Three-star DL Eric Mensah from Stafford, VA announced this morning that he has flipped his commitment from Virginia Tech to Ohio State.
Mensah was a top priority for the Hokies' defensive line recruiting this cycle with his addition being a big pickup when they landed him over Maryland, UVA, and others. However, Ohio State clearly chose to get involved after extending an offer that was never formally publicized (which isn't uncommon in these scenarios fyi) before flipping to the Buckeyes. Mensah was also reported in Columbus last week according to reports on social media after his commitment.
There's no doubt that this is a big loss for the Hokies especially given the size and physical development that Mensah brought to the table that would make him a guy ready to play from day 1 for a DT group that is going to need fresh blood next season. Losing Mensah is also a disappointing in-state loss though Ohio State is in that elite "machine" territory on the recruiting trail that is very hard to stop similar to Alabama and Georgia. Doesn't change that this is a brutal loss and that you have to occasionally win those battles for in-state recruits but going against one of those 3 makes life difficult.
So where do the Hokies go from here? Well it's unclear if they will use this on another high school defensive tackle or if they push this spot towards a transfer portal DT addition. Having two defensive tackles already committed in three-star Emmett Laws out of Maryland and three-star Andrew Hanchuk out of Ohio does give Tech some flexibility.
If Tech looks for a high school replacement, three-star D'Nas White out of Concord, NC could be a guy to keep an eye on. White recently released a top 5 that did not include Tech but many of the schools included also likely don't have him as a take at the moment so it appears there's room for the Hokies to get more involved.
Three-star DL Makai Byerson out of Richmond is currently committed to West Virginia but with the frame to grow into a DT and WVU's Neal Brown on arguably the hottest seat in Power 5, could he be a flip target similar to what Tech did flipping a pair of guys committed to Power 5 schools who had coaching changes in the 2023 cycle (Pop Watson-Nebraska, Ayden Greene-Cincinnati).
Personally, I would lean towards stashing this for the transfer portal this offseason (though a Byerson type player is probably worth taking regardless).
The fact is that the Hokies are set to lose at least three of their top 5 DTs in Norell Pollard, Mario Kendricks, and Pheldarius Payne while Josh Fuga has a COVID year decision to make. Yes, there are some intriguing young guys in the program and Emmett Laws looks like he could make an early impact. However, Tech needs surefire impact guys from day 1 and the best path for that is the transfer portal as we've seen before with Jordan Williams most recently at DT.