For the second time in as many days, Virginia Tech grabbed a significant piece for the 2017 class. On Saturday night, Toms River North (NJ) three-star cornerback Bryce Watts announced via social media that he had committed to the Hokies.
What does his decision mean for the Virginia Tech? We break down Watt's commitment and how he got to this point.
This is arguably a case of a recruit committing too early. In March of 2016, Watts seemed wooed by his in-state school, Rutgers, where many of his family members attended and graduated from. He'd been there multiple times on visits, including junior days and that month, he gave the Scarlet Knights his commitment.
Over the next few months, it appeared that Watts was solid with that decision. At the time of his pledge, he called Rutgers his 'dream school.' He backed that up, too.
Watts had been a lifelong fan of the Scarlet Knights. He had a photo of when he met former coach Greg Schiano when he was just seven years old. And after his commitment, Watts set out to recruit for his new school.
It's hard to say if there was one thing that loosened the grip Rutgers had on him, but in the fall, Watts certainly wasn't firm any more. It might have been the Scarlet Knights' struggles on the field, where they went just 2-10, including 0-9 in the Big Ten.
Throughout the process, Virginia Tech assistant coach Brian Mitchell stayed in touch. By early September, that relationship had grown exponentially and by mid-season, the Hokies had gained a lot of traction, though Pittsburgh had also made a run.
In early January, Watts maintained that he was committed to Rutgers, but by last Sunday, Jan. 15, he announced he had opened his recruitment back up. Boston College had reached out, but Watts quickly set an official visit for Virginia Tech this weekend, which made it apparent who the new front-runner was.
And by Saturday night, while on that visit, Watts made it official. He was committed to the Hokies.
What it means for the class
While the focus among the defensive backs was to land five-star Devon Hunter, a good cornerback wasn't far behind. It was apparent this season, especially when Greg Stroman missed time at the end of the season due to injury, that Virginia Tech needed depth.
It might have been mostly under the national radar, but Watts has been on the Hokies' radar for at least six months. Mitchell has worked Watts hard, keeping persistent and constant contact, which paid off.
Watts gives Virginia Tech sorely needed depth and the chance to grow a bit before he's thrust into a major role. There's a very good chance the Hokies could take one more cornerback among the final few spots they have left. Scout300 cornerback Ameer Speed is the top target, while Dazz Newsome and Latavious Brini are other options.
Virginia Tech has a few 'athletes' who could conceivably play cornerback, like Terius Wheatley. But Watts is the best fit and even if the Hokies strike out with the remaining targets, would at least help satisfy a big need.
"I think the first thing is he's got great athleticism and really loose hips. A cornerback all the way. He runs track, has really good speed, but because he runs track, he's gotta get his weight up. You don't wanna be weighing 185 when you're running track. If you're Virginia Tech, you'd like to redshirt him so he can get stronger.
I think, skillset-wise, he has the ability to play. He's really quick, can change direction well, can get in and out of breaks on the hip of a receiver. He has the speed to play corner on the boundary side or the other side of the field. He could play, really anywhere, to the field side. He's just really athletic and really has a high ceiling. The only thing that really kept him from being a four-star, is he's gotta get stronger and that may take a little bit of time. But he's incredibly talented."
-- Brian Dohn, Scout.com Northeast analyst
What it means for Virginia Tech as a program
You've got Brandon Facyson returning for his senior season, as will Greg Stroman. Terrell Edmunds will be a junior, as will Adonis Alexander. Khalil Ladler should be ready to contribute as a redshirt freshman after sitting out 2016 because of a torn ACL. But overall, this is a group that needed replenshing.
In didn't help not having Ladler, but especially when Stroman went down at Duke with an ankle injury, the Hokies' lack of cornerback depth was apparent. Watts helps fill in some depth.
The good thing is, because of the guys ahead of him, Watts will likely redshirt. That's good, because it will give him a chance to up his weight and become more physically ready for the college level. There won't be any pressure right away.
Watts is a guy who can be groomed to have a big career a couple of years down the road. He has the ability and instinct, now he just needs to have the physical part down.
But make no mistake, Watts is a physical cornerback who if he continues to develop, should have a bright future at Virginia Tech.