Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the recruit: Max Valles

Name: Max Valles
Position: DE
Hometown: Winslow Township, NJ
School: St. Joseph's
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 220

24/7: Unrated
ESPN: 77; three stars; #85 DE
Rivals: 5.4; two stars
Scout: two stars

Other offers: Rutgers, Syracuse, Purdue, Buffalo

It's been a weird recruiting year.  There are the guys we know UVA is recruiting, and there are the guys we don't.  Quite a few of those guys have ended up in the "committed" column almost entirely to the surprise of the fans who follow recruiting, and Max Valles is one of those guys.

Even down to high school uniforms that look awfully similar, Valles reminds me a ton of Thompson Brown from last year's recruiting class.  He's a somewhat lightly-recruited defensive end from a private school who surprise-committed to UVA without anyone knowing his name yet, and could be slotted either on offense or defense, but will likely start out at defensive end.  That's both of them in a nutshell.  People have talked about Brown as a possible candidate for a shift to tight end; Valles also plays wide receiver (though a little bit sparingly and largely in a red-zone role) and I wouldn't be surprised if people talk about Valles as a possible future TE as well.

After all, DE has just been a totally jam-packed position in the last couple recruiting classes, such that by the time all's said and done, only half of the players initially labeled "DE" will end up there.  Valles's ESPN scouting report acknowledges his versatility and basically says that while he "does not always look totally comfortable on defense," he projects best as a hand-on-the-ground player.  Valles himself prefers defensive end, so in the long and short of it we might as well assume that's where he'll be.

Valles is a teammate of LB Kaiwan Lewis, whom the coaching staff is going hard after and who likes UVA at least a little bit.  I can't help myself, I have to borrow this quote from the Rivals article about Valles's commitment last month:  "Me and Kaiwan were talking about everything at school before we came down and he said, 'When you get there you're going to commit,'" Valles laughed. "He had been down a couple of months ago and he was right."  Apparently Lewis knows his friends.  Valles spoke highly of the "at-home feeling" of the UVA atmosphere.

A player with Valles's height needs more than 220 pounds to be an effective defensive end, though, so as with most of this stacked line we're bringing in, Valles will surely redshirt.  You know how it can sometimes be with ratings, but Valles's seem to match his offers; he's a high two-star who'd probably have been an early starter if he'd gone to Buffalo and the MAC.  In BCS conferences - of which there were three after him, so "lightly recruited" is a somewhat unfair label - he'll have some obstacles.  At UVA that obstacle will mainly be the aforementioned logjam at DE.  Even the most optimistic evaluator - ESPN - suggests that Valles has a ton of development to do, and unless his birthday was between early June and now, he's not yet 17, so I think our early expectations for him should be tempered.  We'll stash him in the developmental pipeline and see what we have in a few years.

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