Last week, the Virginia Tech Hokies announced their 2016 recruiting class with 21 players that had either already enrolled or signed their letter of intent on National Signing Day. One notable absence was three-star DT Clay Dean with rumors circulating that Dean would be walking on instead of being on scholarship.
Yesterday, we received some clarity about Dean’s situation from Alex Koma of The Key Play.
2016 DT Clay Dean tells me that he'll indeed be a preferred walk-on with #Hokies. Said new staff told him of the change after they took over
— Alex Koma (@AlexKomaVT) February 7, 2016
Dean from Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, Virginia now becomes an impressive walk-on addition for the Hokies after previously being one of the weaker members of the recruiting class largely due to comparing Dean to other walk-ons compared to the on-scholarship players.
However, the fact that the Hokies were able to keep Dean is definitely quite impressive given the change in status from being on-scholarship to preferred walk-on. With Dean’s status as a three-star recruit, he may also be the first three-star recruit to be a preferred walk-on for the Hokies though we can’t confirm that.
Retaining Dean gives Virginia Tech even more depth at a deep defensive tackle spot that brings back Woody Baron, Nigel Williams, Tim Settle, Steve Sobczak, and Ricky Walker in addition to gaining Jarrod Hewitt.
Dean is somewhat undersized at 6’2” and around 250 pounds, but will have plenty of time to get in the weight room and bulk up while not having the same amount of pressure of being on-scholarship that he would’ve received. It may also be an easier decision for the coaches to move him to the offensive line if they think he would be a better fit on the other side of the trenches.
For Justin Fuente and his staff, keeping Dean despite the change in status is actually quite impressive as schools like Boston College and Virginia had also shown interest and likely also offered him the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on without previously extending a scholarship offer.
The Hokies have pulled in a coup keeping three-star DT Clay Dean on a preferred walk-on offer after previously having him as an on-scholarship player.