This is our second installment of the recruiting rewind segment. The revisiting of the recruitment of current key players on the roster in 2020-21 is an interesting analysis to see how these current Hokies were recruited.
As a squad, the 2020-21 Hokies are poised to make a big run if we do in fact have a season. Players who have, and will likely continue, to contribute have vastly diverse recruiting backgrounds.
Junior TE James Mitchell
James Mitchell was a 6’4’’ 218 lbs prospect out of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. He boasted a .8904 composite ranking from the 247Sports composite coming out of high school. He was ranked the 374th-ranked prospect in the country and was the 7th-best prospect in the state at the time of his recruitment.
Mitchell's offer list was packed with quality programs that included Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ole Miss, among others. His high school tape showed him both split out wide at receiver and on the end of the line as a more typical tight end spot, where he has been seen most frequently at the collegiate level.
Mitchell looks like a man among boys in his high school tape. He shows elite blocking ability down the field - with pancake blocks galore. He also shows some circus catch highlights with his impressive hands. Union High School, where Mitchell attended, utilized him immensely in the screen game where he thrived.
When he was split out wide, his tape shows go routes and post routes where he is routinely double teamed and still comes up with the catch. Mitchell has the skill set of an all-around tight end and the measurables to stay durable and physical in the blocking game. He will be a highly utilized weapon when the Hokies see the field again, just as he was as a sophomore a year ago. With Dalton Keene gone to the NFL, Mitchell will likely have a bigger role offensively in the passing game this season.
Recent Recruit comparison: Current 2021 Verbal Commit, 3-star Tennessee WR Tray Curry
Curry has been utilized more on the edge in high school with his ability to high point the ball in the fade game in the red zone. He shows a bit more breakaway speed, but his intangibles line up very similarly to Mitchell at 6’4’’ 210 lbs. The Hokies will have another weapon especially in the red zone with Curry’s massive frame.
Redshirt-Junior Linebacker Amare Barno
Amare Barno is a Hokie who we haven’t seen make a huge splash yet, but the coaches rave about the kid and his body type is hard to ignore. At 6’6’’, 220 lbs. coming out of Butler Community College, Barno was a JUCO prospect with a little bit of a different recruiting story.
His offer list as a JUCO was a bit slimmer than others with the likes of Nebraska and Marshall listed as the top names other than the Hokies. On his high school tape way back from the Class of 2017, Barno lined up mainly at strong safety.
Barno shows extreme versatility on film, being able to track and finish tackles anywhere, while also showing the ability to find the ball in the air from a safety spot. The Hokies may look to use him as a bit of a Swiss army knife on defense and try him out at different spots on the field, because his build allows that. Barno needed a few years of refinement to master the game under the Hokies defensive coaching staff, but expect to see Barno contribute often this fall now that he has become more polished as a player.
Recent Recruit Comparison: Current 2021 Verbal Commit, 3-star Virginia ATH Keli Lawson
Lawson has played more in the box as a hybrid defensive end and linebacker on the defensive side of the ball in his high school tape. What these two players have in common is their body type and the versatility that they both bring to the defensive side of the football.
Lawson is listed at 6’4’’, 200 lbs. but has a wingspan that well-surpasses his height. He and Barno could both be guys that opposing coaches struggle to combat in an offensive gameplan.
Much like Barno, Lawson could end up being a project that the staff is more than willing to take time to mold before turning him loose for Justin Hamilton's defense.