Virginia Tech associate head coach Shane Beamer is widely recognized as one of the top assistant coaches in college football. With stops at Mississippi State and South Carolina before returning to his alma mater in 2011, Beamer has a decade of recruiting experience in the most talented region in the country.
Beamer recently chatted with RecruitingNation on all things Hokies and the future of recruiting.
Virginia Tech is about to break ground on a new, $21 million indoor practice facility. How big will the addition be for the Hokies football program in what has become an “arms race”?
Shane Beamer: You know, it will be huge. It’s already paying dividends and we haven’t even got far in the process (building it) yet. When the pictures first got out of what the indoor facility was going to look like, I was a little bit surprised by all the positive reactions from the recruits. I mean, I knew it would be big, but it was an even bigger and better reaction from high school prospects than I imagined. It will be huge. It will be a beautiful building, a credit to our administration and Hokie nation to come up with the resources to build it. It will also help other sports as well. One thing that is a positive about Virginia Tech is how easy it is to get around, and how everything from an athletic standpoint is close together. The football stadium, the academic center, the locker room, the dorm the guys live in and now the indoor facility -- guys don’t have to be driving all over campus. This is another key piece to the puzzle for us.
Michael Vick is one of the rare players who has stood the test of time with the youth of America. Despite leaving Virginia Tech in 2000, he remains a topic for top prospects. What is it about Vick that has kept him in the minds of prospects?
SB: He’s definitely one that has stood the test of time. I think there are a few reasons. One, the national championship game. A lot of teams talk about the goal being to play for a national championship. Well, we did it. Mike was the one that had a big hand in taking us there. He really kind of changed the quarterback position, in my mind, in both college and the NFL. What he did in the national championship game against Florida State, coaches are still taking about -- college coaches, high school coaches and prospects. There are a lot of guys in the NFL with Virginia Tech ties such as Brandon Flowers, Kam Chancellor, DeAngelo Hall, Eddie Royal and I could go on and on, but Mike is one that even though he left in 2000 still carries a big name.
If one begins naming the top programs in terms of player development, Virginia Tech is near the top. What do you guys do as a staff that has led to the success in this area?
SB: Number one, I think we do a really good job evaluating. You are going to have misses like any other school, but we are very thorough in our evaluation process. I know some other schools, the position coach walks into a high school, offers a kid a scholarship and that’s it. We do it a little different. If we offer a kid a scholarship, our entire staff has watched the kid on video, including our head coach, and the entire staff has signed off on a prospect. When we get them here, I like to think that we do a good job coaching and developing the players. We have a staff with a system that has been in place, and we have a lot of continuity on the staff. We also have a great strength and conditioning program, too. Our coach, Mike Gentry, has been here since 1987 and is nationally known and nationally respected as one of the best, if not the best strength coach in the country. You put all those combinations together and I think it equals success in developing players on and off the field.
What are the most pressing needs in the 2015 class for the Hokies?
SB: I think the biggest need for us is on the defensive line. We need some playmakers at the end position that can rush the passer. We have had a lot of those guys here at Virginia Tech, such as Cornell Brown to Corey Moore to Jason Worilds to Darryl Tapp and James Gayle just graduated. There have been a lot of them that has kind of made our defense go, and there are some great ones out there this year. We need that next round of guys as pass rushers. Then the offensive line, I believe we have four or five seniors graduating this year. We signed a good group last fall, but we need to put another class on top of that as well.
The sentiment is growing for an early signing period in college football. Has the staff sat down and talked about the possibility? What are your thoughts on the subject?
SB: We have talked about it a little bit as a staff. Not too much in depth because there is only so much you can do, but we have talked about it just to be sure we get our thoughts about it as a group. For me, I would be for it. For one, if a guy knows where he wants to go to school -- you hear guys all the time that commit say they know where they want to go to school and concentrate on their senior year academically and athletically -- then that would be an opportunity for them to sign and do that. I think from a recruiting standpoint, it would clear up some things. If you have a guy that is committed to you but he doesn’t want to sign early, then he is probably not committed to you. As coaches it would allow us to know which of these commits is really solid and which ones are not -- which positions do we need to recruit at because some guys may not be as solid as we think. I think from a financial standpoint, it would alleviate some costs of having to go see committed guys every single week that are committed to you. Even though guys are committed, you still have to go see guys every week because you know other people are still recruiting the player.
People say that if you have an early period, then you have to change the recruiting calendar around because of official visits earlier and such, but I don’t think so. I don’t think you need to change the recruiting calendar at all, maybe just change and allow for an official visit during their junior year. If we had the same calendar we had last year and had an early signing period in August or September, we would have had 20 guys sign early. The process is sped up so much with kids taking visits to campuses early -- some kids have been on campuses seven or eight times by their senior year. I would be for it. Are there negatives? Sure there are, but there is going to be in anything.
If not an early signing period, what are your thoughts on the NCAA allowing prospects to make official visits during the spring of junior year?
SB: To be able to get the family members on campus I think would be big. To be able to get mom and dad or whoever on campus for an official visit -- to come and see your campus would be big. We have had prospects come on campus, but maybe with their teammate or friend or what have you, but not with their parents. ... I think it would be great to have families on campus, spend more time on your campus and see everything they can’t see on an unofficial visit.