By David Teel
8:44 PM EDT, July 10, 2011
Among ACC teams, only Miami has secured more 2012 football commitments than Virginia Tech and Virginia, with the Hokies scoring Sunday with defensive end Woody Baron of Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy and defensive tackle Nigel Williams of Richmond's Benedictine High, the Cavaliers countering with defensive end Courtnye Wynn of Norfolk Christian.
Wynn, 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, is Virginia's 15th pledge, the third from Norfolk Christian. Virginia Tech, Michigan State, North Carolina State and Notre Dame were the most prominent of his options.
Tech now has 19 commitments, 14 on defense. Baron, 6-foot-3, 252 pounds, chose the Hokies over offers from Arizona State, Louisville, Syracuse, Duke and hometown Vanderbilt, according to Rivals.
Williams, 6-3, 260, told the Times-Dispatch he also had offers from the likes of Virginia, Maryland, Notre Dame, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
The focus on the defensive side is telling for a program renowned for its D but fresh off a season in which opponents averaged 4.7 yards per rush, the most in Frank Beamer’s 24 seasons as head coach.
Still, most striking about the 33 combined pledges for the Hokies and Cavaliers: the in-state and 757 flavor.
Moreover, both coaching staffs are straying outside the box, trusting their instincts and offering off-the-radar prospects. And that’s where recruiting becomes true science.
After all, you need not have a PhD in the zone-read offense to recognize the talent in Tyrod Taylor and Morgan Moses. Players such as Jamall Brown and Sean Dooley are different.
Brown and Dooley are among the most recent to commit to Virginia and Tech, respectively. Neither received a mega-star rating from the myriad scouting services, but both performed well in recent camps to earn their offers.
So Brown, a Hampton High receiver, is Charlottesville-bound, while Dooley, a Glenvar High defensive end, is headed for Blacksburg. No matter that neither was wading in offers – Rivals.com lists Dooley’s other options as James Madison, Norfolk State and VMI. Coaches saw potential in Brown and Dooley and believe they can tap it.
Dooley is the Hokies’ 11th pledge from Virginia, this from 19 total. That in-state concentration has long been the program's M.O., but is notable after the 2011 class (only nine of 21 signees from the commonwealth) and Frank Beamer’s offseason staff overhaul, designed to rejuvenate Tech’s recruiting.
Four of the Hokies’ 2012 commitments hail from Hampton Roads, most notably running back J.C. Coleman from Chesapeake’s Oscar Smith.
Virginia counts five 757s among its pledges, headlined by Norfolk Christian linebacker Kwontie Moore and his teammate Wynn. Of the Cavaliers’ 15 commitments, nine are in-state, reflecting second-year coach Mike London’s intense efforts to secure the borders.
Seventeen of his 26 signees for 2011 were from Virginia, eight from Hampton Roads, led by cornerback Demetrious Nicholson of Virginia Beach’s Bayside High.
Signing day for the 2012 crop is more than six months away, but the Hokies and Cavaliers already have assembled more than half their respective classes, providing no one bails. Miami, with 20, is the only ACC team with more commitments.
Tech and Virginia are targeting several other commonwealth prospects, among them Clover Hill athlete Joel Caleb, a projected receiver, Centreville linebacker Ken Ekanem and Dan River linebacker Trey Edmunds.
Given my advanced age, I had a hunch about Edmunds the moment I saw his high school and the spelling of his last name. The hunch was right.
His father is Ferrell Edmunds, an All-ACC tight end at Maryland and a third-round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins in 1988. As a cub reporter in Lynchburg in the early 1980s, I saw Edmunds play for Danville’s George Washington High, a long post pattern from Dan River High.
Edmunds earned two Pro Bowl appearances with the Dolphins and is Dan River’s head coach. And yes, Maryland also has offered Trey Edmunds.
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