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Virginia Again Looking To Fill Holes

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
September 2, 2002 In most cases, it's not a good thing to have something in common with Duke football. In this instance, Virginia does, and it's definitely bad news.

 One of the most commonly quoted ACC football factoids of the preseason was that the Blue Devils have the astonishingly low total of one senior (linebacker Jamyon Small) on their entire 2002 roster. Nobody else in the conference is even close to that number, in part because most other schools have a number of walk-ons who rarely or never play but nevertheless are listed as seniors on the official roster.

In another, perhaps more telling, way, Virginia shares Duke's misery. One quick look at recruiting results from the Class of 1998 suggests that Al Groh and Carl Franks have then-coaches George Welsh and Fred Goldsmith to thank for their current predicaments.

In retrospect, the Blue Devils actually got as much production from their brutal 1998 class as the Cavaliers did from theirs. While it's true that Small is the only signee still on the roster, two Duke players (cornerback Ronnie Hamilton and wideout Kyle Moore) were three-year starters who exhausted their eligibility last season and another (quarterback D. Bryant) was a potential three-year starter who flunked out of school this spring.

Entering this fall, only two members of Virginia's 1998 class had done much of significance. Senior safeties Shernard Newby and Chris Williams both have started and been productive players for the Cavaliers. Perhaps offensive tackle Mike Mullins, a little-used backup thrust into a starting role late last season, will emerge this fall as a third major contributor. The only signee who played four straight seasons without a redshirt, and thus exhausted his eligibility in 2001, was second-team defensive tackle George Stanley. The rest of the players in the class, probably the least productive of Welsh's 19-year UVa career, ended up either unwisely turning pro early (wideout Tavon Mason), flunking out, transferring or quitting football.

The 1998 class, in theory, should serve as the foundation for every 2002 team. Any player who redshirted at some point in his career is a fifth-year senior this fall. At many schools, that group truly is the foundation. In its opener against Iowa State, for example, Florida State had 11 Class of 1998 signees in its starting lineup and several more on the active roster. Despite its coaching change from Jim Caldwell to Jim Grobe before last season, Wake Forest has seven 2002 starters from the 1998 class and several more fifth-year players on the two-deep depth chart.

The good news for Virginia fans is that Welsh landed a pretty solid class in 1999. Seven players from that group are starting this fall, and several more are contributing. Groh, of course, shocked the college football world with a top-10 effort in his first full recruiting cycle last year.

“We have a very, very talented group (of freshmen),” Groh said in the preseason. “They're talented and they're hungry. We need the injection of their ability on our roster. I know it. The assistant coaches know it. The players know it. So we're all looking forward to getting them as integral, functioning parts of our team.”

In the opener this fall, the UVa coaches attempted to plug the many holes in their two-deep by playing 10 true freshmen. A trio of prep All-Americans, offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and tailbacks Michael Johnson and Wali Lundy, looked particularly impressive. So did linebacker Darryl Blackstock.

It's still far too early to know if Groh can duplicate his recruiting success with the Class of 2003, but he's certainly in the running for some big names.

One good example: Altamonte Springs (FL) Lake Brantley OL Jordy Lipsey, rated one of the top 25 offensive linemen in the nation, recently said Stanford (Oct. 11 official visit) and Virginia (Sept. 6) lead Florida and Miami (Sept. 20). He also has offers from Auburn, FSU, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and many others. An excellent student (3.7 GPA, 1,130 SAT), he said academics will play a primary role in his decision.

Closer to home, the Wahoos remain strongly in the running for a bunch of the Commonwealth's top seniors, including Fairfax (VA) Robinson DB Chase Anastasio, Richmond (VA) Heritage TE Duane Brown, Hampton (VA) Bethel DE Chris Ellis, Norfolk (VA) Lake Taylor WR Terrell Golden, Charlottesville (VA) High DT Chris Johnson, Fairfax (VA) Robinson TE John Kinzer, Dale City (VA) Gar-Field OL Flordell Kissee, Virginia Beach (VA) Salem WR Shannon Lane, Richmond (VA) Hermitage WR Fontel Mines and Chesapeake (VA) Deep Bridge DT Carlton Powell.

(If you missed the Sports Journal's 2002-03 football recruiting guide, a 16-page supplement to last month's Football Preview issue, please call 1-800-447-7667 to place an order. Included in that popular edition were the lists of early college favorites for the prospects in the preceding and succeeding paragraphs, plus more than 100 other top-ranked players in the ACC area.)

Many other highly regarded prospects in the ACC area list the Cavaliers among their early favorites. Included in that group are Atlanta (GA) Westlake WR Brandon Allen, Alpharetta (GA) Milton WR Sean Bailey, Union Bridge (MD) Key TE Chris Bassler, Burtonsville (MD) St. John's DT Conrad Bolston, Jamestown (NC) Ragsdale WR Emmanuel Byers, Washington (DC) Dunbar ATH Vernon Davis, Baltimore (MD) Carver WR James Dyson, Atlanta (GA) Washington LB Jarvis Jackson, Brandywine (MD) Gwynn Park LB Wesley Jefferson, Chester (SC) High DE Jamar Kelly, Baltimore (MD) Mt. St. Joseph WR Keon Lattimore, Lilburn (GA) Parkview OL David Overmyer, Lilburn (GA) Parkview OL Brandon Pilgrim, Greenbelt (MD) Roosevelt LB Derron Thomas, Forestville (MD) Suitland WR Deyon Williams and Union (SC) High OL Eric Young.

Here are some updates on prominent prospects from outside the ACC region who listed Virginia among their five favorites entering September:

New Castle (PA) High OL/DL Allen Billyk, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Pennsylvania, said Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Virginia lead Boston College and Stanford. He also has offers from Maryland and Purdue. He had 139 tackles and 11 sacks over the last two seasons.

Plantation (FL) High LB H.B. Blades, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, said Michigan and Southern Cal lead Florida, Miami, Notre Dame and Virginia. His father (Bennie) and uncles (Al, Brian) played for the Hurricanes. A first-team Class 6A all-state pick, he had 53 tackles as a junior.

Orange (NJ) High RB/DB Cory Boyd, rated one of the top 25 seniors in New Jersey, said Maryland, Rutgers and Virginia lead
NCSU and South Carolina. As a junior, he rushed for 1,785 yards on 120 carries and scored 22 touchdowns. He had 80 tackles and eight interceptions on defense.

Lewisville (TX) Hebron OL Ian-Yates Cunningham, rated one of the top 25 offensive linemen in the nation, said Nebraska, Notre Dame (no offer) and Virginia lead Georgia Tech and Penn State. A 6-4, 295-pounder with 5.3 speed, he plans to take official visits to his three favorites and perhaps others.

Hackensack (NJ) High LB Jermaine Dias, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, said UNC leads Boston College, Michigan, Rutgers and Virginia. He also has offers from Central Florida, Duke, Iowa, Maryland, Pittsburgh, USC, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and West Virginia. He had 86 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior.

Montclair (NJ) High WR Derrick Harper, rated one of the top 25 wideouts in the nation, said Maryland leads Florida, Notre Dame, USC and Virginia. He had 35 receptions for 800 yards and 10 TDs as a junior. He said he particularly likes the Terps' location (three hours from home) and the Cavaliers' coaching staff.

Philadelphia (PA) West Catholic WR/DB Jonathan Jackson, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Pennsylvania, said his top five consists of Boston College, Iowa, Michigan State, Virginia and Wake Forest. He also has offers from Minnesota, Northwestern and Pittsburgh. He had 40 receptions and 78 tackles as a junior.

Cherry Hill (NJ) Camden Catholic LB Joe Kedra, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, said North Carolina and Penn State lead Nebraska, Notre Dame (no offer) and Virginia. He also has offers from Duke, Maryland, Minnesota, Temple and Virginia Tech. His teammate, quarterback Nick Cangelosi, is a UNC commitment. Kedra had 189 tackles and five interceptions as a junior.

Pittsburgh (PA) Woodland Hills DB Ryan Mundy, rated one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, said Michigan and Pittsburgh lead Florida, Georgia Tech, NCSU and Virginia. He had 84 tackles and seven interceptions as a junior. He has more than 30 offers.

Camden (NJ) Wilson DE Elijah Robinson, rated one of the top 25 seniors in New Jersey, said his top six consists of Maryland (no offer), Miami (no offer), UNC (no offer), Rutgers, Virginia and West Virginia. He also has offers from Central Florida, Indiana, Minnesota and Temple. He had 63 tackles as a junior.

East Cleveland (OH) Shaw LB Reggie Smith, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Ohio, said Virginia leads Maryland, Michigan State and Ohio State (no offer). He also has offers from Boston College, Wisconsin and a dozen other Division I-A schools. A four-year starter, he had 112 tackles and 17 sacks last season.

State College (PA) Area TE/DE Jonathan Stupar, rated one of the top 10 tight ends in the nation, said FSU (Oct. 26) and Virginia (Sept. 6) lead Arizona State (Sept. 27), Boston College, Maryland and UNC. He also has offers from Iowa, UCLA and others. As a junior, he had 30 receptions for 350 yards and eight TDs on offense, and 75 tackles with seven sacks on defense. His father, Steve, played for Penn State (not recruiting), and his uncle is former NFL quarterback Jeff Hostetler.

Delran (NJ) Holy Cross WR Jim-Jim Townsend, rated one of the top 25 seniors in New Jersey, said Miami, USC and Virginia lead Iowa and Syracuse. He also has offers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue and Virginia Tech. He had 53 catches for 1,050 yards and 10 TDs as a junior. His former teammate, prep All-American tailback Wali Lundy, is a true freshman with the Cavaliers this fall.

Talented Targets Head Elsewhere

St. Henry (OH) High QB Todd Boeckman, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Ohio, committed to Ohio State over Cincinnati, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State and Pittsburgh. ... Palmyra (PA) High LB Joe Brockington, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, selected Notre Dame over Boston College. He also had offers from Georgia Tech, Indiana, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Purdue and West Virginia. ... Birmingham (AL) Briarwood Christian RB Tim Castille, rated one of the top 25 running backs in the nation, picked Alabama over Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Tennessee. Virginia also showed interest. ... Clymer (NY) High FB/LB Jehu Caulcrick, rated one of the top 10 seniors in New York, chose Michigan State over Maryland, Pittsburgh and Rutgers. ... Metairie (LA) Archbishop Rummel DB Nick Child, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Louisiana, picked LSU over Baylor, Colorado, Florida, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Texas and Tulane.

Hollywood (FL) Chaminade LB Glenn Cook, rated one of the top 75 seniors in Florida, chose Miami over LSU, Michigan State, NCSU, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and others. ... Youngstown (OH) Chaney DE Keilen Dykes, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Ohio, picked West Virginia over Cincinnati, Louisville, Missouri and Pittsburgh. Clemson and Maryland also showed interest. ... Clinton Township (MI) Chippewa Valley OL Nick Fincher, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Michigan, opted for Purdue over Duke and Northwestern. ... Athens (AL) High RB Jason Jude, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Alabama, picked Auburn over Louisville, Memphis, NCSU, Southern Miss and Wisconsin. ... New Orleans (LA) Brother Martin OL Adam Kraus, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Louisiana, opted for Michigan over Colorado, Florida and LSU. He also had offers from Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Duke, Indiana, UNC, Texas A&M, Tulane, Vanderbilt, West Virginia and others.

Monroe (LA) Neville QB Robert Lane, rated one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the nation, chose LSU over Auburn, Colorado, Florida and Mississippi. A two-sport standout (baseball), he also had offers from Clemson, Tennessee, Texas A&M and many others. ... Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier DE Nick Larkin, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Ohio, opted for Boston College over Virginia. He also had offers from Maryland, Pittsburgh, South Carolina and Wake Forest. ... Oviedo (FL) High DT Clint McMillan, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, chose Florida over interest from Central Florida, FSU and Michigan State. ... Dublin (OH) Coffman WR Chinedum Ndukwe, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Ohio, picked Notre Dame over Maryland, Penn State and Purdue. Duke, Iowa, Louisville and Wisconsin also offered. ... Phillipsburg (NJ) High DE Kevin Osifchin, rated one of the top 25 seniors in New Jersey, opted for Syracuse over Clemson, Duke, NCSU, Pittsburgh, Temple and Wisconsin. ... Summerville (GA) Chattooga DB Jarod Parrish, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Georgia, picked Alabama over Vanderbilt. Clemson and Georgia also showed interest.

Aliquippa (PA) Hopewell LB Paul Posluszny, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Pennsylvania, picked Penn State over Maryland, Northwestern, Pittsburgh and Purdue. Boston College, Iowa, Kansas, West Virginia and Wisconsin also offered. ... Brandenburg (KY) Meade County QB Blake Powers, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Kentucky, picked Indiana over interest from Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue and Wake Forest. ... Philadelphia (PA) William Penn QB Matt Ryan, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Pennsylvania, opted for Boston College over Georgia Tech, Iowa, Purdue and Temple. ... Harbor Creek (PA) High DE Kyle Smith, rated one of the top 25 seniors from Pennsylvania, opted for Pittsburgh over Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Maryland, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. ... Louisville (GA) Jefferson County OL Fernando Velasco, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Georgia, selected Georgia over Arkansas and Kentucky. Auburn, Clemson and USC also showed interest. ... Harrison (NY) High OL Andrew Weininger, rated one of the top 10 seniors in New York, selected Wisconsin over Arizona, Duke, Maryland, Michigan State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse. ... Delray Beach (FL) American Heritage RB Ron Williams, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, opted for Central Florida over Rutgers. A second-team all-state selection, he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 29 TDs last season.