February 5, 2015

National Signing Day...

...was yesterday!

As much as I hate our football program right now, I still love our new Hoos.  These guys are part of a brighter future for Virginia Football, I truly believe that.  A quick, Wahooze-style synopsis of the class...

Nick Johns (no relation to Matt Johns), 3-star
Big (6-3, 225) dude, big arm, pro-style dropback prospect.  Lacks the hype of a Corwin Cutler, but has certain QB1 upside... if Virginia can find a coaching staff to properly cultivate quarterback talent.

Olamide Zaccheaus, 3-star {Pronunciation Guide: Oh-llama-day Za-key-us}
Chris Sharp, 3-star
O-Zac is the fast scatback type while Sharp is the physical bellcow type.  Good complements for one another.  Neither seem to have elite-level upside, but you never know.  UVA has had good luck with backs like Zaccheaus, who compares favorably to Alvin Pearman and Perry Jones.  Sharp is cut in the Cedric Peerman mold.  If this duo ends up being in the same ball park as the Lundy/Pearman backfield, then we may be cooking with gas.

Warren Craft, 3-star
David Eldridge, 3-star
Fast athletes, still a bit raw.  My guess is that Eldridge spends his UVA career in the slot.  Craft has conceivable go-to potential, but he'll need considerable development, since he's more basketball player than football player at this point in his career.  Not really a program-changing haul of WR talent in this year's class, but either/both of these guys are scholarship-worthy and could develop into players.

Richard Burney, 3-star
Tanner Cowley, 3-star
Unless we were going to eschew the tight end position completely in favor of going three- and four-wide... GOOD LORD, DID WE NEED SOME TIGHT ENDS.  Not sure either of these dudes is a home run, but maybe each one is a solid single we might be able to leg out into a double.  (Boom, confusing, off-putting mixed sports metaphors!)  From what I've been able to gather, Burney is the receiving tight end while Cowley is more of an in-line blocker.  Again, neither really captures the imagination, but both add much-needed bodies at a position that had become negligently undermanned.  I'm also hoping we can find a recruited walk-on or three to add to the mix.

Ryan Bischoff, 3-star
Grant Polk, 3-star
R.J. Proctor, 3-star
I could wax on here forever, but I'll just say this: These three dudes are fine, I wish it were five or six OL recruits instead of just three, and despite what Jerry Ratcliffe says, Virginia's offensive line remains woefully threadbare.  In fact, when we look back on the demise of Mike London's head coaching career at UVA, I think poor offensive line recruiting is going to be the first (of many) bullet points.  But like I said, it's no fault of Bischoff, Polk, or Proctor, each of whom is - I'm sure - a fine recruit, and part of the solution, not part of the problem.  (Interesting note: Through five full recruiting classes, London has secured just ONE offensive line recruit ranked above three stars by the recruiting services.  "Great recruiter," my ass.)

Eli Hanback, 3-star
James Trucilla, 3-star
Hanback, also an OL recruit, should have ended up on the offensive line.  But instead, nope, it's defensive tackle!  Hanback and Trucilla are both high-motor mauler types who need to add bulk.  Same story as just about every other recruit in this class -- they're raw, they need to add size, they need to be developed.

DE / OLB / Pass Rusher
Naji Abdullah, 3-star
Eric Gallon, 2-star
Gladimir Paul, 3-star
Steven Wright, 3-star
Jon Tenuta has made a career out of taking under-recruited raw pass rushers and turning them into NFL draft picks.  Straw into gold, y'all.  In this 2015 class, I'd say Abdullah, Gallon, and Paul are the straw, joining 2014 recruits J.J. Jackson, Darrious Carter, Cory Jones, and Chris Peace.  Our Rumpelstiltskin has a lot of raw material to work with... we'll see what he can spin up to replace Eli Harold and Max Valles in 2015.  Meanwhile, Steven Wright sounds like a strongside defensive end all the way, so consider him the outlier in this group of recruits.

Dominic Sheppard, 3-star
Jahvoni Simmons, 4-star
C.J. Stalker, 3-star
THIS is the best positional haul of the '15 class.  Some are even putting it on par with the Kai Parham / Ahmad Brooks class of way back when.  I'm not sure if Simmons/Stalker/Sheppard has quite that much star power, but all three of these guys can play.  (Too bad we've pretty much moved to a base nickel and require fewer of these players than ever before...)

Juan Thornhill, 3-star
Don't look now, but safety is threatening to become as dangerously thin as tight end and OL.  Yikes.  Thornhill is a great prospect, but there's a ton of pressure on him to pan out.

Kareem Gibson, 3-star
T.J. Griffin, 2-star
Myles Robinson, 3-star
Good players, but tiny.  Gibson is 5-10, 157, Griffin is 5-9, 180, and Robinson is the hulk of the bunch at 5-11, 185.  I shit bigger than these guys.  So none are potential position switches to safety... but Robinson can play [slot] receiver and Griffin is apparently a killer scatback that Wisconsin recruited hard.

Add it Up...
Looks like we're wrapping up the nation's 47th-ranked recruiting class, 9th-ranked in the ACC (ahead of Duke, WF, BC, Pitt, and Cuse).  I'm happy with this class, but it's also pretty clear to me that Mike London can no longer float the concept of recruiting past his Xs and Os deficiencies.  The future of Virginia Football rests on our ability to develop some of these young men from raw athletes into dynamic football players.  The lack of numbers in the trenches troubles me deeply, as does the lack of pure star power in the playmaking positions.  I'm happy with this class, but taking a step back and looking at the big picture, it does still feel like the ship is sinking further into the abyss.

Here's a great write-up from our favorite blog, from old virginia:

And you gotta love those haters at the Augusta Free Press (no seriously, I love them):


  1. A coworker keeps time at local high school games. He stopped by the office to mention that Warren Craft is a fantastic athlete that jumps out of the gym. He also mentioned that he seems like a really decent dude. Maybe he's a little raw, but someone who can high point the ball in the endzone seems like someone we've been missed since...uh...Jake McGee?

  2. Hard to understand Jerry Ratcliffe. He earned some respect with the Casteen/Va Tech episode. For a while there, he seemed like the only voice of sanity.

    But other times?
    --Hire Mike Cubbage....
    --Hire Tubby Smith...
    --Fawn over TOB/football genius...
    --The run game/future of football...
    --And generally, the theme seems to be that the program is turning the corner after hiring braintrust, fans just don't 'know it yet'... (he has sources --TOB?--that tell him)
    --OL recruiting (and recruiting in general) was faltering, but now TOB has it back on track

    Wish Jerry well, and he seems like a nice guy who bleeds blue and orange. But his knowledge, sources, and logic -- and the track record that has resulted from them --are a disappointment...