Virginia picked up two more graduate transfers Sunday, this time on the defensive side of the ball.
D'Angelo Amos is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound safety, and Adeeb Atariwa is a 6-3, 275-pound lineman. Both have one year left and are immediately eligible after graduating from James Madison.
New Home Same Production, let’s get to it!! 🔸🔹⚔️ https://t.co/uRnVNR2Ax9— DAmos〽️ (@AlmostfAMOS_) August 9, 2020
Excited to announce that I will be attending THE University of Virginia to continue my football and academic career! I am grateful to all of the support which has made the decision making process easy. Looking forward to being apart of the Cavalier culture 🧡💙WAHOOWA pic.twitter.com/DKH7JuYyze— adeeb (@adeebatariwa) August 9, 2020
Amos starred on both special teams and defense while appearing in 44 games for the Dukes and leaves the school No. 2 in career punt return yards with 1,259. For reference, according to VirginiaSports.com, Pat Chester, who played from 1978-82, is the all-time UVa leader in that category with 808 yards. Amos has five punt return TDs, with three of them coming in 2018. Last year, he recorded 57 tackles, five for losses, 1.5 sacks, two INTs, five breakups, one forced fumble, and three blocked kicks while being named first-team all-CAA as a safety and punt returner.
Amos, who is from Richmond, is going to fit nicely into the defensive backfield. As we saw last season, you can never have enough players ready in the secondary. That was a strength of last season's team, but injuries took their toll, notably knocking out corner Bryce Hall, but safety Brenton Nelson also only played part of the season. In addition to some young guys, Virginia now has four seniors it can rotate in at safety in Amos, Nelson, Joey Blount, and De'Vante Cross. That's a nice luxury to have going into the season.
Atariwa appeared in 39 games with 23 starts over four years with the Dukes, playing mostly in the interior. In 2019, he tallied 52 tackles, 13 for losses, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a blocked kick.
Atariwa, from Sterling, Va., seems like a strong pickup for the Wahoos. The defensive line only lost Eli Hanback to graduation, but it was lacking some depth, especially in the interior behind sophomore Jowon Briggs, though Aaron Faumui, Mandy Alonso, and Richard Burney have shown their versatility in Bronco Mendenhall's scheme. Redshirt sophomore DT Jordan Redmond played in only two games last season after seeing more time in 2018.
As I mentioned with the commitment of Towson RB transfer Shane Simpson, the CAA said it was suspending the fall sports season in July, prompting Simpson to look elsewhere to play his final season. JMU, which belongs to the CAA and is an FCS powerhouse, had said it was going to try to play as an FCS independent and cobble together a schedule. But Friday, the school changed its mind and said it, too, was suspending its football season after it became obvious the FCS level would not be holding its tournament this season after too many conferences said they would not be having football in the fall. That drove players such as Amos and Atariwa to look for new homes. They didn't have to look too long or too far down the road to find another commonwealth school ready to take them.
Virginia has now added six graduate transfers to this year's team: Amos, Atariwa, Simpson, TE Tony Poljan, WR Ra'Shaun Henry, and QB Keytaon Thompson. All have one year of eligibility remaining except Thompson, who has two. It's worth thinking about what these players will do if UVa also doesn't play football in 2020. Would they play in the spring if there is such a season or come back in the fall of 2021? The Sabre's Chris Horne said he asked Simpson that question, and Simpson said he would probably prepare for the NFL draft unless Virginia played in the spring and the draft was pushed back. I think any player that has NFL aspirations will likely instead turn his focus to the draft if Virginia also ends up sitting out the fall football season. But if a player is just trying to have fun and play one more season of college football while continuing his education, perhaps football in 2021 in Charlottesville is a possibility.