Thursday, December 11, 2008

the recruit: Paul Freedman

Man it has been ages since I've done one of these. Two months. But I'm starting back up and will have these done by Signing Day. And there's a couple items before we begin - some quick linky linky for you....

Levern Belin sounds just as puzzled as you are about his firing. I am not sure we didn't make a mistake here. My extremely uneducated guess without any basis other than my own thoughts is that Littlepage told Al Groh to fire Mike and two other coaches. Because I can't point to any specific reason why the defensive line coach would be let go after a line full of brand-new starters, and freshmen to boot, finished 34th in the nation in sacks.

Aaron McFarling at the Roanoke Times highlights the difference between Bryan Stinespring and Mike Groh, and the column as far as MG is concerned boils down to this quote: "Mike Groh is out of a job today not because of his woeful offensive rankings. He is out of a job because the Cavaliers did not win." Yes, Aaron, that is so. But do you think the reason "the Cavaliers did not win" might have been because of the "woeful offensive rankings"? Juuuuuust maybe?

Gobbler Country's F4H hosted a blog vote for ACC offensive and defensive player of the year and sundry other awards as well. Yours truly participated, and the results are here. FWIW, there is a blog out there - I know not who - that voted Clint Sintim as Defensive POY. That was not me - I gave him a 2nd place vote. Sintim was the only 'Hoo to get a vote of any kind in any award.

Now for a look at this year's tight end pickup:

Name: Paul Freedman
Position: TE
Hometown: Clearwater, FL
School: Clearwater Central Catholic
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 224

ESPN: 75, #54 TE
Rivals: 5.6, three stars, #38 TE
Scout: three stars, #54 TE

Tucker Windle is the higher rated tight end by all the scouting services. But he's a linebacker, or will be at UVA. Thus Paul Freedman is your man. Freedman is 6'6", putting him eye-to-eye with the tight ends we currently have on the roster; with few exceptions, tight ends that have played in Al Groh's offense have been 6'5", 6'6". Windle is 6'3".

So Freedman. As the class stands now, Freedman is the only TE recruit, the first time since 2006 that Groh has taken only one tight end in the class, which was Joe Torchia. (Jack Shields was also listed at TE, but he's your starting center these days.) Freedman's reviews and offer list are extremely meh; at the time of his commitment his only other offers in hand were from FIU, Duke, and Indiana, which - not to put too fine a point on it - suck. Freedman probably would have gotten a couple other offers from schools like BC or Vandy, but his commitment to UVA is solid and he's been off everyone's radar screen since.

I'm not really worried about Freedman's mediocre reviews, because this is Al Groh's offense, and Al Groh has magic TE dust that makes tight ends into NFL prospects. Tom Santi was rated about the same as Freedman is. John Phillips was given some of the crappiest ratings any UVA recruit has ever had, and guess who's this year's first team all-ACC tight end? Ratings don't apply. What worries me a bit is Freedman's blocking. You look at the tape and he blocks like a receiver. Stands straight up and uses his height to win the battles. That works fine in high school. It results in TFL's in college. I wouldn't concern myself overmuch about it, because chances are extremely good that Freedman will redshirt this next year, but it's not like the blocking from our current tight ends has been that good either. In fact it's been atrocious, particularly from Joe Torchia, who has been struggling all year with a shoulder thing and couldn't even stop cornerbacks from getting into the backfield. Andrew Devlin is a redshirt freshman and didn't run-block so hot either. Phillips was fine, but he's graduating. Somebody on this team is going to have to learn how to do it.

So with Freedman, the tight end factory continues to churn, for as long as Foreman Groh hangs around. Next year, Torchia and Devlin will step to the plate, and Freedman will begin his apprenticeship. If Groh keeps sticking around, there's no reason Freedman can't finish his career the same way all our tight ends do: in the NFL draft.

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