With Joey Slye graduating, Virginia Tech has a vacancy at kicker with Jordan Stout and Brian Johnson likely to compete for the job. However, the Hokies are looking at bringing in some more competition from outside the program via one of the best kickers in the 2018 class, Caleb Griffin from Illinois.
This past weekend, Griffin took his first visit to Blacksburg and caught up with us after it.
Caleb Griffin told us that his visit "was great. It was my first time ever on campus and the coaches made it really good." Griffin also said that James Shibest and Justin Fuente both made it clear that the Hokies are very interested in Griffin while he was on his visit. Overall, Griffin told us that this visit "allowed me to build better relationships with the coaches and get a feel for the campus. I really enjoyed it."
With this visit in the books, Griffin appears likely to make a decision soon with the talented kicker telling us that "I think this was my final one."
Caleb Griffin also told us that the following schools are in contention: Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ball State, and Illinois State. Of those schools, only Ball State and Illinois State have extended scholarship offers with the others offering preferred walk-on spots.
Griffin has taken visits to VT, Iowa, and Illinois over the past couple of months. However, Griffin has likely spent a lot of time in the past at Illinois State with his family having heavy connections to the FCS school.
Caleb Griffin is ranked as the 12th best kicker by Kohl's Kicking
, giving him a five-star rating according to them. Griffin doesn't have a rating from any mainstream recruiting service, but the fact that he is 12th in the Kohl's Kicking rankings shows he is one of the top kickers in the nation.
So what will be the main factors in Griffin's decision? Griffin told us that, "I think my opportunity at the school and relationship with the staff" will be the main factors in his decision. His comfort will also be a factor in his decision while being close to home doesn't appear to be a major factor if he's comfortable at the school he chooses.
One unique thing about Griffin's decision is the fact that he has scholarship offers from non-power 5 schools and PWO offers from power 5 program. When we asked how big of a factor being on scholarship would be, Griffin told us that it will "not be as big as people expect it to be. I'm going to go where I feel the most comfortable."
Having the last visit can be valuable in recruiting and the Hokies have positioned themselves well after a strong, first visit to Blacksburg. The Hokies do have some obstacles to overcome given their distance from Illinois compared to other schools, but VT has the advantage of having one of the nation's most respected special teams coordinators, James Shibest.
While Iowa and Illinois are clearly major contenders as well, Illinois State can't be ruled out. Though ISU is the only non-FBS program in the hunt, the deep family ties are significant along with the scholarship the Redbirds are offering.
Virginia Tech has given themselves a good shot at getting one of the best kickers in the nation, Caleb Griffin. However, the Hokies have some work to do with Iowa, Illinois, and others pushing hard to get him.
Photo Credit: @CGr1ff
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