Monday Mail: Stinespring’s Impact at Old Dominion, the Final Recruiting Push and More

Welcome back Hokies. Virginia Tech is making their final recruiting push on a couple of prospects over the next several days, with National Signing Day on the immediate horizon. By Feb. 6, we’ll know exactly how Virginia Tech is going to finish the 2019 class.

There’s plenty of other items to talk about, so let’s get to it.

Virginia Tech will never truly rid themselves of former offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. Since leaving the program after the 2015 season, Stinespring has not strayed far from Virginia.

Stinespring, also referred to as “Stiney”, spent two seasons at James Madison before spending the 2018 season as the offensive line coach at Maryland. Now, Stinespring is at Old Dominion as the tight ends coach and run game coordinator.

In short, I do not think Stinespring at Old Dominion will have a noticeable impact on Virginia Tech’s in-state recruiting efforts. Even though the Monarchs upset Virginia Tech last season in one of Tech’s recruiting hotbeds, Old Dominion and Tech are not in the same tier. Old Dominion cannot recruit at Virginia Tech’s level, whether it be because of ODU’s Conference USA affiliation, or the fact that Old Dominion trails Tech in nearly every conceivable fashion as a football program.

Tech and Old Dominion rarely recruit the same players. Even if both schools have offered a particular recruit, once Tech jumps in on that player, Old Dominion is usually removed from the conversation. A scholarship at the Power 5 level means a whole lot more than one from C-USA.

There will be rare instances that the two schools are in the mix for the same player. Consider 2018 signee Elijah Davis, who hails from the Lynchburg area. Both schools recruited Davis heavily, and Davis ultimately chose Old Dominion. However, Tech’s offer was as a preferred walk-on, and any recruit with a lick of sense will choose a full ride over a walk-on situation.

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Stinespring could theoretically negatively recruit against Virginia Tech in the state, but I’ve never taken Stiney for that type of person. From my understanding, there are no hard feelings between Stinespring and the Tech program, so negative recruiting shouldn’t be an issue.

Stinespring’s 2018 stint at Maryland had way more potential to affect Tech’s recruiting efforts in the Commonwealth, but the black eye of the Jordan McNair situation made it hard for that Maryland staff to recruit against anyone.

And in case you missed it, Stinespring isn’t the only former Tech assistant joining Old Dominion’s staff. Former safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Galen Scott will coach the Monarch’s secondary.

I can see both of these things happening, to be honest. I think Virginia Tech can win eight or more games, and I think if they do some of the fanbase will still consider it to be a mediocre season.

The fact of the matter is that if Virginia Tech can win eight or more games next season, it should be considered a success. Most of the 2018 roster will return next season, and a lot of development will need to occur if Tech is to win more than six games.

Ultimately, I think Tech will return from the 2018 doldrums with a solid season. It’s unlikely Tech fights for 10 wins, but anything at or above the eight-win mark would be a successful season. If Tech can build towards a highly-competitive 2020 season, then 2019 will have done its job.

The following year, 2020, is when Virginia Tech will know whether or not Justin Fuente will get the Hokies where everyone wants them to be. Nearly every position on the roster will have multiple years of starting experience, and Fuente will have had handpicked nearly every player on the roster. His roster will be entirely of his creation, and Tech should have talent and depth at every spot on the field.

That season’s schedule bodes well for the Hokies, too. They get an uber-important non-conference game at Lane Stadium vs. Penn State, and they’ll host Miami and Virginia as well. Their toughest road tests include Louisville, Pittsburgh and potentially North Carolina, all of whom can be defeated every time out.

Everyone should have their eyes on the 2020 season. If Virginia Tech can return to competitive form in 2019 and compete for a divisional title in the weak ACC Coastal, then fans should feel great about the future. If 2019 is another up-and-down season that results in another narrow bowl appearance, then the outlook for 2020 becomes less peachy.

At this point, the starting quarterback odds for 2019 are very shaky. There are too many practices and too much time between now and Aug. 31 at Boston College to have a good read on the situation.

Ryan Willis gives Tech an experienced option with loads of arm talent, but it is Willis’ final season and if 2020 is the goal, then starting him for all of 2019 would be a bit of a waste. Josh Jackson provides just as much experience and time in the offense, but his arm talent is considerably lower. Quincy Patterson is coming off a redshirt season and gives Tech the most upside at the position. Also, if he sticks around, Hendon Hooker will be given a fair shot at climbing the ladder.

Personally, I think Willis and Patterson are likely to be the final two in the quarterback race. Willis probably gives the team the best chance to win right now, but Patterson is the long-term answer. Virginia Tech’s short and long-term future depends on the development of Patterson, and it might be beneficial to give him a season’s worth of run before trying to make a serious run at the ACC.

This spring should shed some light on the situation. Not that Virginia Tech reveals very much openly, but you can read between the lines a little bit when it comes to Fuente and offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen. How they look in the spring game will matter more.

Virginia Tech has 19 recruits signed as a part of their Class of 2019. Because Tech has taken a large number of kids in the last two recruiting classes, there’s only so many spots available on the Blacksburg bus. That being said, there are a couple names that fans should keep an eye on.

One is four-star offensive lineman Doug Nester, who technically is committed to Ohio State. Nester, who is originally from West Virginia, committed to Ohio State early in the process and many thought his recruitment was finished. However, when Urban Meyer announced his retirement at Ohio State, that changed things.

Nester is taking official visits, with Ohio State already in the rear-view mirror (Jan. 18) and Penn State next on the schedule (Jan. 26). Virginia Tech is slated to host Nester on Feb. 2 and getting the final crack at Nester is a good thing. At the moment, I’d say Nester is a 50-50 shot between sticking with the Buckeyes or defecting to the Hokies. Tech will certainly make room for Nester, should he want to sign.

Junior college transfer Jaden Cunningham, a 326-pound defensive tackle from Hutchinson Community College, is probably signing with Virginia Tech. Tech has been all over him and by all accounts, getting him qualified is the primary hiccup. I have a feeling it will work out and that Cunningham will sign with the Hokies.

In-state linebacker Eugene Asante is another possibility, but Florida State, North Carolina and UCLA are all pursuing him. Tech could use a rangy linebacker like Asante, but Asante has official visits coming to Florida State (Jan. 25) and North Carolina (Feb. 1). At the moment, I’d peg Asante heading elsewhere.

I think Virginia Tech will end up with Jaden Cunningham at worst, as well as the already committed Jahad Carter. But if Nester jumps ship and signs with the Hokies, it’ll be a signing day coup.

2 thoughts on “Monday Mail: Stinespring’s Impact at Old Dominion, the Final Recruiting Push and More”

  1. Ricky, does Jackson have 2 more years of eligibility? If so, why dont you think he can be effective with a better O-Line and receivers than he had in 2017? If Quincy was so much better, dont you think we would have at least seen him throw the ball this year? Only issues i had with Jackson was he lacked quickness when being pressured. These kids have every training opportunity available so you would think he is being advised to improve his footwork and quick twitch muscles. I liked his command of the offense. Hate to see him just leave. Thoughts?

    1. I still like Jackson, without injury we had a chance against ODU. Willis was a good backup, who still doesn’t have a winning season. Patterson hasn’t shown anything yet. Bottom line don’t let opponent score. Score on offense, Beamer ball on special teams. Put the best players on the field.

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