Sep 7, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Western Carolina Catamounts running back Garry Lewis (25) gets tackled from behind by Virginia Tech Hokies defensive end James Gayle (99) during the first quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies were unable to get any of the three five-star recruits in the state of Virginia in the past recruiting cycle but the Hokies are more optomistic that they can be more successful with the Class of 2015. The Hokies know that Virginia doesn’t have the same level of elite prospects but they still have a couple of five-star level talents and its led by defensive end Josh Sweat. Josh Sweat is currently the number 1 target for the Hokies and is definitely someone that Frank Beamer and Hokie Nation want in Blacksburg as a commit and not just a recruit visiting or as a member of another major program.
5-Star defensive end Josh Sweat of Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Virginia is ranked as the sixth best prospect by 247 Sports and fourth in the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015. Josh Sweat is going to be one of the most heavily pursued defensive ends in all of recruiting as top schools from the ACC, SEC, and Big 10 all will be doing what they can to get Sweat to commit to their school. The top challengers specifically for the Hokies seem to be Ohio State, Florida State, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama with all four of those schools being reasonable challengers. Sweat is going to be one of the most heavily pursued recruits this year and the Hokies are definitely going to be in contention for him the whole time unlike Da’Shawn Hand.
The Virginia Tech Hokies will have many strong recruiting pitches for Josh Sweat and the first is the obvious, Blacksburg’s proximity to Chesapeake compared to other schools. With it being hard for families to travel to watch their kids at the collegiate level, the trip from the Norfolk area to Blacksburg would be a lot nicer than one to Tallahassee, Columbus, or Athens. Proximity to home is not as big of a factor as it was in the past but it can definitely help the Hokies.
Oct 12, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster stands on the sidelines during the fourth quarter in the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Lane Stadium. The Hokies defeated Pitt 19-9. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Next, Virginia Tech has pulled in some elite recruits like Kendall Fuller and we’ve seen how those players have made a huge early impact. Fuller might have started most of the season but Brandon Facyson had to fight a little more for playing time and despite not starting almost every game, Facyson still started multiple games and proved that he is going to be a first-round pick in a future NFL Draft. Josh Sweat would likely be behind Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem on the depth chart if he came to Virginia Tech but Sweat would definitely be able to rotate in a lot and make a big impact.
Virginia Tech also has the best defensive coordinator in the business in Bud Foster who doesn’t get top recruits normally yet Foster still produces top 5 defenses and tons of NFL players. As shown by Kendall Fuller, Bud Foster can turn elite prospects into extremely successful football players and that has to appear to Josh Sweat. Sweat will have seen the success of a guy like James Gayle and know that he has a great chance to have Bud Foster develop him into a very high NFL Draft pick.
Virginia Tech will have some tough competition mainly from Florida State and Ohio State with both schools also having a history of giving elite recruits the chance at a fair amount of early playing time. However, Virginia Tech is built more for 2015 and could have a big year in Sweat’s first season while Ohio State and Florida State could have some difficulties as Braxton Miller will have graduated and Jameis Winston will also likely be in the NFL. This advantage in opportunity for success early-on in his career could be very intriguing to Sweat.
One indicator that the Hokies are the current frontrunners for Josh Sweat is the fact that Sweat took an unofficial visit to Virginia Tech April 10th. Also, Virginia Tech was the only school last year that was able to get Sweat to come in for a camp and Sweat has not attended a Junior Day or camp at any other schools. The Hokies will also likely have a major impetus on trying to get Sweat soon and they definitely have a chance to put some distance on Florida State, Ohio State, and other major programs. Virginia Tech has a very strong chance at keeping Josh Sweat in Virginia but it definitely will be a challenge.
Follow us on Twitter @GobblerFighting and sign up for our newsletter for the latest news and analysis on the Hokies.