Justin Fuente, Darrisaw’s college coach at Virginia Tech, spoke with media members during a conference call Friday, explaining the left tackle’s journey from Riverdale Baptist School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to Blacksburg, Virginia. The road routed through Fork Union Military Academy, which is about three hours northeast of Virginia Tech.

An assistant coach scouting Darrisaw’s area made a case for a scholarship offer, but it came with the caveat of enrolling for a semester at Fork Union. The prep academy is known for its stringency that includes keeping shoes shined and prohibiting cell phones, but enrolling there does not remove any years of collegiate eligibility, which made it appealing to Darrisaw and Virginia Tech.

“He did not have much going on [from other schools]. His film was a little bit hard to make out,” Fuente explained. “There just wasn’t a lot there. It was a little hard to tell, but [the coach] saw him live. … We were a little bit late in the recruiting process. We didn’t have a lot of scholarships left.

“So we invited him to go Fork Union, which has been a great place. And sometimes it’s not very fun there,” Fuente added. “You have to work, you have to get up in the morning and march, and there’s no cell phones and all that sort of stuff. But we’ve got a lot of history of great relationships there, and I went and watched him work out at Fork Union, their kind of scrimmage day, they’re kind of combine workout day, and one rep of him doing the board drill they call ‘hat in hands’ there is all I needed to see. This guy had incredible hand placement, incredible hips. So we were thrilled.”

Fuente said his staff gives recruits “a little heads up” about what they’ll encounter by going to Fork Union, but success hinges on each player’s approach.

” ‘This is why, this is what we think is your best road to getting to where you want to be.’ You can’t do it with everybody,” Fuente said. “Obviously, guys with a bunch of other opportunities won’t take that road but [it worked for] a guy like Christian, who trusted us that it could be a road to him getting what he ultimately wanted.