Wednesday, February 1, 2012

signstravaganza 2012

Normally I like to wait til late in the evening for the annual Signstravaganza post, but hell with it; this year's class is drama-free and we're not waiting for anything.  (The Stefon Diggs ship has sailed, so don't even get your heart rate up.)

UVA has received 26 letters of intent.  OK, 25; being already enrolled, Greyson Lambert doesn't have to sign one.  For those who keep track of scholarships, that gives us 88 total committed scholarships for next fall, three over the limit of 85.  Take away one because Connor McCartin is going medical next year due to concussions, so, 87.  One of the worst-kept secrets in history is that Tyrell Chavis is probably going to have to prep, so make it 86.  In other words, normal attrition will get us below the 85 number without much trouble.  You probably weren't worried about oversigning anyway, but there you go.

This class had been ranked in every service's top 25, but that was bound to take a hit since we'd wrapped it up and not everyone else had.  We were always going to get leapfrogged.  Still, even with the NLOID signings going on, UVA doesn't drop far - in most cases, just outside top 25s.  26th to Rivals, 27th to Scout.  And still 20th to 24/7.  It doesn't have the star power or Signing Day glitz of last year (when we added Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell on the big day) - and star-wise it falls short of VT's - but it's a solid continuation of last year's efforts.

Time for the positional rundown on this year's class:


In a year in which I wouldn't have been surprised if we didn't take any quarterbacks, we took two.  It looks like we're logjamming the position and that taking both Johns and Lambert puts a 2013 quarterback in real jeopardy.  Which would be too bad because the instate crop, after being completely barren this year, is huge for the 2013 class.  Huge.

But, it's less crammed up than you might think.  Mike Rocco is the starter and, barring something unforeseen and highly unfortunate, will be for the next two years.  Metheny seems perfectly happy with his role on the team; people tend to assume he will be the next to transfer but he has got Happy Hoo written on his face.  Talk about a guy that loves UVA.  I don't expect him to transfer, but neither do I expect he'll be seen as an obstacle.  Watford is a wild card, of course, and may or may not end up at safety or something.  At any rate I don't think this two-man QB class will be a huge impediment to 2013 recruiting.  It won't help, but it won't be a decisive factor.

Both of these guys have "prototypical" size, which means they're tall, at best moderately mobile, pocket passers.  In terms of the recruiting metrics - stars and offers - Johns has a profile awfully similar to Metheny, while Lambert is the star attraction who was courted by Alabama, Georgia, etc. etc.  But Johns had the more productive senior year of high school.  Lambert will no doubt continue to be a star attraction this spring, as the new kid on the block in spring practice, but the truth is both are likely to stay in the shadows for a couple years, and compete with each other the whole time.  If all goes well, by the time Rocco has graduated as the all-time leading passer in UVA history (don't laugh - he will if he stays on pace) the decision as to who will succeed him will already have been made.  This class sets up a stable succession order, a much better state of affairs then yearly camp battles.


Kye Morgan should be a solid addition, but he's the only one.  We could've really used a big bruiser to complement this class.  And there aren't any fullbacks or any candidates to move there, meaning that position will have to be filled from within the current roster as we only have Zach Swanson there next year.


A bit unnecessarily in my stupid blogger opinion, London and co. loaded up on the receivers like crazy.  We FUMA-shirted Adrian Gamble, and he's joined by no fewer than five other players at this point at receiver.  That includes Kyle Dockins, who the school lists as a receiver rather than a tight end.  This is the kind of thing that fuels speculation that guys like Anthony Cooper will end up at safety.  Since we have zero safeties in this class (as Kevin Green pretty much officially didn't make it and Demeitre Brim is a linebacker) this would seem like it sorta kinda makes sense.  Plus, Cooper is listed as "ATH" by the school right now.  So.

The biggest catch (you see what I'm doing here?) is Canaan Severin.  Cooper is every bit as talented, but like I said: probable future safety.  Severin and Cooper are the two guys driving the rankings.  Then there's Mario Nixon, one of my favorite recruits just because he got the Hokies' panties all in a twist by flipping allegiances in August.  It caused them to say stupid things like "Anyone that breaks a commitment is not someone we want on our team," which means they'll be kicking Darius Redman off the team any day now.

Max Valles will likely join the team as a tight end, replacing Dockins in the pipeline, which is an improvement because Dockins would've had to put on a ton of weight.  Valles is much closer to field-ready in that department.


No stars here.  But no fliers, either.  OK, maybe one, in Canadian FUMA prepper Ryan Doull, but even that isn't like we had to dig real deep.  This class is the very definition of solid when it comes to the offensive side of the trenches.  And as I've mentioned, VT will have the higher-ranked class when the dust settles today - but they flamed out almost completely on the O-line.  If you can't get any major stars (think Eugene Monroe or Morgan Moses when they committed) this kind of class is the ideal O-line group.  (And this was a thin year for offensive linemen in the state.)  UVA has done a nice job maintaining continuity and a stable succession plan at O-line, and the remarkable thing is it carried over nicely between coaching regimes.  This class keeps the conveyor belt humming along.

A short note: four linemen signed LOIs, but there will be a fifth in the class - instate lineman Jackson Matteo committed yesterday as a recruited walk-on.  Matteo had committed to a scholarship from Temple over several other MAC offers, but preferred to pay his own way in the ACC.


Here's where to find the star power.  Eli Harold is not only the #1 recruit in the state (even Doughty says so) he's the top guy on our list according to everyone you ask.  Freakish athletic pass-rushing ability is something we now lack on the current roster, giving Harold a wide open lane to freshman-year playing time.  Both he and Michael Moore turned down the lure of Florida and the approximately forty-two hepzillion other offers they had, to play for Virginia, and in Moore's case, Dad.  In any other year Courtnye Wynn would be an attention-grabbing pickup, but this year, he gets a tad overshadowed.  No matter.  UVA's defensive line of the future is scary.

And we shouldn't forget about the fourth D-liner, Tyrell Chavis, who, through family circumstances out of his control, will need a FUMA-shirt year before he's eligible.  Not only has he got a great shot to be a starter at nose tackle in the future, he's helping keep a Varina pipeline open to UVA - a happy hunting ground for sure.


The big deal here, of course, is Kwontie Moore.  Moore is one of the top three recruits in this class, and if all goes well during his career, he'll give us the kind of range at inside linebacker that we haven't had in a while.  Guys like Steve Greer and Jon Copper are/were strong, powerful, and heady players, but they never had the side-to-side abilities that Moore should possess.

The other two linebackers are intriguing and two of the more interesting stories of the recruiting season.  Mark Hall was the first commit of the class, and he comes from a UVA family; his younger brother Devon is said to be an even better basketball player than Mark is a footballer, and will likely give his commitment to Tony Bennett eventually.  Demeitre Brim was another very early commit, sold on the school and coaches by Kwontie Moore (who wasn't even committed yet.)  He gave his verbal before even visiting, and for a while was a target of a great host of other schools attempting to pry him free.  It didn't work.  UVA got in the door early on a fairly big-time Florida prospect here and slammed it shut before the big-timey-ness really got out to the world.


There isn't the star power here, but there's certainly quantity.  The best-known name to UVA fans is Maurice Canady, who isn't a guarantee to land at cornerback anyway.  Canady was a camp commit and not generating much attention otherwise, until a senior season where he was forced into quarterback duty for Varina and left cleat marks on everyone unfortunate enough to have to try and stop him.  After a rocky first outing, he dominated.

But as a cornerback, he's as much a square-one guy as the rest of this class.  C.J. Moore is fast (insanely fast) but small.  Kelvin Rainey is the purest cornerback in the class, but he comes from Houston so he hasn't generated much buzz, and he didn't get much of a sniff from instate schools above C-USA level.  This group is essentially a big blender, from which a couple of these guys will emerge as players and a couple will not.


No scholarship guys, but some recruited walk-ons who'll join other recruited walk-ons in a wide-open, no-holds-barred, celebrity deathmatch for the starting jobs in the fall, at which point we'll all hold our breath the first time the winner trots out to try a field goal because there's nothing worse than breaking in a new kicker.  This is not as much fun as when we yoinked Jimmy Howell from Northwestern.


OK, so, let's get to the lists:

Top five stories of the 2012 recruiting season:

1. UVA flips Mario Nixon to complete the Norfolk Christian quadfecta, along with Wil Wahee, Courtnye Wynn, and Kwontie Moore.  Nixon, at the behest of his NCS teammates, visited a UVA fall practice while still technically a VT verbal, causing the Tech contingent to huff about broken promises and such.  If you believe Hokie fans, their coaches are petty enough to pull his offer for that; regardless, it made waves for a couple days.

2. UVA fans hold their breath as Michael Moore, in trying to decide between Florida and Virginia, schedules a trip to Gainesville, reschedules at Will Muschamp's suggestion due to the latter's absence, takes the trip, and chooses Virginia anyway.

3. Greyson Lambert commits after Mike London demonstrates what a coach should do in the event of his absence during a prospect's visit: make a personalized video for him to watch.  Lambert was so impressed he and his dad asked to watch it a second time so they could record it on their phones and show Mom.

4. Demeitre Brim makes a surprise early commitment, and UVA fends off a number of other suitors over the summer, including Miami and Wisconsin.

5. Eli Harold, whose mother passed away from cancer a couple years ago, chooses her birthday to announce his choice of UVA (over Penn State and Florida), and immediately becomes Virginia's recruiter-in-chief among prospects, much as Clifton Richardson was in 2011.

Five most likely to play as true freshmen:

1. Eli Harold
2. Canaan Severin
3. Maurice Canady
4. Demeitre Brim
5. Michael Moore

This is in order, by the way.  Harold is the top choice because he checks off all the boxes: he's got the athleticism and the talent, and he fills a need.  Severin doesn't quite fill a need, but he does fill a niche - he's a likely candidate to jump right in as a possession receiver, with Matt Snyder and Kris Burd graduating.  When Snyder went down with a broken foot, he was simply replaced with more of Burd, which indicates that nobody on the roster was available and/or ready to fill that possession role.  Severin might.

Canady is the latest exhibit in the assertion that Virginia fans get way too excited about instate talent that dazzles in high school.  Still, dazzle he did, and if he's got half the athleticism of the hype, he'll make a great special-teamer as a freshman, and make a push to get on the field as a nickel corner, too.  London has made passing references to the idea that Ausar Walcott might have outgrown linebacker (I still think this is a motivational tactic, but still.)  If that's the case then we need a new Will.  Caleb Taylor is the current backup, but Brim could find his way into a role there.  And Moore is simply a big guy with the kind of talent you can't ignore.  Eventually I think he settles into a role at tackle instead of end, but even with a stacked lineup at D-line, he's got the ability to carve out a role for himself.

All that said, we played quite a few true freshmen at various places last year; this season, there'll be a lot more redshirting going on.

Five I'm most excited about:

1. Eli Harold
2. Kwontie Moore
3. Michael Moore
4. Greyson Lambert
5. Canaan Severin

Defense, defense, defense.  My favorite thing in football to watch is an unstoppable running back; we don't have that, but we do have my second-favorite thing: a stacked defensive line.  All of these guys had offers from the kind of schools that people don't expect UVA to beat out for talent.

Five sleepers:

1. Demeitre Brim
2. Mark Hall
3. Ryan Doull
4. Maurice Canady
5. Kye Morgan

Inclusion on this list requires two things: you must have been given the two-star of doom by at least one recruiting service, and I must think something about your game is well above two-star.  This year we had a lot of choices, because there was a lot of disagreement among the services who our two-stars were.  Only one got two stars from everyone.  These are my top five "two-stars," but the truth is that all of them had three-star ratings from at least two services.

Hell, Brim was thisclose to being a four-star at both Rivals and ESPN.  But Scout left him at two.  That plus the fervor at which other schools tried to convert him makes him sleeper #1.  Hall is a mid-to-high three-star to everyone but ESPN, and I think because he committed so early, he's the #1 most-overlooked recruit by UVA fans.  Doull got his two-star from Scout, but he's a 300-pound guy with a lacrosse/hockey background.  ESPN says strength and run-blocking are his positives, and this is a guy who supposedly runs a 5.0 forty (per Rivals.)  I'd be skeptical of that time, but "nimble feet" are always mentioned in his scouting reports no matter who's writing them.  I'll take it.

Canady, we've discussed in some detail already, but still got three stars from just two services. And one was a late-season adjustment.  Morgan got a baffling two stars from ESPN, which is disappointing considering his offer list.  The funny thing is that Morgan was a heavy Rutgers lean until Rutgers informed him his spot was taken, and by a guy with almost universally lower ratings and no offers but the Rutgers one.  (And now the one coach that wanted him is employed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.)  Thanks, Rutgers.

Eat it, Tech:

Eli Harold
Andre Miles-Redmond
Courtnye Wynn
Kwontie Moore
Mario Nixon

The guys with Tech offers.  The list the other way round is much bigger, though.

Eat it, Terps:

Eli Harold

The surprisngly teeny-weeny list of guys with Maryland offers.  No, the list the other way round is not any bigger, comprising just two players: Wes Brown and P.J. Gallo, the latter of which I've never heard of.  There are other players we both offered, of course, who went to other schools, but this is a shockingly tiny overlap all the same.  How, for example, did Michael Moore not have a Maryland offer?  Do you suppose things like that are why Terp fans are so pissed at Randy Edsall?

Eat it, Carolina:

Eli Harold
Kwontie Moore
Michael Moore

Dude even had a Carolina offer.  We didn't succeed in pulling anyone out of North Carolina this year.  This is a 3-to-3 tie, with Carolina getting three guys with a UVA offer, although none of them are on this level.  But they can probably claim victories in the real head-to-head showdowns, earning commitments from both Jon Heck and Nathan Staub, both of whom we recruited fairly hard.

The ones that got away:

Stefon Diggs (undeclared)
Alex Carter (Stanford)
DeVante Harris (Texas A&M)
J.C. Coleman (Tech)
Win Homer (Boston College)
Trey Edmunds (Tech)
Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh)
Imani Cross (Nebraska)
Brent Wilkerson (Penn State)
Chris Mangus (Tech)
Nathan Staub (North Carolina)
C.J. Prosise (Notre Dame)

These are the biggest misses of the class.  All of them are players we had a legitimate, real shot at, and would still fill a real need even today.  I didn't include, for example, Nigel Williams (because we have Courtnye Wynn, who's a very similar player) or Brendan Nosovitch (because we ended up just fine at quarterback) or Eddie Goldman, with whom our chances were always tenuous at their very best.  Guys like Staub or Cross would've filled a real role that's more or less missing in this class.  Same for Prosise or Carter, as talented safeties.


You asked for it last year and I didn't have it, so here it is this year: the original recruiting board, from back when I first posted it.  As you'll notice, not a lot of overlap between this and the final result.  2012 was definitely the year of the surprise, with UVA getting a lot of commitments (Brim, Hall, Dockins, Brown, etc.) before anyone had even had a chance to hear of the name.

There you are.  The final, updated product is available at the link on the side, and if you're curious about the final straggler names on there, their fates are as follows:

- Imani Cross to Nebraska
- Korren Kirven to Alabama
- Stefon Diggs hasn't decided yet.
- Mike Tyson..... poor, idealistic (or lazy) Mike Tyson.  He had offers from PSU, UVA, and VT this summer, but either he didn't want to be bothered with the process at the time or just procrastinated, and all those doors closed.  Tyson missed the bus.  He talked, at the time, of wanting to focus on other things besides recruiting, not a totally unreasonable thing for a high school rising senior to say, but unfortunately not the way things work these days.  It'll be interesting to see what happens.

If you click over to the board, I'd like to finish this up by drawing your attention to one thing.  Something I've been noticing since around the beginning of the season in September, but that I didn't want to mention for fear of jinxing it.  Previous final editions of the recruiting board have had a maroon section at the bottom; this one is conspicuously missing it.  This is not as high-powered a class as 2011, and Tech can claim victory in this year's recruiting wars - in fact it took one of their best classes in quite a while to do it.  But London and Co. can claim a major victory in keeping that maroon section completely off this year's board.

Who gets slotted into the maroon?  Decommitments.


Anonymous said...

Hey, have you heard something specific about Devon Hall? If so, that would be an awesome pickup, forming a nice tandem with BJ Stith, and perhaps building a top 10 type caliber class. It might lead to a 2nd tier point in 2013, though, or maybe another combo guard type of guy (off the top, as of now, we have 4 scholarships as of now for 2013).

If you google Mike Tyson Lake Taylor, there's a Rubama article that seems to indicate that there were academic issues that meant he couldn't sign. Basically, kid started school late, so is still a few classes short, but since he's older, can't play HS ball anymore. So, probably heading the PG ranks and may be someone to keep an eye on next year if the program is looking for some DB depth.

Anonymous said...

Nice write-up on the class. Some thoughts -

- I wonder if some of the guys from last year's DL crop move to another position. I'll be surprised if Harold is red-shirted, as the team really needs pass rushers. Moore seems like a guy physically capable to step in right away as a power end, akin to Snyder. I figure one, if not both, will likely find their way into the rotation next year, and with Snyder/Urban in place, along with Schautz, seems likely that a move happens. Just looking at guys physical sizes, I wonder if Diamonte Bailey might be a possible FB move.

- I'm still fairly curious about the Walcott as a pass-rusher experiment. The team needs a pass rusher badly for next season (despite the lack of big numbers, one of the under-rated aspects of this season was the attention that Cam Johnson received at times), and it'd be tough to expect a ton from Harold early on. The interior pass rush should be better with Hill/Brathwaite/Renfrow/Croce, but Walcott as a stand up pass rusher might be in his best interests for his pro career (as a rush backer), and might be in UVA's best interest for 2013. That said, he'd probably have to be a base SAM backer, as I don't like him at WILL chasing things down.

- I wonder if Metheny will finish up his degree at UVA and then become a 5th year transfer guy. I still think that they should be able to sell a 2013 recruit on the opportunity to come in and compete for the job by 2014, when Rocco leaves.

- Shame we missed on Cross and Brown as big backs for this class, but with Richardson/Parks only a year ahead, it seemed unlikely that we would land big fish at RB if guys were looking for PT. I'd like to see Mizzell (almost everyone seems to write off Green) and a big back next year, though.

- I think Severin should have a good shot at immediate playing time, but I wonder if someone like Gooch can push as a possession receiver. Still fascinated with him, and red-shirting Severin could be beneficial to the spacing of WR talent by classes. I imagine some more passes may swing Phillips/Freedman/Mathis' way to fill the move-the-chains role that Snyder/Burd had.

- I'm very, very curious how things shake out at LB. I actually wouldn't be against red-shirting Kwontie, but I doubt it. Brim seems like a redshirt and get bigger type of move. Hall seems like he's physically able to step in soon (isn't he around 230 now), but might not have the PT and a redshirt is probably the best way to go. I think Coley should get more time outside, if Kwontie is the future inside. Coley at SAM makes some sense to me, and I think he could make a decent WILL but they may want more athleticism there (Brim makes sense).

- The weak, on paper, secondary class makes me hope some guys emerge. We've had a good run with DB's of late, and Nicholson looks like another solid one, but depth is as thin as it's been in awhile.

Anonymous said...

Other thoughts -

- Still think Wynn is a 5-tech type body, but he'll be interesting to follow. Does he add bulk (along with Moore) and eventually shift inside, meaning that DE recruiting will still be key in the next 2 classes?

- The highlights of Divante Walker are so intriguing that I wonder about his offensive ability. That said, he may fill an early role as a returner.

- Not an OL class that looks like it has a lot of tackle potential (Karl/Mooney seem like the only bets, but they might be better inside). Suffice it to say, OL is a big need in the 2013 class. Kelby looks intriguing, but here's hoping they hit a big time OL talent in 2013 (as a side note, the Hokies OL 2-deep was fairly young this year, so they might not have pushed as hard on OL, but it should be a big need next year, so that will make the battles interesting).

- Read some article about some really good kicker that we got as a preferred walk-on. Sounds intriguing.

- I hope most of this class is red-shirted. I wouldn't even mind if they redshirted Harold/Severin/Moore/Moore, but I doubt they will (at best, I think only 2 of those red-shirt, and it wouldn't surprise if all four played next year). One or two of the DB options will likely have to play next year, though.

- I'm fairly curious about Jamall Brown as a slot guy in a year or two. Seems to have good moves. With Terrell/Jennings, he should red-shirt and start fighting for time in 2 years probably.

- 2013 recruiting should be about quality and filling needs. With two deep classes to start off his tenure, the numbers have to come down eventually. Locksley at MD is going to make things tougher in 2013. OT depth, CB depth, pass rushers would seem to be areas of focus. Would love to grab an elite QB, but Lambert/Johns should both be red-shirted so it isn't do or die there.

Two final notes -

a) This should be an exciting offense the next two years. If a seam-stretching TE develops (Mathis would be the one possibility that comes to mind), it could be an exceptional offense. That would definitely help attract talent.

b) How these guys develop 2nd tier guys will help recruiting. The Groh era fell apart because of poor QB play/development (amongst other issues, but if he had a decent QB, the final years would've been different), but they did a solid job developing somewhat under-the-radar guys, particularly on the OL, which eventually led to quality OL recruiting. Even the Seniors this year are a testament to that - Cam Johnson should be an intriguing rush backer pick in the 2nd, at worst, 3rd round and Matt Conrath should have a shot as a 5-technique (particularly if he isn't asked to slim down, and can bulk up to the 290 range). Brathwaite/Kelby Johnson, and a couple others, stand out as guys that seem to have some next level ability, but need a lot of development.