Virginia Tech finished the football recruiting season strong despite being spurned by a couple of big-name targets.
The Hokies signed two elite recruits on National Signing Day on Wednesday. Clover Hill's Joel Caleb, a wide receiver ranked 83rd overall and first in the state by ESPN, picked Tech over West Virginia and Ohio State, and Centreville's Ken Ekanem, a defensive end ranked sixth in the state by ESPN, chose the Hokies over Notre Dame.
The additions of Caleb and Ekanem to Tech's recruiting haul eased some of the sting from losing Brookville defensive tackle Korren Kirven, ranked 100th in the country and second in Virginia by ESPN, to Alabama and from a late de-commitment from Boca Raton, Fla., linebacker JaWand Blue.
"I really feel good about this class," Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I mean really, really good."
The Hokies' strong finish earned their class a No. 20 ranking by Rivals.com — their highest from the recruiting website since finishing 18th in 2008 — and a No. 25 ranking by Scout.com.
Rivals and Scout both ranked Tech's class fourth among ACC schools. The Hokies, who have won four ACC championships and have been on the losing end in two other ACC title games since 2004, have only once been ranked better than fourth in Rivals' ACC recruiting rankings, when they finished third in 2005.
The Hokies signed 28 players in all, 17 of whom came from Virginia. According to ESPN's rankings, Tech signed four of the top 10 players in the state and nine of the top 20.
"The state of Virginia is always going to be our home base, and I think we've had a tremendous year," Beamer said. "The caliber of kid that we've been able to get there is tremendous."
Tech's 2012 class features seven four-star recruits and seven high school All-Americans, the most since 2007.
Three of those All-Americans are tailbacks — J.C Coleman, Drew Harris and Dan River's Trey Edmunds, who doubles as a linebacker. The Hokies signed five tailbacks in all, the second most of any position.
"We're going to give them all a shot and figure out what the best options are right now, but certainly that had to be a priority, so to come away with the quality of kids we got at that position, that's got to be a big plus," Beamer said.
Tech, which must replace its top two tailbacks from last season, should have plenty of options at the position. Coleman, who enrolled in January, could have a chance to earn significant playing time this spring. He will share carries with redshirt freshman Michael Holmes during spring practice.
It's still unclear as to where Edmunds will play when practice starts in the fall. There's a chance, Beamer said, that he could eventually play on both offense and defense.
"I think he's going to have to concentrate on one or the other initially, but as time goes by, I see him as a guy who can really play and help the program on both sides," Beamer said.
In addition to Tech's class of scholarship players, Beamer said the program added a strong group of walk-ons as well.
"I can't mention names because they haven't signed a national letter, but we've got several that gave up scholarships to other places to come here and knowing our success with a John Engelberger or Cody Grimm or Jarrett Ferguson, to me that's really exciting too as far as our recruiting goes," Beamer said.
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