Halfway through the month of June, the Virginia Tech football team was well behind its normal pace on the recruiting trail, and Hokies fans were getting antsy.
Recruiting is an important business for every college football program, but it’s a life-or-death business for programs attempting to maintain a top-25 status.
So for the fifth-ranked Hokies, when mid-June rolled around and the program had received just two verbal commitments for the class of 2011 — when last year it had received eight by that time — the pressure was on.
In February, Tech kicked off its recruiting rush with a bang, receiving its first commitment from four-star prospect Ronny Vandyke out of South County Secondary School in Lorton.
Vandyke, an athletic safety standing at 6 feet 3 inches, is expected to have all the tools to play the Hokies’ “whip” position, which is a strong safety-outside linebacker hybrid role in defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s scheme.
At the Hokies’ junior day on February 27, Vandyke chose Tech over scholarship offers from Maryland, Boston College, Syracuse, West Virginia, East Carolina and Rutgers.
It was a solid start for coach Frank Beamer and company, who will be in need of safety help with senior rover Davon Morgan leaving after this season.
After a quiet March, Tech picked up another four-star recruit, receiving its second commitment from defensive tackle prospect Kris Harley, out of Indianapolis, Ind. Harley chose Tech over nearly 15 other schools he had received offers from, including top programs such as Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Iowa, Michigan and USC.
Widely regarded for his exceptional athletic ability, Harley flashed his junior year, finishing his third season with 91 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and five sacks at Warren Central High School in Indy.
Scott Kennedy of Scout.com says the 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound tackle is a “nose guard type,” who will be limited by his size, “but his effort level and awareness get him in on a lot of plays moving away from him.” Kennedy calls Harley “a disrupter across the line of scrimmage, because of his quickness and high motor.”
Like Vandyke’s, Harley’s commitment addressed a dire need on the Hokies’ roster as well. Other than redshirt senior John Graves, the Hokies have few battle-tested tackles. Redshirt junior Kwamaine Battle and redshirt sophomore Antoine Hopkins have both rotated in-and-out of the defensive front, but have never started a game, and the rest of Tech’s anchors on the line are as ripe as can be.
Then, came the aforementioned lull. With just over a month remaining before the current Tech squad hit the practice fields, Hokies fans began to fret, wondering who would commit as the summer wore on.
As it turns out, though, there was no need to worry.
On June 15, three-star tight end Christian Reeves was the first high school prospect to commit to Tech in over two months. Reeves, of McDonough, Ga., ranks 39th among the nation’s tight ends, according to Scout.com, and also plays at the outside linebacker position, standing at 6 feet 3 inches, 194 pounds.
As if the Hokies had told a group of players to give it some time and wait until “around mid-June” to decide where they would go — after Reeves, the commitments kept rolling in.
Three days after Reeves’ announcement, the Hokies got another talent, receiving another verbal agreement — this time from highly praised three-star cornerback Adeboye Aromire, out of Woodson High School in Washington, D.C.
Aromire is an accomplished track performer and chose Tech over offers from Illinois, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. He was also a teammate of 2010 Tech signee and quarterback recruit Ricardo Young, and at 6-feet, 192-pounds, runs a 4.47 40-yard dash.
Three days later, again, the Hokies made the news, receiving another commitment from a local product.
On June 21, two-star quarterback Chris Hall, from Dinwiddie County High School, announced he would be coming to Blacksburg.