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.