Tuesday, January 15, 2013

the recruit: Connor Wingo-Reeves

Name: Connor Wingo-Reeves
Position: LB/FB
Hometown: Richmond
School: Monacan
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 223

24/7: 73, two stars; #118 ILB, VA #63
ESPN: 64, two stars; #151 OLB, VA #53, Atl. #263
Rivals: 5.4, two stars
Scout: two stars; #125 OLB

Other offers: Temple, Navy

This past weekend, Hipolito Corporan took an official visit to Utah.  It's good for him he had a scholarship from there, because he didn't have one from UVA anymore as his reward for the visit the coaches had asked him not to take - and warned him what'd happen if he did.  With a newly-freed-up scholarship, Mike London called up Connor Wingo-Reeves, and it wasn't long at all before the scholarship was spoken for.

Wingo-Reeves is a guy the coaches kept tabs on, but had never actually offered until last weekend.  Very few schools had, actually.  CWR camped at quite a few places, but sat through most of the recruiting cycle on just two offers, those from Temple and Navy, and was verbally committed to Temple at the time of his UVA offer, and had been since August.

As evaluated, and mostly as he camped, CWR is a linebacker.  Probably an outside one.  Rivals judged him to be pretty good at pass coverage during one particular 7-on-7 camp, and that's one rare instance where I would value the evaluation more because it's 7-on-7.  It's harder for linebackers to shine because of the emphasis on speed, speed, speed.  Which Wingo-Reeves doesn't really have in spades; his pass coverage is more instinctual than athletic.

In ESPN's evaluation, in fact, the best thing they can say about his athleticism is that he has "enough," which is damnation with faint praise if there ever was such a thing.  Much of the rest of that scouting report is full of veiled criticisms of his athleticism, and truth is, he's not that much faster than the the competition that he plays against.  He brings a very strong and solid tackling technique when he gets to the ballcarrier (obvious caveat: in the highlights) which is where a lot of his value comes as a linebacker.  That and being in the right place at the right time, which is how he earned his interceptions.

Wingo-Reeves has been told by the coaches he'll play either linebacker or fullback.  Temple actually had him as a defensive end, which is small surprise; at about 225-ish pounds, CWR is just about as big as any linebacker we have, only a few pounds off, and could probably outgrow linebacker without even trying.  Truth is, it'd probably be a tricky thing to add muscle mass and yet keep his weight in the right place for linebacker.  And the coaches spread their net far and wide for linebackers in this recruiting cycle; if they wanted Wingo-Reeves as one, he'd probably have had his offer long ago.

My guess, and my hope, is that the answer is fullback.  We truthfully don't have one.  Zach Swanson is an H-back, not a fullback.  At 6'6" he's too tall (and not heavy enough) to block in a gap with good leverage.  Billy Skrobacz is only 5'9", and on at least one occasion that I can recall, got his running back killed by running directly past the linebacker he ought to have blocked.  For fullback I'd prefer Wingo-Reeves to be a little shorter, but that's nitpicking.  His strong tackling skills make him good for cracking someone's skull to clear the way for a running back.  His anticipation in pass coverage is easily converted to the ability to see into the gap and find the guy who needs blocking.

As a linebacker, I doubt Wingo-Reeves would ever see the field.  We got three damn good ones in this class and will probably look for more in 2014.  The upcoming athleticism at that position is outstanding.  But as a fullback?  Even though Wingo-Reeves is a consensus two-star - the only one in the class, in fact - who was unable to catch the eye of most of the schools that he tried for, as a fullback he could be one of the least likely redshirts in the whole class.  Some of this is wishful thinking on my part, because I don't think a pro-style, up-the-gut running offense is at its best without a real fullback.  I would love to watch Taquan Mizzell following a proper fullback into the line.  I think we got one here.  Get him coached up on a few sections of the playbook and this guy could be a sleeper addition that adds a different dimension to an offense that needs it.

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