Greg Stroman looks small enough that a stiff breeze might send him tumbling.
Yet the 6-foot, 160-pound senior at Stonewall Jackson High School is now about to make the big step up to college football. He committed to Virginia Tech over Duke and Virginia on Aug. 3.
Although Stroman spent last season at quarterback for the Raiders, he’ll likely work as a defensive back for the Hokies.
“He’s a kid that can play multiple places,” said Raiders head coach Mike Dougherty. “He outworks everybody in the gym, he’s a leader and he’s very deserving of the scholarship offers that he got.”
Stroman experienced a great deal of success on offense, as he piled up more than 3,000 yards of total offense last season, but it was Tech’s reputation for developing cornerbacks and his comfort with secondary coach Torrian Gray that made his decision final.
“That (reputation) was a big plus,” Stroman said. “I had a great relationship with Coach Gray, so it was just a good fit for me.”
Gray played safety at Tech for four years before rejoining the team as an assistant coach, and Stroman believes his experience should help him ease back into the position without issue.
“I think he’ll make it a smooth transition for me, just with his teaching ways, and I feel like I can transition and play,” Stroman said.
His high school coaches echo the belief that his year off from the secondary - the defensive backfield that includes cornerbacks and safeties - won’t have any negative effects at the next level.
“He’s been playing in the secondary his whole life until last year,” Dougherty said. “We just, for risk of injury, held him off from the defense, but this year he’s going to do a lot of defense and lot of offense.”
Observers agree that his athleticism allows Stroman to make plays wherever he lines up on the field.
“I haven’t seen a player of his caliber come through here since (former Raider and Hokie running back) Ryan Williams,” said quarterbacks coach Matthew Burrell. “He does things with the ball that I haven’t seen before.”
But it’s Stroman’s intangibles that truly set him apart from his peers.
“He has that mentality of ‘you guys need to follow me and I’ll take you to the promised land,’” Burrell said. “He’s going to be good.”
The quarterback’s leadership helped the Raiders finish with a 9-2 record en route to winning a district title last season, and Stroman is confident they can repeat that success next season.
“I see us going far,” Stroman said. “We’re just working hard to get there, so we’ll see.”
Regardless of how the team ends up finishing, coaches believe Stroman’s positive experience will be a good lesson for the rest of the program. He’s the first Raider to commit to a Division I program since Damien Thigpen signed with UCLA in 2009, and coaches hope he’ll inspire other players to aim high as well.
“He’s a great kid, and the message to the entire team is if you work hard and you’re talented, then good things can happen,” Dougherty said.