All of the trips his little brother made to Blacksburg just to hang out. All of the subtle nudges he gave his younger sibling about what could be learned at Virginia Tech. All of the Tech games they watched together.
Greg Stroman stayed out of his brother’s way during his recruitment. Sure, there was a gentle push here and there toward Tech, but Greg Stroman swears he never knew Jalen Stroman was headed to Tech until seconds before his college announcement.
Just three years ago, Greg Stroman finished his own career as a Hokie who earned multiple All-ACC honors, but this time, the Tech story isn’t about him. He wanted his little brother to have his moment. He wanted Jalen to carve his own path.
“I never asked him where he was going to go,” said Greg, who is entering his third season with Washington’s NFL team. “He knew what was best for him.”
Not until the ride to his announcement ceremony in May did Jalen, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety from Patriot High in Nokesville, let his brother in on the secret.
Looking down at his lap while sitting in the passenger seat of Greg’s black 2019 Dodge Charger, Jalen scanned over three baseball caps – a Duke, Virginia and Virginia Tech. When they arrived in the empty parking lot where Jalen planned to make his announcement to gathered friends and family via a release of powder in team colors from under his brother’s car, Jalen put on the Hokies hat.
“He had a big ol’ grin on his face,” Jalen said regarding his brother’s reaction.
Sibling connections on Tech’s football roster are nothing new. It’s been a regular occurrence in the last generation.
Jonathan and Kevin Lewis. Beau, Blake and Brett Warren. Cam and Orion Martin. Antoine and Derrick Hopkins. David and Ed Wang. Devin and Ronny Vandyke. Corey, Kendall, Kyle and Vincent Fuller.
Seven years his 24-year-old big brother’s junior, Jalen Stroman spent time in Blacksburg when Greg Stroman was building his rep as an All-ACC cornerback and dangerous punt returner. Though just kid in middle school at the time, Jalen got a good feel for Tech’s program.
“Yeah, there’s a big age gap, but we’ve always been close,” Greg said. “He came out to (Tech) for a couple summers when I was there and stayed for about a week each time, just to get around the guys and get around football, so he’s always been up under me.”
When Jalen started to get attention from colleges, including Tech, Greg said he tried to keep his enthusiasm about Tech to himself as much as possible. Greg didn’t want to be the primary influence.
“I just told him the things that I took from Tech and the things that I learned at Tech and just the family vibe that you get at Tech,” Greg said. “It was really just the things I would tell any other recruit.”
An interest in engineering helped put Tech over the top in the decision-making process for Jalen, who said he has a cumulative grade-point average near 3.5.
Recognizing his senior season at Patriot is in serious jeopardy because of the coronavirus pandemic, he knows he’ll be itching to get on the field by the time he arrives in Blacksburg, but he’ll be seeking to make a name for himself as opposed to continuing his brother’s legacy.
“It means a lot to go there and know my brother has been there,” Jalen said. “I’m following in his footsteps, but at the same time, I’m not really following what he did.
“The one thing he told me when I was being recruited was, ‘I won’t ever make you pick something because of me.’ He said, ‘This all your choice, all your decision. It’s what you pick. It’s not my four years of college.’ He told me to do my thing, pick my school and he was going to support me no matter what. That helped me a lot.”
Norm Wood, 757-247-4642, [email protected]
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