Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 11 No. 3 | January 2019

The second early national signing period came and went smoothly for the Virginia Tech football program, but head coach Justin Fuente admitted the new date change still seemed odd to him. “It used to be, as a coach on signing day, you’ve just gotten off the road for an entire month of January, and you were going to work until about noon and go have a good time,” Fuente said. “And that’s over.” Rest assured, though, that the staff celebrated its haul, as 19 prospects signed letters-of-intent with the Hokies during the period, which started Dec. 19 and ended Dec. 21. The class included a nice balance of players on both sides of the ball—10 on offense, nine of defense—and while coaches rarely pay attention to recruiting rankings, they certainly had to be pleased that most services devoted to recruiting rated the class among the top 30 nationally and among the top five in the ACC. Digging a little deeper, 247Sports, one of those services, rated the Hokies’ class at No. 29 nationally, while ESPN ranked it No. 30 and Rivals at No. 31. All three had the class at No. 4 in the 14-team ACC. “I’m excited to get them here,” Fuente said of the recruits. “We’ve been developing these relationships with these kids for a long time. We may not know everything about them, but we know a lot about them, and we’ve been with them for a long time. To finally have them signed and make it become official—and let me get to talk about them and really focus on the next step—is a fun part of the job.” The class includes six prospects from Virginia, bringing the number to 12 Virginians signed by Fuente and his staff over the past two seasons. It also includes three Floridians, and two each from North Carolina and South Carolina, as the staff stuck to recruiting mostly the school’s regional base. The class features four defensive tackles, four receivers, three offensive linemen, three defensive backs, two running backs, two linebackers and a tight end. The only position not addressed was the quarterback spot, though Tech’s staff brought in quarterbacks in each of the past three classes. The staff addressed arguably its biggest need with the signing of four defensive tackles—Norell Pollard, DaShawn Crawford, Mario Kendricks, and Josh Fuga. Pollard and Kendricks hail from Florida, while Crawford is a junior-college transfer from Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi. Fuga de-committed from Temple late in the process to sign with the Hokies. Crawford bring some experience, having recorded 38 tackles (15 for a loss) and 2.5 sacks last season for Jones County. The others bring youth, but all bring production, led by Fuga (71 tackles, 21 for a loss, and 18 sacks as a senior). He was the regional and district player defensive player of the year this past season. The question will be how quickly these four contribute. Tech’s staff needs for them to contribute right away. Outside of Jarrod Hewitt and Xavier Burke, the Hokies have no defensive tackles with any meaningful experience. VIRGINIA TECH football program adds 19 during early signing period JOSH FUGA JADEN PAYOUTE The Hokies’ staff filled needs by adding four defensive tackles and four receivers as part of a class that ranked among the top 30 nationally by Jimmy Robertson