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February 9, 2011

Five All-Americans headline Hokies' 2011 football recruiting haul

By: Jimmy Robertson

Courtesy of Kyshoen Jarrett, a cornerback from Pennsylvania, was one of five All-Americans who signed with the Hokies on Signing Day.

Last spring, Virginia Tech’s coaching staff went into the critical spring recruiting period hand-cuffed by numbers.

A small senior class left the staff unable to dole out many scholarship offers, and most observers of the recruiting scene fully expected the Hokies’ coaches to land no more than 14 prospects in the 2011 class.

But head coach Frank Beamer always manages to make the numbers work to get the players he wants.

Having said that, the Tech football program added 20 prospects to the fold, as announced by the athletics department on Feb. 2, better known as National Signing Day. Of those 20, one graduated from high school early and enrolled for the spring semester in Blacksburg, and deferring enrollment until January of 2012 remains an option for a couple of others.

“For a year when we had a limited number of scholarships, I think we got an excellent class,” Beamer said. “I’m really pleased with the guys we got. As always, every year, there are a couple that you would have liked to have gotten. I’m sure everyone says that, and that’s the case with us, too. We missed on a couple of good players, but we got a lot of really good players and guys I think have a great future at Virginia Tech.”

The class obviously features numerous prospects at need positions for the Hokies. For example, Tech’s staff signed six defensive linemen, five defensive backs and four tight ends, as they seek to replenish somewhat thin positions.


1. Corey Marshall – Marshall is a typical Tech defensive end. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he runs well, and he’s relentless. He’s also productive, having recorded more than 100 tackles each of the past two seasons at Dinwiddie High. Nearly half of those tackles were for a loss.

2. Kris Harley – Indianapolis was good to the Hokies once (Darren Evans), so Tech’s staff went back again, this time getting Harley away from an impressive list of schools (Southern Cal and Oklahoma offered). He’s a big guy, with quick feet and quick hands, and he pursues well. He has the potential to play quickly at a need spot for Tech.

3. Kyshoen Jarrett – A coaching change at Pittsburgh turned out to be Tech’s gain, as Jarrett decided to back out of a commitment to the Panthers once Dave Wannstedt was let go. A bigger corner, he possesses speed, and he plays the ball well in the air. He’s not afraid to deliver a blow to a running back either.

4. Ronny Vandyke – Vandyke missed his junior year with a shoulder injury, but Tech’s staff knew about his skills and snared him before anyone else saw him during his great senior season. He excels closer to the line of scrimmage, where he can be around the football. He’ll likely be a free safety or a rover at Tech.

5. Adeboye Aromire – Like Jarrett, he’s a bigger cornerback who loves being around the football. He’s physical, and he’s versatile. Given his size, range and ball skills, he could play several positions in Tech’s scheme. He graduated from high school early and enrolled at Tech for the spring semester.

The rest of the class includes three wide receivers, a tailback and an offensive lineman.

But Tech didn’t just add to the program in terms of numbers. The Hokies also added in terms of talent.

The class includes five who earned All-America honors by SuperPrep and four who received PrepStar All-America honors. The prospects who made the SuperPrep All-America team include Corey Marshall, a 6-foot-2, 252-pound defensive end from Dinwiddie, Va.; Kris Harley, a 6-1, 275-pounder from Indianapolis, Ind.; Kyshoen Jarrett, a 5-10, 175-pounder from Tannersville, Pa.; Adeboye Aromire, a 6-0, 180-pounder from Washington, D.C.; and Ronny Vandyke, a 6-3, 200-pounder from Lorton, Va. Aromire, who graduated from high school early and is attending classes at Tech, did not make the PrepStar squad.

Marshall probably headlines the class after recording more than 100 tackles, including 49 for a loss, combined in each of the past two seasons. He and Harley both dominated on the defensive front at their respective high schools and could play early because the staff wants to shore up the defensive front following a season in which several teams ran the ball successfully against the Hokies.

“I think they’re two tremendous players,” Beamer said. “They’re athletic, they can redirect and they can play. We’ll see how quickly they can learn the system, and see how things fill out at their positions after spring practice. Certainly, the talent level of those kids is extremely good.”

But they’re not the only ones who could see time. Beamer never shies away from playing freshmen – defensive back Kyle Fuller and defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins played last season – and if any of these young men prove worthy in August practices, then they’ll be on the field in 2011.

Going beyond the borders

A year ago, Tech’s staff signed 13 players from the commonwealth of Virginia, continuing a trend in which 51 Virginia natives signed with the program over a three-year stretch starting in 2007.

Courtesy of James Farrow, a cornerback from Minnesota, was one of 12 out-of-state recruits to sign with Tech.

This year, Tech’s staff inked eight players from the Commonwealth, including six of the top-25 prospects in Virginia, according to Doug Doughty, who covers recruiting for The Roanoke Times and SuperPrep. Marshall was the top-rated of the bunch, coming in at No. 5 on the list.

“I think we did very well,” Tech recruiting coordinator Jim Cavanaugh said. “Did we get everyone? No. There are several we would have liked to have had. But the ones we got are very good.”

Interestingly, Tech’s staff went to some unfamiliar places to get players. They signed at least one player each from Minnesota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida. In the case of Pennsylvania and Florida, these are places where they’ve scaled back recruiting in recent years.

Of course, there were some unique situations in play. Jarrett, for example, de-committed from Pittsburgh following head coach Dave Wannstedt’s firing. James Farrow, a 6-0, 170-pound cornerback from Minnesota, de-committed from Minnesota and contacted Tech’s staff. The Golden Gophers ended up firing head coach Tim Brewster. Ryan Malleck, a 6-5, 240-pound tight end from New Jersey, de-committed from Maryland after the Terps forced out head coach Ralph Friedgen.

Harley, the All-American defensive tackle from Indianapolis, goes to the same high school as former Tech running back Darren Evans, and defensive linemen Wedley Estime and Luther Maddy attend the same high school as current Hokies Jayron Hosley and Mark Leal.

“I think that says something about Virginia Tech,” Beamer said. “Certainly, recruiting the state of Virginia is a priority.

“But when you’re the only team in the country that has won 10 games the past seven years, your name gets out there. Kids from Minnesota and New Jersey and Florida and Indiana … they become familiar with your program. We’re really surprised we were able to attract the quality of guys from outside the state that we did this year.”

D-line and tight end needs


1. Ryan Malleck – Maryland’s decision to oust Ralph Friedgen worked in Tech’s favor, as the Hokies landed a big tight end with good speed and great hands. He’ll need to work on being more physical at the point of attack, but his ball skills and ability to make tough catches should be of great benefit to Tech’s offense.

2. Robert Lockhart – Lockhart got more and more attention toward the end of the process after catching four passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast All-Star game to earn MVP honors. He is not big, but he’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s got great speed and soft hands, and could get on the field quickly.

3. Michael Holmes – Frank Beamer compared Holmes to former Hokie Lee Suggs, and that’s a lofty comparison. But Holmes has been the most productive high school tailback in the state the past two years. Holmes is more of a runner between the tackles than a pure breakaway threat, but Suggs racked up plenty of yardage with that same style.

4. Darius Redman – Redman is a big, physical tight end who possesses the strength to contribute early as a blocker. He has the frame to get even bigger. He has solid hands, but perhaps more impressively, it takes more than one man to bring him down. He’s a little raw, but possesses a lot of potential.

5. Wedley Estime – Estime may be the perfect sleeper. He played one year of high school football, and yet his highlight tape was incredible. The things that jump out are that he can run and he goes all out. He needs to get much bigger and much stronger, and he might not help right away. But down the road, he could be a very good player.

In keeping with another trend, Tech’s staff went heavy on the defensive line, signing six. This has been a focus for Tech’s staff for three straight years now. In fact, the coaches have signed 17 defensive line prospects in that time span, though some didn’t make it to Tech (e.g. DeAntre Rhodes) and others have been moved to the offensive line (e.g. David Wang).

Marshall and Harley headline this group for a couple of reasons – they’re big, quick, fast and can get off blocks. Other defensive line signees include Dewayne Alford, a 6-3, 225-pounder from Suffolk, Va., and Matt Roth, a 6-3, 225-pounder from St. Augustine, Fla.

The staff also added the two defensive linemen from Atlantic Community High in Delray Beach, Fla. – Estime, a 6-3, 215-pounder, and Maddy, a 6-1, 280-pounder.

“It’s hard to find bigger guys who can run,” Cavanaugh said. “That’s why those dominating defensive ends go high in the NFL Draft. They’re hard to find. They can disrupt a game. Look at the success our defensive ends have had over the years. They’re disruptors.”

In addition to the defensive line, Tech’s staff focused on the tight end position, signing four of them. That group includes Malleck; Chris Hall, a 6-5, 232-pounder from Dinwiddie, Va.; Darius Redman, a 6-4, 240-pounder from Washington, D.C.; and Christian Reeves, a 6-3, 215-pounder from Georgia. Hall played quarterback at Dinwiddie High, and Reeves played receiver at his high school in McDonough, Ga., but both possess the traits needed to be successful tight ends.

The Hokies’ staff has come up short on tight end numbers in the past few years in large part because they keep moving them to other positions. Chris Drager [defensive end], Andrew Lanier [offensive tackle] and Greg Nosal [offensive guard] are recent examples, and all turned out to be very good players at their current spots.

“It’s hard to find tight ends these days,” Cavanaugh said. “The high school coaches are all going to these four wides [four wide-receiver sets]. But we like tight ends. They can do a lot of things. They’re good on special teams. Chris Drager is a great example. He was a tight end, and we moved him to defense. He plays on a lot of our special teams.

“I think this group has good size. They’re athletic and they can catch.”

Tech’s other big need came at the cornerback positions, and the staff signed three good ones in Jarrett and Aromire, two SuperPrep All-Americans, and Farrow, the No. 40 “athlete” in the Midwest by Rivals. All possess size and speed.

“In our scheme, we put a lot of pressure on our corners, and you just try to find guys who can play man coverage,” Cavanaugh said. “I like the ones we got.”

Tech’s staff also bolstered the secondary by signing potential safeties in Vandyke and Michael Cole, both of whom were rated No. 11 and No. 15 in Virginia, respectively by The Roanoke Times.

Looking at offense

Courtesy of Adeboye Aromire, a cornerback from Washington, D.C., graduated from H.D. Woodson High early and enrolled at Tech for the spring semester.

Outside of tight end, the staff went light on offense, signing one tailback in Michael Holmes, a 6-1, 200-pounder from Harrisonburg, Va. The departure of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans made tailback a need, and the Hokies landed the state’s most productive in Holmes, who rushed for 5,600 yards and scored 82 touchdowns his final two seasons at Harrisonburg High School.

The staff also brought in three receivers in Robert Lockhart, a 6-2, 175-pounder from Delray Beach, Fla.; Demitri Knowles, a 6-1, 175-pounder from Lynchburg, Va., who has only played football for two years; and Kevin Asante, a 6-0, 175-pounder from Charlotte, N.C. They give the staff three big and fast prospects to work with in the future.

The only other signee on the offensive side of the ball was Goins, a 6-5, 288-pounder from Midlothian, Va., who was one of the best offensive linemen in the state.

Tech’s staff figures to make the offensive line, which loses four starters, and linebacker a point of emphasis with the next recruiting class. They tried to land a couple of high-quality linebackers, but came up short.

“Offensive line will be a priority next year. We lose some good ones next year,” Beamer said. “At linebacker, we have some guys in the program, and a couple of them, we’re interested in seeing what happens in the spring. You wouldn’t mind having another linebacker, but we have some numbers to work with in the spring.”

As for the 2011 crop, Rivals rated it No. 33 nationally, and most recruiting services will probably rate the class between No. 25-35 nationally. That has Tech’s fan base a little upset, as they want to see the Hokies take the next step on the national stage and realize that more great players help toward that goal.

But Tech’s football boss doesn’t get caught up in ratings.

“The bottom line is to be able to win,” Beamer said. “I feel proud of the fact that we’ve been able to win in a consistent fashion, and I take it as a compliment that a lot of the conversation is about taking the next step. That wasn’t in the conversation a few years back. Winning ACC championships wasn’t in the conversation a few years back. I take it as a compliment that we’re talking about what it takes to take that next step.”


Dewayne Alford - DE- 6-3 - 225 - Suffolk, Va. - Nansemond River H.S. - Recruited by Curt Newsome - Hosted by Derrick Hopkins - Also considered JMU, ODU - Rated the No. 30 prospect in Virginia by Rivals

Adeboye Aromire - CB - 6-0 - 180 - Washington, D.C. - H.D. Woodson H.S. - Recruited by Kevin Sherman - Hosted by N/A - Also considered Maryland, Clemson, Georgia, Illinois - Ranked the No. 3 prospect in Washington, D.C., by Rivals

Kevin Asante - WR - 6-0 - 185 - Charlotte, N.C. - Mallard Creek H.S. - Recruited by Kevin Sherman - Hosted by Nick Dew - Also considered WVU, N.C. State, UNC - First-team All-Mecklenburg Co. by The Charlotte Observer

Michael Cole - DB - 6-1 - 200 - Roanoke, Va. - Cave Spring H.S. - Recruited by Bryan Stinespring - Hosted by Trey Gresh - Also considered Penn State, UVa, Duke - Ranked the No. 15 prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times

Wedley Estime - DE/OLB - 6-3 - 215 - Delray Beach, Fla. - Atlantic Community H.S. - Recruited by Charley Wiles - Hosted by Jayron Hosley - Also considered Minnesota - Ranked the No. 35 player in the area by The Palm Beach Post

James Farrow - CB - 6-0 - 170 - Chanhassen, Minn. - Minnetonka H.S. - Recruited by Torrian Gray - Hosted by Zack McCray - Also considered Minnesota, WVU, Michigan State, Wisconsin - No. 54 prospect in Midwest by SuperPrep

Jake Goins - OT - 6-5 - 288 - Midlothian, Va. - Manchester H.S. - Recruited by Jim Cavanaugh - Hosted by Matt Arkema - Also considered UVa, Maryland, Clemson - Rated the No. 21 prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times and SuperPrep

Chris Hall - TE - 6-5 - 232 - Petersburg, Va. - Dinwiddie H.S. - Recruited by Jim Cavanaugh - Hosted by Logan Thomas - Also considered Marshall, UVa - Rated the No. 18 prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times

Kris Harley - DT - 6-1 - 275 - Indianapolis, Ind. - Warren Central H.S. - Recruited by Charley Wiles - Hosted by Zack McCray - Also considered UNC, USC, Ohio State, Purdue - SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American

Michael Holmes - RB - 6-1 - 200 - Harrisonburg, Va. - Harrisonburg H.S. - Recruited by Curt Newsome - Hosted by Tony Gregory - Also considered JMU, Marshall, UNC, UVa - Two-time Group AA player of the year

Kyshoen Jarrett - CB - 5-10 - 175 - Tannersville, Pa. - East Stroudsburg South H.S.- Recruited by Torrian Gray - Hosted by Kyle Fuller - Also considered Pittsburgh, Illinois, Rutgers, Penn State - SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American

Demitri Knowles - WR - 6-0 - 175 - Lynchburg, Va. - Liberty Christian Academy - Recruited by Bryan Stinespring - Hosted by Zack McCray - Also considered UVa - No. 27 prospect in Va. by The Roanoke Times

Robert Lockhart - WR - 6-2 - 175 - Delray Beach, Fla. - West Boca Raton H.S. - Recruited by Torrian Gray - Hosted by Jayron Hosley - Also considered Kansas State, Nebraska, Vandy - First-team all-area by The Palm Beach Post

Luther Maddy - DT - 6-1 - 280 - Delray Beach, Fla. - Atlantic Community H.S. - Recruited by Charley Wiles - Hosted by Jayron Hosley - Also considered Western Michigan - First-team all-area by The Palm Beach Post

Ryan Malleck - TE - 6-5 - 240 - Point Pleasant, N.J. - Point Pleasant Borough H.S. - Recruited by Bryan Stinespring - Hosted by Trey Gresh - Also considered Maryland, UNC, UVa - No. 16 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep

Corey Marshall - DE - 6-2 - 252 - Petersburg, Va. - Dinwiddie H.S. - Recruited by Jim Cavanaugh - Hosted by Logan Thomas - Also considered UVa, WVU, Michigan, Tenn. - SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American

Darius Redman - TE - 6-4 - 240 - Washington, D.C. - H.D. Woodson H.S. - Recruited by Kevin Sherman - Hosted by Nick Dew - Also considered UVa, UNC, Marshall, Temple - No. 17 prospect in Washington, D.C., by SuperPrep

Christian Reeves - TE - 6-3 - 215 - McDonough, Ga. - Eagles Landing Christian Academy - Recruited by Torrian Gray - Hosted by Matt Arkema - Also considered Michigan, Vandy, UCF - No. 48 prospect in Georgia by SuperPrep

Matt Roth - DE - 6-3 - 225 St. - Augustine, Fla. - Nease H.S. - Recruited by Charley Wiles - Hosted by Chase Williams - Also considered South Carolina, WVU, Purdue - No. 14 weakside DE prospect in nation by Rivals

Ronny Vandyke - DB - 6-3 - 200 - Lorton, Va. - South County H.S. - Recruited by Bud Foster - Hosted by Tariq Edwards - Also considered Maryland, Pittsburgh - SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American