Hokies add 19 during early signing period

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BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Head coach Justin Fuente welcomed 19 student-athletes to Virginia Tech on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period. This group is comprised of players from 11 different states and includes 10 players on offense and nine on defense.

Of the nine defensive signees, three will already have post-high school experience coming out of the junior college ranks. The Tech coaching staff inked four projected defensive tackles in this class. Offensively, Tech brings in four wide receivers, including two four-star prospects according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings. Tech’s four wideouts tied with defensive line for the position with the most signees during the early signing period.

For the second consecutive year during the early signing period, Virginia was once again the Hokies’ most represented state with six signees committing to stay home to play for the Hokies. Following the Commonwealth in number of signees is Florida (three), North Carolina (two), South Carolina (two) and one signee each from Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Delaware.

“We’re excited about our entire class,” Fuente said. “We filled a lot of needs on both sides of the football. It’s a pretty even class in terms of offensive and defensive players and guys from the region. Obviously, a bunch of kids that decided to stay home will be a part of Virginia Tech and then some kids from some outlying areas that have really been interested in Virginia Tech for some time were drawn to the academics, the atmosphere and the progress of our football program.

“What we’re trying to do know is create some depth and some competition,” he continued. “I think competition brings out the best in all of us. Continuing to fill each one of those position rooms with competent competitive people that want to help this football program and their roles may change throughout their career, but guys that are eager to be a part of something special, guys that are eager to roll up their sleeves, go to work and earn everything they get. It’s been an important part of our emphasis since we’ve been here, finding our kind of guys, the type of people that are drawn to competitive environments, that don’t want anything handed to them, but are anxious to go against the best and play alongside the best.”

Coach Fuente indicated that he anticipates the following student-athletes enroll early at Virginia Tech: Elijah Bowick, DaShawn Crawford, Jesse Hanson, Ny’Quee Hawkins, Brion Murray and J.R. Walker

The traditional National Signing Day will be on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

Virginia Tech Football – Early Signing Day Bios

Amaré Barno
Linebacker 6’6” 225 lbs.
Blythewood, S.C. Butler Community College/Westwood

Played for head coach Tim Schaffner at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. … Tallied 66 tackles, 14 TFL and 4.5 sacks in 2018 at Butler … Tallied 91 total tackles (52 solo), 5.5 sacks, two INTs and three forced fumbles in his career.

Elijah Bowick
Wide Receiver 6’1” 212 lbs.
Charlotte, N.C. Myers Park

Played for head coach Scott Chadwick at Myers Park High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Had a career total of 199 receptions for 3,730 yards with 48 touchdowns … Led Myers Park to its first ever 13-win season … Was a two-time all-state selection ... Finished his senior campaign with 62 receptions for 1,424 yards and 17 touchdowns.

DaShawn Crawford
Defensive Line 6’0” 274 lbs.
Bay Springs, Miss. Jones County Junior College/Bay Springs

Played for head coach Steve Buckley at Jones County Junior College … Attended Bay Springs High School … Had 38 tackles, 15 TFL and 2.5 sacks this past season at Jones County in 2018 … Racked up 243 total tackles and 16 sacks in high school … Was a second-team all-state selection in 2015 and 2016 … 2A Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.

Dean Ferguson
Linebacker 6’2” 199 lbs.
Sterling, Va. Potomac Falls

Played for head coach Paul Barnes at Potomac Falls High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Recorded 135.5 tackles, 14 TFL, 11 forced fumbles and six pass deflections in his career … Was named first-team all-district and first-team all-region 5C.

Josh Fuga
Defensive Line 6’2” 303 lbs.
Woodbridge, Va. Freedom

Played for head coach Darryl Overton at Freedom High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Named first-team offensive and defensive lineman and the Defensive Player of the Year by InsideNOVA … Named Defensive Player of the Year and all-region by UltimateRecruit.com … Helped lead Freedom to the Class 6 state championship game.

Nick Gallo
Tight End 6’4” 230 lbs.
Richboro, Penn. Council Rock South

Played for head coach Vincent Bedesem at Council Rock South High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Guided Council South Rock to a winning season and a first-round 6A playoff appearance … Younger brother of former Tech center Eric Gallo (2014-17).

Tahj Gary
Running Back 5’8” 219 lbs.
Atlanta, Ga. Woodward Academy

Played for head coach John Hunt at Woodward Academy … Ran for 1,219 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior with 27 receptions and seven receiving TDs … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Racked up more than 3,200 rushing yards in his career … Posted 48 rushing touchdowns … 4A Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018 … Woodward Academy’s 2017 Offensive Player of the Year.

Jesse Hanson
Offensive Line 6’5” 295 lbs.
Blue Ridge, Va. Lord Botetourt

Played for head coach Jamie Harless at Lord Botetourt High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Was a two-time offensive lineman of the year … Was a two-time all-state, three-time all-region and four-time all-district selection … Racked up 137 knockdowns in his senior campaign and finished with 400 knockdowns in his career.

Ny’Quee Hawkins
Defensive Back 6’0” 172 lbs.
Orange, N.J. Orange

Played for head coach Randy Daniel at Orange High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Played running back and defensive back for the Tornadoes … Registered over 1,000 yards rushing while scoring 12 rushing touchdowns and seven receiving touchdowns … Posted over 125 tackles, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns … Guided Orange HS to the semifinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 state playoffs in 2016.

Bryan Hudson
Offensive Line 6’4” 298 lbs.
Georgetown, Ky. Scott County

Played for head coach Kim Mckee at Scott County High School … A four-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Anchored an offensive line that lead Scott County to back-to-back 11-win seasons … Was a three-time shot put and a two-time discus state champion.

Mario Kendricks
Defensive Line 6’0” 275 lbs.
Kissimmee, Fla. Osceola

Played for head coach Doug Nichols at Osceola High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Had 16.0 sacks, an interception and averaged three tackles per game as a junior.

Keshawn King
Running Back 5’11” 177 lbs.
Orange Park, Fla. Oakleaf

Played for head coach Frank Garis at Oakleaf … A four-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking ... Ran for nearly 4,800 yards in three seasons at Oakleaf … Finished his career with 66 total touchdowns, including 62 rushing scores … Posted 2,017 rushing yards and 31 total scores as a senior.

Brion Murray
Defensive Back 5’10” 174 lbs.
Milford, Delaware Coffeyville Community College/Milford

Played for head coach Aaron Flores at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan. … Was an All-KJCCC Honorable Mention selection in 2018 … Was the 2017 Milford Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year and was also the 2017 Youth of the Year at Milford High School.

Jaden Payoute
Wide Receiver 6’1” 189 lbs.
Chesterfield, Va. L.C. Bird

Played for head coach Troy Taylor at L.C. Bird High School … A four-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Selected to play in the 2019 All-American Bowl … U.S. National Football Team member … Saw time at wide receiver, quarterback and defensive back in his high school career … State champion in the 100-meter dash … All-Metro in the long jump, triple jump, high jump and 100-meter dash.

Jacoby Pinckney
Wide Receiver 6’1” 200 lbs.
Spartanburg, S.C. Dorman

Played for head coach David Gutshall at Dorman High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Had 15 touchdown catches and 2,567 receiving yards over the last three seasons … Herald-Journal/GoUpstate All-Area selection as a junior in 2017 … Helped lead Dorman to the 2017 5A upper state title … Herald-Journal/GoUpstate Preseason All-Area pick entering the 2018 campaign.

Norell Pollard
Defensive Line 6’0” 246 lbs.
Apopka, Fla. Wekiva

Played for head coach Richard Bedesem at Wekiva High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Registered 13.0 sacks as a junior … 2017 third-team all-state selection by Florida HS Football.

Will Pritchard
Offensive Line 6’2” 281 lbs.
Moseley, Va. Manchester

Played for head coach Tom Hall at Manchester High School … A three-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Helped anchor an offensive line that lead Manchester to a 15-0 record and the 6A state championship … Was a three-time all-state selection.

Tayvion Robinson
Wide Receiver 5’10” 180 lbs.
Virginia Beach, Va. Cox

Played for head coach Bill Stachelski at Cox High School … A four-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Earned first-team All-Tidewater accolades in both football and basketball as a junior … Racked up 1,635 total yards as a junior with 21 touchdowns at quarterback, running back and wide receiver … Named the Virginian-Pilot’s 2017-18 Male Athlete of the Year.

J.R. Walker
Defensive Back 6’0” 199 lbs.
Clayton, N.C. Clayton

Played for head coach Hunter Jenks at Clayton High School … A four-star recruit according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking … Helped the Comets make it to the first round of the 3AA North Carolina state championships and a 9-3 record … Rushed for over 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns in his prep career … Defensively, tallied more than 10 interceptions and 150 tackles.