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Virginia's Top 25: Big Ten lands top signees

Virginia's Top 25: Big Ten lands top signees

Ricky Slade

C.D. Hylton's Ricky Slade.

Ricky Slade was rated the No. 1 junior football prospect in Virginia following the 2016 season and probably would have been the top sophomore and freshman prospect if the annual Roanoke Times rankings had such a designation.

“I had seen some film of him from the seventh and eighth grade and I was impressed,” said Tony Lilly, Slade’s coach at C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge. “As soon as he got out of the eighth grade, he started working out with us during the summer.”

It struck Lilly that Slade could play a major role and he shared that thought with 13-year defensive coordinator Dave Anthony.

“I looked at [Anthony] and said, ‘You might think I’m crazy, but this kid might be our starting tailback as a freshman,’ ” Lilly said. “He and I had been together for a long time and he looked at me and said, ‘C’mon coach, there’s a big difference between a ninth-grader and an 11th- or 12th-grader.”

On his first carry in Hylton’s first preseason scrimmage, Slade raced 76 yards for a touchdown.

“I looked at [Anthony] and I said, ‘No doubt, he’s our starting tailback,’ ” Lilly said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”

That same season, Slade (5 foot 9, 185 pounds) had an eight-touchdown game and he recently finished his Hylton career with 5,540 rushing yards and 72 touchdowns. He also had 65 receptions.

“He has the ability to make people miss; he has probably the best vision I’ve ever seen in coaching,” Lilly said. “He has the ability to make his cuts at full speed. The biggest part of it for me is, he’s a 4.4-[second] 40 kid and it takes him about three steps to get to that speed.

“He has tremendous explosion.”

Slade, this year’s Roanoke Times pick as the No. 1 prospect in Virginia, committed to Penn State on the day after national signing day last February.

“I think he had something like 18 offers in his freshman year,” Lilly said. “Never had a ninth-grader like that.

“He started making visits to a lot of the schools that had offered him but he kept finding himself going back to Penn State. From the early part of his recruiting, he really felt that Penn State was the place for him.”

It’s less than four hours from northern Virginia to State College, Pennsylvania, and the Nittany Lions have signed another Roanoke Times top-five pick from Slade’s part of the state, offensive tackle Nana Asiedu (6-5, 275 pounds) from North Stafford.

Between Penn State and rival Ohio State, four players off the Roanoke Times’ Top Five are headed to the Big Ten, including the state’s top-rated linebackers, Teradja Mitchell (6-2, 235) from Bishop Sullivan in Virginia Beach and K’Vaughan Pope (6-2, 210) from Dinwiddie, both headed to Ohio State.

Penn State had signed four of the top 11 prospects off The Roanoke Times’ Top 25 last year, when the Nos. 1 and 2 picks, Bishop Sullivan running back Khalan Laborn and defensive end Jordan Williams from Cox in Virginia Beach, signed with Florida State and Clemson, respectively.

No Virginia prospects picked FSU or Clemson this year as Virginia Tech had the most overall success in Virginia, landing six Top 25 players, including three of the top 10, headed by recent catch James Mitchell, a tight end from Union High School in Big Stone Gap, at No. 5.

The Hokies also signed the top-rated prospect from the Roanoke Times circulation area, Timesland, in 6-foot, 185-pound Blacksburg High School speedster Cole Beck, whose versatility has him projected as a running back, wide receiver or return specialist.

A second Timesland product on the Top 25 is record-setting Staunton River running back Grayson Overstreet, who made an early commitment to Richmond and is one of two FCS-bound players on the Top 25.

More than 60 in-state players took advantage of a three-day early signing period that expired Friday, and that number would have approached 70 if not for commitments to Army and Navy, which are not bound by national letters of intent.

 Top 100 Seniors List

Rank      Name    Ht./Wt./Pos.      High School         College Status

1.            Ricky Slade          5-9, 185, RB         C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge)            Signed with Penn St.

2.            Teradja Mitchell               6-2, 235, LB         Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)          Signed with Ohio St.

3.            K’Vaughan Pope              6-2, 210, LB         Dinwiddie            Signed with Ohio St.

4.            Nana Asiedu      6-5, 275, OT        N. Stafford (Stafford)     Signed with Penn St.

5.            James Mitchell  6-4, 227, TE         Union (Big Stone Gap)   Signed with Virginia Tech

6.            Keshon Artis      5-11, 227, LB       Oscar Smith (Chesapeake)          Signed with Va. Tech

7.            Darryl Jones       6-2, 180,  WR      Princess Anne (Va. Beach)           Signed with Maryland

8.            De’Von Graves6-1, 180,  DB       Appomattox      Signed with N.C. State

9.            Armani Chatman              6-0, 173, WR       Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)         Signed with Va. Tech

10.          Dillon Spalding   6-1, 216, WR       South County (Lorton)  Signed with WVU

11.          Brian Cobbs        6-2, 200, WR       Hayfield (Alexandria)    Signed with Maryland

12.          Chris Collins        6-4, 215,  DE        Benedictine (Richmond)               Signed with UNC

13.          Ronnie Walker  5-11, 185,  RB     Hopewell             Signed with Indiana

14.          Tyler DeSue        6-1, 185,  QB       Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)          Signed with Maryland

15.          Cole Beck            6-0, 185,  Ath      Blacksburg          Signed with Va. Tech

16.          Derrick Eason     6-4, 245, DL        Norview (Norfolk)           Committed to N.C. State

17.          Jesus Gibbs        6-3, 283, OL        Potomac (Dumfries)       Signed with S. Carolina

18.          Wendell Davis   6-2, 215,  LB        Benedictine (Richmond)               Signed with Pittsburgh

19.          Dashaun Jenkins              5-11, 178,  DB     Woodbridge       Signed with Vanderbilt

20.          Jalen Alexander                6-4, 288, DL        West. Branch (Chesapeake)        Signed with Maryland

21.          Grant Misch       6-4, 234, LB         Potomac Falls (Sterling)Signed with UVa

22.          Grayson Overstreet        6-2, 225, LB         Staunton River (Moneta)             Signed with Richmond

23.          Joseph White    6-2, 175, WR       Landstown (Va. Beach)Signed with UVa

24.          Willie Drew         6-1, 180,  ATH     Smithfield           Signed with JMU

25.          Luke Tenuta       6-7, 275, OL         Western Albemarle (Crozet)       Signed with Va. Tech

26.          Jaevon Becton  6-4, 230, DE         Ocean Lakes (Va. Beach)              Uncommitted

27.          Dante Burke       6-3, 230, DE         Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)          Signed with Temple

28.          James Collins     6-5, 311, OL        Oscar Smith (Chesapeake)           Signed with UCF

29.          Kaleb Smith        6-2, 180,  WR      Louisa County (Mineral)                Signed with Va. Tech

30.          Akeem Smith     6-1, 290, DT         Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)          Signed with Ga. State

31.          Billy Kemp           5-8, 175,  WR      Highland Springs               Signed with UVa

32.          Amelio Moran   6-6, 300, OL         Princess Anne (Va. Beach)           Signed with JMU

33.          Taymon Cooke  6-1, 168,  Ath      Graham (Bluefield)         Uncommitted

34.          Ricky Miezan      6-3, 235, Ath       Episcopal (Alexandria)   Uncommitted

35.          Armonii Burden                6-2, 230, LB         Lafayette (Williamsburg)              Committed to Navy

36.          Jonah Fitzgerald               6-3, 220, QB        Hidden Valley (Roanoke)              Uncommitted

37.          Kyle Thomas      6-3, 260, DL         Oscar Smith (Chesapeake)           Uncommitted

38.          Viante Tucker    5-11, 182,  WR    Salem    Uncommitted

39.          Devin Ravenel   6-1, 160,  WR      North Stafford  Signed with JMU

40.          Mateo Jackson  6-2, 215,  LB        Hermitage (Richmond)  Signed with JMU

41.          Jayde Pierre       6-2, 305, DT         Dominion (Sterling)         Uncommitted

42.          Elijah Davis          5-10, 200,  RB     Heritage (Lynchburg)     Uncommitted

43.          Caleb Grimes     5-10, 195, RB      Benedictine (Midlothian)             Committed to Navy

44.          Harmon Saint Germain  6-5, 265, OL         Westfield (Chantilly)       Committed to Army

45.          Henry Schroeder              6-4, 275, OL         St. Christopher’s (Richmond)      Signed with JMU

46.          Trevor Cosenke                6-3, 212,  LB        John Champe (Aldie)      Committed to Army

47.          Nate Smith         6-3, 220, DE         Bishop O’Connell (Arlington)      Committed to Army

48.          Jebril Murray     5-10, 167, WR     Hermitage           (Mechanicsville)              Committed to Navy

49.          Larry Basham     5-10, 183, RB      William Byrd (Roanoke)Uncommitted

50.          Dallas Caporaletti            6-4, 265, OL         C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge)            Uncommitted

51.          Jamar Darboe    6-1, 233, LB         Christchurch       Signed with Coastal Carolina

52.          Tola Banjoki        6-5, 260, DT         Episcopal (Alexandria)   Uncommitted

53.          Talvis Robinson6-2, 300, OL         Thomas Dale (Chester)  Committed to Navy

54.          Seth Agwunobi6-2, 190,  QB       Episcopal (Alexandria)   Uncommitted

55.          Noah Cockrill      6-3, 230, TE         Westfield (Chantilly)       Committed to Army

56.          Camden Wise    6-0, 160,  PK        Blacksburg          Signed with JMU

57.          Zach Bevins        6-3, 255, OL         Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)          Signed with Elon

58.          Julian Sams         6-3, 270, OL         Liberty (Bealeton)           Committed to ODU

59.          Mondo Walker  5-10, 175, DB      Bethel (Hampton)           Uncommitted

60.          Jalen Smith         5-11, 146, WR     Ocean Lakes (Va. Beach)             Committed to Navy

61.          Henry Chibueze                6-3, 340, OL         Woodbridge       Signed with Liberty

62.          Isaac Brown        6-1, 185,  WR      Millbrook (Winchester)Signed with Richmond

63.          Robert Mayo     6-3, 200, WR       Freedom (Chantilly)        Committed to ODU

64.          Noah Overstreet              6-2, 260, DL         Lord Botetourt  Uncommitted

65.          Vincent Notzon6-1, 195,  LB        Episcopal (Alexandria)   Uncommitted

66.          Justin Jasper      6-3, 195,  WR      St. Christopher’s (Richmond)      Signed with Richmond

67.          Jayden Williams                6-0, 190,  Ath      Robert E. Lee (Staunton)              Committed to UVa

68.          Gerard Stringer6-3, 195,  LB        Nansemond River (Suffolk)         Signed with ECU

69.          Tray Jones           5-11, 220, LB       Bayside (Va. Beach)        Committed to Navy

70.          Nick Weitzenfeld             6-3, 260, OL         Cave Spring (Roanoke)  Uncommitted

71.          Devonte Chandler           6-0, 225, LB         Thomas Dale (Chester)  Signed with Elon

72.          Xavier Smith       6-0, 237, LB         Brooke Point (Stafford)Signed with ECU

73.          Brent Stukes      6-0, 180,  Ath      Landstown (Va. Beach)Uncommitted

74.          Da’kendall James             6-0, 180,  WR      Portsmouth Christian     Signed with C. Carolina

75.          Damion Charity6-0, 180,  DB       Phoebus (Hampton)       Signed with ODU

76.          Kevin Jarrell        6-1, 200, QB        Monticello (Charlottesville)         Signed with W&M

77.          Isaiah Spencer   6-5, 205, QB        Gloucester          Signed with ODU

78.          De’Angelo Ramsey          6-0, 211, RB         Salem    Uncommitted

79.          Dougie Peoples5-10, 180, RB      Galax     Uncommitted

80.          Deshun Mickens              6-3, 195,  WR      C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge)            Signed with Lehigh

81.          A.C. White         6-3, 210, QB        Harrisonburg      Signed with ODU

82.          Josh Clifford       6-2, 180,  WR      Glenvar (Salem)               Uncommitted

83.          Ryan Childress   6-5, 285, OL         North Stafford  Signed with W&M

84.          Aaron Moore     6-2, 160,  WR      Potomac (Dumfries)       Signed with ODU

85.          Zach Monson     6-3,215,  LB         West Potomac (Alexandria)        Signed with Elon

86.          Gregory Cuffey6-1, 185,  RB        Hopewell             Signed with W&M

87.          Aaron Moore     6-2, 160,  WR      Potomac (Dumfries)       Signed with ODU

88.          Jaelen Adkins    6-0, 185,  DB       Henrico (Richmond)        Signed with VMI

89.          Seth Osborne    6-3, 285, OL         Lafayette (Williamsburg)              Signed with St. Francis, Pa.

90.          Ayden Jilson       6-5, 305, OL         Colonial Forge (Stafford)              Signed with VMI

91.          Aaron Banks       6-1, 185,  DB       Sherando (Winchester)Signed with Richmond

92.          Marteise Phipps               6-2, 215,  DL        Monacan (Richmond)    Signed with W&M

93.          Peyton Ryder    5-9, 211, RB         Christchurch       Uncommitted

94.          Nick Hartnett     6-3, 285, OL         West Springfield (Springfield)     Signed with VMI

95.          Malik Bell             6-1, 225, QB        Louisa County (Mineral)                Uncommitted

96.          Zyan Sturdivant5-8, 190,  RB        Dinwiddie            Uncommitted

97.          Tony Thurston   6-4, 270, DL         Louisa County (Mineral)                Uncommitted

98.          Allen Boykins     6-1, 200, LB        I.C. Norcom (Portsmouth)           Signed with Norfolk St.

99.          Evan Lomax        5-11, 170,  PK     Nansemond River (Suffolk)         Signed with Hampton

100.        Josh Taylor         6-0, 205, LB         Patrick Henry (Roanoke)               Uncommitted


Top 25 Juniors

Rank      Name    Ht./Wt./Pos.      High School         College Status

1.            Brandon Smith  6-3, 218, DE         Louisa Co. (Mineral)

2.            Devyn Ford         5-11, 185, RB     North Stafford

3.            Cam’Ron Kelly   6-1, 200, DB        Oscar Smith (Chesapeake)

4.            Keyshawn Copeland       6-3, 180, QB        C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge)

5.            Tayvion Land      5-8, 160, DB        Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)

6.            Jordan Houston                5-10,175, RB       Flint Hill (Oakton)

7.            Litchfield Ajavon              6-0, 185, ATH     Episcopal (Alexandria)

8.            Ben Smiley          6-6, 255, DT        Indian River (Chesapeake)

9.            Brendon Clark   6-2, 210, QB       Manchester (Midlothian)

10.          Dean Ferguson6-2, 210, LB         Potomac Falls (Sterling)

11.          Tayvion Robinson            6-0, 170, Ath       Cox (Va. Beach)

12.          Tiquest Terry     5-9, 170, WR       Blacksburg

13.          Jesse Hanson     6-4, 290, OG       Lord Botetourt (Daleville)

14.          Immanuel Hickman         6-3, 255, DE         Matoaca

15.          Grant Johnston6-4, 230, QB        Blacksburg

16.          K’ymon Pope     6-0, 195, QB        Dinwiddie

17.          Hakeem Beamon             6-4, 235, DE         L.C. Bird (Chesterfield)

18.          Brandon Ruff     6-5, 270, OL         Liberty (Bedford)

19.          Maxx Philpott    6-0, 295, DL         Glenvar (Salem)

20.          Adarious Jones6-3, 277, DE         Bishop Sullivan (Va. Beach)

21.          Jacob Knight       6-4, 200, QB        Cave Spring (Roanoke)

22.          Xavier Kane        6-2, 175, Ath      Blue Ridge (St. George)

23.          Blake Smith        5-11, 170, DB      Riverheads (Greenville)

24.          Salim Turner-Muhammed            6-0, 170, DB        Episcopal (Alexandria)

25.          Ah’shawn Moore             6-3, 207, LB         Indian River (Chesapeake)


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Doug Doughty is in his 44th year at the Roanoke Times, having produced an estimated 10,000 by-lines, a majority of them on University of Virginia athletics.

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