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Brent Pry Re-Establishes Virginia Tech as Virginia's Flagship Football Program

Brent Pry 3 VT Miami 2022 HT

One of the biggest downfalls of the Justin Fuente era was the abandonment of the Commonwealth of Virginia as top priority on the recruiting trail for Virginia Tech. Yes, there were some down cycles in VA, but the Commonwealth continued to produce quality talent yet the Hokies looked heavily elsewhere often and when they did look back, they looked at a landscape in-state where lots of bridges were torched.

Fuente's on-field struggles combined with the program's general disinterest in recruiting Virginia highlighted by the 2020 class having only 1 VA signee in Lakeem Rudolph. In the process, the door was opened for another program to take the mantle of being the flagship football program in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

When Brent Pry arrived in Blacksburg, one of his biggest priorities was re-establishing Virginia Tech's recruiting footprint with the Commonwealth of Virginia as top priority.

Since then, Pry has signed 24 Virginia high school recruits in his first two classes including 12 this past cycle plus 12 in the transition cycle which included 4 late additions that had not been Fuente targets from VA in DE Keyshawn Burgos out of Richmond, WR Xayvion Turner-Bradshaw and OL Brody Meadows out of Bluefield, and OL Hunter Mclain out of Botetourt.

And for Brent Pry and his staff, it's all started by putting in the investment that is required to re-establish Virginia Tech as VA's flagship football program with that hard work already paying dividends on the recruiting trail.

"We came in here talking about a big game about recruiting this state. I think in this cycle, they (in-state coaches) understand we met it. We were fully invested and committed to being in these high schools, being at the playoff games. I think I said to you guys during the season, after those Thursday night games, we were in high schools at 8am, both of those Fridays, in the state of Virginia. It means a lot to those guys. It backs up what we're saying. Signing their kids, respecting the winning programs, the good programs across the state. There are certain programs that we want to take a guy out of every year. So it's just a cycle of them seeing the investment that we're making in the state," Pry said.

Of course, the previous regime had left an opening for UVA to try to seize the spot as being the flagship program in the Commonwealth. However, Pry and his staff have closed that door in many ways at least on the recruiting trail with a significant disparity in the number of VA recruits landing at Tech compared to UVA.

"I think you look, I don't know what UVA did today. but we've got 24 (in-state) guys the last two years just at the high school level, not counting the 3 transfers (from VA that signed). When I looked at it last sometime yesterday morning, it looked like UVA was going to sign 8 guys over the last two years from the Commonwealth," Pry said.

Actually, UVA has only signed 7 high school recruits from VA in the past two cycles and though they signed 6 in Tony Elliott's first full cycle, that's only half as many as the 12 Pry and Tech signed this cycle. If you include transfers, you get to 8 for UVA via Monmouth QB transfer Tony Muskett but Tech would jump to 29 due to transfer additions of Jason Brown and Pheldarius Payne last cycle plus Ali Jennings, Da'Quan Felton, and Darian Varner this cycle.

Recruits across from Virginia are also taking notice of Tech's re-establishment as the flagship football program of the Commonwealth. Take a look at how 2024 four-star Asaad Brown Jr responded when we asked him simply about his relationship with CBs coach Derek Jones.

"So you know I’m feeling Tech. I’m seeing a lot of my in-state peers trust the staff and I’m building a strong relationship with them as well," Brown said. "Coach Jones is a down to earth person and we converse a lot about life and not just football."

Part of Tech's reasoning for making that type of investment is to ensure that they don't miss the late-rising kids that often have been overlooked like the Hokies in recent years.

"The investment's real, it's there, and I believe we can win an ACC championship with this formula. We just know more about these guys. I tell the staff all the time, nobody can know more about the kids in Virginia than us. We have to be from eighth grade, ninth grade on learning about these guys. And that's what happens down the stretch, there's always guys that have good senior years and it's just late, people aren't invested, they don't know. Guy pops up that nobody really knows, they're not in there. These guys that we signed late, guys that we even offered late; we were recruiting them for an extended period because of the type of seniors years they were having," Pry said.

Just this cycle, we saw Tech send out a few new in-state offers to breakout senior season guys including RB Jeremiah Coney, TE Zeke Wimbush, and ATH Brandyn Hillman. Coney flipped from App State and signed with VT while Wimbush flipped from Charlotte to VT as a grayshirt, and Hillman's first Power 5 offer came from VT just like Wimbush except Hillman chose to head out of state to Notre Dame in the end. This followed a pattern started when Pry arrived and chose to offer OL Hunter Mclain on Early Signing Day with Mclain flipping from Richmond.

Tech's investment in the state is not only paying steady dividends in volume of talented recruits but also with top 2024 guys after a full cycle of re-establishing themselves as the flagship. Tech's also prioritizing VA guys over out-of-state guys when filling out their classes which we've seen work well in the past during the Frank Beamer era.

Going forward, Pry continues to plan to make Virginia the ultimate emphasis for the Hokies on the recruiting trail as he shared when asked specifically about recruiting in the 757 and the emphasis on that region.

"The guys in the Tidewater, across the state (of Virginia as a whole), they do get greater emphasis in the recruiting process. It means more to me and it's going to mean more to them," Pry said. "That doesn't mean that we're not excited about a guy from Tennessee, excited about a guy from South Carolina. But the emphasis is on the Commonwealth. I think it's pretty easy to see that Virginia Tech has a super strong brand across the state from one end to the other. So when these guys start talking about Virginia Tech, there's a lot of narrative, there's a lot of folks in their community that are like 'heck yeah, go play for Virginia Tech and help them get it back going.'"

During the Justin Fuente era, Virginia Tech opened the door for someone else to take hold of the mantle as Virginia's flagship football program. However, on the recruiting trail, Brent Pry has quickly re-established Virginia Tech as the Commonwealth's flagship football program.

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