Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:04pm
Here's an inside look at Virginia's 2014 recruiting class.
Head Coach: Mike London
Total Number of Signees: 17
National Recruiting Rankings
Rivals.com: No. 12 (2002), No. 20 (2003), No. 40 (2004), No. 19 (2005), No. 39 (2006), No. 25 (2007), No. 61 (2008), No. 33 (2009) under Al Groh; No. 65 (2010), No. 25 (2011), No. 27 (2012), No. 28 (2013) under Mike London
Scout.com: No. 10 (2002), No. 17 (2003), No. 25 (2004), No. 14 (2005), No. 53 (2006), No. 32 (2007), No. 62 (2008), No. 49 (2009) under Al Groh; No. 66 (2010), No. 24 (2011), No. 28 (2012), No. 40 (2013) under Mike London
247Sports.com: No. 20 (2011), No. 20 (2012), No. 27 (2013) under Mike London
ACC Rankings (Rivals.com): No. 2 (2002), No. 3 (2003), No. 8 (2004), No. 6 (2005), No. 8 (2006), No. 6 (2007), No. 11 (2008), No. 6 (2009), No. 10 (2010), No. 4 (2011), No. 5 (2012), No. 5 (2013)
2014 Virginia ACC & National Rankings By Network
ESPN: No. 4 ACC, No. 25 overall nationally
Rivals.com: No. 7 ACC, No. 40 overall nationally
Scout.com: No. 10 ACC, No. 49 overall nationally
247Sports.com: No. 6 ACC, No. 32 overall nationally
Signee Breakdown by Star Rating
Rivals.com: Five Stars (2), Four Stars (2), Three Stars (7), Two Stars (6)
Scout.com: Five Stars (2), Four Stars (2), Three Stars (6), Two Stars (7)
247Sports.com: Five Stars (2), Four Stars (2), Three Stars (11), Two Stars (1)
States Represented (5): Virginia (10), Georgia (2), Pennsylvania (2), California (1), Florida (1), District of Columbia (1)
January (Spring Semester) Enrollees: Andrew Brown, Jacob Fieler
Unconfirmed Academics: Corwin Cutler
Breakdown by Position: Defensive Linemen (5), Defensive Backs (3), Linebackers (2), Offensive Linemen (2), Wide Receiver (2), Quarterbacks (1), Running Backs (1), Tight Ends (1),
Chip West continues to be the ace recruiter on Mike London’s staff and the Hampton native may have done his best work yet this class, as the Cavaliers have landed some newcomers from the Tidewater region with early-impact potential at the college level. West’s top additions this year from a rankings standpoint are Quin Blanding, a safety from Virginia Beach, and Andrew Brown, a defensive tackle from Chesapeake, who are both consensus five-star recruits by all three major networks (Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com). But West had plenty of other success stories on the recruiting trail this cycle, including Virginia Beach wide receiver Jamil Kamara, a four-star prospect in the rankings of all three networks, as well as Upland (Calif.) wide receiver Jeffery Farrar, who the Cavaliers beat out multiple Pac-12 schools for, and Virginia Beach quarterback Corwin Cutler, who is currently at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. Cutler is a four-star quarterback in the 247Sports national rankings and considered the top prep quarterback and No. 3 overall prep prospect nationally by that network. West also helped UVa successfully recruit Washington (D.C.) defensive end Cory Jones, one of the final pieces to Virginia’s 2014 recruiting puzzle who committed in late January following an official visit to Charlottesville.
10 Key Misses
Burlington (N.C.) offensive lineman Will Richardson (N.C. State), Baltimore (Md.) linebacker Melvin Keihn (Virginia Tech), Weeki Wachee (Fla.) offensive tackle Marcus Applefield (Rutgers), Fort Pierce (Fla.) defensive end Rashawn Shaw (Wake Forest), Los Angeles (Calif.) cornerback LaDarius Wiley (Purdue), Woodbridge (Va.) defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Alabama), Chesapeake (Va.) cornerback DaiQuan Lawrence (Wake Forest), Stafford (Va.) cornerback Daniel Ezeagwu (Maryland), Yuma (Ariz.) tight end Blake Whiteley (Texas), Miami (Fla.) cornerback Cornelius Floyd (Arkansas)
Virginia Recruiting Storylines
- Since Mike London arrived as head coach at Virginia back in 2010, the Cavaliers have been using their scholarships and filling up the program’s coffers with talent. UVa over-signed in back-to-back classes---26 signees in 2011 and 27 in 2012---and after a 22-man class in 2013, the Cavaliers were bound to have a smaller class in 2014. Virginia is going to sign its fewest recuits this February since at least 2010, a recruiting cycle that was split been London and former UVa head coach Al Groh. Again, much of the legwork on the recruiting trail for the Cavaliers is being done at home in Virginia, as this marks the fourth straight recruiting cycle under London in which UVa is signing at least 10 Virginia natives. In all Virginia has signed over 50 prospects from within the borders of Virginia since London became head coach at UVa.
- Virginia’s recruiting, at least from a rankings standpoint, has improved dramatically in recent classes under London, even if it hasn’t resulted in a lot of wins thus far for the Cavaliers. The 2014 class, with the additions of Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown, marks the first time since 2002 that Virginia is signing two or more five-star prospects in the Rivals.com rankings. Prior to Blanding and Brown, Virginia had only five five-star prospects in the history of the Rivals.com rankings - 2004 All-American linebacker Ahmad Brooks, 2005 All-ACC linebacker Kai Parham, journeyman running back Michael Johnson, 2008 All-ACC left tackle Eugene Monroe, and 2013 signee Taquan Mizzell, who ended Virginia’s streak of seven straight classes (2006 to 2012) without a Rivals.com five-star signee when he signed last year with the Cavaliers. Brooks, Parham, and Johnson were all initially in Virginia’s 2002 signing class, though Brooks spent some time at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy and ultimately joined UVa out of the 2003 class. Monroe signed with Virginia in the 2005 class.
- Compared to the other recruiting cycles at Virginia under Coach London, it has taken a little longer for Virginia’s 2014 signing class to come together. UVa had 10 out of 17 commitments by late October this cycle, compared to the 2013 recruiting cycle in which the Cavaliers had 18 out of 22 commitments stashed away by late August. In 2011 the Wahoos had 19 out of its 26 commitments locked up by early September, and by early September in 2012 Virginia had 24 out of its 27-man class committed. This fall things got rolling again for UVa when the Cavaliers got a commitment in mid-September from Fork Union (Va.) quarterback Corwin Cutler, followed approximately a month later by a pledge from Lawrenceville (Ga.) defensive back Darious Latimore. UVa continued its trend of one commitment a month during football season with the November addition of Richmond wide receiver Donovan Dowling, and then in December the Cavaliers added two more to the class---Lynchburg defensive end Michael Biesemier and Indiana (Pa.) defensive end Darrious Carter. January brought three more additions to the Cavalier class, as just after the New Year UVa secured four-star Virginia Beach wide receiver Jamil Kamara, and then Washington (D.C.) defensive Cory Jones and Newport News (Va.) linebacker Chris Peace both committed on January 26.
- Coming off a 2013 season in which Virginia’s defense ranked dead-last in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring defense (33.2 points per game allowed) and 11th in total defense, giving up over 403 yards per game on average, the Cavalier coaches have clearly made defense a huge emphasis across the board in the 2014 class. Ten of Virginia’s commitments are projected to play on defense, including five defensive linemen. The last time UVa signed as many as five defensive lineman was London’s first full recruiting class (2011), when the Cavaliers over-signed and brought in a total of six defensive line prospects. The Cavaliers signed the same total number of linebackers and defensive backs (five) in the 2013 class as they are signing in the 2014 class. After signing a total of 14 offensive linemen combined in the 2011 through 2013 classes, Virginia is adding just two offensive linemen in 2014 - Steven Moss of Fredericksburg (Va.) and Jacob Fieler, who enrolled at UVa in January out of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.
A Closer Look At …
Andrew Brown, DT (5-10, 185) Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith
Rivals.com Ranking: ( No. 32 overall nationally, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 3 in Virginia)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 17 overall nationally, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 3 in Virginia)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 9 overall nationally, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 3 in Virginia)
Lead Recruiter(s): Chip West
From a rankings standpoint Brown is one of the crown jewels of the Mike London era in Charlottesville, and a guy who could greatly aid Virginia’s defensive line right out of the gate. A consensus prep All-American and five-star recruit, Brown helped lead Oscar Smith High School to a 14-1 overall record and a Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 6A state championship game berth in 2013. Brown was selected to participate in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge at Chicago’s Soldier Field - a new invitation-only event featuring a hundred of the nation’s top prospects - as well as the Under Armour All-American Game in early January in St. Petersburg (Fla.), just before he enrolled at Virginia. Brown is going to have a chance to make an immediate impact in the Cavalier defensive trenches as a January enrollee and full participant in UVa’s spring football later this year.
Quin Blanding, LB (6-2, 200) Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 5 overall nationally, No. 1 safety, No. 2 in Virginia)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 15 overall nationally, No. 3 safety, No. 2 in Virginia)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 8 overall nationally, No. 1 safety, No. 2 in Virginia)
Lead Recruiter(s): Chip West, Anthony Poindexter
Blanding was another huge coup for the Virginia coaching staff, as the consensus five-star prospect and arguably the top safety in American high school football in 2013 could have gone pretty much anywhere he wanted. As a junior in 2012 Blanding recorded 111 tackles and five interceptions, and recorded a total of 15 interceptions over his first three years of high school competition. Following his senior season he played in the Under Armour All-American Game in early January in St. Petersburg (Fla.).
"Blanding is a do-it-all safety that will likely play from Day 1 when he gets to Virginia,” said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Adam Friedman. “At 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, he can come up to help stop the running game and can level receivers that try to make catches in front of him or in the open field. When defending the pass, Blanding is an ideal player to patrol the deep middle. He has the speed to run sideline-to-sideline, awareness to not let a receiver get behind him and the football IQ to set up quarterbacks for bad passes. Blanding, who is also a standout receiver, is great at defending against jump balls. When he has a chance to intercept a pass, he rarely drops the ball because he has very good hands."
Jamil Kamara, WR (6-1, 202) Virginia Beach (Va.) Bishop Sullivan
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 123 overall nationally, No. 17 wide receiver, No. 6 in Virginia)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 146 overall nationally, No. 28 wide receiver, 8 in Virginia)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 106 overall nationally, No. 9 wide receiver, No. 6 in Virginia)
Lead Recruiter(s): Chip West, Marques Hagans
Kamara, another consensus top 150 national prospect to choose the Cavaliers in the 2014 class, is a dynamic pass catcher capable of helping improve Virginia’s pass efficiency and overall offensive productivity. UVa was 14th out of 14 schools in the ACC in passing yards per completion in 2013 (9.2 yards per catch), while as a prep senior, Kamara averaged 20.4 yards per catch. In all Kamara had 69 grabs for 1,409 yards his senior season at Virginia Beach’s Bishop Sullivan, averaging 128 yards per game and scoring 23 touchdowns. Over his final two years of prep competition Kamara combined for over 2,200 receiving yards on 111 catches and 35 receiving touchdowns. Kamara had scholarship offers from approximately 25 to 30 major conference schools, including nearly all the schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference and several more throughout the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences, chose Virginia in mid-December after taking official visits to Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, and Michigan State. After his senior season, Kamara played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio (Tex.).
Why They Chose Virginia
I feel like one of the things I was looking for was, when I'm around my coach that I know he can push me to my max and get me to that next level. And I think (UVa wide receivers) coach (Marques) Hagans, a guy who played in the league, can do that for me. Hearing him talk, you know he cares more about you and your life than he does football. He's going to help make you a better person because, you know, football is only going to last but for so long. It's great to have coaches that care about you as a person as well as an athlete.
---Richmond (Va.) wide receiver Donovan Dowling to CavsCorner.com
It’s everything. It’s a perfect fit. It’s the coaching staff, the opportunity, the school. They put academics first, and I love that part of it. It’s a really good education. They’re so sincere and they really know what they’re doing. They’re really serious about what they’re bringing to the table. They said they needed a big guy like me who can run inside and outside. They said they really don’t have a back that can do what I can do. I really liked that. That showed me something.
---Suwanee (Ga.) running back Jordan Ellis to Scout.com
I think I'm going to be a perfect fit as a Cavalier. I'm really excited. It was always the one that felt right. I came home from school (just prior to committing to UVa) and there was a handwritten letter from each coach on the coaching staff. And I think that's when it really set in that, 'Man, they really do want me.' But the mix of football and academics? You can't beat what UVa offers.
---Purcellville (Va.) defensive end J.J. Jackson to CavsCorner.com
UVa is an amazing school along with great football and amazing sports. That’s huge – to find a school like that and relatively closer to home. I identified UVa from the start. It was just the ideal offer, (the) combination of amazing athletics and amazing academics.
---Merion (Pa.) tight end Evan Butts to HooNation.com