Virginia Tech Football 2024 & 2025 Recruiting Breakdown: Defensive End

Virginia Tech Football 2024 & 2025 Recruiting Breakdown: Defensive End
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
May 23, 2023

We continue our position-by-position look at Virginia Tech football recruiting for the 2024 and 2025 classes by jumping across the trenches to defensive end. You can check out the rest of our stories at the links below.

Virginia Tech DL coach J.C. Price hasn't been considered one of Tech's top recruiters during his tenure in Blacksburg yet the Hokies' defensive line class has potential to be one of the strongest in recent memory based purely on the recruiting rankings. Here's a look at where things currently stand for the Hokies.

Large 2024 Class Incoming

It's a perfect storm in some ways for Virginia Tech as the Hokies seem poised to take a large defensive end class this recruiting cycle after taking only 1 true DE last cycle in Jason Abbey while the Hokies also have strong traction with a lot of talented defensive ends.

It's also notable that though Tech brought in 2 DEs this offseason from the portal and JUCO ranks, they saw a pair of DEs who had 3 or 4 years of eligibility remaining transfer out in Kyree Moyston and Mattheus Carroll. This has created a need for more younger talent with 3+ years of eligibility remaining to be the future beyond just Keyshawn Burgos who did not redshirt last season and I expect to be a contributor in 2023.

All of this starts with Tech's current DE commit Deric Dandy out of Mount Airy, NC who is teammates with fellow VT RB commit Tyler Mason. Dandy has put up some impressive numbers during his HS tenure though the competition isn't the strongest at his level. While Dandy is more under-the-radar among the recruiting services, he was ranked high on Tech's DE board for this recruiting cycle.

Even with Dandy on board, it's easy to envision the Hokies taking at least a couple more DEs this cycle especially given who they have traction with.

Let's start in Price's home state of Maryland where the Hokies are a serious contender for a pair of four-star defensive ends in Obinna Onwuka and Devon Baxter.

The Hokies hosted Obinna Onwuka earlier this spring with Tech since gaining significant traction with him. Tech is scheduled to host him for an official visit on the fourth weekend of June with Onwuka having officials to Boston College and West Virginia prior. Additionally, he recently took a visit to USC so the Trojans are also a program to keep an eye on here.

Devon Baxter was also on campus this spring with Tech building on that momentum since. According to Adam Friedman of Rivals, Baxter will also be taking an official visit on the fourth weekend of June following visits to Rutgers on the second weekend of June and Michigan on the third weekend of June.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Hokies have gained loads of traction with three-star Makai Byerson out of Richmond. Byerson has four official visits scheduled for next month with Virginia Tech getting the last one on the fourth weekend of June. Prior to that, Byerson will be taking officials to West Virginia, Rutgers, and Kentucky in that order.

Going back to Maryland, we have three-star DL Xavier Gilliam who told Adam Friedman of Rivals that he will be taking four official visits next month wrapping up with Virginia Tech. His trip to Tech will follow trips to Penn State, Duke, and NC State. Tech immediately became a contender when they offered Gilliam this past January while also getting him on campus to boost their hopes further. Given his size at 6'3'' and 260 pounds, it's also easy to envision Gilliam sliding inside to DT in college.

The fifth uncommitted defensive end slated to take an official visit next month is a more recent offer, three-star Amontrae Bradford out of Georgia. According to Kentucky Sports Radio, Bradford is visiting Virginia Tech on the second weekend of June for an official. He also has June officials scheduled for Georgia Tech, Indiana, and Vanderbilt plus a September official to Kentucky per KSR.

Beyond those five who have either told us of their official visit plans or confirmed in some other public way, there are a few other defensive ends that we have our eyes on.

Three-star Gerard Johnson out of Virginia Beach has been quiet on the recruiting trail, but is a big time in-state talent who you can safely assume is high on VT's recruiting board.

Three-star Steven Soles out of Tennessee has visited Virginia Tech this spring and recently tweeted that he is looking to make a commitment sooner than he was planning though it's unclear where VT currently stands for him.

The Hokies had some early traction with three-star Dominic Nichols out of Maryland, but Tech seems to be trending in the wrong way currently. Nichols recently told us that he currently has plans to visit Michigan, Wisconsin, and Kentucky with those schools appearing to be at least some of, if not the, top contenders in his recruitment.

Defensive end has a good chance to be one of the strengths of this recruiting class for the Hokies with J.C. Price setting up to shed the label that he isn't a great recruiter this recruiting cycle. Now the Hokies just have to close the door with plenty of great opportunities to do just that with big time talents.

Looking to 2025 Led By a 757 Star

There's already a target board emerging with one star prospect the likes of which we haven't seen at DE in Virginia since Josh Sweat leading the way, four-star Ari Watford out of Norfolk's Maury HS.

Watford has been on campus since Brent Pry's arrival most recently in late January with Tech certainly looking to get him back on campus as much as possible in the coming months. This will be a major recruiting fight with just about every major program in the country involved in his recruitment just as it was for Josh Sweat a decade ago.

Leaving Virginia, we head to Maryland starting with four-star Cortez Harris who received an offer from the Hokies this spring. Harris goes to DeMatha Catholic where the Hokies have a clear connection via Elijah Brooks and have landed at least one recruit from each of the past two cycles with 3* CB Dante Lovett in the 2023 class and 3* DT Emmett Laws in the 2024 class.

Three-star Kamden Laudenslager out of McDonogh School in Owings Mills, MD has been a DE target for a while having received a VT offer last year while visiting Virginia Tech multiple times since the arrival of Brent Pry. Laudenslager's offer list has grown a lot since the Hokies became his second offer well over a year ago.

Three-star Brandon Thomas is a 757 native who transferred to Maryland powerhouse St Frances Academy. Thomas has built up an impressive offer list though LSU appears to be a school that has lots of early traction with him.