Name: David Eldridge
School: Kettle Run
24/7: 86, three stars; #92 WR, VA #26
ESPN: 77, three stars; #99 WR, VA #28, East #93
Rivals: 5.6, three stars; #80 WR, VA #23
Scout: three stars; #163 WR
Other offers: Boston College, Illinois, Wake Forest, Connecticut, East Carolina, Marshall, Old Dominion
With a metric ton of space available in the 2015 class, the summer was primed to bring a big wave of commitments, and that's exactly what it did - starting with David Eldridge. Nick Johns committed in early May, and Eldridge near the very end of it with 23 days in between. We haven't had that long of a drought since, and from Eldridge's commitment to mid-June, Mike London earned a commitment every five days, like clockwork.
UVA was Eldridge's first offer, back in January, and during the spring he was diligent in hitting the camp circuit, earning several more before ending his recruitment. Eldridge talked occasionally about visiting here and there, but those never materialized. Despite looking at Wake and BC with some interest, Eldridge kept UVA on the front burner throughout the process.
Having worked hard to put himself in front of evaluators, it's not surprising that Eldridge's evaluations are consistent, but the degree of consistency is a head-turner. It's hard to find a prospect about whom the services agree this strongly, especially here in the mid-three-star range. The offer list is the same - just about what you'd expect, with a few larger-profile programs starting to nose around by the time Eldridge committed (West Virginia was probably closest to being his next offer.)
Everything they say about him points like a lit-up neon arrow to "possession receiver." He's used to working in the middle of the field from his high school experience already, and ESPN not only explicitly says possession receiver but mentions, three times, his lack of a top gear. But both they and Rivals like his physicality and route-running ("crisp" is Rivals' word for it) and ESPN also takes care to note that Eldridge is "continually breaking tackes." I like when they make a point of saying it happens frequently instead of just saying "flashes" or "displays the ability to."
There's some opportunity in the UVA receiving corps to distinguish yourself if you have a lot of speed, but that's not going to be Eldridge's game; plus, at six-foot-even, maybe six-one, he won't stand out for his size, either. That means it's going to have to be things like strength, hands, route-running - things that take extra work. So a redshirt ought to be in the cards, which is something even his high school coach is openly lobbying for. Eldridge shouldn't be needed on the field right away anyway, especially if Dominique Terrell ends up with an extra year (dude never did redshirt and he looks headed that way now), which would give him plenty of separation from the classes in front - the result of playing both Doni Dowling and (likely) Jamil Kamara in 2014. So while Eldridge looks like he'll sit on the shelf a while, patience and hard work should pay off later as he'll find himself the veteran of the receiving corps relatively early in his career. By then, if all goes well, he'll be the kind of dirty-work receiver that quarterbacks can't live without on third down.