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December 9, 2008

Fall Harvest: A look at Tech's crop of freshly signed recruits

By: Matt Kovatch

Many people are aware of the NCAA’s early signing period in November because that is when the best high school basketball players in the country formally commit to the school of their choice by signing a national letter-of-intent. But it’s not just basketball – November 12th was just as exciting for many other sports at Virginia Tech, as that was the first day in which highly sought-after recruits were able to confirm their desire to become Hokies. Here is a brief rundown of some of the student-athletes expected to join Tech teams for the 2009-10 school year.


Head coach Pete Hughes and the baseball staff will be adding six players – five rookies and one transfer – for the 2010 campaign.

Outfielder/first baseman Tyler Horan (Boston College H.S., Middleboro, Mass.) was a Catholic Conference all-star last season as a junior for a team that won the 2008 Division I state championship. He was also named to the Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic Team after hitting .376 with 16 stolen bases, 29 RBI and 33 runs scored, while adding seven doubles, three triples and two home runs.

Pitcher Joe Mantiply (Tunstall H.S., Danville, Va.) has been dominant on the mound for the past three years, helping his team to the Piedmont District regular-season and tournament titles each season. The 6-foot-5 lefty was named the Piedmont District player of the year after a junior season in which he went 9-0, with a 1.02 ERA and 91 strikeouts. Mantiply went 9-1, with a 0.65 ERA and 115 strikeouts as a junior, and he has been named to the Piedmont District, Region IV and All-Metro first teams after each of the past two seasons.

Catcher Chad Morgan (Paul VI H.S., Springfield, Va.) is a three-year letterman who helped his team to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship in 2007 and to the state playoffs in 2008. As a junior last season, he batted .418 with 28 RBI and two home runs, while drawing a school-record 26 walks.

Pitcher/first baseman Patrick Scoggin (Douglas S. Freeman H.S., Richmond, Va.) was named a Colonial District honorable mention pitcher his junior season. He went 2-2 in 27.1 innings, with 39 strikeouts, a 4.10 ERA and a .242 opponents’ batting average, while hitting .333 from the plate himself. He had even more success as a sophomore, fanning 62 batters in 34.2 innings, while compiling a 2.60 ERA and a .201 opponents’ batting average.

Brent Zimmerman (Nova H.S., Cooper City, Fla.) is a right-handed shortstop/pitcher who was named to the 2008 Florida all-state team for Nova High, a school that has made the state 5A playoffs each year during his tenure and compiled a 75-14 record. At the plate in 2008, the team MVP batted .438 with 37 hits, 32 RBI, three home runs and 33 runs scored, while going 5-2 in 52 innings on the mound with 67 strikeouts and just eight walks.

“Tyler’s got unlimited power potential and he may be the most physically impressive kid that I’ve ever recruited,” Hughes said. “Joe might be the one of the most accomplished high school pitchers in the state of Virginia, and I feel that Chad is the best high school catcher in the Commonwealth – he is definitely a cornerstone recruit for us. Patrick is an unbelievable competitor, while Brent has ACC-level defensive skills and is a legitimate two-way player.”

Finally, shortstop Tim Smalling (University of Arkansas) will arrive at Tech this coming spring but must sit out the 2009 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He brings great experience to Blacksburg, as he started 101 games over the past two seasons for the Razorbacks. He batted .288 as a freshman with two home runs, eight doubles and 23 RBI. Smalling’s average dropped to .250 as a sophomore, but he increased his other numbers to the tune of nine homers, 14 doubles and 33 RBI. Smalling is a native of Raleigh, N.C., where he was a two-time first-team all-state selection at Broughton High.


Head coach Jay Hardwick and his staff added a pair of golfers who will begin playing for the Hokies in the fall of 2009.

Mikey Moyers (William Monroe H.S, Ruckersville, Va.) won his second consecutive Virginia Group AA high school championship earlier this fall in dominating fashion. He set the all-time Group AA 36-hole scoring record at the tournament with rounds of 65 and 62 for a total of 127 at Old Trail Golf Club in Crozet, Va. His margin of victory (18 shots) and score in relation to par (15-under-par) were also records for the state high school tournament, and his final round of 62 is the lowest round in the modern history of the event.

He was also the 2007 Virginia State Golf Association co-junior player of the year and the 2007 and 2008 VSGA Junior Match Play champion.

Joining Moyers in 2009 will be Jacob Everts (McCallie H.S., Ooltewah, Tenn.), an American Junior Golf Association honorable mention All-American. He finished second in the 2008 AJGA Stanford Financial Junior Championship and the 2008 AJGA Knoxville Junior Championship and was a 2008 first-team all-region performer.

“Mikey’s record-setting victory at the state high school championship was truly remarkable and illustrates his ability to compete at the highest level,” Hardwick said. “We expect him to contribute to our team’s success right away, while Jacob is a very consistent player who will transition smoothly from junior golf to competing in the ACC.”


Head coach Scot Thomas and the softball staff will be adding five players to the Hokie roster in time for the 2010 season.

Courtney Liddle (Battlefield H.S., Haymarket, Va.) is one of the top catchers in the country, as she was named an Under Armor All-American as a junior. She led her team to a state runner-up finish last year and was an All-Met first-team selection by The Washington Post. Liddle batted .471 with five home runs, 14 RBI and 11 extra-base hits in leading Battlefield to its best season in school history last year. Liddle was also the Cedar Run District player of the year, a second-team Group AAA all-state choice and an all-region first-team selection. Heading into her senior season, she has a career batting average of .502.

“Courtney is truly a blue-chip player and we are very excited to add her to the roster,” Thomas said. “She is a strong catcher with great power at the plate and should contribute immediately.”

Kristina Cruz (Santa Fe C.C., Tampa, Fla.) is strong defensively and is expected to take over at third base. Last year, she hit .322 with eight doubles, seven home runs and 36 RBI at Santa Fe and was selected to the 2008 national all-tournament team after hitting .583 with a home run and nine RBI at the NJCAA National Tournament. She was also named to the Mid-Florida Conference team. Cruz, who graduated from the Academy of the Holy Names before enrolling at SFCC, will be a junior when she enrolls at Tech.

Jasmin Harrell (Beckman H.S., Irvine, Calif.) is a strong pitcher who is also expected to contribute at the plate. She was the Tustin News’ 2008 All-City Softball Team's Most Valuable Player after going 14-3 with a 0.66 ERA last year. She had 135 strikeouts in 116 innings and also hit .410 with 21 RBI.

Brittany “BK” Smith (Southern Lee H.S., Cameron, N.C.) is a utility player who can catch, and play shortstop or in the outfield. She earned Cape Fear Valley All-Conference honors as a sophomore and junior, as well as all-district and all-state honors last year. She has earned letters in volleyball, softball and basketball and is president of her senior class.

Finally, local product Hollee Warlitner (Alleghany H.S., Clifton Forge, Va.) is a utility player who can catch or play in the outfield. A two-time All-Timesland first-team pick by The Roanoke Times, she hit .480 with three home runs and 15 RBI as a junior last spring, earning All-Region III and honorable mention all-state honors. She also scored 22 runs and stole 19 bases.


After bringing in seven freshmen for this year, head coach Chris Riley and his staff only had room for one signee for the 2009 season, but they made it a good one. Cara Baarendse (William Mason H.S., Mason, Ohio) is a 6-foot-1 middle hitter who also plays for the Cincy Classics Club Team.

Baarendse is a four-year letterwinner for Mason and earned the Greater Miami Conference athlete of the year award after leading the league in kills (331) and service aces (60) on the season. In 2007, she led her squad to a 19-5 record (8-1 in conference), which helped her to garner first-team all-league honors. As a sophomore, Baarendse received second-team All-Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye Division recognition.

“Cara is a great athlete who plays well over the net,” Riley said. “We expect big things from Cara playing as a middle or on the right side.”


Head coach Kevin Dresser and his staff have landed six student-athletes from six different states for the 2009-10 season.
Andrew Clement (Grassfield H.S., Chesapeake, Va.) projects to be a 174-pounder in college. He was a two-time Group AA state champion at Christiansburg High and also won the Super 32 Tournament before transferring to Grassfield.

Hayden Countryman (Prattville H.S., Prattville, Ala.) is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Alabama history and is ranked 17th in the country by W.I.N. Magazine. He has won the Class 6A championship in the 152-pound classification for four consecutive years and will have an opportunity to win his fifth state title this winter. As a junior, Countryman finished with a 59-1 record (58 pins) and earned National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) All-America honors. Should Countryman win the individual state championship title this winter, he will become only the second wrestler to win five individual state championships.

Taylor Knapp (Collins Hill H.S., Suwanee, Ga.) is a NHSCA national champion who is ranked 11th in the country by Wrestling USA Magazine at 152 pounds. He took third at the state tournament as a freshman, but has taken the title the past two seasons and went 59-1 last year. He takes a 146-10 record into his final year. Knapp is ranked 15th in the country by W.I.N. Magazine at 152 pounds and the No. 74 overall recruit in the country by InterMat.

Erik Spjut (The Woodlands H.S., The Woodlands, Texas) is ranked fourth nationally at 130 pounds by W.I.N. Magazine. A NHSCA All-American, he is a two-time Texas state champion and a three-time place-winner. The projected 133-pounder is ranked the No. 66 overall recruit in the country by InterMat.

Brian Stephens (Graham H.S., St. Paris, Ohio) is a two-time Ohio state place-winner. The projected 149-pounder grappler was a NHSCA All-American.

Cody Tyler (Oak Park, H.S., Kansas City, Mo.) is a projected 125-pounder who is currently ranked eighth in the country at 119 pounds by W.I.N. Magazine. Tyler placed second in the state the past two years.

“Overall, we’re really excited about these six guys,” Dresser said. “We feel like we’ve just completed our third straight quality recruiting class. We’ve got some guys at areas where we feel like our depth is a little vulnerable, so we feel like we’re putting the pieces of the puzzle together a little more each year.”