Rarely does a recruit de-commit and then commit back to the same school. But the situation of Riverbend (Va.) four-star defensive end TyJuan Garbutt is a bit different. It's tough to say how much Garbutt was ever really not on board, before he re-committed to Virginia Tech Friday afternoon.
What does his decision mean for the the Hokies? We break down Garbutt's pledge and how he got to this point.
Haven't we already done this story before? It's been nearly a year since Garbutt made his initial commitment to Virginia Tech.
That first pledge took place on Feb. 6, during the Hokies' junior day and just before tip-off of their home basketball game against Clemson, with Garbutt in attendance. That appeared to be the culmination of well over a year of recruiting him, with Garbutt having attended multiple football games and camps in Blacksburg.
But five months to the day of that original commitment, Garbutt announced that he wanted to open his recruitment back up. Immediately, fingers were pointed at his coach, Tony DeMarco, a Pittsburgh native. DeMarco said then, that he felt Garbutt might have rushed to judgment and wanted him to get the full recruiting experience.
Immediately, other schools showed interest, including Pittsburgh, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Miami. The first four, along with Virginia Tech constituted an early top five.
It quickly became apparent, however, that this would be a two-team race between the Panthers and Hokies. Garbutt visited Pittsburgh for its game against Penn State in September. The following weekend, he was back at Virginia Tech for its win over Boston College.
But even around that time, it still became apparent that Garbutt favored the Hokies. Scout.com even called him a 'lock' in October. Garbutt still took his time. On Jan. 13, he officially visited the Panthers. The following weekend, he did the same at Virginia Tech.
This past week, Garbutt was supposed to hold in-home visits with both staffs. But Garbutt cancelled an in-home visit Tuesday from the Pittsburgh staff. The coaches still met with him at his school the following morning. And Wednesday night, he hosted the Hokies staff for an in-home visit.
In the end, Garbutt went back to the school he seemingly always favored. And on Friday afternoon, he announced his commitment to Virginia Tech.
What it means for the class
This is a big commitment in a few ways for the Hokies. First, the obvious, that it's another in-state get, which fans hold in high regard. Virginia Tech now has commitments from three of the top eight prospects in Virginia, all coming in a span of a week, with five-star Devon Hunter and four-star Dylan Rivers also on board.
Second, it shows the Hokies' ability to be patient and persistent. It's not often that a recruit of any stature decommits from a school, then gets back on board. The credit for this one goes to defensive coordinator Bud Foster, coach Justin Fuente and the other assistants for steadily checking in, sending him messages on Twitter and making multiple trips to his school.
Third, Garbutt is a kid that while he'll need some attention in Blacksburg, is a phenomenal athlete with big-play ability. He has the potential for a big career in maroon and orange, coming off the edge.
The thing is, though, Virginia Tech isn't done for 2017. There's still one more defensive end target, in Zion DeBose, who's officially visiting the Hokies this weekend.
But Garbutt has a ton of upside. And while it's difficult to measure transitions and other factors not seen off the field, at least on the field, Garbutt looks like another monster in the Lunch Pail Defense.
"Obviously, it's a huge pickup. Virginia Tech continues momentum it has in the state. With him in the fold, that gives the Hokies three of the top eight players, four of the top 11. He's just a really good football player. He gives you a lot of options because he's very versatile. As a senior, he played tight end, wide receiver, outside linebacker, defensive end. He's gonna play on the defensive side of the ball at Virginia Tech. He could probably play defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on what they want to do with him, scheme-wise.
He's one of the best athletes in Virginia, one of the best in the east region. Physically, he's strong, he's got a good motor and he's relentless. Garbutt plays really hard, plays with a chip on his shoulder and overall, just a really good pickup. He needs to get stronger and add some weight, but he's a guy that once he gets to campus, he's gonna be really hard to keep off the field."
-- Michael Clark, Scout.com Mid-Atlantic analyst
What it means for Virginia Tech as a program
Ideally, you'd like to redshirt Garbutt, to get him where he needs to be physically and mentally prepared. That also comes with him not set to get to campus until this summer.
But it's non secret that there's not a ton of depth on the defensive line. The Hokies have added reinforcements, with Garbutt, Robert Porcher, J'Bril Glaze and likely even Nathan Proctor, but there's a chance Garbutt or one of that group could jump into instant playing time with a strong summer lifting and workout session, combined with a strong fall camp.
Houshun Gaines, Trevon Hill and Darius Fullwood, all sophomores next fall, are looking like the top contenders at defensive end, along with redshirt freshman Jimmie Taylor. So regardless, it's going to be a very young position.
There's certainly a chance for Garbutt to jump in early, but again, it depends on his first month and a half or so in Blacksburg. Still, Garbutt is a smart kid and one who has had zero off-the-field issues in high school.