Thursday, January 29, 2009

the all-me team: offense

I thought about borrowing (ripping off) ESPN, as well as other members of the ACC Roundtable, and doing a Mount Rushmore of UVA sports. (Yes, inspired partly by the thread on the Sabre Edge board, for those of you that read both.) I was then going to arbitrarily limit it to football and men's basketball, which are really the sports that 95% of UVA fans care about the most. Including the other sports means you could have a spirited debate over whether Dawn Staley, Tony Meola, Ed Moses, or Somdev Devvarman belong or not, but really that would end up being a debate over which sport is "better", so, no.

But then I realized this: there are three which probably need no explanation (Dudley, Welsh, Sampson) and get no argument, and then a whole bunch that probably don't have a tremendously greater argument than the others: Bryant Stith, Anthony Poindexter, Sean Singletary, Jeff Lamp, Chris Long, Herman Moore, Tiki Barber....agh. The main problem with me doing this is that I didn't start at UVA until 2000, and before that, I wasn't paying attention. I grew up singing The Victors, not the GOS. So whether Matt Schaub really was better than Shawn Moore? I don't know.

So instead, the best players - football and basketball - of the decade; or really, since the fall of 2000 (my first year), to avoid any smart-alecs who make bones about the decade beginning in 2001. The best part is, not only does it cure tonight's writers' block but it gives me two more nights worth of stuff to write next time I'm tempted to play Guitar Hero instead of write because nothing interesting happened. I mean, how many different ways can you write "holy christ the basketball team is swandiving into oblivion." I'm sneaky like that. I have to be: we don't have a hockey team, and it's not lacrosse or baseball season yet. Tonight, the offense, next time, the defense, and after that, the basketball.


Matt Schaub. Easy choice. Marques Hagans was fun to watch and did engineer a very nice win over FSU, but Schaub's the guy with all the passing records.

Running back:

Wali Lundy. Actually the best individual season belongs to Alvin Pearman, and our only other 1,000 yard rusher was Antwoine Womack. And Pearman kept improving, while Lundy burst onto the scene in a big way but sort of petered out and never met the expectations he set for himself. But picking Lundy is a lifetime achievement sort of thing. He's the only back we've had in this time frame that was a consistent bedrock of the offense for four solid years.

Wide receiver:

Billy McMullen
Kevin Ogletree

McMullen, duh. We've yet to have a receiver even approach McMullen. The guy could beat you on a fly pattern, after the catch on a slant, or a fade route to the back of the end zone. 7 to 11 was a great combo and it's a shame McMullen spent his junior year never knowing which quarterback the ball was coming from. Still racked up 1,000 yards receiving. Ogletree could have had a great senior season if he'd stuck around. He's really on the list by default, as the only other receiver to have two seasons as the #1 option. Michael McGrew and Deyon Williams could have made the list, but injuries derailed their careers and they lost their groove.

Tight end:

Heath Miller
Tom Santi

Miller is another duh. Miller was Schaub's favorite target in Miller's junior year and led the team in pretty much everything, and came back to do it again his senior year. He's the benchmark for UVA tight ends. Santi understudied for a year, then platooned with Jon Stupar and consistently beat him in receiving yards. Stupar was sort of the possession tight end; Santi was able to go deeper.


Zac Yarbrough. Yarbrough is the only center during this time to have been chosen for postseason all-ACC honors - he made the second team in 2004.

Offensive guard:

Elton Brown
Branden Albert

Not to be confused with the basketball Elton Brown, of course. Big E was a mauler and an All-American guard; Albert was tremendously athletic and mastered the pulling technique.

Offensive tackle:

D'Brickashaw Ferguson
Eugene Monroe

Monroe has a shot at being drafted higher than Ferguson was. This is hard to do, because D'Brick was drafted fourth. The Jets probably just wanted to draft a guy named D'Brickashaw, but they got an All-American while they were at it. Monroe was an absolute wall on the quarterback's blind side; his pass protection was near-perfect, while D'Brick was more of the road-grading run-blocker type.

Next time I run out of things to write, you get the defense. Probably some time next week.

Oh yeah....the recruiting board is narrowed by one. Two of our potentials decided today, but only one chose to actually tell anyone what the choice would be. Nolan MacMillan is off to Iowa. Lanford Collins decided too, but he's not talking. I guessed Tech earlier and I still think so.

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