BLACKSBURG - The top player in the state of Virginia, and five prep All-Americans, highlight a football recruiting class composed of 21 student-athletes, as announced by Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
“The athletic ability of this class is excellent,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “I think the character and academics of this class are also excellent. I couldn’t be more happy with this group. I think it’s a terrific class. I don’t think it’s just a good class, I think it’s a terrific class. We were limited initially on who we offered, but in the end, I like the way things turned out.”
With such a small senior class from this past season, Tech announced just 21 players total Wednesday, including 15 players from Virginia. For the fifth time in the last nine years (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and now 2009), the top player in the state as ranked by The Roanoke Times has signed to play football in Blacksburg. That honor this year goes to Danville product David Wilson, who attends George Washington High. In all, Tech signed four of the top 11 players in the state and eight of the top 23. Highlighting this year’s in-state group are three talented players — Wilson, Logan Thomas (#4 by Roanoke Times) and DeAntre Rhodes (#8 by Roanoke Times) — who all earned SuperPrep All-America honors. Wilson, Thomas, kicker Cody Journell (#50 by Roanoke Times) and Florida cornerback Jayron Hosley were named All-Americans by PrepStar.
Wilson, who is ranked the No. 4 running back in the country by Rivals, rushed for 2,291 yards and 35 touchdowns – both school records – his senior season en route to earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors for Virginia. Thomas, from Brookville High in Lynchburg, is ranked the No. 1 tight end in the country by Rivals and the No. 17 overall prospect nationally by SuperPrep. Thomas moved to quarterback his senior season and completed 118 of 204 passes for 1,535 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also ran for 842 yards and 11 touchdowns his final year in leading the Bees to the state championship game. Rhodes, from Richmond’s Varina High, finished with 48 tackles, including 14.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks, along with three forced fumbles his senior season. He is ranked the No. 35 defensive tackle prospect nationally by Rivals. Journell, who is rated as the No. 3 kicker nationally by ESPN.com, booted six field goals as a senior, including three of at least 42 yards after kicking 10 field goals his junior season, with a long of 54 yards.
Just five players from out-of-state signed with Tech, including three from South Carolina. Jerrodd Williams (Central) is rated the No. 30 cornerback in the country by ESPN.com, while twins Tariq and Tyrell Edwards (Cheraw) also signed with the Hokies. Tariq is ranked the No. 23 strongside linebacker prospect nationally by Scout.com while Tyrell is listed as the No. 82 athlete in the country by Rivals. Only one player from North Carolina — James Hopper from Fayetteville — signed with Tech this year. Hopper is rated the No. 33 cornerback prospect in the nation according to ESPN.com. Hosley, from Delray Beach, Fla., is ranked the No. 11 cornerback in the country by Rivals and had five interceptions as a senior at Atlantic High. With his signing, it marks the 19th year since 1988 Tech has signed a player from Florida.
“I think signing Hosley and the Edwards twins is another example of how our former players continue to support our program,” Beamer said. Hosley was recommended to the Tech staff by Brandon Flowers, a former Hokie All-America cornerback who also attended Atlantic High School, as did former Tech receiver and current NFL player David Clowney. The Edwards are the sons of former Tech standout receiver/return man Bo Campbell, who lettered from 1989-1992.
Five other players from the state of Virginia are ranked in the top 23 in the state by The Roanoke Times. They are: Stafford defensive end Lanford Collins (#11), Glen Allen athlete Antone Exum (#16), Ashburn defensive tackle David Wang (#18), Bassett offensive lineman Andrew Miller (#19) and Richmond free safety Theron Norman (#23). Collins is ranked as the No. 20 defensive end in the country by ESPN.com, while Exum is rated as the No. 38 athlete in the country by Rivals. Wang (#44 defensive tackle by ESPN.com), Miller (#33 offensive tackle by Rivals) and Norman (#16 athlete by ESPN.com) are also nationally ranked by various publications. Wang is the brother of current Hokie offensive tackle Ed Wang. Miller was also ranked the No. 1 senior heavyweight in the country heading into his final high school wrestling season and could compete for the Hokies in that sport next season.
The in-state class also features seven others ranked in the top 50 by The Roanoke Times: Hampton defensive end James Gayle (#26), Norfolk linebacker Telvion Clark (#29), Pulaski County athlete Nubian Peak (#33), Richmond defensive end Duan Perez-Means (#34), Hampton defensive end Tyrel Wilson (#45), Bealeton offensive tackle Kory Gough (#46) and Journell (#50), who is from Ripplemead. Among the national ratings for this group are: Gayle (#25 strongside defensive end by Rivals), Clark (#29 linebacker by Rivals), Peak (#66 running back by ESPN.com), Perez-Means (#26 weakside defensive end by Rivals) and Wilson (#61 inside linebacker by Rivals).
Also included in the class is D.J. Coles, who signed with Tech last February but went the Fork Union last fall. He is listed as the No. 7 prep school player in the country by Rivals and was ranked the No. 11 player in the state of Virginia by The Roanoke Times coming out of Goochland High in 2008.
The Tech staff put heavy emphasis on the defensive line and cornerback positions as 11 players are listed on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensive end is a critical area for us right now,” Beamer said. “We have four guys in this class who are possible defensive ends who are extremely fast, athletic guys ... the kind of ends we like to have. We didn’t get a quarterback but I feel we have some athletic people who are excellent quarterbacks in our program: JuJu Clayton, Marcus Davis and Greg Boone. We signed Antone Exum and we’re going to give him a shot at quarterback, and I think Logan Thomas could play just about any skilled position in the offense, including quarterback. I really feel we have some athletic guys who are capable of being a quarterback in our program.”
Twenty of the 22 student-athletes who made official visits to Virginia Tech (lineman Andrew Miller has yet to take an official visit) and were offered scholarships signed with the Hokies.