Whether you believe it or not, Virginia is entering this 2013 Signing Day with a lot on their minds. With a slate of new assistants trying to blend with London’s original staff, this is the year that the Hoos will need to put some wins on the board. And while it’s not time to start talking about a new head coach, the honeymoon is definitely over. One good thing that the Cavaliers’ headman has done is recruit well, and he is stocking the cabinets with quality recruits. This year will be no exception. It is another deep class with some top end players. And while it might not be ranked as high as the 2012 class, it will end up being a top 25 class, giving UVa 3 classes as such in the past 3 years. Before we get to the players that will be attending Virginia next year, lets look back at the last two classes and see how they have panned out in Charlottesville. Today we will look at the 2011 class and tomorrow we will check in on the 2012 class.
Immediate Impact (players who might not redshirt and could see the field 1st year):
Demetrious Nicholson, DB: Starter (12/12). 4th on team for total tackles with 56. 1st on team in pass breakups with 15. 1.5 TFL. Starter for the 2nd straight year. Has become more shut down this season and draws #1 receivers from the opposition. Said he was the next in the line of great UVa corners last year, still believe that to be true.
Brandon Phelps, DB: 2-Deep (12/2). 5th on team in tackles with 48. Three breakups and .5 TFL. Has found a home at Strong Safety and is used in Nickel and Dime packages in coverage. Slower start to his career than Nicholson, but solid season.
Clifton Richardson, RB: Role-Player* (7/0). 9th on team in All-Purpose Yards. 24 rushes, 59 yards. 1 catch, 20 yards. 6 kick returns, 111 yards. Injured most of the season, never really got it rolling like last year. Should rebound next year to 1st year form and will be in the mix at RB again.
Dominique Terrell, WR: 2 Deep (12/6). 5th on team in APYs. 3rd in receiving yards; 38 catches, 475 yards. 2 kick returns, 40 yards. Just like Phelps, he is the 3rd option at his position. Started when Tim Smith couldn’t go. Did not get into the endzone, but had good catches and moved the ball down the field. Could become a great possession receiver that can get down the field if the vertical game gets going.
Darius Jennings, WR. Starter (12/11). 1st on the team in receiving yards. 4th in APYs. 48 catches, 568 yards, 5 touchdowns. 3 carries, 43 yards rushing. 2 kick returns, 41 yards. Jennings has emerged as the go to receiver, but problems with catching the ball still a huge issue. If he can make those big catches next year, he could be NFL-early ready. At this point, a very, very good college receiver.
Vincent Croce, DE: Role Player (4/0). No stats for the season. It will be interesting to see if he doesn’t continue to bulk up and compete for a 2 deep spot at DT, but if he doesn’t crack a spot this year, might be passed over with talent coming in.
David Dean, DT: 2-Deep (11/0). 3 total tackles. 1 sack, 9 yards. Started to get his form together late in the year. Very strong shot to get more playing time in the rotation in ‘13
Daquan Romero, LB: 2-Deep (12/4). T-6th on team with 44 total tackles. 3.5 TFL for 18 yards. 1 FF and 1 fumble recovery. 13 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 breakup. Weakside, strongside, wherever. He was used all over the field at linebacker and will definitely be a full starter next year with LaRoy graduating. Will also be the most senior leader at LB on team.
Adrian Gamble, WR: Role-Player (12/0). 3 catches, 35 yards, 1 touchdown. 1 rush, 5 yards. In a sea of wide receivers, he was able to see the field in every game, which shows that the extra prep year paid off.
Eventual Impact (good probability of redshirt and impact will be seen in 2nd year)
David Watford, QB: Redshirt. In one of the more interesting moves in the ’12 offseason, Watford went from backup to redshirt. Many point to Sims transferring and able to compete last year as the main reason for the shirt. It will be interesting to see how he is used this year now that Rocco is gone, but players like Lambert and Johns will be gunning for playing time.
Jay Whitmire, OL: 2-Deep (12/1). He will either start at RT in place for the graduating Oday Aboushi, or back up Moses again this year. Either way, he will get plenty of playing time. More than solid at either slot.
Rob Burns, DE: Role-Player (1/0). Burns was moved to TE, but still has not emerged as a situational guy either.
Anthony Harris, ATH: Starter (12/12). 3rd on the team in tackles with 87. 0.5 TFL. 1 interception for 37 yards and 3 pass breakups. Started at Free Safety. I think that if Tenuta can coach him up, he can have a great season for the Hoos.
D.J. Hill, LB: 2-Deep (11/2). 13 total tackles, 1 pass breakup. Played behind Romero, but showed good coverage in the flat. Should continue to get plenty of time, with outside chance of starting if Daquan moves to SLB.
Tim Cwalina, OL: Not on Team/Medical. It was a sad end to Tim’s career with a heart issue, but health and life more important than football.
Kameron Mack, DB/S: Not on Team/Personal Took a year off from being a member of the team. London kept the door open for him to come back in 2013.
Kyrrel Latimer, DB: Member/Dress (4) Latimer never broking into the 2-deep and never saw the field. Will be harder to do so next year.
Thompson Brown, DE: Left Team/Lacrosse. Only at UVa…
Ross Burbank, OL: 2 Deep (12/0). Back up at Center behind Bowanko. Should remain on 2 deep next year.
Role Players (very high probability of redshirt and will be a decent player down the line)
Marco Jones, DE: Member/Dress (8). Never saw the field. Getting passed over and will end up as depth player.
Kelby Johnson, OL: Redshirt. He is a beast and will complement Whitmire down the line in ’14. Next year, he will compete for the one tackle job, but should be on 2 deep with plenty of playing time. The redshirt year (however you want to believe it happened) will separate Whitmire by a year so the Hoos, in theory, won’t have to replace tackles in the same year.
Caleb Taylor, LB: Left Team/Personal. Was interesting when he left, as he was in line for decent playing time this year.
Projects (will redshirt for one reason or another. Future status undecided)
Diamonte Bailey, DE: Member/Dress (7). Another situational player at best.
Kevin Green, ATH: ????. The mystery of Kevin Green continues. I looked to see where he landed, but could not find any info. Needless to say, it was nowhere close to C’Ville.
Darius Lee, LB: Role Player (8/0). 4 total tackles. Should work into the rotation next year at SS behind Phelps.
Mason Thomas, S: Role Player (9/0). Appeared in games, but did not record any stats.
Overall: This class is projecting to have 5 starters on offense, and 5/6 starters on defense, with 4 solid rotation guys. The spots that benefit the most are OL, WR, DT, OLB, and DBs. Still a wait and see with Richardson at RB to see how he pans out as well as Watford at QB. Would have liked to address the DE, TE, or ILB in this class, but filled out later. Again solid class that can Hoos have built around.