February 28, 2010

UVA Lacrosse Preview

This guest piece is brought to you by Paul Gilbert, my dear friend and fellow Wahoo... and as you can tell, a huge Virginia LAX fan. Thanks for contributing to Wahooze, Paulie!

Everyone -- ENJOY!




As Kendall is busy covering basketball, football (a year 'round endeavor), and baseball, I will contribute some brief lacrosse analysis for the 2010 season. Currently ranked #2 in the Baltimore Sun poll, the Hoos are out for blood after an ugly loss to Cornell in the NCAA semis last spring. Virginia beat Stony Brook 13-8 on Saturday, bringing their record to 3-0, after victories over 'schedule-to-win' opponents Drexel and Mount St. Mary's.


The Cavaliers lost seniors Danny Glading (attack), Garrett Billings (attack), Gavin Gill (attack), Mike Timms, (long stick middie), and Matt Kelly (defense), among others, to graduation after last season. Midfield is going to be the strength of this team, while the attack is young and unproven, with lots of upside. Expect teams to jam our middies and put the pressure on the inexperienced attack. Sophomore attackmen Steele Stanwick and Chris Broklet, as well as incoming freshmen Connor English (attack), Matt White (attack),and Chris LaPierre (midfield) will have to step up in order for us to put points on the board, while highly rated recruit Harry Prevas (D) will be needed on the defensive side of the field. Freshman Howie Long, Jr. is viewed as a project on D, with potential to become a solid starter later in his career.



UVA Lax Position by Position


Attack

As I mentioned above, this group is very young, but extremely talented. So far, they are working together very well, and it is going to be exciting to watch them grow together. If there is any position in lacrosse where talent can triumph experience, it's on attack, where freshman Connor English, a lefty, has been lighting it up on the left side against mediocre defenses so far this season. Sophomores Steele Stanwick and Chris Bocklet have also been very productive, and I'm feeling pretty good about our attack so far.


Midfield


By far our deepest position, the midfield is anchored by first line starters Shamel and Rhamel Bratton, both juniors, and senior Brian Carroll. These guys will demand a lot of attention from opposing defenders, and will be relied upon to create plays for our young attackmen.


Freshman Chris LaPierre (nicknamed "Shocker"), a talented athlete who got serious looks from D1 football programs at safety and running back, is really impressing so far. Big, fast, and tough, so far he has been great in clears and fast breaks, and should be a star for us for a long time.


Defense


I have a feeling that our success is really going to rest on the quality of our defensive play this year. Anchored by two seniors, Ken Clausen and Ryan Nizolek, if the defense can keep us in games and give goalie Adam Ghitelman a chance, then we will go deep in the playoffs. Freshman Harry Prevas has been impressive and getting a decent amount of playing time so far, which is encouraging, but I'm worried this group lacks the big, physical, "enforcer" needed to keep the talented attacks we will face this year in check.



Goalie


Junior starter Adam Ghitelman is pretty solid. Good in clears and moving outside the net, so-so at stopping shots. We'll see.



(Very) Quick Game Recaps


UVA 11, Drexel 8
Drexel actually jumped out to a 4-1 lead after dominating us on face-offs (a definite concern going into this season) in the first quarter, but UVA was too much in the 4th, and won 11-8.


UVA 15, Mount St. Mary's 7
Hoos go up 5-1 in the first and never look back. At one point, Bocklet scored 4 of 5 UVA goals. English had 3, and the Hoos rolled.


UVA 13, Stony Brook 8
Bocklet and Stanwick each go for 3, Ghitelman has his best game of the season, Hoos are 3-0.



Up next is two-time defending champ, and #1-ranked Syracuse. This game will be in Charlottesville on Saturday, March 7th, and our first true test of the season. The Hoos have won 5 straight regular season games against Syracuse (including a 14-13 overtime thriller that I witnessed at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore back in '08), but they lost their most recent playoff matchup against the Orange (later in 2008, in double OT). All of you who are local to the 'Ville should turn out to support the team. This is an intense rivalry, #1 vs. #2 (assuming 'Cuse takes care of business against Army on Sunday), and will no doubt be an exciting two hours.


I will be giving periodic updates as the season progresses, especially after games I am able to attend (@Towson and @MD, and hopefully the ACC tourney games in College Park and the NCAA semis and finals in Baltimore).


Go Hoos!

February 25, 2010

Three Reasons We'll Beat Duke

Just to be absolutely clear, I think we'll lose to Duke on Sunday, probably by 30+ points.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if we beat the Blue Devils. Three reasons:

1) Duke struggles on the road.
The lost at Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, NC State, and Georgetown. They struggled at BC and Miami. They're scary in Cameron, less so on the road. I'm pretty sure they'll be taking us lightly, like they probably did NC State. It at least gives us a window.

2) Mike Scott has something to prove.
He played such a bad game against Miami, the message boards have been on fire with questions about his heart, his toughness, and his ability. "APB Put Out On Mike Scott" and "Worried About MS" are the titles of two such threads I've seen lately. I'm sure Mike Scott has some pride, and I'm sure he'll come out looking to make a statement against the Dookies on Sunday.

3) Our team should be desperate to win.
A six game losing streak, and a season spiraling out of control... Certainly the guys have used the balance of this week to get themselves rested and ready for battle on Sunday, right? Backs against the wall, I think Sylven Landesberg and his flawed basketball team should be ready to give it all they've got in their next good chance to end the season on somewhat of a high note. Coach Bennett should be ready to throw the kitchen sink at ferret-face Mike Kryzshevyskrewit.

February 24, 2010

Fan-Friendly NBA Fix

I love Bill Simmons, as most people do. I also [used to] enjoy the NBA. If you're lukewarm on both the Sports Guy and the NBA, you probably want to skip this article. But if you like either, you need to read this!

A fan-friendly solution to fix the NBA

Season Defined




Well, I went out on a limb and said the Miami game was a must-win for the basketball program; that it was a game that would ultimately define the season. The Hoos hung for a while, but eventually fell 74-62. Mike Scott was held scoreless, and seemed listless all game.

Season defined.

We weren't good enough to survive an unfairly-scheduled five-game meat grinder against ACC teams headed to the NCAA Tournament (Wake, VT, Maryland, FSU, Clemson), and the losing set us on a downward spiral that led to another loss in Coral Gables. Next is a home game against Duke, and another certain loss. Next week's game at Boston College represents our last chance to rally for a .500 record this season.

I think we all knew that there would be no quick fixes for Tony Bennett with this team. However, the 5-2 start in ACC play inflated everyone's expectations... that the team failed to live up to those expectations isn't much a surprise to me. I think there are really a few things that need to happen before Virginia Basketball is an NCAA Tournament contender once again:

1) Cycling the Leitao players out of the program.
Our roster is littered with scholarship players who are poor fits for Bennett Ball. Guards who aren't sound with the ball, aren't particularly good off the bounce, aren't consistent defenders, and aren't reliable shooters/scorers -- Farrakhan, Jeff Jones, and Calvin Baker. Wings who are one-dimensional or no-dimensional -- Tristan Spurlock and Solomon Tat. A big who lacks the basketball experience/acumen to play sound low post defense -- Assane Sene. We're trying grind out a season with an extremely flawed and at times downright dysfunctional roster. To Coach Bennett's credit, sometimes it has worked. But we need to see these players listed above exiting the program, and their scholarships filled by players who are better fits in Bennett's systems... and frankly just all-around better players overall.

2) Layering talent. Specifically, layering talent that can SCORE.
Anyone who has watched UVA play this season can tell you that we have Sylven Landesberg scoring the ball, often Mike Scott scoring the ball, and on rare occasions Sam Zeglinski, Mustapha Farrakhan, or Jeff Jones scoring the ball. Jerome Meyinsse has pitched in some garbage buckets from time to time. Beyond that, we have no scoring. Sene and Jontel Evans are offensive liabilities when they're on the court, and that's putting it very gently. Virginia Basketball won't win consistently until/unless we can put three reliable scorers and five scoring threats on the court at all times, which means we need a MINIMUM of six players on the roster who can score on a dependable basis. Right now we have two such players (maybe two-and-a-half if you count Sammy.) Coach Bennett preaches defense and ball security first, but you can't ever win games if you can't outscore the other team. We need an influx of athleticism, of low post grit, of winning mentality and hustle, but especially of confident and competent scoring ability. Every single recruiting class needs to include at least one guard who can score and one big who can generate offense. More importantly, every recruiting class must include legit ACC-level talent. No more scholarship-swallowing stiffs!

3) Overcoming the losing mentality.
Face facts. It's a harsh reality, but right now the Virginia basketball team is soft. Need proof? They have generally struggled to win close games this season (think back to the Stanford, Penn State, Auburn, and both Virginia Tech games.) Other than against Cleveland State and ACC cellar-dweller NC State, they have proven themselves unable to overcome adversity. They allow poor efforts to snowball into embarrassing blowouts (think back to the USF, Maryland, Florida State, and both Wake Forest games.) But why is this happening? With an energetic new coach and a mostly excited fanbase, how has this happened? I think you need to look no further than a damning lack of on-court leadership. There may be some big personalities on this team, but none of them have stepped up as the rallying point for the team during difficult times. I think Coach Bennett can develop some leaders, but I also think overcoming three seasons worth of losing will be a difficult thing for this current group of players to accomplish. We have no players who strike me as the type of guy who just flat out refuses to lose. And that's an alarming realization. Losing has become weirdly comfortable to these guys, it seems.



So what's the answer?

At this point, all I can say is CLEAN HOUSE.

The scholarships of Calvin Baker, Jamil Tucker, Solomon Tat, and Jerome Meyinsse come off the books after this season. Baker and Tat are good stories, and Mayo plays hard, but I say good riddance to all. None of them are legit ACC-level players.

Rumors are swirling that Tristan Spurlock and/or Assane Sene might transfer after this season. If it happens, I say good riddance. Spurlock is about the worst fit any player could be with a Bennett team, and Sene hasn't improved in nearly 19 months in Charlottesville. He's not skilled enough and not disciplined enough to ever be a reliable contributor to a Bennett team.

Finally, Sylven Landesberg might still be mulling the jump to the NBA. I don't think he's ready, at all. I hope he gets that message and decides to stick around, because losing his scoring ability would absolutely cripple any chances that next year's team has to be competitive in ACC play. But if he puts on the blinders and charges ahead to the next level, I have to say good riddance. He's still a defensive liability, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. His flat unwillingness to step up as a leader has been beyond frustrating to watch.


Tony Bennett needs to be ready to build around the core of this team -- Landesberg (if he stays), Mike Scott, Sam Zeglinski, Jontel Evans, and the incoming freshmen.

The "next step" for the 2010-2011 effort will be to establish a few more reliable scorers, develop some sort of baseline toughness level for the team, and assemble another good recruiting class.

It's going to be a long, hard process, and it's only just begun. More patience is required... which really sucks. I'm tired of waiting.

February 23, 2010

Pizza Cone?!

Brace yourselves. This is not related to UVA athletics in any way, shape, or form. But it needs to be said. By me. To you. Right now.

My friend Alex is making a special trip from Charlottesville to New York City, just so he can try the culinary masterpiece (read: Frankenstein's Monster) known as the PIZZA CONE.

Learn more about the cone HERE.

And HERE.

Good luck, Alex. Good luck and godspeed.


As a treat to my loyal Wahooze readers, Alex will be preparing a blow-by-blow account of his pizza cone experience, to be featured here! So be ready and be excited for that, coming early next week!

February 22, 2010

UVA @ Miami -- a game to define the season



Yeah, I know I preached patience a couple of days ago, but after really digesting this five-game losing streak I have a new point to make: Any progress Tony Bennett has made with Virginia Basketball this season is teetering in the balance with four games to play prior to the ACC Tournament. Losing all four to finish 14-15 and on a nine game losing streak would completely demolish the faith the fans have placed in Bennett Ball, and I think it would strike a resounding blow against whatever confidence the players have built up in their coach's systems.

Make no mistake, we need to win another game or two down the stretch.

@ Miami
Duke
@ Boston College
Maryland

That's the schedule. At this point, I think we have to assume losses to Duke (a legit Elite Eight type of team this season) and Maryland (whose big guards offer a matchup nightmare for Virginia), which leaves the two away games against Miami and BC.

If we lose tomorrow night in Coral Gables, is there any chance we could pick ourselves up off the mat after the inevitable beatdown at the hands of Duke in order to rally for a victory at BC? I think no.

I also think that going from 14-6 / 5-2 ACC to 14-15 / 5-11 ACC would be an extremely tough pill to swallow for everyone following Virginia Basketball.

If we enter the ACC Tournament at 14-15, there's no chance we'd be able to win two games in a row -- including against a top-four conference team on Friday -- and thus no chance to rally to 16-16 and a chance at the postseason.

So yeah, I'll go ahead and say it. While we all need to have patience in the product Coach Bennett is building over the long haul, I think tomorrow night's game against Miami is a MUST-WIN for the Virginia Basketball program. For better or worse, it's a game that will ultimately define this season. Will we remember the baby steps we've taken forward this season, or will we remember the ten game collapse that ended it?

#1



In case you missed it, college baseball season opened this past weekend. #2-ranked Virginia traveled down to Greenville NC to take on the #11-ranked ECU Pirates. UVA won 6-2 on Friday night behind six strong innings from ace Danny Hultzen, lost 6-1 on Saturday, and then won the series with a 14-11 victory on Sunday. The 2-1 series win over a top-15 caliber squad earned Virginia a slight bump up in the latest rankings. Congratulations to Coach Brian O'Connor and the Virginia Baseball team -- now ranked #1 in the nation for the first time ever!

This team is legit, my friends. A return trip to Omaha for the College World Series is definitely in the crosshairs...

Up next for the Hoos: George Washington on Wednesday and a three-game series against Rhode Island this weekend, all at home. 2-1 today, very possibly 6-1 this time next week.

GO HOOS!

February 20, 2010

Patience...



So we peaked at 5-2 in the conference after our solid home win over NC State. Since then, the schedule has stiffened, and the bottom has fallen out of the 2009-2010 version of Virginia Basketball. Five losses (including blowouts in the last three) later, and it's clear that this team is still lacking talent... in a very big way. We have two players -- Sylven Landesberg and Mike Scott -- who are ACC-caliber starters. The rest of the team is depth chart role players, at best. I had a feeling we had peaked at 5-2; that it'd still be a battle to finish at .500 in the ACC. But this five-game slide hasn't dampened my excitement for the future. Our 16th-ranked recruiting class is ripe with talent and specifically fills several glaring holes on this roster. K.T. Harrell should be able to step right in as the reliable third scoring option. James Johnson will give us immediate and legitimate beef in the post. Joe Harris could deliver a game-changing shooting stroke from the perimeter. Will Regan will offer grit in the paint and another strong presence on the glass.

This season is the first step. The players are [slowly, painfully, glacially] learning how to play Bennett Ball. They are improving their fundamentals. Short term gratification is being sacrificed for long term success. Once Coach Bennett receives his first wave of reinforcements and can truly begin to mold this team to fit his vision, we'll start to see real progress.

Hang in there. Be patient.

February 10, 2010

Projected Football Two-Deep



I owe you guys a post detailing the new coaching staff, and that's coming. I just need a bit more time to break down and digest the Bill Lazor (offensive coordinator) hire, and figure out what type of offense his "pro style" truly entails.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to put together an [insanely early] guess at what our two-deep depth chart will look like. Here goes...


(Note: * indicates a position switch.)

OFFENSE:
QB) Ross Metheney (RS Fr.) / Michael Strauss (Fr.)
RB) Dominique Wallace (RS Fr.) / Torrey Mack (So.) / Perry Jones (So.)
FB) Ryan Cobb* (Fr.) / Curt Orshoski (Jr.)
WR) Kris Burd (Jr.) / Jared Green (Jr.) / Dontrelle Inman (Sr.)
WR) Tim Smith (So.) / Javaris Brown (So.) / Quintin Hunter (RS Fr.)
TE) Joe Torchia (Sr.) / Colter Phillips (So.) / Paul Freedman (So.)
LT) Landon Bradley (Jr.) / Lamar Milstead (Jr.)
LG) Austin Pasztor (Jr.) / Isaac Cain (Sr.)
C) Anthony Mihota (Jr.) / Jack Shields (Sr.)
RG) B.J. Cabbell (Sr.) / Billy Cuffee (Jr.)
RT) Oday Aboushi (So.) / Morgan Moses (Fr.)

DEFENSE:
RDE) Cam Johnson* (Jr.) / John-Kevin Dolce* (Sr.)
NT) Nick Jenkins (Jr.) / Buddy Ruff (So.)
DT) Zane Parr* (Jr.) / Brent Urban* (RS Fr.)
LDE) Matt Conrath (Jr.) / Will Hill (So.)
WLB) Ausar Walcott* (So.) / Tucker Windle (So.)
MLB) Steve Greer (So.) / Darnell Carter (Sr.)
SLB) Bill Schautz (So.) / Jared Detrick (Sr.)
FS) Rodney McLeod (Jr.) / Mike Parker (Sr.)
SS) Corey Mosley (Jr.) / Corey Lillard (So.)
CB) Ras-I Dowling (Sr.) / Javanti Sparrow (So.)
CB) Chase Minnifield (Jr.) / Dom Joseph (Jr.)

SPECIALISTS:
K) Robert Randolph (Jr.) / Drew Jarrett (So.)
P) Jimmy Howell (Jr.) / Nathan Rathjen (Sr.)


Some thoughts generated by this exercise:

The QB position is [obviously] going to be under the microscope this spring and summer. Marc Verica figures to be back as a fifth-year senior, but if he's only marginally better than one (or more) of the young guys, I suspect Coach London will opt to go with a new face who can learn on the job in 2010. My guess is that ends up being Ross Metheney, but I could just as easily see it be spring-enrolled true freshman Michael Strauss. Finding a "franchise quarterback" will be the primary mission this season.

There's not a lot of on-field experience, but I think our tailback position is loaded. Assuming Dominique Wallace can bounce back from his Lisfranc injury, he could be the bellcow, while small shifty guys like Perry Jones, Torrey Mack, and Kevin "KP" Parks (if he doesn't redshirt) can provide the explosive element to the running game. We already know that Coach London wants to run the football. Look for these guys to see lots and lots of burn this season.

We have a lot of wide receivers on the roster right now, but none of them really have much in the way of star quality. The closest is probably Tim Smith, though Javaris Brown and Jared Green have flashed at various points in the past. Kris Burd is my favorite receiver on the team. He's not a burner, but he showed some great hands, body control, and instincts trying to snag Jameel Sewell's wounded ducks last season.

The spread offense doesn't require a fullback or a tight end, and those two positions really eroded in just one season of neglect. Look for true freshman Ryan Cobb to emerge as the starting fullback, while Joe Torchia and Colter Phillips improve from what was a shaky 2009 season for the tight ends. There is talent at the position, it just needs more focused coaching, and new tight ends coach Scott Wachenheim brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. I expect the tight ends to emerge as a surprise strength of the team this season.

The o-line is experienced and deep, but lacks top-tier ability or star power at any given position. I'm expecting a solid season from the big uglies, but nothing special. More power running should play to the o-line's strengths. Three specific players to watch: 1) Anthony Mihota, who should be able to beat out undersized Jack Shields for the starting center position now that Al Groh's doghouse has been relocated to Atlanta. 2) Oday Aboushi, who is potentially the most talented OL on the roster -- but will he be able to crack the starting lineup with only the right tackle position not filled by a returning starter? 3) Morgan Moses... if the big guy makes it into school, I'd put his odds at landing a starting spot at 50-50, and he's a natural right tackle.

There will be plenty of shuffling around on the d-line, but Matt Conrath and Nick Jenkins are two players the new staff will be able to count on to provide a big impact. Zane Parr showed a lot last year, playing in relief of an injured Conrath, and I think his game translates well to defensive tackle, playing a one-gap role. My biggest worry is the pass rush... as in, who will generate pressure on the opposing QB? The big x-factor is Cam Johnson, who figures to move from outside linebacker to defensive end. The success or failure of Johnson in that role will likely correlate pretty directly to the success or failure of the defense as a whole. Chris Brathwaite was a nice start, but Coach London MUST recruit more edge rushers!

Steve Greer is the one "sure thing" at linebacker right now. The two outside spots are wide open, and should be hotly contested this spring and summer. I projected the two guys who I feel have the most potential as dynamic playmaking starters into those starting positions -- Ausar Walcott (a converted safety) at Will and Billy Schautz at Sam. London wants linebackers who can run and flow to the ball, as opposed to the big plodders Al Groh preferred on the outside. Therefore, as many of our current OLBs shift to the DE position, we'll be left a bit thin at the linebacker positions. Yes, here is another recruiting priority.

The secondary should, beyond any shadow of a doubt, be our team's biggest strength this season. Ras-I is a future first round NFL draft pick, and Rodney McLeod, Corey Mosley, and Chase Minnifield are each entering their third seasons of either starting or playing major minutes in the defensive backfield. There's also a lot of talent waiting in the wings. If the front seven can stop (slow) the run and generate a pass rush, the secondary has the ability to make plays that will win games.

For the first time in what seems like forever, we have some stability at the kicking positions. Robert Randolph is a solid placekicker and Jimmy Howell is a solid punter. No issues at either spot.


It's really, really early, but I see some nice potential with this team. If a few key players (any QB, Dominique Wallace, Cam Johnson, any OLB) can stay healthy and step up, we could surprise some people this season.

February 7, 2010

Layup Drill



Random thoughts on Virginia Basketball...

At 14-7/5-3, we're still on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament. We really needed to win either the VT or Wake game, both of which we agonizingly lost in OT. The remaining schedule [@UMD, @VT, FSU, @Clemson, @Miami, Duke, @BC, UMD] provides ample opportunity for resume-type wins. But make no mistake: if the Hoos are going dancing this season, the home game against Duke on Feb. 28th is a MUST-WIN.

I'd say the magic number for an NCAA Tournament berth is five, but that five must include the above-mentioned Duke win. Without beating Duke, I'd say the magic number is six. I know an ACC team that finished 10-6 in the conference has missed the tournament before... once. An 11-5 team should be a lock.

My depth chart guess for next season, assuming Landesberg returns for his junior season:
1) Evans / Zeglinski / Farrakhan
2) Zeglinski / KT Harrell / Farrakhan / Jones / Harris
3) Landesberg / Harrell / Spurlock / Harris / Jones
4) Scott / Sherrill / Regan / Johnson / Spurlock
5) Sene / Johnson / Regan

NCAA Tournament or bust.

If we lose Landesberg, I'm not sure we can effectively replace his ~18 ppg unless 4-star shooting guard recruit K.T. Harrell comes in as advertised, Zeglinski continues to improve as a go-to outside shooter, and Evans picks up his scoring ability. We're already facing an offensive downgrade at the center position, with Meyinsse graduating. I'm not sure I think a starting lineup of Evans-Zeglinski-Harrell-Scott-Sene (or Johnson or Regan) is especially NCAA Tourney-worthy... and sadly, Coach Bennett probably needs to make the Big Dance either this year or next in order to hold the fan base's interest.

2010 UVA Football Schedule




In case you missed it with all of the commotion caused by Snowmageddon, the 2010 football schedule was released on Thursday. Here is the slate for Virginia, along with my [insanely early!] win/loss predictions:

9/4 -- Richmond (W, 1-0)
9/11 -- @ USC (L, 1-1)
9/25 -- VMI (W, 2-1)
10/2 -- Florida State (W, 3-1/1-0)
10/9 -- @ Georgia Tech (L, 3-2/1-1)
10/16 -- North Carolina (W, 4-2/2-1)
10/23 -- Eastern Michigan (W, 5-2)
10/30 -- Miami (L, 5-3/2-2)
11/6 -- @ Duke (W, 6-3/3-2)
11/13 -- Maryland (W, 7-3/4-2)
11/20 -- @ Boston College (L, 7-4/4-3)
11/27 -- @ Virginia Tech (L, 7-5/4-4)

I know, 7-5. Too optimistic. But with home games against two FCS teams and a bad Eastern Michigan team, it's well within reach.


My logic on the rest of the wins...

Our bye week comes before the VMI game, which basically means that we get three weeks to prepare for the FSU game on Oct. 2nd. That will be a big game for Mike London -- it'll be his first real chance for a "statement win" as UVA's head coach.

We own UNC.

Duke is losing Thad Lewis, and I think everyone in and around the program understands that Virginia simply CANNOT lose to Duke three years in a row.

Maryland sucks.

February 1, 2010

Salvage Mission -- Virginia's 2010 Recruiting Class

Mike London has hit the ground running as Virginia's new head coach -- he has assembled what I believe to be an excellent coaching staff, while at the same time cobbling together a fairly decent 2010 recruiting class. This year's class is especially solid when you consider the fact that UVA spent the bulk of this recruiting season being led by a lame duck head coach. London has stepped in, pumped some fresh oil through the recruiting pipelines, and dug out a few gems. He took Al Groh's shaky start to this recruiting season and guided it to a solid finish. 2011's class is where London will show his true chops, but his first class at Virginia figures to be a solid one.

As we head toward Signing Day (this Wednesday, Feb. 3rd), let's take a quick Wahooze-style peek at Virginia's 2010 recruiting class. The recruits are listed in order of what I believe to be their ceiling of ability and eventual impact in the Virginia Football program.

1) Kevin "KP" Parks, RB, 5-7 / 193, Mount Ulla NC
KP rushed for over 10,000 yards at the high school level. 10,000+ yards... that's six freaking miles! Needless to say, he shattered a bunch of North Carolina high school records. (But for some reason, he still couldn't get over the three-star hump and earn that coveted fourth star.) He's built like a bowling ball, but this guy is a natural runner, a workhorse type of tailback. With a crowded backfield in 2010, he'll probably redshirt during his freshman season. But after that, look out. KP doesn't have gamebreaking speed nor does he possess the size to be a power back, but he's got every tool you could want in terms of being able to avoid and evade tacklers, slip through cracks, and generate yardage. I've heard him compared to Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson... which is a little bit crazy. I think he's probably closer to Tiki Barber or Pitt's Dion Lewis, which is still pretty damn good. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: potential starter or two-deep.

2) Michael Strauss, QB, 6-3 / 208, Miami FL
We out-dueled Nick Saban and his national champion Crimson Tide to land this signal caller's services. Strauss' game is said to compare favorably to that of Rich Gannon and Mark Brunell -- guys with good (not great) arms, nice accuracy on their passes, and the wheels to be productive on the move. He was able to enroll in January, so there's actually a decent chance that Strauss will be our starting quarterback this fall, if he's able to battle past the likes of Marc Verica, Ross Metheny, and Riko Smalls. Being here for spring practices should be a big boost to his career at Virginia. 2010 impact: potential starter. 2011 impact: QB of the future.

3) Henry Coley, LB, 6-2 / 230, Virginia Beach VA
Coley fits the profile of being a "prototypical" linebacker for Mike London's attacking 4-3 defense. He's quick, instinctive, is a sure tackler, and has a nose for the football. Many think he is the true gem of this recruiting class. Coley projects to middle linebacker, but is said to have the ability to slide outside if roster numbers warrant. 2010 impact: redshirt, two-deep, or special teams. 2011 impact: potential starter.

4) Christopher Brathwaite, DE, 6-1 / 250, Flushing NY
Switching to the 4-3, one of our biggest needs is for defensive ends with the pass rush ability to attack the edge and make an impact. Enter Brathwaite. He wasn't heavily recruited due to his lack of height for the position, but all reports lead to the conclusion that this guy is a flat-out stud when it comes to rushing the passer. Best of all, he's nasty. We can definitely use some more swagger on defense. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: potential starter.

5) Rijo Walker, DB, 5-10 / 171, Hampton VA
I always like seeing us land recruits from the 757, and Walker embodies the characteristics that region is known for: toughness, grit, determination, intensity. He's another guy who should add a little swagger to our defense. He projects as a solid cover corner at the college level. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: two-deep and special teams.

6) Cody Wallace, OL, 6-5 / 285, Moorestown NJ
Wallace was actually a 2009 commit who had to prep and ended up at Fork Union. Following a similar path as UVA great Branden Albert, Wallace was unheralded coming out of high school, but used his prep year to vastly improve his game. He projects as an interior lineman for Virginia -- as either a mobile pulling-type guard or a center. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams.

7) E.J. Scott, WR, 5-11 / 172, Olney MD
ESPN's ACC blogger Heather Dinich listed "offensive playmakers" as our single biggest need this recruiting season. While this class isn't exactly loaded with gamebreaking offensive talent, Scott is probably second (behind KP) on the list. He's a speedy deep threat type of receiver who should be able to benefit from the play action game Bill Lazor hopes to establish at UVA. Scott's offer list was impressive, as schools (Iowa, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, Wisconsin, among others) were lined up to land his legit 4.4 speed and big play ability. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams.

8) Khalek Shepherd, RB, 5-8 / 166, Brandywine MD
If KP is #1 and Scott is #2, then Shepherd is a close #3 on the "offensive playmakers" list for this class. He's an explosive jitterbug type of runner who projects as a nice change of pace back, slot receiver, and return specialist. He's tiny, but could be extremely effective if placed in the correct roles. His game compares favorably to that of Ole Miss standout Dexter McCluster. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: change of pace back and full-time kick/punt returner.

9) Conner Davis, OL, 6-5 / 280, Glen Allen VA
He's an offensive tackle prospect, all the way. Considering that we beat out offers from Virginia Tech, Boston College, Clemson, and West Virginia, I think it's a safe bet to say that this kid has legit FBS-level talent. He'll require some development before he can see the field, but you have to like his upside with good athletic ability and a huge frame. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams.

10) Zachary Swanson, TE, 6-6 / 225, Katy TX
A latecomer to the Virginia commitment list (he committed last night!), Swanson is a well-rounded tight end prospect. He's a good in-line blocker with nice receiving ability. I was worried about the future of the TE position, with Lazor guiding the offense back toward a more traditional pro-style system. Swanson fills a big hole in this class. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: potential starter, or two-deep.

11) Pablo Alvarez, DB, 6-3 / 190, Miami FL
Perhaps lost a bit in the flood of talent in South Florida, Alvarez comes to Virginia as an underrated guy with "serious playmaking ability, " according to recruiting analysts. He projects to safety within the UVA system, and is a run-and-hit type of player with good ball skills. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams.

12) Mike Rocco, QB, 6-3 / 205, Lynchburg VA
Danny Rocco's nephew is a guy who has recently gained some serious momentum in the recruiting world. Coach London and new OC Bill Lazor stole Rocco away from his prior commitment to Mike Groh and Louisville. (For those of you who didn't know, Mike Groh is now the QBs coach under Charlie Strong at Louisville.) Rocco reportedly has a big arm and the instincts to succeed as a pocket passer. With the QB talent layered in this class, he'll need to beat out several other talented players in order to see the field at Virginia. (For the record, my money is on Mike Strauss.) 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: QB competition.

13) Miles Gooch, QB, 6-4 / 215, Decatur GA
He's been compared to former Wahoo Aaron Brooks, as a scrambling-type QB with good ability in the passing game. He runs a legit 4.6, and may project to a different position at UVA. For now, he starts at QB and faces a battle royale with Strauss and Rocco at the position for the next four or five years. (I secretly hope Gooch ends up being our next great QB, as I would highly enjoy screaming GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCH every time he makes a play.) 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: QB competition or a position switch.

14) Ryan Cobb, LB/FB, 5-11 / 216, Ramsey NJ
Cobb is a decent linebacker prospect, but it might be his ability to play the fullback position that earns him playing time as a true freshman. 2010 impact: potential starter (at fullback). 2011 impact: starter (at fullback), or competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams (at linebacker.)

15) Kyrrel Latimer, S, 5-10 / 205, Hyattsville MD
A centerfielder-type free safety, Latimer is said to have plus coverage ability and a nose for the football. He enters a fairly crowded defensive backfield here at Virginia, and will probably see work on special teams long before he tastes action in the base defense. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams.

16) Jake McGee, TE/QB, 6-5 / 210, Richmond VA
London hand-picked McGee to be his quarterback of the future at Richmond, but after he accepted the Virginia job he pursued McGee as a tight end prospect for the Hoos. With Zach Swanson filling the hole at TE in this class, McGee might get a chance to battle Strauss, Rocco, and Gooch at the QB position before he's slotted elsewhere. This guy has plus athleticism for the QB position, but would need to pack on some weight before playing tight end at the college level. At this point, I'm assuming he switches to tight end fairly early in his UVA career. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams.

17) Stephen Lawe, OL/DL, 6-5 / 285, Norfolk VA
Lawe fits the mold of "jumbo athlete," capable of playing any position on either line... once he's spent some time developing in a FBS-level strength and conditioning program. He's raw, but he could end up filling in at either offensive tackle, offensive guard, or defensive tackle later in his career. You can never have enough depth up front, so Lawe is a good recruit to be able to add to the roster in an attempt to stockpile talent along the lines. 2010 impact: redshirt. 2011 impact: competing for spot on the depth chart and special teams.


Why no mention of massive offensive lineman Morgan Moses? Because I have my doubts on whether or not he'll end up signing with UVA. And even if he does become a Hoo on Wednesday, I have my doubts on whether or not he'll ever be able to get and stay eligible here. He's clearly the most talented player in this class, but I don't see him making it to or being able to stay afloat at Virginia.

If I'm wrong and Moses does make it Virginia and qualifies to play this fall, I think he'll be our starting right tackle and a future star at the position.