The Cavaliers had few surprises on signing day among their 22-player class. The top prize is five-star running back Taquan Mizzell, who is nicknamed "Smoke" for his blazing speed. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder is from Bayside High in Virginia Beach, demonstrating coach Mike London's continued power to recruit the talent-rich Tidewater area.
But London showed his ability to recruit other areas as well, landing a pair of four-star defensive backs, Tim Harris of Varina High in Richmond and Kirk Garner of Good Counsel High in Olney. London also signed several players from the D.C. and Baltimore areas, including quarterback Brendan Marshall (Good Counsel), wide receiver Andrew Levrone (Good Counsel), defensive tackle Donta Wilkins (Potomac, Va.), offensive lineman Sadiq Olanrewaju (Salisbury School in Connecticut but from Gaithersburg) and linebackers Zach Bradshaw (Damascus) and Micah Kiser (Gilman).
This is the second straight year that Virginia's class is ranked 27th in the nation.
After slumping when Virginia's Mike London made a splash with his first full recruiting class in 2011, coach Frank Beamer has regained some lost turf, recruiting the state hard and with much success. Among the 18 players signed Wednesday, 12 played high school football in Virginia.
Kendall Fuller, a five-star defensive back from Good Counsel, is the top-rated prospect as he follows his three older brothers to Blacksburg. The signing of four-star prospect Bucky Hodges, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback from Salem High in Virginia Beach, and four other players from the Tidewater area indicates Beamer has regained his magic touch in the important southeast quadrant of the state.
The Hokies' only recruits this year from Northern Virginia are four-star prospect Wyatt Teller, a 6-5, 250-pound defensive end from Liberty High in Bealton, and defensive back Anthony Shegog (North Stafford).
Virginia Tech's class is ranked 22nd in the nation for the second straight year. When they were faced with strong competition from London two years ago, the Hokies slumped to 33rd, the first time since 2007 that they had been outrecruited by the Cavaliers.
Placing the obligatory baseball hat on his head and uttering the following words, the nation's top-rated recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, kicked off national signing day: "After much discussion and prayer, I have decided to attend the University of Ole Miss."
Nkemdiche, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Loganville, Ga., opened a big day for Mississippi as coach Hugh Freeze continues his stunning rebuild of the Rebels after inheriting a 2-10 team and going 7-6 last fall. Later in the day, Ole Miss also landed the top-ranked offensive lineman, Laremy Tunsil (6-6, 295) of Lake City, Fla., and the No. 1 wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 198) of Crete, Ill.
With the signings Mississippi, vaulted to No. 7 on the Rivals.com team rankings behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Florida. Of the teams in the top 10, six are from the SEC. USC landed the top-ranked quarterback, Max Browne (6-5, 215) of Sammamish, Wash.
While local schools grabbed much of the top high school talent from the D.C. area on national signing day, some four-star prospects registered their services with high-level programs around the country. The group includes defensive end Jonathan Allen (Stone Bridge/Alabama); quarterback Ryan Burns (Stone Bridge/Stanford); offensive tackle Na'Ty Rodgers (McDonough/South Carolina); wide receiver Paul Harris (Douglass/Tennessee); and linebackers Matt Rolin (Briar Woods/Florida), Dorian O'Daniel (Good Counsel/Clemson), E.J. Levenberry (Hylton/Florida State) and Marcus Newby (Quince Orchard/Nebraska).
Also signing with major programs were defensive end Kevin Robbins (McNamara/Georgia Tech); offensive lineman Darius Commissiong (McNamara/Georgia Tech); tight end Cam Serigne (Briar Woods/Wake Forest); kicker Chris Blewitt (West Potomac/Pittsburgh); running backs Rachid Ibrahim (Avalon/Pittsburgh) and Richy Anderson (Thomas Johnson/Penn State); linebackers Reggie McGee (Good Counsel/N.C. State) and Oren Burks (South County/Vanderbilt); and defensive backs John Johnson (Northwestern/Boston College), DaeSean Hamilton (Mountain View/Penn State), Evrett Edwards (Woodbridge/Duke), Jordan Smith (H.D. Woodson/Penn State) and Devin Butler (Gonzaga/Notre Dame).