Many of Virginia’s top recruits in recent years have fled out-of-state.
Alabama has lured defensive linemen Jonathan Allen from Stone Bridge and Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge. Florida State continues to have a nice pipeline in the Tidewater area that began with Bayside quarterback E.J. Manuel out of Virginia Beach, followed by Ocean Lakes products Derrick Nnadi and Levonta Taylor as well Josh Sweat from Chesapeake powerhouse Oscar Smith. Clemson snagged quarterback Tajh Boyd out of Hampton when he was a top-100 recruit. Ohio State even mined the Commonwealth with Wayne Davis and Jalyn Holmes from Norfolk.
So when 4-star safety Devon Hunter of Chesapeake narrowed his list to six schools, Virginia Tech being the lone in-state option, some probably figured he’d be the next coveted prospect to spurn the Hokies. But Hunter desired to be different.
Hunter chose the Hokies over SEC powers Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss. Virginia Tech also beat out Coastal Division foe North Carolina — the first school to offer Hunter.
Staying home and starting a new trend meant something to the 6-1, 205-pound athlete.
“It was very important,” Hunter told High School Sports Talk on ESPN Radio 94.1. “I used to watch all those guys when I was younger, playing in the All-American games. I always wondered why they never chose the in-state schools, so I had to get in-depth and research it.
“Virginia Tech has things like other schools have, so I really didn’t know. I know when I was in San Antonio for the All-American game I was with a lot of different commits. There wasn’t any Virginia Tech commits. There were a lot of Florida guys, Georgia guys, and they all stayed in-state. I just wondered why not Virginia Tech because we have the talent to do it, especially if we keep everybody in-state. I wanted to be one of the first guys to really start it off, let everybody know that Virginia Tech is on the come-up and we’re coming for that national championship.”
Plenty of former and current Hokies from the Tidewater area — names such as Tavante Beckett, Deshawn McClease, Trevon Hill, DeAngelo Hall, Tyrod Taylor, Kam Chancellor and Michael Vick — talked with Hunter before he ultimately arrived at a decision.
“[Hall] a highly recruited dude, could’ve gone anywhere and said he loved Florida State,” Hunter said. “He told me, ‘Follow your heart.’ He felt like Virginia Tech was the school for him and felt like he could go and make an impact. I had the same feeling.”
When Hunter made his announcement at halftime of the school’s basketball game against conference rival Salem last Friday, he was greeted by a surprise visitor in Chancellor, who flew in from Seattle. Chancellor has been a role model that Hunter has grown close to in the past year.
Click below to hear Matthew Hatfield and Ed Young’s full interview with Hunter on ESPN Radio 94.1’s High School Sports Talk: