There’s some truth to the notion that Virginia Tech has a recruiting ceiling. Simply put, the Hokies can’t recruit above a certain level.
Raising that ceiling can be difficult. It requires a lot of winning, a lot of fans who care — I’m looking at you, North Carolina — and even a lot of money. It can take a long time to get those things in order.
A quicker way to boost your recruiting profile is to find the “diamond in the rough” prospect, develop him and send him to the NFL. You do that enough, and recruits will see themselves using your school to get to the promised land.
The NFL doesn’t care where you come from. The defending national champion Crimson Tide? Of course. Division II Ashland University? If you’re Chicago Bears tight end Adam Shaheen, yes.
Of course, it’s more likely that you will have a professional career if you play football at Alabama than if you play at Ashland. So as a college coach, you want to send more players to the pros. That is why the selections of Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at No. 16 (Buffalo Bills) and safety Terrell Edmunds at No. 28 (Pittsburgh Steelers) in the 2018 NFL Draft is so important.
Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds are just the 10th and 11th Virginia Tech players to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, or the 11th and 12th if you count Mike Johnson, who was taken in the NFL’s supplemental draft in 1984. Eleven first-round picks might sound like a decent amount, but when you look at how the Hokies compare to other programs, it isn’t all that much.
Here are the top-10 college football programs, as it relates to first-round NFL Draft picks.
(Note: All figures via Winsipedia and do not include 2018 NFL Draft picks.)
Clearly, Virginia Tech doesn’t come close to some of the premiere programs. Virginia Tech’s nine first-round picks entering Thursday was tied for 54th nationwide. When you just compare the Hokies to the rest of the ACC, they don’t stack up well there either.
This is why Edmunds’ selections are so important. The Edmunds family made history on Thursday night, as Tremaine and Terrell became the first two brothers to be taken in the first round of the same NFL Draft. Virginia Tech needs to show recruits that they can achieve their goals in Blacksburg. Clearly they can, but there are dozens of other schools who have a better track record of sending players to the NFL.
The Edmunds brothers should be used as the poster children for Virginia Tech recruiting. The Hokies will continue to recruit those four and five-star players, but Edmunds gives Virginia Tech a blueprint that they can lay out for the average high school football recruit.
The youngest Edmunds, Tremaine, wasn’t always a 6-foot-5, 253-pound specimen. The Danville, Va. native was just a three-star recruit in the Class of 2015 with just six other Power 5 offers. Edmunds wasn’t a highly-recruited high school player, and not many thought much of him until 2016, when Edmunds started his first full season for Virginia Tech.
Edmunds turned into one of the Hokies’ best players in his two-plus seasons worth of starts, finishing with 100-plus tackles in 2016 and 2017. Edmunds finished his Virginia Tech career with 10 career sacks and 35 career tackles for loss, both of which are impressive numbers.
Terrell Edmunds wasn’t projected as a first-round pick, but the Steelers clearly saw something they liked. The former three-star defensive back played three positions in the secondary for Virginia Tech, making 31 career starts and six career interceptions. Terrell was stout against the run and though he struggled at times at free safety, he was good in coverage throughout his career and served as a leader for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech was able to coach and develop Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds into first-round draft picks. Their career tracks should show future prospects that even if you aren’t a highly-touted recruit, you can still get to where you want to go at Virginia Tech. The Hokies need more of those examples.
Virginia Tech is making headway in the other areas to raise their recruiting ceiling. The Hokies have won 19 games over the last two seasons, have had greater success in pulling in large donations and have made several facility upgrades with more to come. But if Virginia Tech wants to break through that glass ceiling, they need to have more success sending players to the NFL. Having two of your players go in the first round of the NFL Draft is a step in the right direction.