Name: Juan Thornhill
24/7: 88, three stars; #51 ATH, VA #21
ESPN: 73, three stars; #73 S, VA #30, East #152
Rivals: 5.7, three stars; #21 S, VA #15
Scout: three stars
Other offers: None
I guess it's the offseason now, and what that means is: football is up next. And that means it's time to get on with introducing the recruiting class of 2015. Might as well get one thing out of the way right off the bat: We can't say with any certainty at all that this crop will ever play for Mike London and staff. No projection I can make could ever take into account what happens if the ax falls - in fact, it's a near-certainty I'll profile an eventual decommit - so let's just keep that in mind every time there's a new recruit profile, and never speak of it again. At least in this context.
In this case at least, the commitment is likely to stick. Juan Thornhill is a self-professed UVa fan, an especially interesting tidbit in light of the fact that he hails from a part of the state that's widely considered VT country. It's very rare for UVa to find a recruit from any point in Virginia west of Charlottesville - you can count them on one hand going back to 2006, like so: Thornhill, Michael Biesemier, Mike Rocco, Alex Owah, B.J. Cabbell. And Owah didn't exactly stick so you can go back another year to find a few guys from that region in the '05 class, notably Chris Cook.
Thornhill and Altavista play in the VHSL's lowest division, 1A - small schools playing other small schools. He's easily the best athlete in that division, having been named not only the Defensive POY in football, but the basketball POY too. As such, he naturally plays quarterback as well as various defensive positions for his team, and piles up stats with ease. Thornhill led Altavista to state championships in both football and hoops this year; for schools of that size, he's a once in a generation player.
He didn't wait around for any other offers to come his way, though; he committed to UVa last November, the same day he got his offer from London. A guy who's the biggest fish in his pond who doesn't wait for any other offers is one committed player. That just leaves the question of - how good is he really?
Well, there's a bit of a range of opinions. Scout pretty much mailed in their evaluation, as they tend to do for UVa's early commits, but ESPN isn't high on him. They like his instincts as a defender but are real lukewarm on his athleticism and build. Actually even that's pretty encouraging, because safeties don't have to be wildly athletic to be effective. (It helps, but it's not essential.) Rivals and 24/7 have him in the top 20 players in the state, though, and while 24/7 is starting to show a pattern of being fairly generous with their stars, earning a high-three-star from Rivals is worth a look. We'll probably never know how other schools might have viewed him unless some of them start sniffing around in the event of a coaching change, but Thornhill doesn't seem like the type to entertain those efforts, and we'll likely never hear. I'd guess VT eventually would've offered, possibly Maryland and WVU as well, and some of the North Carolina schools.
It's still up in the air what position Thornhill would play, but safety has always seemed the most likely. At 175 pounds he'll definitely want to put on some weight, but it shouldn't surprise if he's more like 185-190 this time next year - that was measured in the middle of his junior year in high school, after all. And when the most critical ranker still likes your instincts and ability to see the field, it's another point in favor of a position that demands those skills. (Thornhill is a point guard on the hardwood, so.)
Assuming safety is the path, the depth chart looks kind of jammed at first blush (you know how I harp on that) but there's still opportunity. Quin Blanding will not be redshirting, so if Thornhill does, there won't be any players in the class in between them. Two starters will be seniors this year, and other than Blanding (who'll be given every opportunity) and Kelvin Rainey (who started showing some promise in 2013 as a redshirt freshman) the rest of the depth chart is full of unknown quantities and some guys whose chance has largely passed them by. Rainey and Wil Wahee will graduate after Thornhill's redshirt freshman season (or sophomore season, but I hope not that) and so the path should be clear for Thornhill to be a three-year contributor, if managed properly.