February 27, 2012

Wahooze on the Trail: Safety

The safety position was the biggest weakness of the defense last year, and with the departure of McLeod and Mosely it leaves a huge void back there. With young players poised to take control of the position next season it also presents a very real opportunity for players in the class of 2013 to come in and have an immediate impact. That being said it appears that Coach London recruits athletes and defensive backs rather than pure safeties. That being said the Hoos are hot on the trail of 3 true safeties this season, one of which could easily and may soon become the first commitment of the 2013 class. Let’s get into it.

Tim Harris           6-2 173lbs.                          Richmond, VA                   Varina

Harris is a top prospect for the class of 2013. Hailing from Richmond, VA and Varina high school, who recently sent Tyrell Chavis and Maurice Canady to the Hoos, it is easy to see why UVA thinks it is in the driver’s seat. At Saturday’s junior day it appears Harris had a great time, so great in fact that he remained in Charlottesville on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how long this is dragged out. Harris has a visit to Michigan scheduled but should that change Wahoo fans have something to be excited about. Oh and he is also very good. Rated number 161 in the rivals 250 for 2013 and number 4 in the state of Virginia. Harris runs a 4.48 40 and has the frame to put on enough weight to be a prototypical ball hawking free safety.
Probable Destination: UVA. Not to sound overconfident but this sounds like it might just be a matter of time at this point.

Calvin Jones       6-0 185lbs.                          Olney, MD                          Good Counsel

Jones is the kind of recruit that helps you get into a school to get other kids. That being said he is also no slouch on the football field. So far his only offer is from Virginia but he is getting looks from schools like Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. While Jones would be a great get for the football team on the field, he could be just as big off the field. UVA needs to get a bigger presence in the Good Counsel program and the best way to do that is to sign lower level players who will not hurt the team. Jones can be seen as a Will Wahee type player, who while he will help on the field, also helped to get the ball rolling with the NCS kids this season.
Probable Destination: Georgia Tech. Unfortunately for the Hoos there are other schools that have the same strategy we do. Jones has said in the past that he likes Georgia Tech and has family down there. I think that angle might be too good to pass up.

Priest Willis       6-1 205lbs.                          Tempe, AZ                          Marcos De Niza

That’s not a typo, Willis is from Arizona. How on earth did we find him you might ask? Well the answer to that might also happen to be our biggest recruiting tool. Willis is the cousin and good friend of 2012 commit Demeitre Brim. The two appear to be close and it will be interesting to see if UVA can work a little magic and secure Willis. Willis currently holds 21 offers including such programs as LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Florida State. UVA has a tall task ahead of them but if they can somehow land Willis they could have a very strong safety tandem as Willis looks like a great prospect at the strong safety spot. Hopefully Demeitre can put a bug in his ear and get his cousin to Charlottesville.
Probable Destination: USC.  Should the Trojans offer I think it will be hard to secure Willis over them. He has visited twice and they seem to be the leader.

2012 Football Schedule Released

Sept. 15 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 22 at TCU
Oct. 6 at Duke
Oct. 27 OPEN
Nov. 3 at NC State
Nov. 10 MIAMI
Nov. 24 at Virginia Tech

Early thoughts: We avoid Clemson and FSU, which is probably for the best. TCU isn't going to be as good as their recent teams, but that's still a very tough test. PSU might be too tough as well. Bye week comes at a great time. LOVE that we have a Thursday night game again, plus it gives us an extra couple of days to prep for VPI.

I could see 8 wins happening again - but there is a whole lot to rebuild. I think fans should put their expectations somewhere similar to this past season: 6 or 7 wins is still progress.

Kendall's Thoughts:
-- Gotta beat Richmond in the season opener.  That should be a gimme game, and we're not where we want to be until it is.  That said, the domination of U of R in 2010 and W&M in 2011 gives me great confidence in this one.  1-0
-- We need to go 1-2 over the next three games.  Home against the Nits is probably the best bet.  But we need to find at least one win in that mix.  2-2
-- 3-1 against LT, Duke, UMD, WF puts us on schedule with the season.  That's a tricky stretch of games, though.  They seem like gimmes on paper, but all four of those teams will offer specific challenges.  5-3
-- 1-3 down the stretch.  I like getting State after our bye week, and UNC on Thursday night seems promising... if it weren't 5 days after a physically taxing game against revenge-minded Miami.  Just steal one of these games, though.  We can do that.  6-6, bowl game.

Pull Against These Teams!

Saturday was not a squandered opportunity.  Sure, a win would have taken us off the bubble and secured our place within the field of 68... but it didn't happen (thanks, Carolina refs.)  Instead, we saw a jump in our RPI and SOS numbers, just from playing the Tarholes.  We're still on the bubble, but we're still on the good side of the bubble and in relatively safe position for a tourney bid.

Down the stretch, we need to win at least one more game.  This Thursday against FSU would be ideal, as it would give us another much-needed marquee win.  But honestly, it doesn't matter when or where it comes, we just need another win.  (Although losing to both FSU and Maryland, and then beating Boston College or Georgia Tech on Thursday of the ACC Tournament wouldn't help us a whole lot... unless we also add in a win over 4-seed Miami on Friday.  I should have said we just need another GOOD win.)  Losing out would be disastrous.

But as I'll detail in my next post -- UVA's 2012 bubble vs. Virginia Tech's 2011 and 2010 bubbles -- these things don't happen in a vacuum.  There are other teams trying to play their way into the Big Dance and/or trying to choke their good positioning away en route to the NIT.  It's an exciting time of year.

And because I'm such a swell guy, here is your updated rooting interest guide for the week that spans the end of February into early March.  Madness!

Pull FOR these teams, they are already tournament locks: Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Michigan State, Kansas, Ohio State, Missouri, Duke, Georgetown, Wichita State, Marquette, Louisville, Florida, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Michigan, Baylor, New Mexico, Florida State, Temple, Gonzaga, Murray State, UNLV, Harvard, Southern Miss, Memphis, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Long Beach State, Drexel

Pull AGAINST these teams, they are crowding our bubble:

  • Kansas State
  • California
  • St. Louis
  • Iowa State
  • Notre Dame
  • Creighton
  • Miami
  • NC State
  • Texas
  • UConn
  • West Virginia
  • Seton Hall
  • Cincinnati
  • South Florida
  • Purdue
  • Northwestern (though it's admittedly hard to pull against them making their first-ever tournament appearance)
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Oregon (though at RPI 52, they are very close to giving us another marquee, top-50 win)
  • Arizona
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi State
  • LSU (though we need them to hang steady with their #66 ranking in the RPI)
  • Ole Miss
  • Arkansas
  • Xavier
  • Dayton
  • St. Joe's
  • La Salle
  • UMass
  • San Diego State
  • Colorado State
  • UCF
  • Marshall
  • Saint Mary's
  • BYU
  • Oral Roberts
  • VCU (suck it, Smaka Shart.)
  • Iona
  • Belmont
  • MTSU
  • Stanford
  • Akron
  • New Mexico State

It's a long list, but seeing any number of these teams do badly certainly helps our chances.

So when you're about to John Henson flop down onto the couch, pop open this post, do a quick search, and know for whom to root.


February 26, 2012

For 18 minutes yesterday...

...we saw what this team is going to look like next season, without Mike Scott.  And you know what?  It looked pretty damn good.

Sadly, Mike Scott lost his battle for ACC POTY yesterday, I think.

I'm not trying to bang on Mike Scott, nor am I trying to give short shrift to a hard-fought game against a vastly more talented team, nor am I trying to shift focus from this great season in which we are inching our way ever closer to our first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007.  But I've said it before, and if you're going to continue to read and follow this blog, you need to always understand it to be true: With me, it's always about looking ahead to the future and dreaming about increased success.

What I saw yesterday - despite rebounding woes against what is probably the best rebounding team in all of college basketball - was a four-guard (really, two-guard / two-wing) offense, running Bennettball efficiently and effectively.  Jontel Evans ate [UNC point guards] Kendall Marshall and Stilman White alive, both defensively and offensively off the bounce.  Joe Harris chipped in his best jack-of-all-trades performance, proving he's capable of serving as the face of the franchise moving into the 2012-13 season.  Darion Atkins proved he's a burgeoning big man, realizing his potential in rapid fashion.  Paul Jesperson showed that he belonged on the floor and in that game -- his confidence is growing with every minute he plays.  Malcolm Brogdon showed his defensive chops and his ability to find points for us by attacking the basket.  All together, it was a cohesive, controlled, balanced effort that held us in the game with our ACC POTY candidate in serious foul trouble and sputtering badly.  It was ultimately a frustratingly close defeat, but it all bodes very well for the future.

I'm enjoying eating crow over Jontel Evans.

Moreover, given the evidenced recruiting patterns and the effort to transition Mike Scott from a true 4 to more of a 3/4-type "power wing," I think we're seeing something come into focus: Tony Bennett isn't "making due" with this lack of bigs.  I think this is the way he wants the team to be built -- one true post player (Atkins, maybe Mitchell, Sene, Mike Tobey) on the floor, with a power wing (Mike Scott, maybe Mitchell, soon to be Justin Anderson), a versatile swingman (Joe Harris, Evan Nolte) or a long-lengthed spot-up shooter (Jesperson), a combo guard with 3-point ability (Zeglinski, Brog), and a point guard who can create offense off the dribble (Jontel Evans, Teven Jones).

Evan Nolte: Joe Harris 2.0

I kinda had a hunch we'd be pretty good next year, but now I have some degree of confidence in that fact.  Year four of Bennettball, the systems having taken full root, the hand-picked Bennett recruits being the only players on the roster...  It's going to be a balanced team with a weakness in defending great post scorers (but really, how many of those do we face?), but the ability to really take care of the ball, shoot from the perimeter, and run the packline defense with quickness and active hands and feet.  We'll get pummeled inside from time to time, but the pack D and the 3-point shot are the great equalizers.

I think this year's team is a Tournament team.  8-, 9-, or 10-seed, winning its first game and hanging tough in its second.

But now, I think next year's team is also a Tournament team.

And under Tony Bennett, the successes begin to string together and elevate our program to heights not seen since the early '90s.  Now more than ever, I have faith in our head basketball coach.  We played well with Mike Scott on the bench, and it was more than just encouraging... it was enlightening, eye-opening, and inspiring.  For 18 minutes, we saw the future, and it was bright.

February 24, 2012

Wahooze on the Trail: Offensive Line

Wahooze on the Trail continues with a look at the big men in the trenches, the Offensive line. UVA is coming off a good year recruiting wise, so the O-Line might not get the kind of attention it did in recruiting last season. That being said there are some good names that the Hoos are targeting on the line this season. It appears that most of the targeting will remain in state however as the coaching staff seems to prefer getting lower level in state kids to develop rather than chasing the big time out of state names. That being said since the list is so small there are a few other out of state targets on the list this year. Enough talk, let’s get into it.

Parker Osterloh                                6-6 270lbs.          Williamsburg, VA            Warhill
                Osterloh is the top lineman in Virginia in what is an exceptionally shallow class. A very tall tackle, Osterloh has excellent mobility for a kid his size. Most of his highlights are in run blocking where his mobility can be used to his advantage. The way the offense at UVA tends to be going though, he will be used more in pass protection. His height could work to a disadvantage in that regard as he will have a tougher time getting down to gain leverage. However the coaching staff seems to love his footwork and his pass protection abilities. I have nothing but confidence in the staff to both fill out his frame and improve his technique to make him a dominant pass blocker as well as run blocker. He has the mobility that you really can’t teach for a kid his size.  Osterloh currently has offers from VT and UVA as well as JMU. He is drawing some interest from out of state schools, but as he is not a dominant, national level talent I don’t expect him to get out of Virginia. I think UVA is in great shape here for an in state battle with the Hokies.
Probable Destination: UVA. I think there are several reasons UVA will win out but the most important is development. UVA is starting to become known for developing offensive linemen. Look at just the last 7 years. We have had 3 linemen drafted in the first round, (Ferguson, Albert, Monroe) and produced multiple other successful lineman, (Paztor, Barker) and now two bookends that will most likely end up in the NFL (Moses, Aboushi). It’s hard to turn down that kind of success.

Braxton Pfaff                                     6-5 290lbs.          Lynchburg, VA                   Liberty Christian
                That school sound familiar? Yes that is where Mike Rocco went when he was in school. Will that be a factor? Maybe. As of now it looks like this is going to turn into a battle once again between the in state schools.  That being said thanks to his proximity to Charlottesville and his relationship with the Rocco’s Pfaff has made a ton of visits to UVA for football games and seems to love the atmosphere. Will that work in the Hoos favor. I think absolutely. Pfaff will most likely be in the 3 star range but has a ton of potential to develop. This seems to be exactly the kind of lineman that the coaching staff wants to acquire and develop.
Probable Destination: UVA. I think the connection with the Rocco’s is too strong to pass up. Barring a good pitch from Richmond Pfaff should join the fold.

Mike McGlinchey                            6-9 280lbs.          Philadelphia, PA              William Penn Charter
                McGlinchey is one of the big out of state targets for this season. He has incredible size already for a junior and is drawing interest from some big time programs. McGlinchey holds offers from such powerhouses as Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin, not to mention both Pitt and Penn State. If UVA is to land this big fish they are going to need to have a lot of breaks. One of which could come tomorrow when he is here for Junior Day. Surprisingly McGlinchey looks very lean for 280 pounds which makes his potential that much higher. UVA will have to sell its line development well and hope for the best.

Probable Destination: Boston College. Surprisingly I think BC has a pretty reasonable shot here. McGlinchey has visited twice already and seems to enjoy it. He wants to get this done early so any lead BC has will be to their advantage.

John Montelus                                 6-5 295lbs.          Everett, MA                       Everett
                Montelus is the other big time out of state prospect the Hoos have offered. While there is mutual interest I think there is much more from the UVA side than from Montelus. Just how much traction they get could be a big factor, especially since some big school like USC are about to come knocking on his door. The leader in the clubhouse appears to be BC at this point but it will quickly turn into hometown vs. big time. I think that sadly might eliminate the Hoos from contention. That being said Montelus would be a great prospect to get. Already a solid size he is the kind of player that could in theory see some PT as a true freshman. Think Morgan Moses but smaller. Wherever he goes he has a chance to step in right away and be good. That will have to be the angle UVA sells him on, but how many other schools can do that?
Probable Destination:  West Virginia. I'm not entirely sure why but they seem to be taking the lead. They are relatively close to him but not a "local" option by any means. If Montelus sees them as an up and coming program, which isn't unfortunately that far off, he might want to get in for the ride.

Marcell Lazard                                  6-6 293lbs.          Bloomfield, NJ                  Bloomfield
                Lazard is most likely going to be a 3 star recruit out of New Jersey, but has already received some big offers, but interestingly not one from in state Rutgers.  Recently Lazard listed his top two as Miami and West Virginia, with UConn, Michigan, and Virginia as other possibilities. UVa obviously has some work to do in this department but is still right there. The one thing the Hoos do have in their favor is that Lazard wants to go to a good academic school and the pending investigation surrounding the Miami program. That being said I think Miami will be tough to beat in the end. Lazard has the ideal size for the position and would be a great prospect for anyone to get.
Probable Destination: Miami. Barring the university getting shut down I think the tradition, academics, and coaching is going to be too much to overcome.

Brandon Kublanow                         6-3 290lbs.          Marietta, GA                     Walton
                Kublanow is the only prospect the Hoos are looking at that plays guard. He is the number 243 player in the Class of 2013 and also has some big offers. In addition to UVA Kublanow has offers from Vandy, Florida, and of course Georgia. It looks like the Dawgs are going to be mighty tough to beat. However Kublanow has listed two main factors, academics and winning. This could help UVA’s chances if they put together a solid season, but as of now this is looking like a long shot.

Probable Destination: Georgia. It has to be. The dawgs are on the upswing again and have the state on lockdown. Good luck getting him out of there.

February 23, 2012

Ladies Basketball Update

We haven't talked much about the women's team on here, so I thought some readers might appreciate a look at how their season has played out so far.

Coming into her first season at UVA, new coach Joanne Boyle faced a daunting task of replacing a Hall of Fame coaching legend in Debbie Ryan, who was forced out by the administration* after 34 seasons with the Lady Hoos. I could write all day about the idiocy of this move, but that doesn't mean Boyle is any less of a good coach and certainly was welcomed by the school/team.

After an impressive early season upset of perennial powerhouse Tennessee, the team has done a good job staying in the top half of the extremely-tough ACC. Basically, the ladies have beaten the bad and mediocre teams while failing to pull off any upsets over the elite teams like Miami, Duke, and Maryland. Sitting at 7-7 in the conference, with two very winnable remaining games, the Hoos are in decent shape to make it off the bubble and into the NCAA tournament. Currently ESPN projects them as an 8 seed, which would be an improvement over last year's team and a continuation of the type of moderate success at which Ryan had the team in the 00s. Of course, everyone involved with the program would like to see a return to the late 80s-early 90s type of team, but Boyle should be commended for avoiding even a small regressive step in her first year.

They swept the Hokies, always a good thing (Photo: virginiasports.com)

Assuming they take care of business against Wake and FSU, look for the ladies to finish the season in the NCAAs, where they could easily win a game or two (though being an 8 seed would match them up against a #1 in the second round...). Boyle also has a nice recruiting class lined up for next year, with three highly ranked guards pledged to join the Lady Cavs' roster. Ultimately, the team will be judged more critically in the long-term, you don't fire one of the best coaches the sport and your school have ever seen to maintain "pretty good" status, but for now, things are looking on track for Boyle and the Lady Hoos. Their final home game is Friday evening at 6:30pm, go check them out.

*Note: Officially, Debbie "retired." However, it was a move forced on her by the athletic administration - even if it wasn't public. We trust our sources.

February 21, 2012

Win and In

I've been sick as a dog these last two days, and haven't had a good chance (or the energy) to give a proper overview of tonight's revenge game against the Hokies.

But let me take a quick second to boil it down to the simplest point possible:

-- A win tonight coupled with a win at Maryland on 3/4 or a win in the first round of the ACC Tournament puts us in the Tournament.

-- A loss tonight would set up a scenario in which we either need to beat UNC here on Saturday, or beat FSU here on 3/1 in order to secure a bid to the Big Dance.

This is Virginia Tech's third game in six days, and Victor Davila is likely out for the game and thus the Hokies are down to just two true post players.  We lost to Tech when we shot 1-for-14 from three.  I don't expect that to happen again, and I'm looking for our defense, Mike Scott, and our superior coaching to carry the day in tonight's game.

Get this one, and we are in very good shape.  In front of the 8-ball yet again.  Lose it, and... well... we need to dial up a Tarheel- or Seminole-sized upset.

Mike Scott's calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd; nobody fools Mike Scott.

An excerpt from Eamonn Brennan's latest Bubble Watch on ESPN:

The Cavaliers can't afford to be careless. Last week's 12-point loss at Clemson is the kind of thing that causes people to poke around your once-surefire resume with a finer-toothed comb. Once that happens, you find but one good win (Michigan at home Nov. 29), a smattering of questionable losses (Va. Tech at home, TCU on a neutral floor, at Clemson) and a nonconference strength-of-schedule figure (No. 229) that will make the selection committee wince. Fortunately, in the form of home games vs. UNC and Florida State, Virginia has two really good chances to seal this thing up for good. A win in either game would lock it up, and make the result of Tuesday night's road trip to Blacksburg a nonfactor. But if the Cavs stumble down the stretch, nothing is guaranteed.

February 19, 2012

HOOS 71, Murrland 44

My notes from yesterday's exactly-what-we-needed blowout victory over the Terps:

Commander In Chief

  • Maryland is likely to end up as an RPI Top-100 team, so the win was a pretty good one.  The fact that it was a bounce-back win that might catapult us forward down the stretch, and the fact that we buried them in the second half despite being short-handed and with our starting fullback point guard in foul trouble, even better.  It was a must-win, and we got it in style.
  • Tons of credit to Mike Scott, who shook off his recent penchant for second half disappearing acts and instead spurred us into that 16-0 run to take control.
  • We held an offensive talented Maryland team to 13 second half points.  Love that.
  • I think Sammy Zeglinski worked himself off the schneid a little bit.  Having the ball in his hands with Evans on the bench in the second half helped him a lot, I believe.  We need to put Sammy at the point a bit more often -- I think it really helped him to forget the slump and just play.
  • Malcolm Brogdon, delivering.  It's a welcome sight, and a very positive portend for the rest of the season and especially next season, when we'll need a #2 scoring option to work alongside Joe Harris.
  • Jesperson hit a three!  That's gotta be helpful for the young man's confidence.  I hope he's got about five more locked and loaded for this stretch run.
  • Joe Harris gave us 17 minutes, and could have given another 10 or 12 more.  He looked much more comfortable with that mummy hand than he did against Clem's Son.  It's been eight days since the injury, the swelling has to be down and the pain subsiding.  I think he'll be back to 75-80% for the Virginia Tech game and hopefully up to around 90% for the UNC game next weekend.  We need scoring punch from Joey Hoops, but with Evans and Brog stepping up, it's maybe a little less crucial.
  • I was honestly surprised by the effort and confidence on display in this game.  After that loss to Klempsun, I thought we'd come out looking rattled and tentative against Maryland.  Even in the face of those bullshit hail mary threes they kept nailing, we held our composure.  I credit Tony Bennett.  The man is a good coach.
Welcome back?

Tuesday is the Virginia Tech rematch.  Nervous about that game.  Hopefully we can roll in there and handle our business in a revenge game against a team that oozes mediocrity.  But we know the turkeys will be "up" to beat us and spoil our season, like we did to them last year.


February 17, 2012

Baseball Drops the Opener

The Hoos dropped their season opener 5-3 to the Boston College Eagles today in a game that taught us a few things about the team already:

This kind of thing
Brandon Kline was a nonsurprising starter today but getting the call behind the plate was true freshman Nate Irving. This is the first time in a while that the Hoos have started a catcher that had not had meaningful experience behind the plate. While Irving is a talented stick at the plate, handling a college baseball rotation is something you really need to be eased into. Look at the transition from Franco Valdez to John Hicks. Hicks was a better catcher because he was allowed to have a year being the sunday catcher behind Franco. While that is not at all an indictment of Irving as a catcher it is something to note. Today Branden Kline gave up 4 runs, all but one unearned. An inning was allowed to continue because of a passed ball scored to Irving after a Kline strikeout. One batter later Spenser (what a douchy spelling) Payne blasted a 3 run homer. Kline was run after that. While I have no doubts in Irving's ability to handle the pitching staff, his mishandling behind the plate really hurt us today.

Welcome Back
A surprise starter for me at least was Stephen Bruno at 3rd hitting 3rd and Mike Papi in Right hitting 4th. Papi hitting fourth quite frankly stunned me, but it seemed to work out quite nicely today as he scored twice. It seems that Bruno is healthy and ready to go this season which is a great sign as he provides quite a bit of pop from the middle of the order. Other lineup surprises included Keith Werman getting the number 2 spot in the order (which I don't expect to last) and Reed Gragnani getting the nod in center, ahead of Mitchell Shifflett. It will be interesting to see how the lineup shakes out for the rest of the season but if I had to guess I would expect to see a shuffling for tomorrow's game. When it's all said and done ideally it will look like this:

  1. Chris Taylor
  2. Mike Papi
  3. Stephen Bruno
  4. Jared King
  5. Reed Gragnani
  6. Derek Fisher
  7. Nate Irving
  8. Colin Harrington
  9. Keith Werman

This I feel will be a very formidable bunch. One last interesting thing to note was that at the end of the game Nick Howard pinch hit for Keith with 2 outs in the 9th. Obviously Keith is not known for his power but that is a pretty damning assessment of your hitting abilities if a true freshman bumps you out of the lineup in a big spot. While Keith is good at doing the little things it appears the coaching staff is still a little tenative with his overall offensive abilities.

The first pitcher out of the bullpen today was - you guessed it! - Kyle Crockett!! Confused? Me too. Especially because the kid looked damn good. 5 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, and 3 Ks. That to me says he is one of your better pitchers. That being said that has me pretty damn excited for what we must be rolling out on the mound in the rotation. Perhaps this is the season Scott Silverstein lives up to his bill. Should be interesting. But I would love to know what is going on with Crockett not being in the rotation, considering I thought he would be a lock.

The last thing that stood out to me was the absence of Mitchell Shifflett. Though he struggled in the Blue Orange World Series I thought he would get a shot to start out of the gate, though strong games from Gragnani, Papi, and Harrington say otherwise. I'm assuming he will see some time this weekend but maybe not. He has a ton of potential but if he can't get on base none of it gets realized.

Let's hope things get better tomorrow. Today wasn't bad, more frustrating than anything else. Hoos play tomorrow against Coastal Carolina.

Mid-February Bubble Guide

Consider this the next installation in the series that began with Welcome to the Bubble and continued with the February Rooting Guide...

Right now, we are exactly where we were afraid we'd end up -- squarely on the bubble.

With tired legs, shaken confidence, rebounding struggles, a tendency to cough up costly turnovers, shooting woes, scoring malaise, and the top-notch defense looking suddenly second-notch, our worry is totally and completely appropriate.

The Resumé
The good news is that our profile remains strong.  A decent RPI ranking, a very good 7-3 record against the RPI top 100, solid scores in Pomeroy and Sagarin ratings, and the injury excuse in case we start getting banged on for our recent losses.  Mike Scott gives us star power, Tony Bennett gives us coaching cred.  Our win over Michigan gives us a signature win to pimp, and two home games against ACC elite gives us two more chances for marquee victories.  More good news: the bubble, from a big picture perspective, is softening.  There aren't a whole lot of slam-dunk at-large contenders, and there aren't so many vogue mid-majors, which is good.

The bad news is our weak out-of-conference schedule is going to be a major sticking point for the committee, and the fact that we're stuck at 6 ACC wins, and a 6-10, 7-9, or even 8-8 conference record isn't going to earn an at-large bid.  I could see us getting in with an 8-8 finish and a win on Thursday in the ACC Tournament followed up by a loss on Friday to Duke, UNC, or FSU.  But I think that scenario is the absolutely worst we can finish and still have hope for a tournament bid.  Please know that it's going to be important that we at least get to a game against one of the ACC's "big three" in the ACC Tournament, as that extra game against an RPI top-25 squad will help buoy our own RPI and strength of schedule metrics.

Tomorrow's game at home against Maryland is about as must-win as a must-win gets when it's not literally an elimination game.  We're already a little bit behind the 8-ball, but a loss tomorrow makes that 8-ball the size of a small jupiter moon.

@ Virginia Tech
North Carolina
Florida State
@ Maryland

Winning three of these games (especially if one of the wins is against UNC or FSU) puts us in the Big Dance, I believe.  Therefore, I am changing the "magic number" to 3 in our resumé window to the right.

Consider the Possibilities
Ask yourself this honest question: Which of the following scenarios would you rather see play out?

  • We scrape into the Tournament as an 8- or 9-seed, with Syracuse or Kentucky looming as the 1-seed we'd face in the 2nd round.
  • We scrape into the Tournament as a 10- or 11-seed, face a solid Notre Dame / Vanderbilt type of team in the 1st round, with the chance to earn a potential 2nd round date with a team like Michigan State, Marquette, or Baylor should we spring the 1st round upset.
  • We scrape into the Tournament as one of the last at-large teams, and play a play-in game in Dayton on Tuesday or Wednesday night.  Play a team like Illinois or Washington in the play-in, then advance as a 12-seed to face a 5-seed like Gonzaga or Murray State in the 1st round, with a team like Indiana or UNLV looming in the 2nd round.
  • We miss the Tournament, but make the NIT, where we host two or three games on our way to the semifinals in Madison Square Garden, with Joe Harris' hand and Assane Sene's foot healing nicely along the way.
Obviously, we want to rally down the stretch, knock off UNC and/or FSU in our home games against those two, and surge into the NCAA Tournament as a 6- or 7-seed.  But right now, I don't see that as being very likely.  One of the above four scenarios are much more realistic, I'd say.  (But the lifelong Virginia fan inside of me half expects an epic collapse down the stretch and an explosive triple-overtime flame-out in the first round of the NIT, probably against a team I hate, like VCU.  I've been conditioned - like a beaten dog - to expect the worst as a Virginia fan.)

Bracket Math
68 teams make the NCAA Tournament.  33 of those teams make it in with auto bids by way of winning their conference or conference tournament.  That leaves 35 at-large spots.  Obviously, we need to hope for very few conference championship upsets, especially from mid-major leagues that have a team or teams that are locks for an at-large bid.  (An example of this is the Ohio Valley Conference, where Murray State is a lock but the rest of the conference needs to win the championship in order to go to the Big Dance.  If Murray State loses in that conference tournament, they'll still get an at-large, while some shit-eating mid-major crap team like Tennessee Tech would steal one of the auto bids, thus effectively reducing the number of available at-large bids for the bubble teams... like us.)

Essentially, we want teams from the list of tournament locks [below] to win their conference tournaments.  Meanwhile, let's add up those tournament locks to see how many at-large bids are left for teams like UVA...

  • ACC -- Duke, North Carolina, Florida State
  • Big 12 -- Kansas, Missouri, Baylor
  • Big East -- Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame
  • B1G -- Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin
  • SEC -- Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt
  • Atlantic 10 -- Temple
  • Mountain West -- UNLV, San Diego State
  • Missouri Valley -- Wichita State
  • C-USA -- Memphis, Southern Miss
  • WCC -- St. Mary's, Gonzaga
  • Ohio Valley -- Murray State
  • Ivy -- Harvard
  • Sun Belt -- Middle Tennessee State

That leaves 20 conferences that will only put one team - the conference champion - into the Tournament.  Add those 20 to the 30 teams I listed above, and that's 50.  That means 18 bids are available to bubble teams and/or any teams that upset the above-listed teams to win those conference championships.

Assuming at least one or two of those unfortunate [for us] conference tournament upsets, we're looking at trying to make it in as one of the 15 or 16 bubble teams that are extended a bid.  We will be competing for those bids with:
  • Miami
  • NC State
  • Iowa State
  • Kansas State
  • Texas
  • Seton Hall
  • UConn
  • Cincinnati
  • West Virginia
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Purdue
  • Northwestern
  • California
  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Arizona
  • Oregon
  • Alabama
  • Ole Miss
  • Arkansas
  • St. Louis
  • Xavier
  • Dayton
  • UMass
  • St. Joe's
  • New Mexico
  • Creighton
  • BYU

Folks, this is not rocket science.  Pull against those teams listed above, as there are 15 or 16 available bids for us and those 29 teams.  We need to finish in the top 50% of those teams.  We need to see our sweet cream rise to the top in that milkshake.

Meanwhile, pull for the teams we've played and especially the teams we've beaten -- it never hurts to have that RPI bolstered at all times.

And pull against VCU.  Just because.

February 16, 2012

"Catch Phrase!"

Okay, I've got a bunch of ideas for blog posts popping around in the hopper.  Sometimes these ideas take some time to mature, the testicles don't always descend at a rapid rate.  However, I like teasers, so please be teased by the immature ideas:

  • A baseball preview that builds from Mike's excellent work on the Wahooze Baseball Preview.
  • An up-to-date break down of the bubble and what our rooting interests are for the remainder of the regular season, like the February Rooting Guide from a couple of weeks ago.
  • An in-depth look at the new Big East (now with Memphis!) and the "Assocation" formed by the Conference-USA / Mountain West merger (Conference America, F#CK YEAH!)  You know how much of a realignmageddon geek I am, and believe me, I have a lot to say about these two topics.

Mmmmm-mmmmm, I know you like the flavor.

Unfortunately for you, I'm not delivering on any of those three ideas right now.  They're all three still in the process of barrel aging.  So instead, to toss our loyal readers a bone and in honor of the upcoming Oscars, here is this gleaming gem from the fine folks at Cracked.

You're welcome.

February 15, 2012

*Deep Breath*

It feels so good to emote after a tough loss, but after a good (well, bad) night's sleep, I can get my legs back under me and see the forest through the trees.

Littlejohn is a tough place to play, especially after fighting so hard against superior physical specimens at UNC three days prior, and seeing your second leading scorer and best perimeter threat hit with an unfortunate broken hand. The team is demoralized right now, I think. A few days rest and a raucous home crowd to help us beat a hated rival should get things back on track... I hope.

Time for the Gipper speech, coach.

Meanwhile, taking a step back and really examining the collection of parts that comprise this team, it's pretty remarkable how Tony Bennett has built up our expectations for this season to the point that many of us are actually angry and feeling quite salty about the possibility of missing the NCAA Tournament.

Bottom line, we have a great coach who runs an effective system but currently has an under-talented roster. It's a collection of role players that for 80% of the other coaches in college basketball would add up to about a .500-type team.
I know star ratings don't mean much, but they are a decent measure of the baseline talent level of a player coming out of high school.
Mike Scott -- 3-star
Sammy Zeglinski -- 3-star
Assane Sene -- 3-star
Jontel Evans -- 3-star
Joe Harris -- 3-star
Akil Mitchell -- 3-star
Darion Atkins -- 3-star
Paul Jesperson -- 3-star
Malcolm Brogdon -- 4-star
I know there is a lot of consternation about Sammy Zeglinski, but I think it's important to remember the big picture: We wouldn't be so worried about his shooting slump if this team hadn't come together under Bennett's incredible coaching and forced us to raise our expectations to extremely high levels.
I think right now we're left in a situation where we need to fight for three wins over our last six games (including ACC Tournament first round) in order to have a shot at making it to the Dance off of the bubble. Given the relative talent level of this team, I think that's a pretty good spot to be in, all things (injuries, attrition, etc.) considered.
Yes, Zeglinski's slump is hurting us, but we don't have any other options, and we won't do any damage in the Tournament without him scoring, anyway. So we need to just support the kid as he works his way through this rough patch in his game while celebrating just how much this team has overachieved in getting to 19 wins at this point.

Also, in case you missed my tweet, we got a lot of help in RPI action last night.
  • TCU beat UNLV.  That was big, and will likely elevate the Frogs from "bad loss" status on our resumé.
  • LSU beat Mississippi State, which probably buoys their RPI ranking in the top 100, and maintains their "good win" status on our resumé.
  • And my favorite -- George Mason's buzzer beater against VCU keeps GMU in "good win" status.  (Suck it, Shaka.  Best team in the state my ass.)

Our profile is solid.  Our resumé is good.  The peripherals are sound.  We can't finish 6-10 or 7-9 in the conference and hope to have a chance, though.  8-8 might do it, but probably not.  We need three more wins.  It starts on Saturday against Maryland.

Cue herculean effort from Mike Scott, continued offensive production from Jontel Evans, Joe Harris getting more comfortable with that King Tut wrap on his hand, and - I'll dare to say it - Sammy Zeglinski battling out of his slump.

We can do it.  I still believe.


Mike Scott once won a NASCAR race... without ever turning left.

February 14, 2012


(I try not to make new posts directly following frustrating losses, but I honestly think these impassioned bilge-dumps end up being some of my most honest, entertaining material. So I'm allowing myself this on a super shitty Valentine's Day.)

KNOW THIS: If you didn't believe we're on the bubble before, you should sure as shit believe it now.  Also, if you were bullish on the overall quality of the team, you might want to re-examine that, too.


  • KT Harrell and James Johnson were too soft/weak/immature/fragile/scared/selfish/etc. to stick it out, and they transferred, effectively sapping our end-of-bench depth.  We could really use a couple of good fluffers right now.
  • Assane Sene broke his foot, effectively destroying our frontcourt depth and throwing our frontcourt balance out of whack.  We miss you, Zu.
  • Sammy Zeglinski has clanked, thudded, and airballed his way into the most horriffc shooting slump I've seen since Mamadi Diane was building houses out of bricks in the hissing remains of the grease fire known as the Dave Leitao era.
  • Joe Harris (sadly, no longer Joey Hoops) broke his hand on a - let's be honest - stupid loose ball play in a hopeless situation against UNC.  Now he's a glorified decoy, unable to catch the ball, unable to pass the ball, unable to effectively rebound, and edging over toward Zeglinski-level bad shooting.  Losing Harris might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back for us this season.  God bless him for trying to play through the injury, though.  But please Joe, don't buy into the glory the announcers try to heap on you for trying to make hustle plays.  You are too valuable for hustle plays.  Let Akil Mitchell dive all over the court like a lunatic.  You are a sports car, Joe.  Let the jeeps drive it off road.
  • For all of Mike Scott's awesomeness, he's not there in the clutch, and he hasn't even really been there in the second half of games lately.  ACC Player of the Year makes plays to win games late in the second half.  Mike Scott is just disappearing completely at that time.  Not a good trend.  For all of Mike Scott's stepping up, we really need him to step up to a new, higher level.  And one more thing: can he work his low post offense without turning it over?  He's become a one-dimensional jump shooter.  There, I said it.
  • Akil Mitchell is J.C. Mathis 2.0 -- a truly damning comment, I know.  But consider the traveling, consider the "completely lost" plays.  I think Mitchell can and will be better than Mathis... but he's not there yet.  I do like his pogo stick rebounds though.
  • Our second-best player, and now our second-best scoring option is a free safety point guard who spews turnovers and has zero - ZERO - jump shot.  Hallelujah for Jontel Evans' development of that runner, which is now our second-best offensive weapon to Mike Scott's 15-foot half-fadeaway jumper.
  • Darion Atkins can't get playing time.  He also can't avoid fouls.  *sigh*
  • Paul Jesperson can't make a shot.  I think he looks really good in terms of his effort on defense and his "fit" in the system, but I hate what I've seen when he gets the ball in position to shoot.  It's like he's trying to decide whether or not to shoot, and that hesitation is throwing off his rhythm.  It's all part of being a freshman thrown into the deep end of the pool without the early season cupcake games to snack on, I get it.  More collateral damage from KT Harrell's cowardice.  We really need Jespy to gun that ball up and start becoming a perimeter threat... because the form on his shot is sweet as Yoo-Hoo. I know he can be a real weapon for us shooting the ball, once he gets his legs under him and gains confidence in his role.  But that might not click into place until next year.
  • Malcolm Brogdon has shown flashes.  Unfortunately, we need more than flashes right now.  I don't have a whole lot of faith that his line drive perimeter shot is going to suddenly get more accurate within the next few weeks, but at least he hasn't come down with the crippling communicable disease that put Zeglinski's jumper on its death bed.  Brog turns it over a lot when he puts the ball on the floor and tries to drive, but that might be a necessary evil because we desperately need another scoring option right now.
  • We are hemorrhaging turnovers.  That ain't Bennettball.  It's mostly due to our starting running back point guard needing to think of himself as more of a scorer and getting sloppy with his handle, but it's also bad passes, out of control dribble drives, and bad ball security.  It killed us against UNC, and it killed us tonight.
  • Maryland, @ Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, @ Maryland, first round ACC Tournament game.  Do you see us winning four of those six games with the way we're playing right now?  No, I don't either.  Three wins in that stretch puts us on the bubble.  Two or fewer?  NIT, baby.  Get used to the thought.

What we have going for us is Tony Bennett's coaching, our defense (which is less reliable now with Sene out), Mike Scott drawing double teams, and Jontel Evans discovering his scoring ability.  It's not enough.  This team does not look like an NCAA Tournament team right now.

Frankly, I am scared shitless that we are going to have a sad Selection Sunday.  If the cookie crumbles that way, I hope we can gather our pride and at least make a good run in the NIT.

Meanwhile, I am officially worried about Tony Bennett's grip on our fickle, slippery fanbase.  Miss the Big Dance this year, and apathy returns.  We desperately need to beat Carolina or FSU and make the Tournament this year.

Saturday is a home game against Maryland.  That is a must win.  Lose it, and the sky starts falling.

Bonus thought: Would you trade Mike Scott, Sammy Zeglinski, and Assane Sene for Justin Anderson, Evan Nolte, Mike Tobey, Teven Jones, a potential mystery recruit big man, and lowered expectations?

In my mind, Sene isn't playing, Sammy is an offensive liability, and Mike Scott is tapering off.  Jones > Zeglinski, Tobey > Sene, Anderson + Nolte > Scott, and mystery recruit and lowered expectations are gravy.  Continued improvement from Jontel Evans, Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell, Malcolm Brogdon, Darion Atkins, and Paul Jesperson is also gravy... but also a given.

Suddenly looking forward to next year...

February 13, 2012

Wahooze on the Trail: Tight Ends

While the first three positions of this exploration have been deep and talented, the tight end position is quite the opposite. UVA currently has offers out to 2 tight ends, one of which may not actually be a tight end when he gets to Charlottesville. The question then becomes, is there even a role for a tight end in this offense? That could be an entire post in and of itself. The conclusion I can draw from this is that the tight end is a luxury position in this offense, and that if we can get a great talent at the position Coach Lazor will, as he always does, figure out how to use it. That being said let’s look at the targets

Trent Corney                     6-3 240lbs.          Brookville, Ontario                         Thousand Islands
                Corney is gray-shirting for the class of 2013. Not sure where he will end up spending his prep season but it will most likely be FUMA, mostly so we can have a bug in Mr. Hackenberg’s ear pulling him to Charlottesville. Corney is a wild card in that no one really knows where he is going to play. He certainly has the speed and build to play tight end, but he could also provide solid depth at the linebacker spot. I think he will most likely get reps at both for FUMA in the fall and wherever he excels more will be where he starts.

Probable Destination: UVA. He’s already committed. FUMA doesn’t let their kids who have commitments be swayed very often.

Adam Breneman              6-5 225lbs.          Camp Hill, PA                                    Cedar Cliff
                Remember when we referenced the great talents that would make us use the tight ends? This is the one. Breneman is the top tight end in the country and appears to really like UVA. Obviously a pass catching tight end Breneman has been linked to a ton of programs and currently holds 29 offers to some big time places. UVA’s biggest competition might in fact be hometown Penn State. Before the scandal the Nittany Lions appeared to be the heavy favorite, but given the recent shakeup on the staff Breneman has reopened for business. That being said if Coach O’Brien uses the same style of offense at Penn State that he did with the Pats, it’s hard to believe that a dynamic pass catching tight end like Breneman will say no to that, especially if O’Brien can also bring in a big time QB like Stone Bridge’s Ryan Burns. This will be an intense battle, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Probable Destination: Penn State. I think in the end this is where Breneman wants to be. The new regime should be able to effectively pitch the tight ends role in his offense and maybe have a shiny new QB prospect to also show off.

Arshad Jackson                 6-6 235lbs.          Hampton, GA                                    Lovejoy
                It is not a game with this kid. He is a gargantuan human being who can catch, run, and probably eat humans. Jackson would be a terror in the redzone with his monster frame and supreme athleticism. Think Joe Torcia minus injuries. That being said he is another player that could project to the defense as well, though I think that would be a mistake, which is why I am listing him here. All indications are the Jackson loves the Hoos, who were his first offer, and that he will most likely be one of the first kids to come on board if the Hoos stay on him. Look for them to push him hard at one of the upcoming junior days.

Probable Destination: UVA. Barring some sort of disaster I think we can bag this kid, and that he will be an absolute steal. Put some weight on his big frame and watch out.

February 10, 2012

Wahooze on the Trail: Wide Receivers

We’ve covered the Quarterbacks and Running Backs so far but now we are going to get into what is one of the more sought after positions by this coaching staff, the receivers. First off it appears that we are bucking the traditional tight end in favor of the hybrid TE/WR position, see Severin, Canaan. That being said there is no shortage of talent at this position that the Hoos will be looking at this season, including a name you may recognize that could jump on board very soon. It does become apparent however just what the coaching staff is looking for at wideout in this class. Without further ado let’s jump into this.

Zack Jones                          6-0 178lbs.          Chesapeake, VA                               Oscar Smith
                Name ring a bell? This is current UVA all around stud Perry Jones’ little brother. While taller than his brother Zack is also lighter, but with solid hands and 4.5 speed Jones could be an equally integral part of the offense. Currently the Hoos are the only offer on the table, though schools are looking hard at the Junior, including Michigan, Nebraska, and Alabama. Jones’ stock is somewhat low due to his requirement to sit out his sophomore season due to complications in his transfer from Great Bridge. That being said I would go ahead and say the Hoos are in an incredibly good position here.

Probable Destination: UVA. Come on now. Your brother is the star of the team, your family is very close knit and Coach London offers you a scholarship personally the day you win the state championship. I would have committed right there. I think this will happen on Junior Day which is February 18 or 24.

Stefon Colbert                  6-4 195lbs.          Olney, MD                                          Good Counsel
                UVA will be chasing two more Good Counsel receivers this season with Stefon Colbert and Andre Levrone. Colbert is the more impressive specimen of the two. At 6-4 195 with a 4.5 40 Colbert has all the makings of a solid number 1 receiver. The bad news for Wahoo fans is he really REALLY likes Virginia Tech. In fact this recruitment might be pointless based on early reports. The first program to offer however was Auburn, who offered while they were out scouting Stefon Diggs. A player with Colbert’s size and speed is a rare combination and would be a perfect fit in any offense, especially this one. That being said this is looking like UVA is going to have to do a ton of work to get any traction here, because if he loves Tech, he most likely is not to fond of us.

Probable Destination: Virginia Tech. But let’s all root for Auburn. If this kid plays up to his potential his stock could explode.

Andre Levrone                  6-0 185lbs.          Olney, MD                                          Good Counsel
                Levrone is a sold receiver out of a powerhouse program, which means a giant attribute that he brings is an expectation of success, which could be the kind of attitude that the coaches are looking for. While he is plenty big already Levrone expects to get bigger, considering his father is 6-6. Levrone is also very interested in a strong academic school. All of these coupled with the fact that we were his first offer puts the Hoos in a good position with Levrone.  However Levrone also holds offers from Mississippi State and Auburn, which could present some challenges for Coach London.
Probable Destination: Maryland. I think Maryland is going to come in with an offer soon and will work hard to get a pipeline established with Good Counsel. Could I see him at UVA? Absolutely. But I think Maryland will be able to pitch him good academics (sorry, he wants engineering and they are actually good at that) and being close to home, as well as being able to play with his friends. The kid seems to value family so that might be best for him.

Kwamane Bowens          6-2 185lbs.          Virginia Beach, VA                          Salem
                Bowens has all the makings of a combo with Bucky Hodges, but in reading his statements it sounds like where Hodges decides to commit will have little to no bearing on where Bowens ends up. Bowens will obviously need to put on some weight when he gets to college, but if he does could become a major threat in the red zone with his long arms and leaping abilities. Bowens is oddly very close with the staff at Western Michigan, who have been recruiting him very hard. Also Vanderbilt is a huge player in this too, as they have hired Josh Gattis from Western Michigan to be their new wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator.

Probable Destination: Vanderbilt. While Western Michigan is strong here I’m not sure you could turn down an SEC offer, especially at a program that is on the rise like Vanderbilt to go  to a mid-major in Western Michigan. This is probably an important recruit for Vandy who is trying to get into Virginia.

Michael Parker                 6-3 191lbs.          Nokesville, VA                                  Kettle Run
                 Parker is a big receiver. Currently holding 7 offers from big time programs like Ohio State and Tennessee Parker figures to be a hot commodity for this class. Parker has stated that he is open to going out of state for college and it appears the Tennessee might be the leader in the clubhouse. That being said Parker seems to highly covet an offer from LSU. Parker is the number 117 in the Rivals 250, so expect an LSU offer to emerge. Parker would fit in nicely in the Hoos offense in the Canaan Severin/Kyle Dockins role as the big hybrid receiver. It will be interesting to see how the in state schools fare in his recruitment.

Probable Destination: LSU. If the offer comes he is as good as gone.

Marquez North                 6-2 210lbs.          Charlotte, NC                                    Mallard
                North is another tall wide out, which seems to be the theme of the targets. North is a very sought after young man with offers from some huge programs like Florida and Michigan. He also has offers from both Virginia schools. The biggest obstacle the Hoos face in this one might actually come from the Hokies. North is on the record as saying that he wanted an offer from the Hokies and has a “natural liking” of them due to his grandfather being a big fan. If nothing else Virginia fans should be rooting for other schools to come into his focus, because North looks like an absolute terror.

Probable Destination: Virginia Tech. Hopefully big time programs like FSU and Alabama turn up the heat, but as of right now I would say he is Hokie bound. Not good news for the Hoos at this point.

Quan Jones                        6-4 192lbs.                          Wylie, TX                            Wylie East
Marcell Ateman               6-4 190lbs.                          Wylie, TX                            Wylie East

Jones (left) and Ateman (Right)
                I have lumped these two for a reason. With the success in Texas with Kelvin Rainey the Hoos have gotten ambitious with these two Texas giants. Ateman and Jones both sport offers from Mississippi State, Michigan, and Arizona, among others. Everyone seems to be involved in bagging both of them which I think is the Hoos plan also. That duo would be lethal in the redzone and would create a ridiculous matchup problem. They are also blazers on the outside making them even more of a matchup headache. I do expect them to remain as a pair in college and would complete any receiving corps.

Probable Destination: Baylor. I think the recent success will make them able to land these two. Keep in mind they played for a school that is only entering its 3rd season of varsity football, so they most likely will not mind being put in the role of being the focal point of an offense.

Robert Foster                    6-3 190lbs.          Monaca, PA                                        Central Valley
                Foster is yet another big receiver the Hoos are looking at. While relatively slow at a 4.8 40 Foster possesses the height, build, and hands to become a great possession receiver. Ranked number 26 in the Rivals 250, Foster already holds offers from programs like Oregon and Michigan, and of course the hometown Nittany Lions. Penn State presents and interesting option for Foster. While the Patriots’ offense features precise route by receivers it also features heavy use of big athletic tight ends. Those players might be tough to come by in college so O’Brien may be forced to use bigger receivers in that role. If that is the case look for Foster’s interest to perk up as he is that kind of player.

Probable Destination: Penn State. While I think foster will be tempted by the bigger offers I find it hard to believe he will turn down an opportunity to play for an NFL pedigree coach and rebuild the Penn State program. That being said Ohio State and Urban Meyer are also looming. This could be an interesting battle.

Zach Bradshaw                  6-3 205lbs.          Damascus, MD                                  Damascus
                Yet another physical receiver Bradshaw has the potential to be quite potent in this offense. He is a yards after the catch machine and seems to be quite good in open space. Most of his highlights are for punt returns. While the obvious comparison you will first think of is Matt Snyder I think Bradshaw will be closer to a Max Millien, catching that swing pass out in space would be perfect for him. Bradshaw has a ton of offers, but also a 4.0 GPA. I think the Hoos will have an advantage here in that regard. Big competition will come from Northwestern, who uses a system that he would excel in, and of course his hometown Terrapins, but I think the Hoos have a pretty good shot.

Probable Destination: Northwestern. I think this will come down to a numbers crunch. The hoos are pretty full at Wideout and if they take on Zack Jones and any other big targets Bradshaw might be the odd man out. That being said I think he would be a great fit and would not be surprised to see him here.