We're back with our annual "Top Gun Recruiter" article, to find out which of VT's assistant football coaches brought in the highest-rated recruits, and more of 'em. This is the sixth year that we have data for the Top Gun competition, and in the first five seasons, Jim Cavanaugh was the undisputed Top Gun, winning three out of five seasons and coming in first in total points and points per player over the five-year span. Will Cav successfully defend his crown this year, or will it go to someone else?

The concept behind Top Gun is simple: Take the player rankings we calculated in Inside the Numbers: Ranking the 2006 Recruits, and assign the scores for individual players to the coaches who were their primary recruiters. Add them all up, see which coach scored the most total points, and that's your Top Gun recruiter for the year.

Here are the results for the last five recruiting classes -- there will be more details coming later, when we calculate the 2006 winner and include him in the table.:

Top Gun Recruiter Winners, 2001-2005
Year Coach Points
2001 Lorenzo Ward 68.9
2002 Jim Cavanaugh 80.4
2003 Jim Cavanaugh 67.9
2004 Lorenzo Ward 46.2
2005 Jim Cavanaugh 96.3
Ave. Pts Jim Cavanaugh 65.1
Total Pts Jim Cavanaugh 325.3

Lorenzo Ward snagged the first Top Gun award in 2001, when he inked Kevin Jones. Cavanaugh has smoked the field in the last four years, winning three times. The only exception was 2004, when a weak year for Cavanaugh was topped by Ward signing Sean Glennon and Eddie Royal. In 2002, 2003, and 2005, Cavanaugh signed such highly-rated recruits as Marcus Vick, Jonathan Lewis, Xavier Adibi, Chris Ellis, Elan Lewis, and Victor Harris.

Since Ward won in 2001 on the strength of signing Jones, the Top Gun award has gone to coaches who sign strong in-state players. With the exception of fullback Michael Green out of New Jersey in 2004, every one of Jim Cavanaugh's signees from 2001-2006 has been from the state of Virginia, and he has built his Top Gun point totals in the Commonwealth. The one year after 2001 that he failed to win, in 2004, Ward beat him by signing two Virginia products, Royal and Glennon.

With Tech's in-state haul being down in 2006, that opens the door for anyone on the staff to take over the Top Gun mantle. Will this year's winner be Bryan Stinespring, who signed 4-star OL Aaron Brown? Or Kevin Rogers, who cleaned up in New Jersey? Or even Cavanaugh, who got the highest-rated in state recruit the Hokies signed in 2006 (John Graves)?

Before we crunch the numbers, here's a look at the chart we show every year, which lists the coaches who have been in competition for the Top Gun award. Prior to Rogers and Tony Ball announcing their departures, Virginia Tech's coaching staff had shown remarkable continuity, with just one coach leaving in the last six years. Rickey Bustle left after the 2001 football season, but for recruiting purposes, he was at VT through the 2002 recruiting season.

VT Assistant Coaches, 2001-2006
Coach 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Jim Cavanaugh X X X X X X
Bud Foster X X X X X X
Billy Hite X X X X X X
Bryan Stinespring X X X X X X
Charley Wiles X X X X X X
Rickey Bustle * X X        
Kevin Rogers     X X X X
Danny Pearman X X X X X X
Tony Ball X X X X X X
Lorenzo Ward X X X X X X
* Rickey Bustle left after the 2001 football season, but
he recruited players for VT through the 2002 "recruiting

Now, let's crunch the numbers and see who comes out as Top Gun in 2006. We'll do a detailed analysis for 2006, including players signed and points scored, then we'll add the numbers into the totals for 2001-2006.

2006 Top Gun Recruiter

Here are the players signed by each coach in 2006, the number of points each player scored in our Ranking the 2006 Recruits article, and the total number of points scored by each coach.

2006 Top Gun Recruiter Scoring (Ranked by Total Points)
Recruiting Coach Player Player
Points Per
Kevin Rogers Jason Adjepong 25.8 62.9 21.0
Mike Gee 21.6
Zach Luckett 15.5
Bryan Stinespring Daryl Robertson 13.7 45.9 15.3
Aaron Brown 22.8
Kam Chancellor 9.4
Jim Cavanaugh John Graves 21.2 35.4 17.7
Matt Wright 14.2
Tony Ball Rashad Carmichael 7.1 33.2 8.3
Andre Smith 10.0
Douglas McNeil 4.0
Nekos Brown 12.1
Lorenzo Ward Beau Warren 11.9 31.4 10.5
Ladi Ajiboye 9.5
Mario Edwards 10.0
Charley Wiles Devven Sutton 5.1 29.9 7.5
Jacob Sykes 5.0
Devin Radford 7.0
Clark Crum 12.8
Danny Pearman Joey Hall 4.0 4.0 4.0
No players signed: Billy Hite, Bud Foster

Kevin Rogers finishes first, both in total points and points per player signed. This is not a surprise, because Rogers did great work in the state of New Jersey this year, and as we've said (too often, for some of you), his efforts in NJ helped offset a bad year in VA.

So congratulations to Kevin Rogers, our 2006 Top Gun Recruiter. Even though Kevin left VT in January, he had already secured the commitments of Adjepong, Gee, and Luckett before announcing that he was moving on. Charley Wiles gets an assist (but alas, no points) for carrying Adjepong and Gee through to signing day (BeamerBall.com, where we get our final recruiting coach info, was not specific on who took over Luckett's recruitment in the last month).

Let's throw this year's numbers in with 2001-2005 and see what we get.

Top Gun Recruiter, 2001-2006

In awarding Top Gun after the fact for 2001-2004, we'll list just the coaches and their scores, without going into detail on what players they signed and how those players scored. Here are the results in one table (with 2005 included, just for handy reference):

Top Gun Recruiter Scoring, 2001-2006 (sorted alpabetically)
Coach 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Total Ave. Per
Ball 27.4 12.9 17.1 32.4 26.1 33.2 149.1 24.8
Bustle 38.8 35.2 n/a n/a n/a n/a 74.0 37.0
Cavanaugh 48.1 *80.4* *67.9* 32.7 *96.3* 35.4 *360.7* *60.1*
Foster 20.0 29.9 21.0 0.0 22.5 0.0 93.4 15.6
Hite 19.1 0.0 25.3 5.0 23.0 0.0 72.4 12.1
Pearman 26.2 0.0 37.6 24.7 0.0 4.0 92.5 15.4
Rogers n/a n/a 25.1 24.4 31.0 *62.9* 143.5 35.9
Stinespring 65.3 36.8 36.0 40.4 54.1 45.9 278.5 46.4
Ward *68.9* 20.7 29.5 *46.2* 44.0 31.4 240.7 40.1
Wiles 28.1 26.5 16.6 0.0 28.3 29.9 129.5 21.6

Jim Cavanaugh is still the king, by a wide margin in total points and points per year. Bryan Stinespring and Lorenzo Ward remain the only coaches currently on staff who are within shouting distance of him, and they have a lot of ground to make up. This will be the last hurrah for Kevin Rogers, of course.

Here's a listing of just the winners, and the players they signed in their winning year.

Top Gun Recruiter Winners, 2001-2006
Year Coach Points Players
2001 Lorenzo Ward 68.9 Kevin Jones (44.8 pts)
Danny McGrath (12.1)
Blake Warren (12)
2002 Jim Cavanaugh 80.4 Marcus Vick (39.8)
Jonathan Lewis (30.8)
Noland Burchette (6.8)
Brenden Hill (3.4)
2003 Jim Cavanaugh 67.9 Xavier Adibi (25.4)
Chris Ellis (23.7)
Duane Brown (14.8)
DJ Parker (4.0)
2004 Lorenzo Ward 46.2 Eddie Royal (24.0)
Sean Glennon (22.2)
2005 Jim Cavanaugh 96.3 Victor Harris (34.5)
Todd Nolen (17.4)
Elan Lewis (23.7)
Richard Graham (4.0)
Stephen Friday (16.8)
2006 Kevin Rogers 62.9 Jason Adjepong (25.8)
Mike Gee (21.6)
Zach Luckett (15.5)
Ave. Pts Jim Cavanaugh 60.1 N/A
Total Pts Jim Cavanaugh 360.7 N/A

The makeup of the staff is about to change, as soon as replacements for Ball and Rogers are found, and that will shake up the Top Gun Recruiter data from this point on. From a total points perspective, it will always be a battle between Cavanaugh (360.1), Stinespring (278.5), and Ward (240.7), as long as those three guys are on staff. But next year, we'll get a chance to see what the new guys can do.


For all the scoring, all the tables in this article, and more, check out our Microsoft Excel spreadsheet: