The Virginia Tech Hokies have been looking to improve their recruitment of players from the 757 especially with guys like Derrick Nnadi and Josh Sweat going to Florida State in the past two years, and Levonta Taylor committing to the Seminoles. The Hokies have missed out on a lot of the best 757 players over the years, and many of those players have had a lot of success elsewhere including Percy Harvin.
However, the Hokies are looking to improve their recruiting in the 757. The addition of Zohn Burden already seems to be providing some dividends along with a massive expansion of the recruiting department in Blacksburg led by Thomas Guerry.
The Hokies seemed to not be one of the top contenders four-star ILB Jaquan Yulee of Indian River High School, but Yulee’s top five suggests otherwise.
— Adam Friedman (@RivalsFriedman) May 11, 2015
Yulee has an interesting top five that is heavy with ACC teams including the Hokies, North Carolina, and Florida State along with Alabama and Michigan State. This list of top five hints that staying close to home or at least playing near the 757 is important to Yulee with Yulee playing in ACC country while the Big 10 expansion including Maryland and Rutgers. Alabama also plays Tennessee every year with Knoxville not being too far from the 757.
Yulee is one of the top inside linebackers in the country with ESPN ranking him as the eighth best ILB, Rivals ranking him as the 11th best ILB, and the 247 Sports Composite ranking him as the sixth best ILB. Yulee is also nationally ranked with ESPN ranking him as the 193rd best recruit and the 247 Sports Composite ranking him as the 152nd best recruit.
For the Hokies, there will be a major push to get Yulee to commit to the Hokies on June 4th due largely to how he is one of the top 10 recruits in Virginia. The lowest Yulee is ranked among Virginia recruits is eighth by Rivals with the 247 Sports Composite ranking him fourth, and ESPN ranking him third among recruits in the Commonwealth.
Right now, North Carolina seems to be the favorite with 83% of Yulee’s 247 Sports Crystal Ball favoring the Tar Heels. The main recruiting pitch that the Tar Heels are likely using is the fact that the Indian River linebacker would have a chance to potentially start as a freshman in Chapel Hill.
While the Hokies are the in-state program, the 757 is actually closer to Chapel Hill than Blacksburg by about 90 minutes, which somewhat negates the Hokies’ proximity to home advantage.
However, Virginia Tech coaches still can use the fact that the Hokies are Virginia’s team and that Jaquan Yulee likely grew up watching guys like Michael Vick and Tyrod Taylor lead the Hokies to greatness. Yulee also likely grew up seeing linebackers like 757 native Xavier Adibi shine for the Hokies.
Michigan State is probably the longshot of the five finalists, especially after the loss of defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to Pittsburgh. Mark Dantonio’s defensive background will allow the loss to not hurt too much, but the Spartans have not traditionally had much success recruiting in the 757 and seem like an odd fit for Yulee.
Alabama’s defensive reputation is one of the best in the nation under Nick Saban and Kirby Smart with the Crimson Tide being a national title contender for a while in this impressive run Saban has had. Alabama also has had an inside linebacker recently be selected in the first round in C.J. Mosley who played in the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The amount of pro players that Alabama produces along with their impressive tradition makes the Crimson Tide a strong contender.
Florida State has done a very good job of recruiting in the 757. The Seminoles beat out the Hokies for Josh Sweat most recently and will once again look to beat Virginia Tech and others for Jaquan Yulee. The Florida State defense suffered some after losing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to Georgia, which likely hurts them on the recruiting trail. However, Yulee may have the chance to play early in Tallahassee, which always is a positive on the recruiting trail.
The Hokies have the home-state advantage even with Chapel Hill being closer to the 757 than Blacksburg. Bud Foster also has the reputation of being one of the elite defensive coordinators in college football. The Hokies may be able to offer him a chance at early playing time if he can play the position that Deon Clarke currently plays.
Right now, this recruiting battle seems somewhat wide open with the Hokies, North Carolina, Florida State, and Alabama being the four teams that have a serious chance of getting Jaquan Yulee. Now that these four plus Michigan State know Yulee’s decision date, they will all be making as strong of a push as they can to get one of the top inside linebackers in the country.