It cannot be seen as a coincidence that Virginia Tech made the decision to part company with Justin Fuente. Apart from his middling win-loss record, Fuente was getting killed on the recruiting trail in talent-rich Virginia.
North Carolina, beginning with their forays into the Tidewater region--cradle of Tar Heel legend Dre Bly--began reaching its tentacles into the middle of the state. While his focus was on in-state talent during his first offseason recruiting, Mack Brown opted to stretch his boundaries this season, grabbing three-star recruits Trevyon Green and Bryson Jennings, four-stars Tychaun Chapman, Andre Greene, Tayon Holloway, and George Pettaway, and massive five-star tackle Zach Rice from all over Virginia.
Virginia Tech will always find long-term program building tough if a direct divisional rival plucks the choicest apples from their backyard. To that end, new coach Brent Pry has said this regarding Hokie recruiting:
Justin Fuente, with his coaching ties to TCU, made an odd habit of ignoring some Virginia talent in order to take a swing at Texas kids. No more.
Hokie lore is riddled with Virginia prep legends. Michael Vick from Newport News. Bruce Smith from Norfolk. DeAngelo Hall from Chesapeake. Tyrod Taylor from Hampton (a Hampton High Crabber, like Dazz Newsome!)
Focusing on talent-rich Virginia is a winning formula for VPI. Blacksburg has its charm, if you’re into that sort of thing. But if you’re a long way from home, it can be a bleak and lonely campus. It’s not a place that you should be bringing in kids from Texas or California and expect them not to transfer out.
Will Pry be able to beat Mack Brown for Virginia kids that Carolina prioritizes? We’ll see in the years to come. Mack continues to be the ultimate friendly grandpa slash best car salesman you’ve ever seen on the recruiting trail. Plus he has Virginia ties on his staff, with Bly and Jay Bateman, who is originally from Richmond.
Adding to the complexity of this picture is the future of UVA football. Last night, news broke that Bronco Mendenhall was stepping down from his head coach post:
#UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall said he informed his staff of his decision at 4:45, told the team at 5 and is now speaking the media.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) December 2, 2021
"It's going to take time to process."
This came as a complete surprise to all involved. When a new coach is hired (and the Cavaliers need to make that decision pronto!) we’ll have a better understanding of their recruiting strategy and priorities.
But whoever it is, he’ll likely see Virginia Tech and UNC coaches at the same high school stadiums on chilly Friday nights. Virginia high school football always produces talent. Whoever gets the cream of the crop will be in an ideal situation to win the ACC Coastal.