HERE's my piece from last week. Since I posted that, I've received quite a bit of feeback (thanks everyone!), so I've decided to do a bit of follow-up....
GUYS I MIGHT HAVE RANKED TOO LOW:
66) Nash Griffin - He's concentrating on punting and might be the heir apparent to Lester Coleman.
58) Lindell Stone - I put my foot in my mouth a lot, and it looks like I'm chomping Crocs hard core on this one. Turns out, Stone had a great spring, and has developed in pretty much every area -- running, throwing, and leading the offense. I'm not quite ready to announce he's Perkins' backup, but at least we know we might have another strong contender for QB2.
45) Zane Zandier - He's closer than I originally thought, and linebacker in general is a deeper and better position group than most Hoofans believe. ZZ is champing at the bit.
44) De'Vante Cross - Maybe should consider him right on par with Dubois (#26) and Jana (#25) in the wide receiver roulette. Cross has the most big play potential of the trio of outside receiver contenders, and I under-ranked him at #44.
43) Shawn Smith - He's sticking at cornerback and looking really good.
39) Ben Knutson - The "space cadet" thing might have been unfair. Like a lot of young players (especially along the OL), Knutson just needs the proverbial light to flicker on. His golden opportunity is right in front of him, he just has to grab it. He should be one of Tujague's 7 or 8 "trusted" OL in 2018. We'll see if that comes to pass.
38) R.J. Proctor - He had a great spring and now looks like a surefire starter! That's awesome news for the o-line. Lock it in now, folks: Reinkensmeyer, Glaser, Fieler, Proctor, and Applefield are your starting five on the OL, in some order or combination. Now that quintet can begin to gel...
35) PK Kier - He's our RB2. Sounds like the job has already pretty much been won.
29) Robert Snyder - Might push Cook to start at ILB!
20) Germane Crowell - He is absolutely our most physically gifted cornerback. It'll be hard to keep him off of the field this fall.
18) Jordan Ellis - He apparently still has a "next gear" he's yet to show us. Expect a REALLY good senior season.
14) Bryce Perkins - Everyone who saw him in any spring practice action outside of the spring game gush about him. I have my doubts about his ability as a passer, but he's downright dynamic as a runner and as a leader. Optimism is really high around this kid right now, so he probably belongs in my top 10.
GUYS I MIGHT HAVE RANKED TOO HIGH:
63) Tommy Christ - He's just not "getting it."
54) Ben Hogg - Sadly, his most recent injury might be career-threatening.
53) A.J. Mejia - He's simply not good enough to be a full-time Power Five placekicker.
57) Matthew Merrick - QB4.
41) Tyler Fannin - Not quite ready for prime time. Needs more time to soak.
40) Brennan Armstrong - Stone's surge forward could allow Armstrong to redshirt... which would be awesome for the program!
36) Ryan Nelson - Lump him in with several of the other young OL (Knutson, Fannin, et cetera). Getting there... but not quite there yet.
26/25) Hasise Dubois/Terrell Jana - It's a zero-sum game in terms of targets after Oz, Reed, and Butts. If it's a Cross/Dubois/Jana trio instead of just a Dubois/Jana duo, then these two are capped a bit more rigorously. Also, I'm expecting about a 15% reduction in passing yardage due to the change from Benkert to Perkins and the offense adapting from spread-to-pass to spread-to-run.
23) Chris Moore - He didn't have a good spring.
21) Joey Blount - He was hurt in the spring and the missed time dented his development curve.
13) Malcolm Cook - Robert Snyder might take his starting spot away.
RANKING THE 2018 CLASS:
20) TC Harrison, OLB - Fits the physical mold of what Bronco looks for in his outside linebackers, but Harrison is a track star who must be developed. I think it's fair to call him a project.
19) Billy Kemp, WR - He's a natural playmaker, but it's hard to see how or where or when he'll fit into this offense.
18) Derek Devine, OL - The closest to being "just a guy" of any of our five 2018 OL recruits. It's up to him to outwork his classmates and make hay.
17) Grant Misch, OLB - He was a questionable take at the time, but solidified his stock during his senior season. At OLB, he's not as much as a pass rush threat as you'd like, but he can mix it up sideline to sideline.
16) Hunter Pearson, K - Please come in and save us as a true freshman.
15) Joseph Bissinger, OL - I'm expecting him to land at center, where he'll be working behind Reinkensmeyer and Fannin long term.
14) Noah Taylor, OLB/S - January enrollee who moved from OLB to safety in the spring, which was kind of weird. Not really sure what to make of that, to be honest. Listed at 6-5, 200, that's quite a beanpole of a safety. I think Taylor's move is further evidence of our move toward the three-safety dime package. I like it.
13) Aaron Faumui, DL - He has some "junk" in his game that he'll need to clean up, but he's active as hell and that bodes well. You always want high-motor guys on your d-line.
12) Tavares Kelly, WR/RB/ST - He might play a role in the return game as a true freshman (#1 return specialist in the nation in the 2018 class!) The projection is a bit tougher on offense... he could be Zaccheaus-like, though he's a bit smaller than Oz.
11) Bobby Haskins, OL - At 6-7, 260, he's strictly in the "adding mass" phase of his development. Folks sound delighted with his level of athleticism on the OL.
10) Wooby Theork, WR - Shifty slot guy who, after some seasoning, should have a chance to excel in our horizontal spread offense.
9) Micah Mariteragi, OL - Raw, but with an excellent frame, attitude, and work ethic. The exact kind of guy you want entering at the back end of your five-year offensive line development curve.
8) Martin Weisz, OL - Ranking him in the back half of our 2018 class, but expecting him to put together a really solid career at UVA. Looks to me like a 2- or 3-year starter after a redshirt year and a "season & soak" year.
7) Jaylon Baker, CB - A long, lean field corner whose 6-2 size should serve him really well in that role.
6) Samson Reed, DL - A candidate for early playing time, but lack of size (6-3, 255) could hold him back at first. I'm expecting a good career for the disruptive Reed.
5) Jordan Redmond, DL - If a true freshman steps in to save the day on the defensive line in 2018, it'll be Redmond. Long term, he's a block-eating nose, but I'd honestly like him to see him work on his three-tech package of skills (pass rush, shooting the gap, etc.)
4) Javar Garrett, LB - We really do have an embarassment of riches in terms of young linebackers. Zandier, Gahm, Brown, Snyder, and Snowden in earlier classes, with Garrett, Misch, Harrison coming in as true freshmen, and Hunter Stewart, D'Sean Perry, and Josh Ahern committed in the class of 2019. Garrett is the cream of the crop in our 2018 class, and projects to any of the four spots in the linebacking corps. I personally like him best on the inside.
3) Ugo Obasi, WR - Our trend is to recruit speed and quickness in our outside receivers, and Obasi brings legit gamebreaking deep speed to the mix. I expect him to get on the field early in his UVA career.
2) Brennan Armstrong, QB - I'm now expecting: 2018 redshirt, 2019 QB2, starter 2020-2022. Good deal.
1) Joseph White, S - My favorite 2018 recruit looks like the kind of guy who can redshirt then step right into the two-deep and make a nice impact, especially if/when we go three-safety. He's heady, fast, and a hitter. The complete package.
PREDICTING THE 2018 TWO-DEEP:
(starter // backup)
QB) Perkins // Stone
SB) Ellis // Kier
BB) Peacock // Ellis
WR-H) Zaccheaus // Kelly
WR-Y) Reed // Dubois
WR-Z) Cross // Burton
WR-X) Jana // Blackman
LT) Reinkensmeyer // Glaser
LG) Glaser // Knutson
C) Fieler // Reinkensmeyer
RG) Proctor // Knutson
RT) Applefield // Glaser
RE) Alonso // Thompson
NT) Hanback // Thompson
LE) Burney // Peat
SLB) Peace // Gahm
MLB) Mack // Zandier
Buck) Snyder // Cook
WLB) Snowden // Brown
FC) Harris // Crowell
SABRE) Nelson // Moore
FS) Thornhill // Blount
BC) Hall // Robinson
NB) Crowell // Robinson
K) Pearson // Mejia
P) Coleman // Griffin