Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2014 big-picture

With Signing Day nearly a month into the rearview mirror, it's a good time to project the makeup of the next class up.  I've gotten pretty good at saying this next class will be pretty small and then finding it to be normal-to-biggish, but this time I mean it.  By the time we get to the fall, the senior class will only have like eight people in it.  Since you can usually expect to attrite between five and eight players a year (and eight is kind of pushing it) the 2014 class will (should) cap out around 15 or so players.

Fortunately, it'll be small but talent-rich.  Five-star safety Quin Blanding is widely expected to commit to UVA on Wednesday, and there should be other elite 757 talent not too far behind.  This is a class Mike London's been working on for a while now; Jamil Kamara took a visit to UVA way back in 2011, and had this to say:

"I was there with Eli Harold, Quin Blanding, (Taquan) Smoke Mizzell, Corwin Cutler from Ocean Lakes, and Keanu Reuben from Landstown. ... It's still Virginia Tech and Virginia. Those are my two favorites. They're about the same. I still haven't been to Tech and I really like Virginia."

Do any of those names ring any bells?  The only unfamiliar one is Reuben, who ended up at William & Mary.  Kamara would later take a trip to Virginia Tech and wear a Hokies sweatshirt on the trip.  That led Hokies everywhere to conclude he was obviously Tech-bound, and when it came up eventually that he favored UVA, that helped lead to the creation of the mysterious "Godfather" that was "steering" prospects to Virginia.  Hokies have such vivid imaginations.  (And they're actively destroying their own school's ability to recruit in the Tidewater area, so keep it going fellas.)

Anyway, let's check out the positional breakdown for 2014:


For two years now I have looked like a royal dum-dum for saying I didn't expect to take more than one quarterback in the class, and then we took two.  Well, this year, Corwin Cutler looks like a likely prep prospect, which shifts him back to 2014.  So that's sort of one quarterback in the class, and really, from a purely numbers-management perspective, it works out very well.

So have I learned my lesson?  No, I have not.  Now, any old thing can happen.  Just watch, it probably will.  But: the numbers crunch in this class, the fact that we probably already have a 2014 QB in Cutler, and the other fact that that would put six scholarship QBs on the roster in 2014, gives me no choice but to predict we won't take any more this coming year.  Wait til 2015.


I only have one (Cortavious Givens) on the recruiting board at the moment, but I expect things to pick up a little here.  There are currently five on the roster, three of which will be seniors in 2014, so it's not wise to leave the cupboard bare when they go.  (Not that Smoke Mizzell is chopped liver, but he and Kye Morgan alone aren't a depth chart.)  Look for one or two to appear in the 2014 class.


The need here is small - probably for about two.  Kamara is likely to be one.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the second be a case of London dropping a January offer to a 757 guy the way he did with Mason Thomas and Divante Walker, but it's a long year and we'll see.  With only Tim Smith graduating after 2013, though (Bobby Smith's scholarship is probably being turned over to a class of 2013 recruit) and a pretty sizable stable of receivers in the fold, taking more than two would be wasteful.


There's a weird dichotomy going on here in that the coaches seem to want to recruit a pure tight end prospect, but are being very picky about the ones they offer.  At this point, though, they seem likely to fill the position from within; Mario Nixon and Zach Swanson are strongly rumored to be making the move to TE (back to TE, in Swanson's case) and Max Valles will likely start out there too.  So the need isn't pressing, and it looks from here like the coaches are focusing elsewhere.  I wouldn't rule out taking a TE but I wouldn't bank on it.


As per always, three is the bare minimum, and more are usually to be expected.  The coaches really cranked up the offer cannon aimed at offensive linemen this year; a full eleven of the players on the recruiting board are O-linemen.  Some of that might have been before they dug up George Adeosun and flipped Eric Tetlow, the latter of which was a Signing Day surprise even to the coaches, and so they might be dialing back on some of those.  That said, at least two were in town for this past weekend's junior day, and there are quite a few more that both think very highly of Virginia and wouldn't be turned away if they committed.  I think four linemen is the likely target for a small class like this one, but five wouldn't surprise me.


UVA already has one commitment in the fold (DT Chris Nelson) but it's a coin flip at best that he stays.  He's from Florida and is working the instate-school visit circuit hard; there's a bit of a placeholder element to his status right now.  It might not matter if the Hoos land Andrew Brown and Derrick Nnadi.  The former seems very likely - hard to believe about a five-star talent like Brown, but this is our year, man.  Nnadi is setting up to be a major battleground between UVA and Tech.  Landing both would take care of all defensive tackle needs for 2014, with or without Nelson.

As for DE, having only signed one in 2013 makes this more of a pressing need.  I'd like to see two or even three in this 2014 class.  I realize that would make half the class nothing but O-linemen and DEs, but so be it.  Trenches baby.


None are seniors this coming fall, so any we take will add to the numbers without any corresponding subtraction.  That minimizes the need.  We'll probably take one and maybe two, but likely no more.


There's such an enormous glut of players at both CB and safety that it seems like it'd be hard to take very many in 2014.  But it also seems like this position is a prime candidate to be hit by attrition when some of these guys are so likely never to see the field.  Plus, 2014 is the senior year for four safeties, so it makes sense to add a couple more in that recruiting class.  Blanding is probably one; I think the coaches might try to find another as well.  Two outstanding cornerbacks just signed up in 2013 and there's a major freshman glut from 2012 there too, so taking just one is very possible in 2014.


It seems having an experienced special teams coach on staff has already had an effect on recruiting, because Mike London just did something he's never done at UVA: offer a scholarship to a kicker.  It's probably the only such offer that'll go out, but UVA's chances of landing him are very good.

So, the numerical breakdown and projection, not counting prep candidates:

QB: 0
RB: 1
WR: 2
TE: 0
OL: 4
DT: 2
DE: 2
LB: 2
DB: 3
K: 1

As ever, all numbers are +/-1.  Especially on the minus side because that adds up to 17.  Maybe knock off a DB and an OL.

Now to finish things off, the year's first recruiting board update.  Here we go:

-- Added K Gary Wunderlich to blue.  And in case you're wondering, I'm fully on board with the idea of putting a kicker on scholarship if you find a really good one.  Good kickers aren't all that common in college and I hate watching a perfectly good drive go to waste because of a missed 35-yard field goal.

-- Added OTs Will Richardson and Bentley Spain to green.  I resisted adding Spain when I made the original board because he had such a damn offer list, but he put UVA in his top six so what the hey.  That top six also includes LSU, Michigan, and Stanford so Virginia is sort of a one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other inclusion, not to mention that if "numbers of articles by one particular Rivals affiliate" is a good indicator, he's a South Carolina lean.  But still.

-- Added DE Jeremiah Clarke to green.  Clarke picked up an offer at the junior day.

-- Removed LB Troy Reeder from green.  Reeder was even kind of borderline blue-green in my thinking, but he committed to Penn State today.  Bother.

-- Moved TE Chris Laye from green to yellow.

-- Moved ATH Travon McMillian and DE Jalyn Holmes from red to yellow.  Holmes is a guy the coaches are on like white on rice but hasn't - until recently - been all that receptive to UVA.  Owing to a need for DEs, though, if I could put one guy from the red or yellow lists into the verbally committed section, it'd be Holmes.

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