Since football recruiting rules were changed, Virginia Tech has rarely hosted recruits on official visits prior to the fall of said recruit's senior year. On the rare occasions where Tech has, it usually has been only one or two recruits rather than a larger official visit weekend like Tech usually does right after the end of the regular season in December.
Back on National Signing Day in 2018, Fuente laid out his reasoning for why, doing that in large part out of respect to the massive amount of staffers who are involved with official visits (from academics to on-campus living and more). Here's what Fuente said back in February of 2018 when addressing the totality of recruiting rule changes including what was at the time the new Early Signing Day.
"I probably have a much bigger issue with the official visit situation. We have eight months now of official visits. It’s not about me and my weekends, we work quite a bit but to me it’s about all of those people I alluded to earlier that go on into putting on official visits. Now you have your academic people on call eight months out of the year. You have your equipment managers on call eight months out of the year for their weekends. You have professors across campus, your training people, and your nutritionist. The amount people kids come in contact with on an official visit.
"Obviously, we’re trying to encapsulate everybody that is going to touch them on a daily basis. To have those people have to be ready eight months out of the year I think is a little much to ask from those people. Again, it’s not about me and the coaching staff, we understand our jobs that’s a part of it. It’s all of those auxiliary people that go into making official visits," Fuente said.
Tech stuck with that overarching policy while many other schools embraced doing official visits either in April or in the early summer.
Now, after a 2020 recruiting cycle full of frustration, Justin Fuente has shown signs of adapting that policy in a compromise way that preserves most of the weekends of all the auxiliary people involved while creating that opportunity to host recruits prior to the fall, especially in a time where many recruits seem to be deciding sooner than ever before.
You probably noticed recently the rash of recruits announcing their intentions to take an official visit to Virginia Tech from June 19th-21st including a trio of Texas recruits. Here's the current list of recruits:
- 4* QB Dematrius Davis
- 4* DE Landyn Watson
- 4* WR Latrell Neville
- 3* WR Ahmari Huggins-Bruce
- 3* DB T.J. Quinn
That's already a loaded official visit weekend, the type of which we're used to usually seeing in December right before Early Signing Day rather than mid June. While we've seen a couple official visits prior to the fall previously, we haven't seen anything beyond just a player or two on an official visit, which requires not as many resources (Youngstown State grad transfer Justus Reed's official visit on April 11th is within that past approach).
However, even with the one big official visit weekend in June, Justin Fuente isn't overhauling his policy, but simply adjusting it. It's possible that Tech may host more grad transfers beyond Justus Reed in the spring or maybe a high profile recruit or 2 that plans to decide before April, but in general, Fuente is still trying to avoid having a year-round official visit schedule that takes up the weekend lives of many beyond the scope of the football coaching staff.
This is a smart move and a happy middle ground that allows Justin Fuente to preserve a pretty full offseason for those involved in official visits while also creating a big official visit weekend in June that is already looking as big as any official visit weekend we've previously seen.
Now having a recruit on an official visit means that they won't get to see the gameday environment in person on that visit, but a summer official visit is a better setup for recruiting an athlete. One underlying reason is the fact that there's no chance of a recruit having to postpone a visit due to high school football season.
Additionally, coaches aren't having to focus on preparing for a game or being off-site and not around recruits till a recruit has been on campus for an extended amount of time. This is especially true with Virginia Tech given how the Hokies stay 45 minutes away from Blacksburg in Roanoke before every home game, keeping coaches away from recruits that arrive Friday evening and stretching your recruiting staff thin, especially a staff that already isn't the most well-funded.
Having a summer visit weekend with no game prep allows coaches to purely be focused on building relationships of trust with recruits while maximizing the time a recruit gets with a coach. That also allows coaches to gain a greater amount of time to make sure a targeted recruit can fit the culture of the program they are trying to build.
Doing it all on one weekend also gives recruits the chance to build a bond that could drive all of them to join together at the program they're visiting. Virginia Tech will especially have this chance with the leader of their 2021 class in Dematrius Davis being able to be the leader of it on his official visit around other premier talents, many (if not all) of whom will likely still be uncommitted when they take their Virginia Tech officials.
Justin Fuente's policy of avoiding non-fall official visits was well-intentioned but the rapidly changing recruiting climate made it impractical. Now, the Hokies' slightly adjusted official visit policy creates the pre-fall opportunity that recruits are looking for while not significantly increasing the burden on the numerous Virginia Tech staffers and employees who are involved with official visits.