By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
April 12, 2004 The Virginia football program resumed its impressive work with the high school junior class, picking up three more very early commitments to bring its Class of 2005 total to seven. UVa coach Al Groh said his team's large number of early pledges, out of about 60 Division I-A commitments nationally, is a reflection of changing times and the fact that his tenure in Charlottesville is approaching its fourth season. "That is certainly something that I did become acquainted with that was different from 15 years or so ago," Groh said. "That was one (difference) that was quickly brought to my attention. Our operation becomes more and more I use the word 'mature.' With each year, we're able to start the evaluation process earlier. Now we have been around here long enough to trace back that we knew of some of these players when they were freshmen and follow their progress and then at the appropriate time do the actual evaluation. I think that (four years on the job) has certainly enabled us to expedite the process." Haverford (PA) School OL/DT Will Barker (6-6, 275), rated one of the top 25 rising seniors in Pennsylvania, committed to Virginia over early interest from Duke, Michigan State, UNC and Penn State. A two-way lineman, he has been a full-time starter since his sophomore season. He also plays lacrosse. His main recruiter with the Cavaliers is defensive backs coach Bob Price. Virginia Beach (VA) Kempsville TE/DE Jason Fuller (6-5, 225), rated one of the top 25 rising seniors in Virginia, picked Virginia over Syracuse. He also had an offer from Appalachian State, while Maryland, UNC, Penn State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia also showed early interest. A first-team all-district and second-team all-region selection, Fuller had 66 tackles and 10 sacks for a 5-5 team as a junior. Also a standout wrestler, he finished second in Group 3A in the 215-pound weight class this year. He benches 350 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. He has a 3.5 GPA and a 1,080 SAT score. "I wanted a school with great integrity and a program that has a chance to win a national championship," Fuller said. "The more I was around (coaches and players), the more I realized Virginia was the right place for me. You can tell they're serious about school and they're serious about football, too. I love what they do with their tight ends, but I'll play wherever they want me to play." Hot Springs (VA) Bath County TE John Phillips (6-5, 235), rated one of the top 25 rising seniors in Virginia, opted for Virginia over Virginia Tech. UNC, N.C. State and Vanderbilt also showed interest. A first-team Group A all-state selection, he had 25 receptions for 495 yards and six touchdowns as a junior for a 13-1 team, with 10 sacks in 10 games on defense. Bath County played in three of the last four Group A state championship games, winning in 2001. The younger brother of Group A player of the year Jacob Phillips, who signed with William & Mary, John suffered a serious knee injury in the last game of the 2003 regular season but underwent surgery and is expected to be ready for 2004. Phillips benches 320 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. He has a 3.7 GPA. "I feel like I have a very close relationship with the coaching staff, and it's just a perfect fit for me," Phillips said. "It's a great school with great football, it's pretty close to home, and obviously any tight end would want to play in that offense." Virginia's other early commitments from the Class of 2005 came from Durham (NC) Southern WR Maurice Covington, Ashburn (VA) Broad Run TE/DE Alex Field, Gretna (VA) High QB Vic Hall and Stafford (VA) North OL Pat Slebonic. Duke Picks Up In-State Prospect Whiteville (NC) High DB Marquis Melvin (6-1, 195), rated one of the top 25 rising seniors in North Carolina, picked Duke over early interest from Maryland, UNC, N.C. State, Penn State and South Carolina. A first-team all-conference selection, he played receiver, safety and cornerback as a junior for a 9-4 team. A projected safety for the Blue Devils, he benches 320 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. "Duke has everything I'm looking for," Melvin said. "Education is very important to me, and you can't do any better than Duke. I also like Coach (Ted) Roof a lot. He has everybody fired up about turning the program around, and I want to be a part of that. The other thing is, I want to go somewhere I'll have a chance to play right away, and I think I'll have the opportunity to do that at Duke." Other known early commitments to ACC schools for the Class of 2005 include Hinds (MS) Community College DE Chad Green (N.C. State), Jones County (MS) Junior College LB/DE Anthony Kelly (Florida State), Doylestown (PA) Central Bucks South OL Dave McClain (Maryland), Robbins (NC) North Moore OL/DT Camaron Thomas (North Carolina) and Ashburn (VA) Stone Bridge TE Ed Wang (Virginia Tech).
Virginia Continues Early 2005 Avalanche
By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal