When Hampton High's Deon Newsome thinks about his recruiting process, there are no tales of negative recruiting involving the state's two Atlantic Coast Conference programs, no smoldering stories of a rivalry gone out of control.
Instead, Newsome's impressions of Virginia and Virginia Tech are rooted in how diligent each school was in its recruitment — and how in his case, Tech was maybe just a bit more ardent.
"There was a point when Virginia was on me pretty heavy," said Newsome, who committed last week to Tech, following in the footsteps of his father Myron, a former standout linebacker for the Hokies. "Whenever I talked to U.Va., Tech would come even harder. There was a point when I was seeing (Tech assistant coach Curt Newsome, who is no relation to Deon or Myron) at the school like once or sometimes twice every week, but there wasn't anything crazy going on between the two schools."
Though the Hampton Roads area might seem like the most fertile staging ground for intense recruiting tussles featuring U.Va. and Tech, especially given U.Va.'s success in the area since coach Mike London — who graduated from Bethel High — has taken over, it appears the most exciting thing going on is nose-to-the-grind recruiting by both programs.
That's boring, but it's more a product of how the recruiting calendar works these days. College coaches have limited opportunities to meet with recruits because of NCAA restrictions. More recruits are making college decisions earlier these days — many by the end of the summer before they take official visits.
These factors, plus scholarship limitations, the necessity of filling need areas in a hurry and the amount of competition from programs outside the state for Hampton Roads recruits, makes getting quick commitments a necessity. Coaches from both U.Va. and Tech would have you believe there isn't much time for bad-mouthing the in-state neighbor.
"I'm not worried about Virginia Tech," said Jeff Hanson, U.Va's recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach. "They're going to get theirs, and we're going to get ours.
"Hampton Roads, Tidewater and that 757 area code is always going to be very, very important to us, because there's a lot of players down there, but there's enough to go around for Virginia Tech and Virginia."
In terms of the 2013 recruiting class, with Newsome and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring heading up the Hokies' recruiting efforts in Hampton Roads, Tech has the lead on U.Va. when it comes to garnering commitments from Hampton Roads prospects.
Tech has 11 commitments, five of which are from the Peninsula or Southside, including Deon Newsome, offensive tackle Parker Osterloh (Warhill), linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka (Salem in Virginia Beach), cornerback Charles Clark (Kings Fork) in Suffolk and highly-touted quarterback Bucky Hodges (Salem).
"I don't get into a rivalry when I'm recruiting," said Stinespring, who resumed his Hampton Roads recruiting duties in January 2011 after concentrating on recruiting in southwest and central Virginia for nearly five years before 2011. Curt Newsome, a Phoebus High graduate, and Jim Cavanaugh focused on Hampton Roads during that five-year span.
"I concentrate on what we're doing, how we're doing it and doing it to the best of our ability. That's where you should focus your efforts on, and not what anybody else is doing or any other parameters in recruiting."
U.Va., which has only about 20 scholarships (five below the NCAA maximum of 25 per year) to offer the '13 class according to Hanson, made offers to all of the aforementioned Hampton Roads area players except Motuapuaka. U.Va. has six commitments for the '13 class, including just one from Hampton Roads — wide receiver Zack Jones (Oscar Smith in Chesapeake), who didn't have an offer from Tech.
Tech and U.Va. also are in the mix for Taquan Mizzell (Bayside in Virginia Beach), who is considered one of the nation's top 35 running back prospects by most recruiting analysts. He has offers from at least 20 programs.
Tech's surge this year is a departure from how the recruiting scene in Hampton Roads has looked in recent years. Since London took over at U.Va. in December 2009, cornerbacks coach and assistant recruiting coordinator Chip West, a Kecoughtan High graduate, has been a recruiting star in Hampton Roads.
In its past three recruiting classes, U.Va. picked up 22 of 69 signees (32 percent) from Hampton Roads, including running back Clifton Richardson (Menchville), quarterback David Watford (Hampton), and linebackers Daquan Romero and Caleb Taylor (Phoebus) in the '11 class.
Hampton Roads is the area West is responsible for mining mostly on his own for the Cavaliers. Linebackers coach Vincent Brown recruits Hampton High.
Tech has gotten just seven of its 68 signees (10 percent) from Hampton Roads in the past three recruiting classes. Even the '09 recruiting class, which was prior to London's arrival, featured more Hampton Roads signees heading to U.Va. (seven of 25 signees) than Tech (three of 20 signees).
Tech's last signees from the Peninsula District came in 2009 from defensive ends James Gayle (Bethel) and Tyrel Wilson (Hampton). Now Tech, which had limited scholarship availability in '09, '10 and '11, looks to be on the verge of breaking the Hampton Roads drought.
"It goes cyclical," Oscar Smith coach Richard Morgan said. "It's year-to-year based on what kids are looking for, how many offers a school has to give out, what the depth chart looks like compared to what position they play.
"It's a kid-by-kid basis. If you're the two in-state schools, you're going to go after the same guys one year after another, but I haven't noticed any more intensity from one side or another."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun