Justin Fuente Press Conference Notebook After Early Signing Day 12/18/19

By: Grant Atkinson | @hokie_g | Dec 18, 2019

Virginia Tech knew going into this recruiting cycle that their 2020 recruiting class would be smaller than normal.

“Obviously we don’t have a lot of room,” head coach Justin Fuente said. “We’ve got a pretty darn good football team coming back.”

With that said, the Hokies still signed a talented class that addressed a couple of important needs. Here are some of the highlights from Justin Fuente's comments on today's additions.

#TX2VT Movement

This past weekend, Virginia Tech suddenly started gaining some traction in the state of Texas. Two highly rated defensive ends, Robert Wooten and Alec Bryant, both took official visits to Blacksburg. Almost immediately, the hashtag #TX2VT started popping up all over Twitter.

Today, the Hokies gained commitments from both Wooten and Bryant, who are currently the two highest rated recruits in the class according to 247 Sports. While there has been interest in both players for longer than most fans realize, there’s no doubt that Virginia Tech’s staff made a successful late push for these two Texas natives.

“We have several people on our staff with strong ties to the state [of Texas],” Fuente said. “It’s just a different world than it was just five years ago, quite honestly.” He added that it is much easier today for recruits to get a feel for a school that is not close to them or that they may not have even visited.

In addition to their raw skill, both Wooten and Bryant are fairly big defensive ends. Wooten stands at 6-3, 230 lbs, while Bryant is 6-3, 240 lbs. Fuente mentioned that increased size at defensive end was something that the staff was looking for.

“I do think relative speed and relative length is important,” said Fuente. “We have made a concerted effort to get longer.”

With those two combined with the 6'5'' Justin Beadles and the 6'6'' Derrell Bailey Jr, Virginia Tech has achieved that goal on the defensive line this class.

Light Class In-State

This class has the fewest recruits from the state of Virginia of any in recent memory. As it currently stands, three-star defensive back Lakeem Rudolph is the only in-state player in the 2020 class.

Fuente was very candid when addressing the lack of in-state recruits.

“Quite honestly, there’s some we didn’t get, and there’s some that we didn’t like,” Fuente said. “That’s the truth. I was pretty slow with some things because of the small numbers.”

Fuente added that there were a lot of factors that made this class unlike others. In addition to the small number of scholarships available, he added that the increased ease of recruiting in other states also played a part. The Hokies’ two late recruits from Texas are a perfect example of that.

In any case, Fuente is not worried about the lack of recruits from Virginia. He said that he does not think it is “indicative of anything to come” in future classes.

Looking ahead at the 2021 class, better times in the Commonwealth appear on the way especially with Virginia Tech in hot pursuit of elite talents like five-star CB Tony Grimes, four-star DEs Naquan Brown and Bryce Carter, four-star DL Tyleik Williams and Kelvin Gilliam, and four-star RB/ATH TreVeyon Henderson.

More Bodies at Running Back

One of the first things Fuente mentioned in his presser were the large number of running backs in the class. He said that he and the staff saw running back as an immediate position of need for what will be an older team next season.

“We did feel like at running back, we needed to get immediate help to go along with the rest of our squad,” Fuente said. “I think we did that.”

From the looks of it, the Hokies were indeed able to do that. Including grad transfer Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech signed four running backs in this class. The other three RBs are Jalen Hampton, JUCO transfer Marco Lee, and Jordan Brunson, making up almost 25% of the class.

Equally is important as the quantity of players the Hokies can bring in is the quality of those players. While Fuente is excited about all four running backs, he said that Herbert will bring a unique veteran presence and should be an immediate leader.

“Khalil is a fine young man with a great family,” Fuente said. “It’s really important to me that we try to influence the young players with really good older players if we’re going to bring somebody new in here. I feel like Khalil is going to fit right in.”

Overall, Fuente seems happy with the Hokies’ 2020 class. While it may not be as highly rated as previous classes, Virginia Tech did a good job addressing positions of need, and they look to be in good shape for the future, especially with a roster that returns almost every starter next season.