Friday, February 22, 2013

Linebacker knows Virginia Tech's walk-on tradition

Doug Doughty

Doug Doughty's College Notebook Plus is exclusive to roanoke.com and is posted by 5 p.m. Fridays.

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Sean Huelskamp doesn’t know Jack Tyler personally but he wouldn’t mind being the next Jack Tyler.

Tyler, a 6-foot-1, 238-pound linebacker, had a team-high 119 tackles last season for a Virginia Tech team that had nobody else with more than 83 (Kyshoen Jarrett).

Tyler, who will be a fifth-year senior for the Hokies this coming season, is a walk-on from Oakton High School in Vienna.

Huelskamp, a 6-2, 205-pound linebacker from Chantilly, decided last week to accept a preferred walk-on spot at Tech over a half-scholarship offer from William and Mary.

Huelskamp also considered Davidson, where his brother, Trey, was a junior tight end this past season. Sean also plays tight end and had more than 600 receiving yards this past season.

He also played basketball for Chantilly, which might account for his relatively slender build for a linebacker. He hopes to arrive in Blacksburg in the 225-pound range after accounting for 140 tackles as a senior, close to 40 of them for loss.

“Tech started to recruit me [as a walk-on] toward the end of the football season and that continued through the winter,” said Huelskamp, who was aware of the success that Tech has had with walk-on linebackers like Tyler and Cody Grimm, also from Oakton.

“I felt like I could come in and eventually make an impact and earn a starting role.”

He was named first-team All-Group AAA by Virginia Preps and the Virginia High School Coaches’ Association, second-team all-metro by The Washington Post and Concorde District Defensive Player of the Year.

AN ITEM THAT slipped between the cracks of my summary of Virginia’s football recruiting class was coach Mike London’s comment about Corwin Cutler, who completed 69.6 percent of his passes as a senior this past season at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach.

Cutler, named first-team All-Tidewater by The Virginian-Pilot, passed for 2,232 yards and 31 touchdowns before he suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in the opening game of the Group AAA Eastern Region playoffs.

Cutler had undergone surgery by the time he showed up in Charlottesville for a recruiting weekend in late January and London was quick to point out “that I’m still committed to him, I’m committed to his development and his opportunity to come to the University of Virginia, whether it’s this year or prep school or whatever it may be.”

That was the first acknowledgement I’d heard from Virginia that Cutler might attend prep school, but that might be a blessing in disguise for the Cavaliers, who otherwise would be in position to go to camp with six scholarship quarterbacks: Phillip Sims, David Watford, Greyson Lambert, Matt Johns, Brendan Marshall and Cutler.

And, it would have been more if eight-game 2012 starter Michael Rocco hadn’t transferred to Richmond (or if Michael Strauss and Ross Metheny hadn’t left one year earlier).

The general impression I’ve gotten is that Virginia knows it has too many quarterbacks and would not be opposed to a year’s separation between Marshall and Cutler. Marshall could redshirt next season and Cutler, if he went to Fork Union in the fall, could be redshirted in 2014.

SPEAKING OF quarterbacks, Michigan has taken a commitment from Wilton Speight, a 6-foot-6, 217-pound quarterback from The Collegiate School in Richmond, where he repeated his junior year after a 2011 injury.

According to rivals.com, Michigan was the first school to offer Speight, rated the No. 7 prospect among Virginia juniors by The Roanoke Times after the season.

UVa fans will remember the last time that the Cavaliers failed to make an offer to a Collegiate quarterback. That was Russell Wilson, who enjoyed a marvelous career at North Carolina State before spending a fifth season at Wisconsin and starring this season for the Seattle Seahawks.

Nobody was knocking Virginia in the spring of 2006 for taking a commitment from Peter Lalich, rated the No. 2 prospect in the state behind Hampton quarterback and Virginia Tech recruit Tyrod Taylor, but Lalich had alcohol issues that ended his UVa career and left him far short of Wilson as a collegian.

That Roanoke Times juniors list had three quarterbacks in the top seven: No. 3-rated prospect Caleb Henderson (6 foot 4, 223 pounds) from Lake Braddock in Fairfax County, No. 6 Travon McMillan (6-0, 196) from Hylton in Woodbridge and Speight.

It would have been interesting to see what Speight had done if North Carolina State had not dismissed head coach Tom O’Brien and his staff. Speight has family connections to N.C. State and had attended camp in Raleigh, N.C., where he might have evoked comparisons to another tall Virginian, Mike Glennon.

Tech and UVa are listed by rivals.com as having made offers to Henderson, who also has been offered by North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan State and Illinois. The two in-state schools are also among 12 FBS schools that have offered McMillian.

Henderson passed for 2,600 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior, when he also rushed for 567 yards and 11 TDs. McMillian, more of an all-purpose threat, passed for 1,394 yards (13 touchdowns) and passed for 862 yards (11 TDs).

Seven ACC schools have made offers to McMillian, counting Maryland, which won’t be in the ACC by the time he matriculates.

ON THE SUBJECT of Maryland and ACC quarterbacks, I’m hearing that one-time Virginia Tech quarterback recruit Ricardo Young could get a majority of the quarterback reps this spring.

Young transferred from Tech to New Mexico State and also spent time at Iowa Western Community College before surfacing at Maryland, where he rejoined one-time New Mexico State coach Mike Locksley.

Converted freshman linebacker Shawn Petty ended the season at quarterback for Maryland, which lost incumbent C.J. Brown to a preseason knee injury and freshmen Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe to injuries during the season. All are at various stages of rehab.  

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