Kevin Jones, Xavier Adibi, Jeff King and Jayron Hosley played some awfully good football at Virginia Tech. The first three became NFL draft picks, and Hosley will join the club in April.
Comparing new prospects to such talents sets a high bar, but that’s exactly where recruiting director Jim Cavanaugh ventured during a national signing day teleconference with reporters Wednesday.
He wasn’t alone, either. Big whistle Frank Beamer echoed one of the comparisons and gushed about some other recruits.
This may be SOP at other programs, but it’s pretty unusual for seasoned hands Cav and Beamer. So call me naïve, but I’m going to consider their evaluations sincere rather than manufactured.
Here are some details:
* Cavanaugh said linebacker Deon Clarke from Richmond’s L.C. Bird “is very similar to … Xavier Adibi. He can flat run.”
A Phoebus High graduate, Adibi led the ACC champion Hokies in tackles as a senior in 2007, when he was first-team all-conference and third-team Associated Press All-American. The Houston Texans drafted him in the fourth round.
* Beamer and Cavanaugh said tailback Drew Harris from suburban Philadelphia’s Downington East High reminds folks in Pennsylvania of Jones, who hails from the same area and chose Tech over Penn State.
The two are built similarly, about 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. Jones is the school’s No. 2 career rusher and was a consensus first-team All-American as a junior in 2003 after running for 1,647 yards.
A first-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, he rushed for more than 1,133 yards in his rookie year of 2004 before injuries doomed his career.
The Jones game I most recall: As a freshman in 2001, he lugged the ball 37 times for 181 yards and a touchdown in a victory at Virginia. Twelve of those carries came in the fourth quarter, a true sign of a workhorse.
* Tight end Dakota Jackson from Roanoke’s Northside High reminds Cavanaugh of Jeff King, a fifth-round Carolina Panthers pick in 2006. King had great hands and was athletic enough to moonlight on the Hokies’ basketball team.
He caught a modest 26 passes as a senior in 2005, but six were for touchdowns. The one catch of his that still endures was a difficult snare of a Bryan Randall fastball to convert a third-and-10 and burn precious, fourth-quarter time as Tech clinched its first ACC championship with a 16-10 victory at Miami.
King just completed his sixth NFL season, his first with the Arizona Cardinals. He started 10 games and caught 27 passes with a career-best three touchdowns.
* Cavanaugh raved about the cover skills of cornerbacks Donaldven Manning (Miami Central) and Davion Tookes (Creekside High, Fairburn, Ga.).
“They are cover corners that are worth their weight in gold nowadays,” Cavanaugh said. “You can play man coverage. If they can take those wideouts, it allows you to get another man in the box on defense.
“Both these kids, sometimes it’s hard to find, both these kids have great hands. Very similar to Jayron Hosley.”
Hosley was a second-team AP All-American in 2010, when he matched a school record with nine interceptions. He wasn’t as good this past season but still declared early for the NFL.
Without making direct comparisons to past Hokies, Beamer and Cavanaugh also created high expectations for several other recruits.
“He’s a special player in this group,” Cavanaugh said of tailback/linebacker Trey Edmunds from Dan River High near Danville. “He’s a very unique athlete. He could play outside linebacker. Obviously we ‘re going to try and see if he could play tailback here.”
Cavanaugh said he could envision Edmunds playing both ways, focusing on one side of the ball and entering for specific packages on the other.
“There’s a lot of things this kid can do,” Beamer said. “I think that’s a great, great catch for Virginia Tech.”
Receiver Mark Irick hails from the same high school, Calhoun County in St. Matthews, S.C., as South Carolina All-America wideout Alshon Jeffrey.
“He has the same makings as Jeffrey,” Cavanaugh said.
Finally, Cavanaugh hyped defensive lineman Alston Smith of Virginia Beach’s Cox High, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Hokies All-American Bruce Smith.
“He’s one of these kids every time you see them he looks like he’s an inch taller and about 10 pounds heavier,” Cavanaugh said. “He will have a great career here.”
Virginia Tech has won at least 10 games in each of the last eight seasons, but consistent top-10, Bowl Championship Series success has eluded the Hokies.
“I think we took another step toward reaching our goals here at Virginia Tech,” Beamer said of his 2012 class. “There’s no question we’ve won a lot of games. We just need to take that next step and get some BCS games.”
File these quotes in the archives. They’ll be interesting to revisit in a few years.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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