Welcome back to our 2019 Football Season Preview. To view our preview table of contents and read already-completed pieces, click here or on the Series button above.


Bronco Mendenhall's 2019 recruiting class at Virginia was his best to date in Charlottesville. Ranked 39th overall in the nation according to 247 Sports' composite ratings, it also finished 7th in the ACC. The class, which consisted of 23 players, saw every player that signed with UVA enroll for classes this summer. It featured a dramatic jump in rankings as compared to the three other classes previously signed by Coach Mendehall.


Coach Mendenhall was hired by UVA in December of 2015. The 2016 recruiting class was predominantly recruited by former coach Mike London's staff but signed in February 2016 under Coach Mendenhall. Customarily, the new coach gets credit for this class even though they did not recruit most of the players to the school.

The 2019 class is a geographically diverse group representing two countries (United States, Germany), ten states, and the District of Columbia.

Breaking the class down by locality shows the following distribution.

South Carolina1

And by position grouping, the class breaks down thusly.

Defensive Back5
Offensive Line4
Wide Receiver3
Defensive Line2
Running Back2

Before we meet the members of the recruiting class, lets cover a few ground rules. All offer and rating info is from 247 Sports. The rating shown is the 247 Sports Composite Rating. All height and weight info is courtesy of the roster posted at VirginiaSports.com. And the expectation grade listed is my own opinion.

Now, let's meet the new Hoos!

Jowon Briggs - Defensive Line

Walnut Hills High School - Cincinnati, Ohio - 6-1 295

247 Composite Rating: 4 Stars (.9667)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Alabama, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Tennessee, Wisconsin

Other FBS Offers: Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio), Temple

Expectation: Immediate Impact

The Hoos were blessed to land Briggs during the 2019 cycle. A true Renaissance man, he has face of the program potential in the out years. Briggs is also the first 247 Composite 4 Star recruit signed by UVA during Bronco Mendenhall's tenure at the school. As a senior in high school, Briggs earned First Team All-State honors while being selected to play in the 2019 Under Armour All-American Game.

Early camp reports have him challenging for the starting spot in the middle of UVA's defensive line. At this point, it would probably be a surprise if someone other than Briggs wins the job versus Pitt.

Hunter Stewart - Linebacker

Gonzaga College High School - Alexandria, Virginia - 6-2 220

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8808)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Pitt, Rutgers, Wake Forest, West Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Temple

Expectation: Early Contributor

Stewart is an impressive prospect joining the Hoos from the famed WCAC (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference). The WCAC is one of the top high school football leagues in the country each year while simultaneously filled with schools and students that match UVA's academic profile nicely. A player as talented as Stewart projects to be and from that sort of background is a mandatory top prospect for the Hoos when available. In 2018, Stewart helped lead Gonzaga to a WCAC championship while earning Second Team All-WCAC honors.

Stewart begins his career at OLB for the Hoos. He's well blocked on the depth chart by returning players at OLB this season. But it would not be a shock to see him contribute on special teams this year while pushing for a spot on the two-deep by season's end.

Nick Jackson - Linebacker

The Lovett School - Atlanta, Georgia - 6-1 225

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8776)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Boston College, Colorado, Duke, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Missouri, NC State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Wisconsin

Other FBS Offers: Arkansas State, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Georgia Southern, Massachusetts, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, South Alabama, South Florida, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan

FCS Offers: Samford

Expectation: Immediate Impact

Jackson is a UVA legacy that played both linebacker and wide receiver throughout his high school career. As a senior, he made 95 tackles with 10 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. On the offensive side of the ball, he caught 26 passes for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns.

At UVA, Jackson is playing ILB and already pushing for serious playing time. After UVA's first scrimmage of fall camp, Outside Linebacker Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator Kelly Poppinga stated that Jackson was pushing for a starting position in the middle of the defense. Based on that high praise, UVA fans should expect to see Jackson on both special teams and on defense from scrimmage as early as the season opener against Pitt.

Ben Smiley III - Defensive Line

Indian River High School - Chesapeake, Virginia - 6-4 260

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8763)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Purdue, Alabama, Duke, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Other FBS Offers: Appalachian State, Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, Old Dominion, Temple, UCF, South Florida

FCS Offers: Dartmouth, Hampton

Expectation: Early Contributor

Smiley was a fan favorite during this past recruiting cycle generating more posts and questions on the various UVA message boards than possibly all the other recruiting class members combined. A First Team All-Region selection as a senior, Smiley led Indian River to the regional finals playing on both the defensive and offensive lines. Smiley is the highest rated player to play his high school football in Virginia to have signed with the Hoos in Bronco Mendenhall's tenure at UVA.

Smiley has the makings of a defensive end at UVA. On a defensive line that appears to have real depth for the first time in ages, Smiley likely finds himself having to leapfrog several veterans in order to be a rotation mainstay this year. I would expect Smiley to see the field, however, but whether he crosses the four-game threshold that would burn his redshirt remains to be seen. In the past, Smiley was probably a sure thing to play early and often for the Hoos. Whether he ends up as a redshirt on not in 2019, expectations are high and the future seems bright for Smiley at UVA.

Ja'Quay Hubbard - Offensive Line

Sharpsville High School - Sharpsville, Pennsylvania - 6-5 335

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8762)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Mississippi State, Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse

Other FBS Offers: Akron, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Liberty, Ohio, Temple, Toledo, Western Michigan

FCS Offers: Eastern Kentucky

Expectation: Early Contributor

Hubbard is the highest rated offensive lineman signed by the Hoos under Bronco Mendenhall. He ultimately selected UVA over Mississippi State where he had an established relationship with head coach and former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead. Syracuse and Pitt were his other finalists.

Hubbard is an interesting story as he weighed as much as 437 pounds in the recent past. He decided to dedicate himself to improving his lifestyle, health, and fitness. As a result, he lost over 100 pounds in an eleven-month period. Now he's a first-year football player at an ACC program that has a need for talented offensive lineman. He ended up his high school career as a finalist for Pennsylvania's Mr. Football as well as a two-time All-State selection.

I, however, am a proponent of letting all offensive lineman soak at least a couple years before letting them find their way on the field. You make an exception, obviously, if you have a Eugene Monroe or D'Brickashaw Ferguson type talent on your hands. I believe that Hubbard could use some extra time working on his strength and conditioning while learning the finer points of offensive line technique because he will not be able to simply overwhelm opponents based on his size alone at this level.

I expect that Hubbard will redshirt this season, but his raw talent will get him on the field quicker than I'd typical prescribe. Will he play tackle or guard is probably the biggest question for the future. It's easy to assume that he'll stay at tackle as that was his high school position and where he was listed by recruiting services. But there could be some genuine, untapped upside at guard with Hubbard.

Dontayvion Wicks - Wide Receiver

Plaquemine High School - Plaquemine, Louisiana - 6-1 205

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8694)

Power Five Offers: Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Louisiana, New Mexico

FCS Offers: McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Prairie View A&M, Southeastern Louisiana

Expectation: Early Contributor

Wicks is the very definition of a late bloomer. Before being plucked out of the bayou by Louisiana recruiter extraordinaire Ricky Brumfield, Wicks was a virtual unknown on the recruiting circuit but for a couple impressive camp performances. As he began to generate serious buzz in recruiting circles, the Hoos swooped in before any other major schools could come calling. Now they have a possible future impact receiver on their hands. In fact, he's the highest rated receiver signed by Bronco Mendenhall while at UVA.

During his high school career, Wicks played both wide receiver and quarterback at Plaquemine. During his senior season, he earned Second Team All-District honors.

With the addition of graduate transfers Terrell Chatman and Dejon Brissett to the roster, the need for freshman receivers to play early and often is much less than when Wicks signed. With established receivers Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois seniors and possible breakout receiver Terrell Jana a junior, it would make a lot of sense, however, to get Wicks' feet wet this year. If it appears that Wicks is a top two receiver heading into next season, it makes sense to play him beyond the redshirt limit this year. He'll have enough experience to hit the ground running as a sophomore.

Seneca Milledge - Running Back

Dunbar High School - Fort Myers, Florida - 5-6 160

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8689)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, NC State, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Rutgers, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, West Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, South Florida

Expectation: Early Contributor

Florida speed! Florida speed! Florida speed!

During his senior track season, Milledge won the 2A state title in the 100 meter dash at 10.55 seconds. It was the fastest time at the state meet in Florida across all divisions. He also ran the anchor leg for Dunbar's state title team in the 4 x 100 relay. 

In other words, Seneca Milledge is bringing with him the type of speed that's rare to find on a Virginia roster. And what's odd is that there's very little hype about his addition to the team despite that speed and his ranking. It's probably a combination of his size and the next player we'll be meeting on the list. But Milledge's size will not be a deterrent in the UVA offense. Olamide Zaccheaus was not that much bigger than Milledge and he left the Hoos as one of the all-time greats on offense. And Tavares Kelly and Billy Kemp will prove to be integral parts of the offense this year.

On the football field as a senior, he won 5A District Player of the Year honors. Milledge won that award on the back of 678 rushing yards on 74 carries. He had 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. Out of the backfield, Milledge also caught 10 passes for 96 yards. For his career, Milledge finished with 2,132 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.

Milledge may have to bide his time while waiting his turn this season. But he's sure to be a major part of the offense in the not so distant future.

Mike Hollins - Running Back

University Lab High School - Baton Rogue, Lousiana - 5-9 200

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8626)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Missouri, Utah, Vanderbilt

Other FBS Offers: SMU, Arkansas State, Army, Colorado State, Houston, Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Memphis, New Mexico, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB

Expectation: Immediate Impact

Hollins finished his high school career in the Pelican State winning back to back 3A state championships. In winning MVP of the 2018 state title game, Hollins toted the rock for 237 yards on 27 carries. That was good for 4 touchdowns. He also added 5 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. Hollins wrapped his senior campaign with 1,645 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.

It's easy to see UVA fans are excited to see Hollins hit the field this fall. He's going to play this year. That much is certain. Hollins has been described as a faster Jordan Ellis with more burst and better vision. That's going to play well in UVA's offense.

The most recent comments from Bronco Mendenhall have Hollins in the middle of a three man battle for the lead back role with PK Kier and Wayne Taulapapa.

D'Sean Perry - Linebacker

Gulliver Prep - Miami, Florida - 6-3 230

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8614)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Auburn, Boston College, Duke, Florida, Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Pitt, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington State

Other FBS Offers: Appalachian State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic, Temple, UCF, South Florida

Expectation: Early Contributor

Perry comes to Virginia from the same program in Florida as Mandy Alonso. At Gulliver Prep, he was coached by former UVA linebacker Earl Sims.  As a senior, Perry's efforts on defense helped lead Gulliver Prep to the regional semis behind an 8-4 record. For his efforts, Perry won South Florida Conference's 2018 Defensive Player of the Year honors. During his senior season, Perry totaled 89 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 3 interceptions. For his high school career, Perry finished with 199 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks.

At UVA, Perry's initial slotting is at outside linebacker. Coming out of fall camp's first scrimmage, reports praised Perry for his aggression and performance. He's opened some eye on the coaching staff and among the vets at OLB. Perry finds himself in a similar situation as Hunter Stewart vis a vis the existing depth chart at OLB. His playing time expectations are about the same as Stewart's while certainly possessing the talent to challenge for a spot on the two-deep towards the end of the season.

Nathaniel Beal III - Wide Receiver

Strake Jesuit College Prep - Houston, Texas - 6-4 210

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8601)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Iowa State, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Purdue

Other FBS Offers: Colorado State, North Texas, SMU, Tulane, UTEP, UT San Antonio

FCS Offers: Columbia, Cornell

Expectation: Early Contributor

The Hoos were looking for a big receiver when they flipped Beal from Iowa State. The 2019 recruiting class now has two of them between Beal and Dorien Goddard.

As a senior at Strake Jesuit, Beal caught 31 balls for 691 yards and 8 eight touchdowns. Those numbers earned him unanimous recognition as 2018 First Team All-District.

Beal, and later Goddard, are facing the same situation as Dontayvion Wicks. There are too many established receivers on the roster between returning players and graduate transfers to expect gobs of playing time this year. Due to his size, Beal does make an intriguing red zone and middle of the field target.

With the lack of players at the tight end position, Beal could see more playing time than anticipated this year if he proves adept at working the middle and moving the chains. But it's more likely that Beal's full integration into the offense ramps up next season when Joe Reed, Hasise Dubois, Terrell Chatman, and Dejon Brissett will have moved on.

Antonio Clary - Defensive Back

Sandalwood High School - Jacksonville, Florida - 6-0 190

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8573)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Purdue, Wake Forest, Washington State

Other FBS Offers: Appalachian State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, Kent State, South Alabama, Temple, Tulane, UAB, South Florida, Western Kentucky

FCS Offers: Tennessee-Martin

Expectation: Instant Impact

Clary was one of three early enrollees from this recruiting class as he arrived on Grounds in January. Classmates Chayce Chalmers and Dorien Goddard are the other two early enrollees. 

Clary was also a track athlete at Sandalwood High School.

During his senior football season, he finished with 53 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 3 interceptions. 

On the surface, it seems like Clary would better fit the description as an early contributor over an instant impact recruit. However, having been through spring practice will give him a comfort in the Hoos' defense that other incoming first years on defense will not have other than classmate Chayce Chalmers. It's also worth remembering that three of the Hoos' top options at safety have encountered injury issues throughout their careers in Charlottesville (Joey Blount, Brenton Nelson, and Chris Moore). 

Beyond that, there's just a hunch that Clary is player who will make the most of his opportunities when given the chance to see the field.

Fentrell Cypress II - Defensive Back

Northwestern High School - Rock Hill, South Carolina - 5-11 170

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8567)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Syracuse

Other FBS Offers: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina

Expectation: Mid-Career Impact

Cypress is another multi-sport athlete joining the program this summer. Besides football, he also excelled in track where he was the 2018 Region 4-AAAAA 100 meter champion. 

During his senior season of high school football, Cypress accounted for 31 tackles and 2 interceptions. He also broke up an astounding 24 passes. That's Bryce Hall territory! His efforts were rewarded with a berth in the 2018 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas game that pits the best high school players from South Carolina against the best high school players from North Carolina.

Cypress is the first recruit I've given the mid-career impact label to. That's not a judgement of his talents but more a reality of the depth chart at cornerback in the program as that's where he figures to slot throughout his career. As he enters the program, the top corners this season figure to be Bryce Hall, Darrius Bratton, Nick Grant, and probably Germane Crowell. Of those, Hall is the only player that figures to depart after the season. Also probably ahead of Cypress due to time in the system and their own talents are redshirt freshmen Joseph White and Jaylon Baker, sophomore Heskin Smith, and possibly junior Myles Robinson (it's always difficult to ascertain Robinson's current status on the team due to his unfortunate injury woes).

Josh Ahern - Linebacker

Lake Braddock High School - Burke, Virginia - 6-3 225

247 Composite Rating: 3 Starts (.8485)

Power Five Offers: Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Army, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Liberty, Navy, Old Dominion, Temple

FCS Offers: James Madison, Richmond

Expectation: Mid-Career Impact

If you were judging Josh Ahern simply by his offer list, it might be easy to label him a project. With just one P5 offer, that would be understandable. But the rugged linebacker from northern Virginia flashes one undeniable trait that is paramount to football: production.

As a senior at Lake Braddock, which plays in a highly competitive region of Virginia high school football, Ahern finished the season with an astounding 183 tackles. That belies a nose for the football and an ability to finish plays. Ahern's initial slotting at Virginia is at the inside linebacker position. And those traits are at the very top of the job description.

Area high school coaches and media recognized Ahern's productions and talents as well. As a senior, Ahern won First Team All-Region honors, First Team All-Northern Virginia honors, and Second Team All-Met honors. The All-Met team in the DMV area is a particularly prestigious honor to win.

Ahern will start his career down the depth chart due to some talented veterans and an impressive classmate (Nick Jackson) ahead of him. But as those veterans move on from the program, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ahern's name rise up the chart.

Kariem Al Soufi - Offensive Line

Friedrich-Spee Gesamtschule - Paderborn, Germany - 6-3 335

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8432)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Florida

FCS Offers: Towson

Expectation: Early Contributor

Al Soufi is one of two German players joining the program in 2019. His story is unique in that he was part of Premier Players International, a group of 25 European football players that toured colleges in the United States for two weeks last summer. The players would work out at various camps before returning to Europe. As part of the camp tour process, Al Soufi secured offers from Towson, Florida, and Virginia before ultimately selecting the Hoos.

Al Soufi comes from an athletic family. His father played professional basketball in Syria. And his brother played soccer professionally in Germany. 

Al Soufi is relatively new to the game of football, first playing it in 2011. He played basketball and soccer before becoming a football player.

Given his background, Al Soufi would normally be considered a project. But it's clear that he's a talented player with the physical skills to play early in his career. I'd prefer a redshirt for Al Soufi this season but one source indicated that he's the most ready to play of the freshman OL recruits. Based on that sort of early feedback, I'm anticipating that Al Soufi contributes to the OL early in his career.

Zachary Teter - Offensive Line

Lake Gibson High School - Lakeland, Florida - 6-5 300

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8405)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Arizona, Cal, Louisville, Missouri, Vanderbilt

Other FBS Offers: Cincinnati, Southern Miss, Temple, Western Kentucky

FCS Offers: Harvard, Princeton, Yale

Expectation: Mid-Career Impact

Two things about Teter's background stand out for me. First, he was a high school wrestler. For an offensive lineman slated to play at guard, he's already listed as a guard on the official roster, having a wrestling background will prepare him well for the interior line battles. Second, he picked up offers from some serious academic schools in addition to Virginia. There's a ton to like about that combo in an OL prospect.

During his high school career, Teter started 20 games at right guard. Given his familiarity with the position, it's a good bet that's where he began his career at Virginia. Over the course of his high school career, it's reported that Teter finished with a career blocking grade of 90. As a senior, he won First Team All-County honors.

Teter seems almost like the perfect OL recruit. The wrestling background and intelligence prepare him well for the school and position. He has demonstrated success on the field in his career that earned high quality offers. And he'll likely be able to develop slowly so that he's a pretty polished player once he hits the field after a redshirt an extensive training in the out years.

Major Williams - Defensive Back

Dunbar High School - Fort Meyers, Florida - 5-11 170

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8383)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Iowa State, Kentucky, NC State, South Carolina, Washington State

Other FBS Offers: Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Air Force, Akron, Kent State, Marshall, Temple, UCF, South Florida

FCS Offers: South Dakota

Expectation: Mid-Career Impact

Here's some more of that Florida speed. Williams is a high school teammate and cousin of recruiting class member Seneca Milledge. Both were members of the Dunbar High School track team that captured the 4 x 100 relay state title in 2018.

After his senior season, Williams played in the 2018 Rotary South All-Star Game. During his senior year at Dunbar, Williams collected 31 tackles and 5 pass break ups. He played both corner and wide receiver in high school.

At UVA, Williams figures to play cornerback. Much like Fentrell Cypress II, expect Williams to bide his time as he works his way up a deep depth chart at the position. His biggest days are ahead.

Dorien Goddard - Wide Receiver

Greeneville High School - Greeneville, Tennessee - 6-3 220

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8364)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Georgia Tech

Other FBS Offers: Central Michigan

FCS Offers: Eastern Kentucky

Expectation: Early Contributor

Goddard was one of three January enrollees that joined the program in 2019. From Tennessee, he joins the Hoos fresh off of a 2018 TSSAA 4A State championship season where his Greeneville High School team posted a 15-0 record. Goddard did his part playing both wide receiver and defensive end. That's a combination you don't often see but at Goddard's size it's actually understandable.

Between Goddard and Nathaniel Beal III, it's clear that the Hoos were looking for big receivers in this class. With physical players like Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois entering their final season, it's easy to understand why. Goddard brings to the table high level production. As a high school senior, he caught 78 passes for 1,320 yards and 14 touchdowns.

His size, production, physicality, and jump start on learning the offense will get him on the field early in his career. The depth chart is prohibitive to making a big impact this season. But it's likely that he'll get his feet wet some as he'll probably need to hit the ground running next season as the Hoos will be losing four receivers after this season.

Luke Wentz - Quarterback

Reismann-Gymnasium - Troisdorf, Germany - 6-3 200

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8357)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Temple

Expectation: Project

Wentz picked up his offer from UVA as part of the same travelling European prospect group as offensive lineman Kariem Al Soufi. Wentz and Al Soufi were also teammates on the German club team Paderborn Dolphins.

Wentz is going to get his first shot at quarterback for the Hoos. The adjustment from club football in Germany to the quarterback position in Division 1 football is immense. It's not to say that Wentz cannot get the job done but it's going to take time. The coaches obviously saw raw talent in Wentz or they would not have offered a precious scholarship to begin with. But with Brennan Armstrong the heir apparent to Bryce Perkins and another QB in this class (RJ Harvey Jr) this was probably a fine risk to take.

If QB doesn't work out, the Hoos and Wentz still have options. When he committed to UVA, it was reported that Wentz could also get looks at wide receiver or safety due to his plus athleticism.

Either way, Wentz fits the definition of project pretty well.

Jonathan Leech - Offensive Line

Mill Creek High School - Hoschton, Georgia - 6-4 270

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8336)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Maryland, Syracuse

Other FBS Offers: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, SMU, South Alabama, Western Kentucky

FCS Offers: Austin Peay, Jacksonville State

Expectation: Project

Leech, who is already slotted at tackle per the roster at VirginiaSports.com, attended the same high school as current UVA offensive lineman Tyler Fannin. As a senior, Leech was a First Team All-County selection. He helped lead his high school to the second round of the state tournament.

Based on his offers and rating, Leech is probably a project. And that's okay. Really, nearly any offensive lineman that isn't slated to hit the field early and often is a project. You want your lineman to soak for a few years before emerging on the field. And to be honest, my preference is lineman to pull reserve duty until they're redshirt juniors except in the rarest of cases.

Leech pulled offers from three credible Power 5 programs. So the raw talent is there to develop. Let's check back in a couple years to see that Coach 2J has molded.

Chayce Chalmers - Defensive Back

Stonewall Jackson High School - Gainesville, Virginia - 6-2 210

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8335)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Rutgers

Other FBS Offers: Army, Connecticut

FCS Offers: Towson

Expectation: Early Contributor

Chalmers is the third, and final, early enrollee from this recruiting class. He's from a family with an athletic background. Chalmers's father played wide receiver at Utah and Wake Forest. Chalmers is a pretty good athlete in his own regard too. Besides playing football, he also ran both indoor and outdoor track where he qualified for the state tournament in each sport as a junior.

As a senior on the football field, Chalmers excelled as a versatile defender. He contributed 60 tackles, 4 interceptions including a pick-six, 1.5 sacks, and a blocked punt. On offense, he also caught 6 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown as a wide receiver. His efforts led to Chalmers receiving First Team All-Cedar Run District honors and First Team All-Region honors. Both awards were as an all-purpose defender.

Chalmers's versatility and comfort with playing an all-purpose role on defense leads me to believe that he's a natural to eventually succeed Chris Moore in his hybrid LB/S role. That's an important position in the defense as it allows a ton of flexibility in the calls and alignments made by the coaching staff. I'm also a fan of this type of hybrid role on defense in response to the proliferation of spread and air raid type offenses in college football.

Look for Chalmers to play an understudy role this year while possibly making some noise on special teams.

RJ Harvey Jr - Quarterback

Edgewater High School - Orlando, Florida - 5-8 190

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8317)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Syracuse

Other FBS Offers: Appalachian State, East Carolina, South Alabama, UCF

FCS Offers: Jacksonville State, Mercer, South Dakota, Tennessee Tech, Wofford

Expectation: Early Contributor

Harvey's size was clearly going to be an issue for many programs especially when viewed in the context of a quarterback recruit. The Hoos had no qualms about his size and pursued him with vigor. Does he stick at quarterback throughout his career or move to another position? He's getting his first crack at the QB position in camp. But limited practice reports and videos have shown him excelling with the ball in space in the field as well.

With Marques Hagans on the coaching staff, it's only natural to make the comparison while recalling that Biscuit made big plays for UVA as a QB, wide receiver, and punt returner. The expectation for Harvey is to follow a similar path and that should get him on the field relatively quickly at UVA unless the Hoos are determined to play him only at QB. At that point, he slides down the expectation ladder to mid-career contributor.

Harvey's high school numbers show why he's a legitimate prospect at quarterback. As a senior, he took Edgewater to the state semifinals while compiling a 21-5 career record as a starter. During his senior season Harvey accounted for 48 touchdowns (25 on the ground, 23 in the air). And he threw for 1,787 yards while also rushing for another 1,376.

Jairus Satiu - Linebacker

Fork Union Military Academy / Skybridge High School - Lehi, Utah - 6-2 200

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8288)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia

Expectation: Project

Satiu is the least heralded member of the Hoos' recruiting class. After completing his senior season of high school football in Utah where he played both wide receiver and linebacker, Satiu moved east to do a postgraduate year at FUMA under the legendary John Shuman. 

As a senior in Utah, Satiu made 8 tackles and recovered 1 fumble from the linebacker position. As a wide receiver he made 34 catches for 631 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The year at FUMA helped Satiu transition to a full-time linebacker. He played OLB at FUMA and that's his initial slotting on UVA's defense. Stats for his time at FUMA were not published but he helped lead the post grad team to its first undefeated season, finishing with a record of 9-0.

Satiu clearly needs to add experience and size but the coaching staff certainly saw something in him when they plucked him out of Utah and placed him at FUMA. The staff has an excellent track record of spotting diamonds in the rough at the OLB position (Charles Snowden at UVA, Ziggy Ansah at BYU), so this remains one to watch with curiosity in the future.

Tenyeh Dixon - Defensive Back

Woodson High School - Washington DC - 5-11 185

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8282)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Temple, Toledo

Expectation: Mid-Career Impact

The Hoos were in the market for another defensive back when the head coaching turmoil at Temple presented an opportunity. The result was Tenyeh Dixon flipping his commitment from Temple to UVA. When the opportunity presented itself, the UVA staff moved quickly on a player they view as having a great deal of upside.

Dixon will slot at corner for the Hoos. And like Fentrell Cypress II and Major Williams, he'll find himself playing the waiting game during the early portions of his career. It's a good problem to have for the Hoos and likely a positive factor in Dixon's development.

Closing Thoughts

Congrats if you've made it this far!

This was a large class that covered a lot of areas. But were there any holes left unfilled?

Up to this point, the handling of the tight end position has been confusing. Before moving OLB/DE Grant Misch over to tight end, the staff seemed content with heading into this season with senior Tanner Cowley as the only scholarship tight end on the roster. One walk on has joined the program at the position (Mike Kosar of Woodbridge, VA) and another sophomore walk on moved over from wide receiver (TJ Kitts). Former DE/TE Christian Baumgardner, a junior, is also back with the team this fall as a walk on tight end. But the team added no new incoming scholarship tight ends nor did they appear to have any serious targets at the position. The 2020 recruiting class does one have currently committed however. So that's a start.

It's also clear that the staff wanted one more defensive lineman in the class. At one point, Danish defensive lineman Emil Bo Andersen was committed to the Hoos. He had good size for the defensive line as his profile at 247 Sports listed him at 6-5 and 278 pounds. Andersen and the Hoos had to part ways when it became clear that things were not going to line up between his classes in Denmark and NCAA entry requirements. Andersen was part of the traveling group of Europeans that produced Kariem Al Soufi and Luke Wentz. Andersen, despite his size, was always thought to be a project.

The Hoos landed another defensive line commitment in the interim from French defensive tackle Jeffrey M'ba. M'ba had massive size for a defensive lineman at 6-6 and 315 pounds per his profile on 247 Sports. M'ba had come to the United States from France to play at St. Thomas More High School in Connecticut. There was some initial confusion as to what class M'ba would be a part of, 2019 or 2020. But it was later determined that he would be a 2019 recruit. Unfortunately for M'ba and UVA, there were additional NCAA Clearinghouse issues here that led to the two sides parting ways. M'ba has since moved to the 2020 recruiting class but do not expect things to work between him and the Hoos. The extra defensive lineman was never found.





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