Tech signs 31 to football letters-of-intent
Four All-Americans highlight 2008 class
February 6, 2008

BLACKSBURG - Three of the top five players in the state of Virginia, and 14 of the top 25, highlight a football recruiting class composed of 31 student-athletes who signed letters-of-intent with Virginia Tech on Wednesday.

"I congratulate my staff. I think they've done a great job of evaluating and recruiting not only talented kids, but good character kids ... players who overall put a priority on academics," head coach Frank Beamer said. "I think this class will turn out to be a really good class. These are all student-athletes we feel good about and we're happy with our success in the state. But then you have to look at the players we were able to attract from out of state. I think that group is the most talented group, outside of the state we've ever had."

After signing 19 players combined from the Commonwealth over the past two years, the Hokies inked 21 high school players from Virginia this year, including 14 of the top 25 prospects according to The Roanoke Times. Highlighting this year's in-state group are three talented players - Dyrell Roberts (#3 by Roanoke Times), Ryan Williams (#4 by Roanoke Times) and Vinston Painter (#5 by Roanoke Times) - who all earned SuperPrep All-America honors.

Roberts, who is projected as a wide receiver, is ranked the No. 27 athlete in the country by Rivals.com. The Windsor native became just the fourth running back in Bay Rivers or Peninsula District history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark (2,236 yards) in the regular season. Williams, from Manassas, is rated the No. 26 overall player by ESPN.com, the No. 3 running back in the country by Rivals.com and was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Painter, from Norfolk, is rated the No. 4 offensive guard in the country by SuperPrep.

Ten players from out-of-state signed with Tech, highlighted by five highly rated prospects from North Carolina. Nick Becton (Wilmington) is rated the No. 26 offensive tackle in the country by ESPN.com, while Michael Via (McLeansville) is ranked the No. 31 offensive guard in the country by Rivals.com. Eddie Whitley (Matthews) is rated the No. 16 cornerback in the country by ESPN.com, while Fayetteville's Lorenzo Williams is ranked the No. 11 safety in the country by the same outlet. Jarrett Boykin, from Matthews, rounds out the quintet and is ranked the No. 81 wide receiver in the country by ESPN.com.

Eleven other players from the state of Virginia are ranked in the top 25 in the state by The Roanoke Times. They are: Virginia Beach quarterback Marcus Davis (#9), Maidens wide receiver D.J. Coles (#11), Virginia Beach wide receiver Randall Dunn (#15), Amherst athlete Peter Rose (#16), Highland Springs defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins (#18), Stafford defensive end Isaiah Hamlette (#19), Amherst linebacker Derrick McCoy (#20), Virginia Beach linebacker Lyndell Gibson (#21), Ashburn rover Jeron Gouveia (#23) and Falmouth linebacker Jake Johnson (#24) and Richlands athlete Austin Fuller (#25).

The large in-state class also features seven others ranked in the top 38 by The Roanoke Times: Virginia Beach defensive end Joe Jones (#27), South Boston linebacker Allen Stephens (#28), Virginia Beach athlete Xavier Boyce (#29), Alexandria wide receiver Ben Barber (#30), Virginia Beach running back Tony Gregory (#31), Richmond quarterback Joseph Clayton (#33) and Woodbridge tight end Eric Martin (#38).

Virginia Tech has had a strong presence at Hargrave Military Academy over the years and picked up three more players from there this year. Leading the way is defensive end Leon Mackey, who is originally from Delaware. He is ranked the No. 25 defensive end in the country by SuperPrep. Also re-signing with the Hokies were linebacker Quillie Odom and athlete Kendrick Pressley, who signed with Tech last February. Odom, originally from Osbourn Park High, is ranked the No. 5 prep school player in the country by Rivals.com, while Pressley, from South Carolina, is ranked 26th.

The Tech staff put heavy emphasis on the receiver and linebacker positions, led by linebacker Bruce Taylor, from Myrtle Beach, S.C. He is ranked the No. 12 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com and earned All-America honors from PrepStar. Painter and Ryan Williams also earned All-America honors from PrepStar.

"Wide receiver had to be a priority for us," Beamer said. "We think we've got a couple of guys who could fit in there next year. And at linebacker, we lost some good players there and feel good about the group of linebackers that's coming in here."

The Hokies used commitments from athletes in five states to complete their class, grabbing one player from Delaware (Mackey), one from South Carolina (Taylor), five from North Carolina and one from Florida in defensive tackle Dwight Tucker. Tucker, from Oviedo, is ranked the No. 22 defensive end in the country by ESPN.com and the No. 45 defensive tackle in the country by Rivals.com. With his signing, it marks the 18th year since 1988 Tech has signed a player from Florida.

In total, 15 signees earned first-team all-state honors this past season, including 11 from Virginia's three classifications, three from North Carolina and Taylor from South Carolina.

2008 Virginia Tech Signing Class
NamePositionHgt.Wgt.Last SchoolHometown
Ben BarberAthlete5-10190EdisonAlexandria, Va.
Nick BectonOffensive/Defensive Tackle6-7280New HanoverWilmington, N.C.
Xavier BoyceAthlete6-4210LandstownVirginia Beach, Va.
Jarrett BoykinWide Receiver6-2195ButlerMatthews, N.C.
Joseph ClaytonQuarterback6-2210HermitageRichmond, Va.
D.J. ColesWide Receiver6-3205GoochlandMaidens, Va.
Marcus DavisQuarterback6-4215Ocean LakesVirginia Beach, Va.
Randall DunnWide Receiver6-3212Ocean LakesVirginia Beach, Va.
Austin FullerAthlete6-2205RichlandsRichlands, Va.
Lyndell GibsonLinebacker5-11220SalemVirginia Beach, Va.
Jeron GouveiaRover6-2180Stone BridgeAshburn, Va.
Tony GregoryRunning Back6-0180First ColonialVirginia Beach , Va.
Isaiah HamletteDefensive End6-4240Brooke PointStafford, Va.
Antoine HopkinsDefensive Tackle6-2280Highland SpringsHighland Springs, Va.
Jake JohnsonLinebacker6-2235StaffordFalmouth, Va.
Joe JonesDefensive End6-2245Green RunVirginia Beach, Va.
Leon MackeyDefensive End6-4275Christiana/HargraveWilmington, Del.
Eric MartinTight End6-2240C.D. HyltonWoodbridge, Va.
Derrick McCoyLinebacker6-3215Amherst CountyAmherst, Va.
Quillie OdomLinebacker6-2220Osbourn Park/HargraveManassas, Va.
Vinston PainterOffensive Tackle6-5300MauryNorfolk, Va.
Kendrick PressleyAthlete5-10175Sumter/HargraveSumter, S.C.
Dyrell RobertsWide Receiver6-2190SmithfieldWindsor, Va.
Peter RoseAthlete6-0190Amherst CountyAmherst, Va.
Allen StephensLinebacker6-1235Halifax CountySouth Boston, Va.
Bruce TaylorLinebacker6-2238Myrtle BeachMyrtle Beach, S.C.
Dwight TuckerDefensive Tackle6-2280OviedoOviedo, Fla.
Michael ViaOffensive Tackle6-6260Northeast GuilfordMcLeansville, N.C.
Eddie WhitleyCornerback6-1180ButlerMatthews, N.C.
Lorenzo WilliamsCornerback6-2205WestoverFayetteville, N.C.
Ryan WilliamsRunning Back5-10200Stonewall JacksonManassas, Va.