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Hokies football coach Brent Pry on new recruiting footprint: Draw a six-hour radius around Blacksburg

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Brent Pry Signing Day

Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry puts up recruits on his “big board” on early signing day. Pry is taking a more regional approach to recruiting compared to former coach Justin Fuente.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry had an easy way to sum up the program’s new recruiting footprint.

“Literally you can take Blacksburg and draw a six-hour radius around it,” Pry said, motioning his hand in a circle on a Zoom call with reporters.

Pry has talked about the importance of in-state recruiting every time he’s spoken to reporters since taking the job — he’s dispersing his entire staff across the state for a full week once the dead period ends — but his more regional approach is much different than the one former coach Justin Fuente relied on.

Virginia and North Carolina were top priorities for the former staff, but Georgia and Florida were the primary areas of focus beyond that. Tech signed 20 recruits out of Georgia in Fuente’s six recruiting classes (2016-21) and 18 recruits from Georgia.

The 20 signees from Georgia were second to only Virginia (36 signees).

Tech was also becoming increasingly willing to venture out further than that in Fuente’s later years. They signed six signees in Texas over a two-year period and signed high school players out of California and Alabama.

Pry wants to shrink that focus significantly.

“We want to be strong in North Carolina and parts of South Carolina,” Pry said. “We’re going to be heavy in parts of Pennsylvania. Obviously the DMV is going to be important as well. East Tennessee, we’ve got some relationships there, even into central Tennessee.”

Pennsylvania would be a new addition to Tech’s footprint. Fuente’s staff landed only four signees out of the state during his tenure — tight end Nick Gallo, wide receiver Darryle Simmons, safety Nasir Peoples and offensive lineman Kaden Moore.

Pry wants to leverage his ties to the state including Harrisburg, the area he was responsible for while at Penn State.

“They’re all accessible to Blacksburg,” Pry said of Pennsylvania’s three major cities. “You can get into Pittsburgh and do a nice job. Obviously I have relationships there, as well as some of the staff members. You can really get to Harrisburg really quick … and then Philly is a little bit further, but I also think there’s opportunity there.”

That’s not to say there won’t be exceptions, but Pry made it clear that if a coach wants to pursue a recruit beyond that unofficial six-hour boundary it will be for a very specific kind of player.

“I told the staff this morning, unless there’s some reason for us to get west of the Mississippi, right? I told them we’re not doing it,” Pry said. “I don’t want to see that you’re traveling to Texas or you’re traveling to Nebraska or you’re traveling to California unless there’s some type of relation to Virginia Tech or the state of Virginia. A family member went to Tech, whatever the case is. Maybe used to live in Virginia, used to live in the footprint. Best friend’s on the roster. If there’s not a reason, we’re just not going to throw darts across the Mississippi.”

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