Name: Jake Fieler
Hometown: Parkersburg, WV
School: Parkersburg South / FUMA
24/7: 88, three stars
ESPN: 74, three stars
Rivals: 5.5, three stars
Scout: three stars
Other offers: Cincinnati, Southern Miss
With apologies to Jamil Kamara, it turned out that Jake Fieler was probably the most important recruit of the post-season recruiting push. With Will Richardson decommitting about a month after Fieler's commitment, UVA was left with a paltry two linemen in the class. You have got to wonder what ditch our program would be lying in if not for the good folks at Fork Union.
Fieler graduated high school in 2013, but did so without having received any Division I offers. Deciding he could earn some anyway, he enrolled at FUMA for some post-grad work, to try and boost his profile. Mission accomplished, as UVA and a small handful of other programs came sniffing around. Fieler took almost no time at all selecting the UVA offer.
He comes from an athlete family, which is always a plus. He has a volleyball-playing sister and his brother, Chase Fieler, is a senior hoopster at FGCU, famous for their Sweet 16 run last year and earning his 15 minutes with this. Whereas Chase is a tall and lanky forward, Jake gives up about 3 inches but makes up for it with an extra 100 pounds or so. Fieler's parents were college athletes, too.
While at FUMA, Fieler played guard almost (if not totally) exclusively. ESPN evaluates him as a guard, and says of his pass-blocking skills, "Displays a good punch with the ability to be able to slide with a rusher in short area once locked on." Again, the scouting reports are as useful for what they don't say as what they do; "short area" means, not in the open like a tackle. And Coach Shuman at FUMA came right out and called him Austin Pasztor, who stepped into the starting lineup as a freshman guard and stuck for his whole career, a ride that took him to the NFL.
Plenty of similarities, and not just having been coached by Shuman. Fieler is described as physical and strong, which was also the best part of Pasztor's game initially; they were both FUMA players who'd been overlooked by colleges and low-rated by the services (in Pasztor's case, because he was Canadian and only spent the one season at FUMA); of course, they play the same position, too.
Fieler's been told, as well, that he should be prepared to get second-string snaps in spring practice, as he enrolled in January along with Andrew Brown. So the fast track is another thing he shares with Pasztor; here in 2014, though, the sorry state of the depth chart is at least 2/3rds of the reason. With only 13 scholarship linemen in camp, maybe 12 this spring depending on the health of George Adeosun, the coaches basically have no choice. As well, it may mean Fieler's already leapfrogged a couple more experienced players, which would speak very poorly of recruiting in the past. That said, it might just also mean that with so few players, the coaches will just consider anyone second-string who isn't first string.
However you interpret it, Fieler will enter the fall with a head start on his classmate Steven Moss. Because of the state of the depth chart, that could really mean something. In a perfect world, we'd redshirt every lineman that ever rolled through the program. Hell, in a world with any kind of sanity at all, that's what'd happen. These days, playing as a true freshman seems to be the only path to playing time of any kind; the few linemen that've redshirted, we haven't seen hide nor hair of. Sean Karl and Ryan Doull redshirted and if they ever got into a game this year I sure missed it; meanwhile, four true freshman played extensively. Fieler, he might not redshirt either; it certainly seems as though the coaches fully intend for him to be in their plans this season. At least in his case, he's already a year older thanks to the postgrad year. Playing time at guard seems as wide open as any position on the field, so there's plenty of room for Fieler to continue following in Pasztor's footsteps. We could do quite a bit worse than to see that comparison hold true for four seasons.