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Teradja Mitchell headlines the Hokies' top 2018 targets in Virginia. [Credit: Harley Taylor][/caption]The Class of 2017 was a big in-state moment for Virginia Tech as they were able to keep three of the top 10 in-state recruits in Virginia with Devon Hunter, Dylan Rivers, and Tyjuan Garbutt all choosing the Hokies. During Virginia Tech's National Signing Day broadcast, the Hokies emphasized how getting guys like Hunter, Rivers, and Garbutt could help Virginia Tech launch a movement to start keeping more and more of the best Virginia recruits in-state in Blacksburg.
Now, Justin Fuente and his staff will look to keep that going with the Class of 2018 in what in a little bit of a down year in Virginia but still a good year to find quality in-state recruits that can make a difference with two five-star recruits plus a few more four-star recruits and plenty of other quality recruits.
The man that was going to be at the top of this list of names to watch was Ricky Slade, but Slade committed to Penn State yesterday. While the Hokies will likely continue to push for Slade and see if they can flip him from Penn State to VT as they've done before (see Dylan Rivers), he won't be included on this list at this point due to that. However, there are still plenty of top uncommitted prospects that the Hokies are definitely in the hunt for. With that said, here's your in-state names to watch list for 2018.
5* LB Teradja Mitchell
Teradja Mitchell is now by himself at the top of the list in terms of uncommitted recruits in the state of Virginia with fellow five-star Ricky Slade now committed to Penn State. Mitchell has been on the national radar for a good amount of time now as he has offers from just about every major program including Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, USC, Stanford, Texas, Penn State, Tennessee, Georgia, Notre Dame, Florida, Auburn, Virginia Tech, and a lot more.
Mitchell is a national recruit that recently released a top 11 that included Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and USC. That group of 11 schools looks like a dream list loaded with plenty of recent national titles and elite coaches that have all made Mitchell a top priority to try and get.
For the Hokies, they have an uphill battle here with VT being seen as a contender for Mitchell, but Florida State being seen as the early favorite for Mitchell. VT does have the advantage of being the in-state powerhouse with Virginia struggling over the past few years and also not making Mitchell's top 11.
Mitchell plays at burgeoning 757 powerhouse Bishop Sullivan and there are some concerns that there may be some issues there after Tahj Capehart's Signing Day flip to Maryland that was stoked with Twitter rumors about some sort of falling out between VT and Capehart. While we do not have any information on that, I still wouldn't expect what happened with Capehart to have much of an impact on Mitchell's recruitment.
There is no doubt that Teradja Mitchell is the top recruit in the state of Virginia and getting him would
4* TE James Mitchell
James Mitchell is the best recruit to come out of Southwest Virginia in the past few years and already has a strong offer list that includes Virginia Tech, Clemson, Tennessee, Louisville, Miami, Duke, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest, and JMU. Mitchell is a tremendous athlete that is quite talented and offensively fits a role similar to that of Bucky Hodges as a tight end who may be able to block some but could also be used more as a jumbo WR.
Mitchell told us that Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Clemson, and Duke are in contact with him the most though with his offer list growing recently; schools that recently offered like Louisville and Wake Forest may increase their interest. Mitchell's first offers came heavily from inside Virginia but Mitchell is open to going out of state as he told us, "The in-state schools got on me quick and that means a lot, but right now I'm just trying to stay open to everything."
Mitchell is not only the Hokies' top tight end target but has to be one of their top priorities in this class in part because Mitchell is from Southwest Virginia, turf that the Hokies should be able to defend whenever a big recruit rises out of this area. Getting beat for a guy from Southwest Virginia would be a very disappointing loss for the Hokies on the trail especially with how less often you see VT going after guys in SWVA.
While Mitchell did say he doesn't have a leader, we do see Virginia Tech as the favorite with the Hokies making him a high priority and their top target along with Mitchell having a strong relationship with James Shibest, the only TEs coach he named when asked about who he has the strongest relationships with (other two were Clemson recruiting coordinator Brandon Streeter and Duke assistant Kirk Benedict) while saying that the best relationship he has with a head coach is Justin Fuente.
Both Clemson and Tennessee do loom large in Mitchell's recruitment but right now, the Hokies are the favorites here to get the best recruit out of Southwest Virginia in at least the past few years.
4* WR Dillon Spalding
Dillon Spalding is one of the top recruits in the Washington D.C. area and definitely has some interest from the Hokies though Virginia Tech may not have him as high as some of the other programs heavily involved in his recruitment have him including Virginia, NC State, and Syracuse. North Carolina also has shown some interest though it doesn't seem like they offered yet while Tennessee doesn't seem to be putting at much effort into going after Spalding right now.
However, the Hokies definitely have a good amount of interest in Spalding and definitely seem to be high on his list with Spalding telling us that he would definitely be taking visits to VT and UNC this spring even though UNC hasn't offered yet and VT wasn't at first included when he told us the schools that have been in contact with him the most (UVA, Syracuse, NC State, UNC (despite not having offered yet)).
Spalding also seems to have some interest in staying in Virginia but that doesn't necessarily seem to be a huge factor as he told us when asked about having the chance to stay in-state, "It's pretty big, I've always wanted to be one of the best to come out of VA." The Hokies have had some success with keeping some top Northern Virginia guys in-state including the Hokies' success getting Tim Settle, Greg Stroman, Reggie Floyd, and Devante Smith all out of Stonewall Jackson High School lately.
It's hard to necessarily say there's a favorite, but Virginia Tech definitely is in a strong position alongside North Carolina who will be a major player if they choose to offer.
3* LB Keshon Artis
Virginia Tech has been big on three-star LB Keshon Artis out of 757 powerhouse Oscar Smith and have put themselves in a very strong position as the early favorite with us putting in a prediction
for Artis today. Artis is likely to see his offer list expand from just being Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, Rutgers, and Old Dominion as it is currently, but Virginia Tech definitely has the early advantage here with Artis.
Virginia Tech had a strong performance on the recruiting trail in the top 2017 class in getting some of their top linebacker targets and while Teradja Mitchell and Dax Hollifield are higher on the board for VT, Artis is clearly right behind them and someone that the Hokies absolutely want to make sure they get out of the 757.
Zohn Burden is the primary recruiter for Artis and has become a force to be reckoned with in the 757 that was one of the ACC's top recruiters this past season. The presence of Burden here having recruited Artis for a while now could cause some major issues while Virginia Tech has a strong relationship with Oscar Smith and has gotten a few guys out of there including J.C. Coleman when he was highly regarded coming out of high school.
Virginia Tech is definitely the favorite for Artis right now and while more offers will come at some point, it's hard to not see him ending up with the Hokies.
3* WR Armani Chatman
Armani Chatman was one of the Hokies' first wide receiver offers and while he definitely isn't one of the highest rated receivers by the recruiting services, he definitely is pretty high on Virginia Tech's board. Chatman's offer list currently is only Virginia Tech, Maryland, NC State, and Rutgers but the Hokies definitely seem to be early favorites with Maryland likely being the top challenger among his other offers.
Chatman is out of Bayside High School in Virginia Beach and has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Phil Patterson as a wide receiver that can go from Bayside to VT. Chatman also has Zohn Burden as his primary recruiter which is always a big benefit, but Chatman also seems to not be as necessarily set on staying in-state as other recruits while also taking notice when Tahj Capehart flipped to Maryland.
However, the Hokies definitely seem to be the favorites for Chatman with the Bayside WR not only being a top VT target, but his offer list not showing a real significant threat to the Hokies at this point other than possibly Maryland though the good news for VT fans is that Chris Beatty is not the primary recruiter for Chatman (Maryland OC Walt Bell is).
3* ATH De'Von Graves
De'Von Graves is currently committed to NC State, but the Hokies have him on their board at defensive back and are showing plenty of interest in trying to flip the three-star athlete from Appomattox. Graves does also have an offer from Virginia, but the Hokies are the main threat to NC State's hopes of trying to keep Graves all the way to National Signing Day 2018.
NC State was early onto Graves, but Virginia Tech has the advantage of having a great 2016 season and being the biggest program in Virginia which could make a big difference. Graves has also made a couple trips to Blacksburg, and it's clear that there is plenty of interest between the Hokies and Graves with Graves having committed to NC State well before the Hokies offered him.
Right now, NC State has the obvious advantage of having Graves committed to them, but they will have some work to do to hold on against the Hokies with Graves.
Other recruits to watch
OT Nana Asiedu and ATH K'Vaughn Pope are four-star recruits that both have VT offers, but neither recruit seems to have that much interst in the Hokies at this point. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech hasn't offered four-star RB Ronnie Walker from Hopewell High School but with Ricky Slade committing to Penn State, an offer could definitely be coming for Walker soon. Three-star DT Akeem Smith has also made a few visits to Blacksburg and while he currently doesn't have an offer, he could be a guy to watch at a camp to get an offer and end up in Blacksburg.