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It's always exciting to welcome new Hoos to the football program. Every season we get twenty or so new faces on the team, many of whom are going to do great things at UVA over the next four or five years. Today we're excited to recap the 14 new first years (yes, it was a very small class) you're going to get to know over the coming seasons, first looking back at what we said after they signed with UVA in either December or Feburary, then updating our feelings now that they've finished summer camp.

Tomorrow we'll evaluate the transfers.

 

Quarterback

John Adams High School - South Bend, Indiana - 6-2 210

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8370)

Power Five Offers: Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Toledo, Western Michigan

FCS Offers: Dartmouth, Eastern Kentucky, Fordham, Illinois State, Indiana State, Princeton, South Dakota, Western Illinois, Youngstown State

How we feel now:

About the same. What I'll add is that it's impressive to have seen Armstead be the first of the true freshmen to earn his number in summer camp, picking in the second round of the numbers draft. That speaks volumes about this work ethic and leadership. He's also bulked up from 195 last winter to 210 this fall, good mass that will let him play at the D-1 level sooner rather than later (his target probably won't be much more - 6'3" 210 lbs was what Perkins played at). With both Brennan Armstrong and Keytaon Thompson in place, Armstead should hopefully have a couple years just to develop as the third stringer, worst case hopefully being QB2 on some occasional Saturday when one of the two veterans is a scratch. Should be fun to watch him grow in the background the next couple seasons.

 

Wide Receivers

Woodland High School - Dorchester, South Carolina - 6-7 210

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8519)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Georgia Tech, Oregon

Other FBS Offers: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Liberty, Western Kentucky

How we feel now:

Good. The offseason provided the first year wideouts a lot of opportunity. Four seniors graduated. Breakout candidate Dontayvion Wicks was lost for the year to injury. Luke Wentz got stuck out of the country and missed a large chunk of practice. Nathaniel Beal is still working his way back from injury. There is room on the two deep for a true freshman to earn his place. Davis has been visible in practice clips putting his incredible frame to use as a pass catcher. He might still be a little light to take the pounding of an every-down receiver or to be an effective down-field blocker. But don't be surprised to see him in on some packages where he's just too big a target to miss.

 

East Nashville Magnet School - Nashville, Tennessee - 6-0 180

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8114)

Power Five Offers: Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Liberty, Miami (Ohio), Toledo, Western Michigan

FCS Offers: Alabama A&M, Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, William & Mary

How we feel now:

Good. As discussed above with Lavel Davis, there's room on the depth chart right now for the true freshmen to make an impact. Coach Hagans gave both Starling and Davis a shout out in a late August press conference which doesn't come lightly from Biscuit. I still think that, at the moment, he's probably behind Tavares Kelly on the depth chart as the offense's designated speed threat, but the potential is there. Starling's fastest path to playing time at one point looked like it may have been in the return game where he's a future star bringing back both kickoffs and punts, but the grad transfer additions of Shane Simpson and D'Angelo Amos, both of whom excelled as return specialists at the FCS level, likely delays Starling's role here as well for a year.

 

Tight End

Woodland Hills Senior High School - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - 6-5 260

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8506)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Iowa State, Minnesota, Pitt, Indiana, Maryland, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, West Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, East Carolina, Kent State, Liberty, Marshall, Massachusetts, Ohio, Temple, Toledo, Western Michigan

FCS Offers: Howard, William & Mary, Yale

How we feel now:

Great. Rawlings arrived this summer as the TE2, backing up only Grant Misch and arguable the most likely of the true freshmen to see time right away from scrimmage. Then UVA went out and got all-MAC grad transfer Tony Poljan, a 6'7" 265 pound pass catching machine and potential NFL player. That likely means the Rawlings breakout is a bit delayed. But at the same time, he's drawn praise from coaches and teammates this summer, earning his number in late August in the first big group of first years to do so. Two other reasons for optimism: First, he's put on 30 pounds this year, up to 260 from 230 meaning he's going to be far more effective as an inline blocker to go with his pass catching skills. Second, the offense is reportedly running more 2-TE sets this year as they do away with a tradiational fullback, meaning along with Poljan and Misch, Rawlings will amost certainly be in line for a number of snaps as a true freshman.

 

 

 

Offensive Line

Gonzaga College High School - Washington, DC - 6-3 330

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8484)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Rutgers, West Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Massachusetts, Old Dominion

FCS Offers: Howard

How we feel now:

Fine. We're probably still a couple years away from seeing Johnson (don't ask me what the blanket eligility relief does for roster math on the OL projecting out 2-3 years, my brain hurts thinking about it). And that's good. I've ranted again and again how little I want to see us in a position again to need to go to anyone not yet in their 3rd year at UVA barring only the most gifted of recruits. Johnson still profiles as our center of the future once Vic moves on to the pros, and he's going to have some great veterans to intern behind and learn from for the next couple years before it's his turn to shine.

 

Defensive Line

Olasunkonmi (Su) Agunloye

Lindenhurst High School - Lindenhurst, New York - 6-6 270

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8577)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, UCLA, Boston College, Indiana, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse

Other FBS Offers: Air Force, Army, Connecticut, Massachusetts

FCS Offers: Dartmouth, Elon, Fordham, Holy Cross, Monmouth, New Hampshire, Penn, Stony Brook, Villanova

How we feel now:

Fair. The good news is he's bulked up, adding nearly 30 lbs to his frame over the course of this year, which makes him much closer to a playable weight in ACC trenches. Is it good weight? Time will tell, but it's a start. With that said, the fact that Carter and Malani beat him to earning a number does lead one to think he might be third in the pecking order of 1st year DLs as a current snapshot (thought of course that could change over the coming months). With Faumui and Smiley as opt-outs, there is room for young DL's to make a mark this year, though he might still be in for a quiet year. We're still really high on him as a long-term prospect, though. Once senior DE's Burney, Alonso, and Atariwa graduate, we expect Su to be right there as a candidate for snaps at DE.

 

Archbishop Spalding High School - Severn, Maryland - 6-2 305

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8633)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Boston College

Other FBS Offers: Temple

FCS Offers: Howard

How we feel now:

Good. Carter's always been a workout warrior, and of the three first year DL probably arrived the closest to "game day shape." He's a stout 305 lb which will hold up against similarly sized ACC interior OL. We are down a couple of DE's this year, but Carter's ability to capitalize on that likely depends upon the ability of our veteran DTs Jordan Redmond and Jowon Briggs to play end and let Carter man the nose, which is his truest position. I expect to see him see some action, even if not a ton, mostly when we need to go jumbo like in goal line or 4th-and-short situations.

 

Nusi Malani

Junipero Serra High School - San Bruno, California - 6-6 250

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8444)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Arizona, Nebraska, Washington State, Arizona State, Colorado

Other FBS Offers: Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, Hawaii, Utah State

How we feel now:

Fair. Malani earned his number with the first big group of first years in late August, so he's at least got a great work ethic and respect of his teammates and coaches. But I do wonder if he's still too light, still weighing in at 250, to make much of an immediate impact battling with 300 pound offensive guards and tackles. He's probably a 3rd-string DE on today's depth chart, with Atariwa-Redmond-Christ making up an ideal 2nd line. He'll get opportunities to get seasoned, and like Agunloye, still projects to be ready for a breakout in a year or two once the current veteran DEs graduate.

 

Linebackers

North Lincoln High School - Lincolnton, North Carolina - 6-3 220

247 Composite Ratings: 3 Stars (.8464)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia

How we feel now:

Good. We'd have felt a little better if he'd earned his number as early as some of the other first years, but like all the freshmen linebackers, the depth chart is what it is. Nick Jackson, Rob Snyder, and Zane Zandier are all starter-ready and Josh Ahern, TC Harrison, and Hunter Stewart are a nice trio of youngsters who already have a year or two in the system at ILB. But Brady's got good buzz, and once Snyder and Zandier move along he'll be prepped for a good fight for the 2-deep. This year, he's likely a special teams contributor, especially since he's effectively bulked up twenty pounds this year to 220, which will make him an effective blocker and hitter.

 

247 Composite Rating: 4 Stars (.8926)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Baylor, Utah, Arizona, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee

Other FBS Offers: SMU, Tulane

FCS Offers: Southeastern Louisiana

How we feel now:

Horton is very much the future heir to one of the OLB spots, where once the veteran cadre of Charles Snowden, Matt Gahn, Elliott Brown, and Noah Taylor move along in a year or two, Horton will compete with D'Sean Perry, Brandon Williams, and some 2021 recruits to form the next wave of great Hoo edge defenders. This year, it's highly unlikely he sees the 2-deep, though it's possible the staff still looks to get him some work from scrimmage if they feel he's going to be leaned on next year with departures, especially if there are any injuries in the 2-deep.

 

Isidore Newman School - New Orleans, Louisiana - 6-3 230

247 Composite Rating: 4 Stars (.8928)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Arkansas, Boston College, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas A&M

Other FBS Offers: Houston, SMU, Southern Miss, Tulane

FCS Offers: Southern

How we feel now:

Solid. As with Horton, outside linebackers this season are really in a holding pattern waiting for a big group of veterans to age out or go pro. Williams has a ton of upside and will be a big part of the future of the linebacker corps, just with a focus on special teams for at least this year.

 

Defensive Backs

Episcopal High School - Alexandria, Virginia - 6-2 195

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8776)

Power Five Offers: Virginia, Penn State, Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pitt, Purdue, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin

Other FBS Offers: East Carolina

How we feel now:

Great. Gaines was one of the first true freshmen to number this year, and he's been visible in highlight videos from summer camp. We tracked him as a safety coming out of high school, but his path to immediate PT may relate to his ability to play some cover corner, or at least nickel coverage. He's maybe the highest ceiling DB recruit we've had the last couple of years; while his ranking wasn't a 4-star, he's got the offer sheet and the measurables that scream "NFL upside." If we suffer any attrition at the DB spots this year like we did last year, I wouldn't be surprised to see Gaines make a play for some meaningful snaps.

 

Stranahan High School - Fort Lauderdale, Florida - 6-0 185

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8451)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Boston College, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Rutgers, Syracuse, Utah

Other FBS Offers: Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Tulane, South Florida, Western Kentucky

FCS Offers: Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth

How we feel now:

Fine. Herard has yet to earn his number, meaning he's on the outside looking in for this year's depth chart. Which is fine... I think there's an opportunity for a top flight cornerback to break out sooner rather than later as we're thinner there than at safety. But Herard, who admittedly has bulked up 20 pounds since he was signed, is probably still a year away. He's definitely going to be a player at the corners for us eventually, though.

 

Helen Cox High School - Harvey, Louisiana - 6-2 195

247 Composite Rating: 3 Stars (.8647)

Power 5 Offers: Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, Arizona State, Baylor, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kansas, Miami, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Texas Tech, Utah, West Virginia

Other FBS Offers: Florida International, Houston, Liberty, Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Memphis, SMU, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Tulane, UNLV, Utah State, UTSA

FCS Offers: Southeastern Louisiana, Southern

How we feel now:

Good. The safety position is still stocked still with veteran talent, knock on wood still healthy as the calendar flips to September, so his immediate impact will probably be limited to special teams, but the long term potential is evident. He earned his number in late August in Round 3 of the draft, and has put on 15 pounds of good mass this year. He's going to be a name to know in future years.