Hokies Football: Could DT Tim Settle End Up Redshirting in 2015?

National Signing Day was five months ago and the players that signed for the Hokies that day are now moving into their new home on the campus in Blacksburg. These players will go through orientation tomorrow as they prepare to go through summer workouts and likely take some summer classes.

One of the two headline names of this group of players is top Class of 2015 DT Tim Settle. Settle was one of the last players to join the Hokies’ Class of 2015, committing at the Under Armour All-America Game this past January on ESPN.

Settle has tremendous size (6’3”, 315 pounds) that the Hokies haven’t often had in an incoming freshman defensive tackle. Settle is a power, space eater that has the potential to be one of the best defensive linemen that the Hokies have ever had come through the program.

There were concerns that Settle wasn’t going to make it to Virginia Tech this fall due to academics, but Settle got the job done in the classroom and is arriving in Blacksburg this weekend. Settle will definitely come in ready to compete and show why he was ranked as one of the best defensive tackles in the Class of 2015.

However, could Settle still end up being redshirted this fall? The possibility of that seems higher than many on the outside would expect.

The main reason for this is the fact that Virginia Tech has tremendous depth at the defensive tackle spot. The Hokies are bringing both starting defensive tackles back in Corey Marshall and Nigel Williams with Williams dropping back to being a backup defensive tackle with the return of Luther Maddy from injury. The Hokies’ impressive defensive tackle depth goes beyond having a very good, experienced defensive tackle duo starting and the best backup DT in the ACC.

The Hokies have plenty of depth and experience with Ricky Walker and Woody Baron who have been battling to be the fourth defensive tackle on the depth chart behind the aforementioned trio. Vincent Mihota is still at defensive tackle for now also though there seems to be a good chance that he moves to defensive end.

Right now, Tim Settle seems likely to start sixth or seventh on the depth chart at defensive tackle, and while Settle is very talented, him climbing above Walker and Baron in a month to a position where he could get playing time seems unlikely. Unless Settle climbs above those guys, it would make common sense for the Hokies to redshirt Settle.

If Settle actually did have some academic concerns, redshirting him this fall would also help him make the transition from high school to college while being able to focus on developing. Settle has the potential to be one of the best defensive tackles ever for the Hokies and making the transition easier would be another benefit of redshirting him.

Tim Settle is a tremendously talented defensive tackle that will be starting for the Hokies in the not-too-distant future. However, Settle’s time to make his debut for the Hokies might not be this fall.

Hokies Recruiting: Virginia Tech Leading a Heavily Contested Battle for 4-Star WR Tino Ellis

The Virginia Tech Hokies are putting together a solid recruiting class that received two huge additions in June in QB Joshua Jackson and WR Eric Kumah who are both rated as four-star recruits by ESPN. However, the Hokies have the potential to add some more top recruits, mainly from outside of Virginia.

One of those players is four-star WR Tino Ellis from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Ellis is scheduled to make an announcement on where he will be playing college football at on July 31st. Ellis is seen as one of the top 10 players in Maryland and a four-star recruit by ESPN, 247 Sports, and Rivals. Ellis is also ranked as a top 300 player and top 50 wide receiver by Rivals and 247 Sports while ESPN has him as the 65th best wide receiver even with his four-star grade.

So far, Ellis has received 13 offers, but the Hokies lead a group of six schools that the DeMatha Catholic wide receiver is focused on with the other four being Maryland, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kentucky, and Nebraska. The Wildcats, Cornhuskers, and Mountaineers seem to be the longshots of this group of six schools, but Rutgers and especially Maryland have good chances to get Ellis.

Rutgers is looking to build a recruiting pipeline in the Mid-Atlantic with Ellis being a major piece of that in the Class of 2016. Rutgers has two low three-star recruits currently committed from the state of Maryland, but Ellis would be a big pickup to help build that pipeline.

Maryland has been making a strong push in their own state this recruiting cycle with the Terrapins already getting some of the best from their home state including QB Dwayne Haskins. Randy Edsall recently received a contract extension, which will be valuable in recruiting especially with some of the past rumors before 2014 about him heading towards the hot seat in College Park.

The Terrapins have lost some momentum in their own state after Penn State beat the Terrapins and Hokies out for four-star DT Ellison Jordan. The Terrapins know that missing out on Tino Ellis would hurt their recruiting momentum for top players in Maryland and Washington D.C.. Maryland will make the strongest push they can all the way up to Ellis’s decision on July 31st.

The Hokies are the frontrunners for Ellis, but the Hokies still need to make a strong push to beat out Maryland and Rutgers. The Hokies are in a good position to give Ellis the opportunity to play early, following the examples of Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips in 2014.

One critical point that could make the difference for the Hokies is the fact that Phillips also played at DeMatha Catholic. Having someone like Phillips who has gotten significant early playing time at the same position from the same high school as Tino Ellis has to be a recruiting advantage against the rest of the field.

Phillips could end up being the most valuable recruiter for the Hokies in getting Ellis to join a class that already has wide receivers Eric Kumah and Samuel Denmark committed on full scholarships, and Connor O’Donnell on a grayshirt. Having three wide receivers already committed will likely be used against the Hokies, but the Phillips connection will likely be very valuable.

With the decision still four weeks away, the Hokies are still the favorites to get Tino Ellis, but it will be an intense battle between Virginia Tech, Maryland, Rutgers, West Virginia, Nebraska, and Kentucky. All six schools have a shot, and there are some twists and turns that could still happen in Ellis’s recruitment.

Hokies Women’s Soccer: Could Ashley Meier Represent the United States in a Future World Cup?

The Virginia Tech Hokies have seen their olympic sports teams improve since joining the ACC and that has been headlined by the rise of the women’s soccer team under the leadership of Chugger Adair.

Adair has brought in some great players along with doing a great job at developing those players into fantastic teams. Adair has taken the Hokies to the College Cup and might be able to lead the Hokies to their first ever national title in any sport in the near future.

That is definitely a possibility next season with the talent that is returning headlined by star midfielder and three-year starter Ashley Meier.

Meier has been a star for the Hokies in the tough ACC which has been the best women’s soccer conference while Meier has been at Virginia Tech. Meier has been named to the All-ACC Second Team three times, and has the talent to be an All-American as a senior with a strong season in the center of midfield.

Meier’s strong play throughout her collegiate career has drawn the attention of scouts for U.S. Soccer with Meier joining the U.S. U-23 squad this summer for a few weeks and even receiving some game action. Meier seems likely to make a return to the U.S. U-23 squad in the future and with some players running out of eligibility at that level, Meier may be able to earn a starting spot.

Meier’s collegiate success also lines her up to play professionally in the United States and be taken very high up in the 2016 NWSL Draft given that she has another strong season for the Hokies. Meier seems a likely candidate to be a captain her senior season while she could also go down as the best player for the Hokies depending on how the 2015 season goes, especially if the Hokies can make another deep NCAA Tournament run.

There is no doubt that Ashley Meier and the Hokies’ sights in the fall will be set on trying to win Virginia Tech’s first national title in any sport. Meier’s experience with the national team this past May and June will definitely be valuable for the Hokies in the tough ACC when going against other national powerhouses like Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida State.

With the United States set to play in the Women’s World Cup final Sunday, you have to start wondering if we might just see Meier on the team in 2019 or 2023. Meier’s chances aren’t great, but she has set herself up on a path to potentially have a shot at playing for the U.S. National Team in a future World Cup down the road with a career in the NWSL likely ahead for the senior midfielder from Ohio.

Hokies Football: Luther Maddy’s Return is Flying Under the Radar

There has been plenty of talk about some of Virginia Tech’s defensive standouts as columnists and analysts across the country look ahead to the 2015 College Football season. Deservingly, the most talked about player has been Kendall Fuller who is one of the top 5 or 6 defensive players in all of college football.

On the defensive line, Dadi Nicolas has been the headline name after an impressive 2014 season. A strong 2015 season will likely have Nicolas projected as a late first to second round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Nicolas and Ken Ekanem have also been talked about as one of the best defensive end duos in all of college football.

One player who is surprisingly flying under the radar is redshirt senior defensive tackle Luther Maddy.

Maddy only played in four games and took a medical redshirt last season, but while he only had 9 tackles in those four games, his impact was so much bigger as he gave other players one-on-one matchups that helped build confidence.

Maddy shined in 2013 when he had 55 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 13.5 total tackles for loss (including sacks). Maddy was named to the All-ACC Third Team in 2013 and received Honorable Mention honors somehow this past season.

Despite all of this, it seems like Maddy has been forgotten about outside of Blacksburg.

If Maddy would have been healthy this season, he likely would have been selected somewhere in the late second to fourth rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. Last season’s injury has hurt Maddy’s 2016 NFL Draft stock and has caused him to fly under the radar more entering this season, especially with the Hokies returning a more-proven defensive line this upcoming season.

Maddy is not the fastest defensive tackle, but he is way more than just a great space eater. Maddy has the strength and power moves to close down the middle for opposing tailbacks even against some of the best interior offensive linemen. Maddy is a tough, hard worker that is ready tog give it all he has and seems to play with a chip on his shoulder.

Entering this season, the senior defensive tackle will have a chip on his shoulder to make fans across the ACC and the country remember his name, and NFL scouts to remember how Maddy was a player that could have been a day 2 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft before his injuries.

Luther Maddy came out of high school as a lowly-rated three-star with few offers and proved that he had what it takes to start and shine on a Bud Foster defense. Now, Maddy will be ready to prove once again that he is one of the ACC’s top defensive tackles and a player that analysts and columnists should not have forgotten about.

Don’t be surprised if Maddy ends up on the All-ACC First Team at the end of the 2015 season.

Hokies Football: Could Chris Durkin Follow Andrew Ford Out of Blacksburg?

Over the past month, we have found out that Andrew Ford made the decision to transfer from Virginia Tech to a junior college as he looks to find another way to become a starting quarterback at the FBS level.

After the spring, Ford was the number 3 quarterback on the depth chart for the Hokies behind Michael Brewer and Brenden Motley. However, the impending arrival of the talented Dwayne Lawson led to Ford making the decision that his best opportunity to become a starting quarterback at the FBS level is away from Blacksburg.

With the arrival of Lawson, departure of Ford, and commitment of QB Joshua Jackson; it makes you wonder if Ford will end up being the only quarterback that ends up transferring away from Virginia Tech.

Chris Durkin has shown that he has the big arm and has some mobility, but he has struggled to put together the accuracy that is necessary to become a starting quarterback for the Hokies or even challenge for the job. Durkin’s arm, size, and mobility make him an intriguing quarterback prospect, but there comes a time when a player has to start putting it together.

With the arrival of Lawson, Durkin needs to put it together soon especially since he was already behind Ford who decided that his best option was to transfer away from the Hokies.

Looking ahead towards the fall, it seemed like Durkin would be the most likely quarterback to transfer if one of Virginia Tech’s four returning on-scholarship quarterbacks decided to leave. Durkin did not seem to be that close to even passing Ford on the depth chart during spring practices though he seemed to have possibly dealt with injuries this spring.

There are no indications that Durkin plans to transfer from Virginia Tech right now, but this fall could be critical in determining his future in Blacksburg. If Durkin ends up behind Lawson on the depth chart as expected, Durkin may start seriously considering transferring with it becoming much harder for him to ever get the chance to be the Hokies’ starting quarterback.

The Hokies also have the long-term depth chart more in place with Joshua Jackson seeming like the heir to Dwayne Lawson depending on how Lawson and Jackson both work out, and whether Jackson stays committed the rest of the way. Durkin is not in a very good position to end up getting a chance to be the starting quarterback for the Hokies.

Chris Durkin likely has a big desire to become a starting quarterback at the FBS level, but the door for that to happen at Virginia Tech seems to be small. Durkin will make a push this fall to climb up the depth chart but you have to wonder if Durkin will have followed Ford and transferred away from the Hokies with Dwayne Lawson on the roster and Joshua Jackson likely to have signed with Virginia Tech.

Hokies Football: Should Melvin Keihn Make a Position Change?

Summer has arrived for the Virginia Tech Hokies as many players are taking summer classes now before fall practice kicks into gear in August. Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech coaches have been working to build their recruiting class for 2016.

New players are arriving and even with the ACL tear that will cause DE Trevon Hill to miss the 2015 season, the Hokies are gaining some depth at defensive end in Darius Fullwood and Houshun Gaines. Entering the fall, Melvin Keihn is the fourth defensive end behind starters Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem, and backup Seth Dooley who had a very impressive spring.

Keihn has been seen as an undersized player at 6’1” and 211 pounds, but the Maryland native is almost all muscle and may not be able to add much more weight. Keihn also was originally projected to be an outside linebacker coming out of high school, which raises one question.

Should the Hokies move Keihn from defensive end to whip linebacker?

Part of the reasoning for keeping Keihn at defensive end is the fact that the Hokies only have four returning scholarship players. That could change if the Hokies move Vincent Mihota to defensive end, which may also push Keihn farther down the depth chart at defensive end.

Melvin Keihn has received some very high comparisons to Corey Moore from Virginia Tech coaches, but not all comparisons don’t end up coming true and Keihn is smaller than Moore. However, Keihn does have above-average speed for the defensive end position along with some good edge rushing skills and a very good work ethic.

Keihn has also become primarily a pass rusher, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t shift back to playing linebacker and playing in coverage some. Keihn has likely done some work in pass coverage in practice following the example of Dadi Nicolas who was used in zone coverage on some plays last season.

Keihn has the skill set that fits the whip linebacker position fairly well, especially with his previous experience at linebacker. Keihn’s size would not be an issue at the whip linebacker spot with Holland Fisher being 30 pounds lighter than Keihn at the same position.

In high school and the Under Armour All-America Game, Keihn showed some very good run defending skills at the linebacker spot. Keihn has the quickness and agility to close up some holes before the opposing running back would have expected.

The biggest concern with Melvin Keihn is that his man coverage skills are below-average for the whip linebacker position. Last season’s starting whip linebacker Derek DiNardo was used a lot in man coverage, and that is likely to continue with future whip linebackers as supported by the move of Holland Fisher to that spot.

Keihn has the speed to stay up with a lot of players that he would cover, but you still have to wonder whether he can develop the necessary pass coverage skills, man and zone defense, to be reliable and an every-down player at whip linebacker.

With the athleticism, speed, and work ethic Keihn has, he should be able to become a decent pass coverage whip linebacker with above-average skills in the box as a run defender or edge rusher on blitzes.

The Hokies have the depth they need at defensive end coming to the program. Melvin Keihn’s athletic skills and work ethic should allow him to make the transition to whip linebacker, but that decision is up to Bud Foster and the defensive coaching staff.

Hokies Football: Virginia Tech Starting Quarterback Battle Odds

Fall practice is looming for the Virginia Tech Hokies after a spring practice that was full of significant progress, especially on the offensive side of the football. The offense started to gel a lot more this spring with progress all over the field from the offensive line to the skill positions.

The Hokies’ quarterback battle also cleared up some as Andrew Ford and Chris Durkin both fell out of the hunt quickly. Meanwhile, Michael Brewer had a very strong spring and has put some distance on Brenden Motley with his strong performance this spring.

However, this quarterback battle is far from over with Dwayne Lawson arriving on campus now to begin summer classes, and make a summer push to take the starting job from Brewer.  Motley also still has a decent chance of earning the starting quarterback job despite losing ground on Brewer this spring.

So, what are the percent odds of each of these players earning the starting quarterback job?

Michael Brewer: 60%

After a strong spring, Michael Brewer has emerged as the favorite to retain his spot as the starting quarterback. Brewer looked like a player who had a much stronger grasp of the playbook that should only continue to grow over the offseason and into the fall.

One of the biggest issues with Brewer last season was that he struggled to get enough arc onto many deep passes or jump-ball passes. This past spring, Brewer improved the arc on his passes, which will only make athletic tight ends Bucky Hodges and Kalvin Cline more dangerous in the red zone.

Brewer looked very comfortable and effective in the offense this past spring. If that continues during fall practice, Brewer should almost certainly win the starting job while also giving Virginia Tech the passing game that can get the Hokies back to double-digit win seasons.

Dwayne Lawson: 25%

Dwayne Lawson might technically be the unknown in this quarterback battle, but he is the future under center for the Hokies. Lawson was one of the top commits from the Class of 2015 for Virginia Tech and has not only looked impressive on tape, but also in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl.

The biggest thing that hurts Lawson’s chances is the fact that he is just arriving on campus this summer and will only have had a month of practice in a new system. Otherwise, Lawson has the talent as a passer and runner to be a game changer that can be one of the best quarterbacks of the Frank Beamer era.

Lawson could also end up in a similar situation to what Tyrod Taylor was in at the beginning of his Virginia Tech career behind Sean Glennon. If Brewer struggles even a little after a few games, the Hokies might be very quick to make a quarterback change to Lawson.

Brenden Motley: 15%

Brenden Motley has become the big underdog in the Hokies’ starting quarterback battle, but the Christiansburg, Virginia native will not go down without a fight. Last year, Motley missed the first two weeks of fall practice with a back injury and never had a chance to get back into the starting quarterback battle.

Motley is entering this fall healthy, while also bringin some limited experience from late in the 2014 season as the “Wild Turkey” quarterback. Motley has the speed to run the read option, which Scot Loeffler commonly used with him in scrimmages this spring.

Even if Motley doesn’t win the starting quarterback, don’t be surprised if Loeffler uses some read option with Motley as quarterback out of the “Wild Turkey” offense. However, Motley could lose the opportunity to be the Hokies’ starting quarterback if he falls behind Lawson on the depth chart

Hokies Football: Chuck Clark’s Move to Free Safety Should Happen Soon

This spring, the Virginia Tech Hokies decided to leave Chuck Clark at cornerback to be the veteran of that group while trying Donovan Riley out at rover with Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson both out due to injuries. The Hokies were looking to find their next free safety and rover after the graduations of Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett.

The Hokies found their answer at rover, but it was in C.J. Reavis instead of Donovan Riley as many may have expected. Now, a move back to cornerback seems logical for Riley while both Fuller and Facyson will be healthy and ready to go this fall. Mook Reynolds and Greg Stroman also showed a lot of promise this spring to be able to be solid defensive contributors in the fall.

Clark looked quite good in man coverage at cornerback this spring, but Clark is a great zone coverage defensive back whose skills fit much better at free safety than cornerback. The Hokies still have questions at free safety, but Clark is the answer to that issue.

Chuck Clark has been most reliable when he has been used in zone coverage as he has the ball hawking skills and reactions to quickly make a play to break up a pass or even get an interception. Clark’s above-average ball skills and reactions project him to be an above-average free safety that can be an upgrade on Detrick Bonner next season.

Clark is an above-average run defender that had 73 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss despite the fact that his primary position was cornerback. For a cornerback to put up numbers like that are a huge sign of how good of a run defender that Clark is.

Bud Foster also used Detrick Bonner a lot in man coverage even though Bonner struggled a lot in that type of coverage. Clark has now become a very good man coverage defensive back that Bud Foster could use some in man coverage to confuse opposing defenses.

Of course, Clark has the skills to transition back to cornerback if the Hokies need him to, but Virginia Tech will have the necessary depth at cornerback that was lacking this spring. The Hokies do have a couple other players who could push for the free safety spot, but none are nearly as good as Clark.

Chuck Clark’s future should be at free safety with the Hokies having plenty of talent at cornerback and needing a free safety. Clark is the third best defensive back on the Hokies, and has the talent to be a very good free safety this fall.

Hokies Recruiting: Virginia Tech is in the Top 3 for Four-Star DB Marlon Character

The Virginia Tech Hokies are seen as college football’s “DBU” by many over the last 15 years with Kendall Fuller leading the latest group of talented defensive backs. Virginia Tech’s DBU has produced many NFL players including DeAngelo Hall, Kam Chancellor, and Brandon Flowers.

The Hokies have had this success despite the fact that they have only brought in a few elite defensive back recruits unlike the other DBUs at LSU and Florida that have done it with many elite defensive back recruits. However, the Hokies still get a fair amount of four-star defensive back recruits and are in the top 3 for one defensive back recruit from SEC country.

There was some surprise to see the Hokies on Marlon Character’s top 5, but the four-star safety from Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia has included the Hokies in his top 3 along with South Carolina and Ohio State. It’s also a surprise that the in-state Georgia Bulldogs missed the cut for Character’s top 3 with only one SEC program making the top 3.

Character is ranked as the 34th best safety by ESPN, 14th best by the 247 Sports Composite, and 13th best by Rivals. Character is also seen as one of the better recruits in Georgia and nationally with the 247 Sports Composite ranking him 21st in Georgia and 270th nationally while Rivals has him 195th nationally and 18th within Georgia. While Rivals and the 247 Sports Composite have him as a four-star safety, 247 Sports’ traditional rankings and ESPN have him as a three-star DB.

The Buckeyes have been tremendously good under Urban Meyer with Ohio State winning the national title this past season, and being the favorite to win it again in 2015. Ohio State also is set to produce a lot of NFL players after bringing back most players on a young roster. The Buckeyes have also had very little staff turnover among the assistants over the last few seasons.

Meyer knows how to recruit in SEC country and Marlon Character is clearly one of his top targets from the Southeast. The Buckeyes already have 15 commits, but only one is a defensive back in former Virginia Tech commit Kareem Felder. The Buckeyes have room for more defensive backs and Character is definitely one of their top targets.

Meanwhile, the South Carolina Gamecocks have the proximity to home advantage over Virginia Tech and Ohio State. The Gamecocks seem like the clear favorite for Character now that Georgia is out with defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward leading the charge to get the four-star safety.

The Gamecocks’ defense was disappointing in 2014, which could mean that they are able to offer Character a chance to come in and play early. South Carolina also has produced their fair share of NFL defensive backs in the past while having some very good defenses.

However, the recent defensive struggles along with questions about how much longer Steve Spurrier will coach due to comments he has made makes the Gamecocks vulnerable.

The Hokies have had plenty of talented safeties headlined by Kam Chancellor with Kyshoen Jarrett being the most recent Virginia Tech safety to be drafted. Torrian Gray has done a great job of developing defensive backs into very good NFL players, and it only helps that Gray is the primary recruiter for Character.

Right now, the Hokies do have a couple players that are seen as safeties in Reggie Floyd and Jovonn Quillen, but both Hokie commits could end up at different positions with Floyd showing tons of potential at running back and Quillen being a high school quarterback. However, this fact will likely hurt the Hokies some in recruiting Character, especially since Floyd and Quillen seem to be very solid commits.

The Hokies have a good chance at getting Marlon Character though they are definitely the underdogs behind the Gamecocks and Buckeyes. However, Virginia Tech will definitely make a strong push to get the four-star safety.

Hokies Recruiting: Virginia Tech’s Pursuit of Four-Star TE Jovani Haskins

In the past, the Virginia Tech Hokies have not been known as a program that produces great tight ends despite having some great rushing attacks during the Frank Beamer era. The Hokies have had only six tight ends drafted since 1968 with the most recent being Jeff King in 2006.

However, the Hokies have recently had a renaissance at the tight end position with three talented tight ends shining for the Hokies over the past two seasons. Ryan Malleck was solid in 2014 and looks like a late-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft while Kalvin Cline has a lot of potential. The sky is the limit for Bucky Hodges who earned Freshman All-American honors in 2014 and has the potential to be a first round pick in a future NFL Draft.

Bryan Stinespring has done a very good job of developing tremendous athletes in Hodges and Cline into very good tight ends that, at least in the case of Hodges, have a future in the NFL. Now, the Hokies are one of the frontrunners for another ultra-athletic tight end prospect.

Jovani Haskins is a four-star tight end from Bergenfield High School in Bergenfield, New Jersey who has received 14 offers so far. Haskins does not actually play tight end for his football team, but has shown tremendous athleticism at other positions on the football field and on the basketball court that show that he has the skills to be a very good tight end at the collegiate level.

Haskins is a rising name that has seen his recruiting ratings rise with 247 Sports and Rivals both having him as a four-star recruit. The 247 Sports Composite ranks him as the 12th best tight end while their traditional rankings have him fifth and Rivals has him as the 27th best athlete.

Within New Jersey, Rivals ranks him as the Garden State’s 11th best recruit while the 247 Sports Composite ranks him ninth best, and their traditional rankings have him as the seventh best recruit.

The one team that seems to have a lot of mutual interest, but hasn’t made an offer is Penn State. The Nittany Lions did a great job with recruiting in New Jersey last year and James Franklin is looking to continue that with the Class of 2016. One issue for Penn State is that they already have one tight end commit in 4-star recruit Daniel Dalton.

For now, Penn State isn’t in the hunt since they haven’t offered a scholarship, but they are lurking.

Right now, this seems like a two-team battle for Jovani Haskins between the in-state Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Virginia Tech Hokies. Both programs do not have a tight end committed to their respective programs.

The Hokies have moved Bucky Hodges from quarterback to tight end while they also helped Kalvin Cline go from the basketball court to the football field. The Hokies have proven that they know how to develop tight ends out of great athletes who either didn’t play tight very much in high school or were basketball players that decided to make the switch at the collegiate level.

This factor will definitely have to be considered by Haskins along with how recently, true freshman have received plenty of early playing time including Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips, and Marshawn Williams. With Ryan Malleck graduating and Bucky Hodges potentially headed to the NFL if he has a really good season, there could be some playing time available at the tight end position in 2016.

Rutgers has the home state advantage, which could be valuable in this recruiting battle. However, Rutgers missed on most of the top recruits in the state of New Jersey from the Class of 2015, but will look for some redemption in this recruiting class. Rutgers also just had tight end Tyler Kroft drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Right now, Rutgers seems to have the lead relying on their in-state advantage, but the Hokies are in hot pursuit of Jovani Haskins and hope to add some more New Jersey talent to their roster from the Class of 2016. However, both programs still have to be on the watch for Penn State for now.