Justin Fuente Rejuvenates Virginia Tech’s In-State Recruiting

    Virginia Tech's Justin Fuente capped off his first season in Blacksburg with an ACC title game appearance. Now, he is putting together a very strong Class of 2017 for the Hokies.

    January 25, 2017

    Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente capped off his first season in Blacksburg with an ACC title game appearance. Now, he is putting together a very strong Class of 2017 for the Hokies.

    Virginia Tech is a re-energized program under Justin Fuente.

    The Hokies head coach just completed a 10-4 debut campaign in Blacksburg, complete with a solid showing against eventual College Football Playoff national champion Clemson. That momentum on the field has carried over to the recruiting trail, where VT is one of the hottest schools as we creep ever so closer to National Signing Day.

    This past Monday, the Hokies landed their fourth verbal pledge in as many days when Robert Porcher IV committed to the school. He became the 25th commit in the 2017 cycle. Before the pledge from the Florida defensive end, who was originally committed to Nebraska, Campus Insiders colleague Robert Judin had the Hokies at No. 17 in the 2017 recruiting class rankings, which is up from No. 25 in the previous rankings. Quite a jump in a short amount of time for an ACC program not named Clemson, Florida State or Miami.

    Porcher was the latest addition to a class that this staff has tirelessly put together. Last Friday, the Hokies beat out the likes of Florida, Alabama and Auburn for Devon Hunter, who is arguably the No. 1 safety in the nation. The commitment is huge because not since quarterback Tyrod Taylor in 2007 has VT signed a player from the state of Virginia as ballyhooed as Hunter. Hokie fans were used to the state’s top stars such as Josh Sweat (2015) and DeShawn Hand (2014) going to major powers such as Florida State and Alabama, respectively. With Hunter, the Hokies finally won the sweepstakes, so to speak.

    The day after Hunter pledged, cornerback Bryce Watts came into the fold. That momentum continued on Sunday, when the Hokies flipped Dylan Rivers from Penn State, which is riding high from its Big Ten title game win. He is one of the better outside linebackers in this class. In Hunter and Rivers, the Hokies landed commitments from two of the state’s Top 10 recruits. Big “gets” for the Hokies.

    What makes the decisions by Hunter and Rivers so important for Fuente and his staff is that they were pledges from in-state prospects—and it hasn’t always been easy to keep the state’s best players home with the Hokies, or even the Virginia Cavaliers for that matter.

    During the latter part of the Frank Beamer era, top in-state prospects weren’t exactly flocking to Blacksburg in bunches. The tumble down the standings and looming retirement of Beamer certainly didn’t help. But in this cycle, Fuente already has pledges from Hunter and Rivers, and the Hokies remain in play for another consensus Top 10 in-state recruit when defensive end/athlete TyJuan Garbutt makes his decision soon. He pledged to the Hokies last February before opening up his commitment again in the summer.

    The landscape is much different than it was last year, when Fuente was taking over for Beamer and trying to salvage a class. So much uncertainty led the Hokies to get shut out of the state’s best talent. It was so rough that Duke actually landed two of the better signees from the state: athlete Scott Bracey and tight end Mark Birmingham. Don’t expect that to be a regular occurrence.

    In a short amount of time, Fuente has shown that he can make an impact on the recruiting trail, this after already taking VT to an ACC title game in his first season. That instant success on the field is selling right now on the recruiting trail.

    More wins on the field will only lead to more coups in the homes of top recruits, players such as running back Khalan Laborn and defensive tackle Eric Crosby, two in-state recruits who are headed to Florida State and Tennessee, respectively. Success breeds success, and Fuente’s track record as a head coach speaks for itself.

    With about a week left before National Signing Day, how strong can VT close in Fuente’s first full class? At this point, the sky is seemingly the limit.

    Note: Scout rankings, ratings and photos used in this article.

    MORE: National Signing Day: Potential Commitment Flips


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