditions, Rakeem Cato was balling. He only completed 19-of-41 passes for 228 yards, but he was hit all game long and he kept pressing down the field. Tommy Shuler caught ten passes for 120 yards as Cato’s main man.
- Logan Thomas has to do a much, much better job of feeling the defensive pressure. He was only sacked twice, but he seems to rely on his size and bulk since he doesn’t usually go down with just one shot.
- Marshall was killed by mistakes with three turnovers, a blocked punt allowed for a score, and 11 penalties.
- Virginia Tech has to figure out the kicking game, and fast. Cody Journell didn’t dress for the game after being suspended for violating team rules, but Ethan Keyserling was shaky. With an offense that doesn’t score in bunches, the Hokies can’t afford to not be automatic on field goals. However, it’s not like Journell was a rock.

Virginia Tech 15, at East Carolina 10, Sept. 14
Basically … Virginia Tech’s defense allowed just 204 yards of ECU offense and forced a late safety that helped seal the win. The Hokie offense didn’t explode, but Logan Thomas found Demetri Knowles and D.J. Coles for touchdown passes, while the D clamped down after allowing a 22-yard Bryce Williams touchdown catch on ECU’s first drive.
- Where’s the Virginia Tech running game? It’s one thing to get stuffed by Alabama, but East Carolina allowed just 53 yards on 34 carries. The offensive line didn’t generate any sort of a push.
- It’s not like the East Carolina running game did anything, either, finishing with 46 yards on 23 carries. QB Shane Carden took off for a 24-yard dash, but that was it.
- ECU’s Vintavious Cooper tried to do a little of everything for the ECU attack, leading the team with 28 yards rushing and with five catches for 52 yards, but the Virginia Tech defense didn’t allow a thing. The defensive front, led by two sacks from J.R. Collins and James Gayle, finished with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Carden was under pressure all game long.
- ECU’s defense bottled up the Hokie attack with 12 tackles from both Derrell Johnson and Brandon Williams. The Pirates got into the backfield on a regular basis, too.

at Virginia Tech 45, Western Carolina 3, Sept. 7
Basically … As expected, Virginia Tech got little resistance from Western Carolina to even its record following the opening day loss to Alabama. The Hokies didn’t allow the Catamounts into the end zone, while picking off three passes, the first of which Detrick Bonner took back to kick off the scoring.
- Even against an FCS defense, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas continued to have his struggles this weekend. The senior was a non-factor on the ground, while only completing 17-of-31 passes for 200 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
- The Hokies' defense allowed just 51 yards passing, and it held Western Carolina to just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions. Tech has given up only 19 first downs over the first two games.

Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10, Aug. 31
Basically … Christon Jones made up for a lackluster day from the Tide offense with a 72-yard punt return for a score, a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 38-yard scoring catch. Virginia Tech got a plucky day from its defense, but the special teams were a disaster and Logan Thomas threw a not-his-fault – the receiver quit on the route – pick six to Vinnie Sunseri. 77 of the Hokie 212 yards of total offense came on a 77-yard scoring dash from Trey Edmunds late in the first.
- Everyone is going to wonder what is wrong with a Crimson Tide offense that wasn’t sharp and gained just 206 yards of total offense. It’s simple. The Virginia Tech defense is just that good. Corner Kyle Fuller looked like a starting NFL corner on Amari Cooper, who was held to 38 yards on four catches.
- It’s almost perfect for Nick Saban. His team wins by 25 and he gets to spend the next two weeks hammering the living spit out of his team to prep for Texas A&M.
- It might sound absolutely insane, but Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas actually didn’t look horrible despite completing just 5-of-26 passes for 59 yards and a pick. Okay, that’s a major reach, but he got absolutely no help whatsoever from his receivers and had nowhere to go with the ball. He appeared to be more poised with improved mechanics.
- AJ McCarron was under pressure, but nothing more than he was on a regular basis last year behind his epic line. He completed just 10-of-23 passes for 110 yards and a score with a pick. There were some drops, but he threw a bad pick and was hardly sharp.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … even with the devastating ACL tear suffered by CB Antone Exum, the defense will have a shot to be the toughest in the league. Eight starters return from a unit that became increasingly tougher as the 2012 season wound down. Five of those starters earned All-ACC recognition, led by DE James Gayle and LB Jack Tyler.

Why To Be Grouchy … the offense is going to be a serious work-in-progress. The Hokies ranked 81st nationally a season ago, a key reason why the program slogged through its worst year in two decades. Playmakers are scarce, a feature back needs to step up and three new O-line starters must be found between now and the opener with two-time defending champion Alabama.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … the relationship between QB Logan Thomas and new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Loeffler has had a lot of success with high-profile quarterbacks in the past, but Thomas might be his biggest challenge to date. The senior, with the cathedral ceiling, is coming off a disastrous year. The fate of the 2013 Hokies rests with Loeffler’s ability to maximize the potential of his new pupil.

Team Concerns For 2013: Can the Hokies crank up a downfield pass? It's inexcusable for a team with an NFL-caliber (maybe) bomber in Logan Thomas to be so inefficient, but Tech struggled to open up the field which hurt the ground attack. It doesn't help to lose most of the top targets, and having to replace tackles Nick Becton and Vinston Painter isn't a plus, but more than anything else, the team has to find a way to utilize Thomas to start doing more to make the attack explode.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive back. The receiving corps needs help right away, so there's a chance for David Price, Deon Newsome or Carlis Parker to be factors right away. Linebacker Holland Fisher is the star of the class and defensive line prospect Wyatt Teller has tremendous upside, but the strength is in the secondary with Kendall Fuller an NFL caliber corner who could see time right away. CeQuan Jefferson and Charles Clark are nice pickups at corner, while Anthony Shegog and Brandon Facyson are good safety options.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 18. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive skill players. Frank Beamer is always going after the next great running back, and he’s bringing in several options along with plenty of receivers with size and talent. This will be a class to boost up the offense for 2014 and beyond, while the defense will get the most help at linebacker. It’ll take a few years in the weight room, but this year’s class is big on speed and athleticism for the back seven. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 33. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. It’s a surprisingly mediocre class considering Virginia swooped up several key local players and Florida State and Clemson dominated the ACC, but there’s good bulk for the defensive line with Corey Marshall showing the potential to be the next great Hokie defensive end and Kris Hailey, a whirling dervish of a defensive tackle prospect. The stars of the class are at corner with Kyshoen Jarrett and James Farrow two big, talented defenders. The star skill prospects aren’t there, but the hope is for Michael Holmes to go from good to special once he gets into the program.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 32. That Class Was Heavy On ... The lines. The stars are in the secondary with Nick Dew, Brian Laiti, and Theron Norman very big and very good safety prospects, and Kyle Fuller and Detrick Bonner are going to be good corners in a few years. The quarterback situation will be interesting with Ricardo Young and Mark Leal each athletic enough to fit the Virginia Tech mold, while WR E.J. Smiling is big and fast. However, the class is all about the lines with Laurence Gibson a ready-made offensive guard with good athleticism and big-time upside. Zack McCray should be the next great Hokie pass rusher, while Derrick Hopkins and De'Antre Rhodes are pluggers for the defensive interior.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 43. That Class Was Heavy On ... backs. Even after watching redshirt freshman Darren Evans emerge as the feature back, the Hokies concentrated on further building depth at the position. Being brought to Blacksburg are three playmakers, which was missing from the offense a year ago. Two of those backs, David Wilson and Tony Gregory, are four-star gems with enough wiggle to make people miss in the open field. Both provide a nice complement to the north-south style of Evans.

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