Mike London is trying to keep Virginia's recruiting class intact after a 4-8 season - Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
With significant turnover on Virginia's football coaching staff, there are plenty of questions about the current recruiting cycle to be answered. So, without further ado, here is the first edition of the UVa Recruiting Mailbag:
@AppFlyer asks: Which teams the recruiting trail are UVA's biggest competition?
Virginia Tech is always UVa’s biggest competitor on the recruiting trail. Over the past year, North Carolina has made some nice inroads in the Commonwealth, and is a threat to poach some very talented players in the 2014 recruiting cycle. In the DC area, Maryland and Penn State are usually the biggest challengers to Virginia on the trail.
Nick Hulse asks: Has anyone decommited/reopened their recruitment since the coaching changes?
Let’s break Virginia’s commitments up into several categories, shall we? Totally Solid, Will be Hoos (15/20): Zack Bradshaw, Corwin Cutler, Jack English, Kirk Garner, Brad Henson, Keeon Johnson, Zack Jones, Micah Kiser, Andre Levrone, Brendan Marshall, Jack McDonald, Taquan Mizzell, Sadiq Olanrewaju and LaChaston Smith, Max Valles (Prep) Will take other visits, but still somewhat solid (2/20): Tim Harris, Hipolito Corporan Serious risk for decommitment (3/20): Tyrell Chavis, Malcolm Cook, Donta Wilkins
There was some worry about the status of McDonald, English and Kiser, but they all seem safely in Virginia’s 2013 class at this point. Harris has said he will take a few official visits to ACC foes Clemson and UNC, but as long as Virginia hires a solid defensive coordinator and Richmond recruiter, he should end up at UVa. Corporan will visit Utah, but the Utes have not offered at this point, and they are the only real threat for the Houston native at this point. Chavis has said openly that he will pursue other options, but has not set any visits yet. Cook and Wilkins were both upset at the firings, and Wilkins will take three official visits in January, in addition to his visit to Charlottesville. He is the biggest flight risk. Cook seems to be in a wait and see mode, until the Cavaliers hire some new coaches. UVa really, really wants to hold on to the sleeper safety.
Daniel Ahn asks: Likelihood Malcolm Cook, Tim Harris, and Tyrell Chavis do not sign with UVa?
Cook himself put the odds he sticks with Virginia at "45-50%" in an interview with a local television station this week. I thought that was a really weird question to ask, especially a prospect whose lead recruiter was just fired a few days earlier. Cook has picked up some offers from some FBS schools over the course of an outstanding senior season (Miami, Syracuse and others), but Penn State would be the biggest threat to take Cook, if they decide to offer. The Nittany Lions have a smaller number of scholarships to offer though, and may decide not to give Cook an offer. If they do, it’s something to watch.
As for Harris, he seemed really upset with the decision to let Jim Reid go, but he has processed it over the past week or so. He’s on record saying that he plans to take official visits to Clemson and North Carolina, and possibly another, as well as his official to UVa in January. He has said before that he might take visits, but we’ll see if those visits actually take place. Harris seems to want to wait and see who the Cavaliers hire and how he will fit in with the new scheme before totally committing himself to Virginia. I would still expect him to sign with UVa in February.
Chavis told Roanoke Times reporter Doug Doughty that he has decommitted from the Cavaliers, and will take a look at other options. Like Harris though, if the new coaches at Virginia are to his liking, he’ll probably stick with Virginia as well. Right now though, I’d consider him the most likely to part ways with Virginia of those three. Right now I’d say the odds for Cook are 66%, Harris 75% and Chavis 60% to sign with Virginia. Chavis also has to clear academic hurdles to get to UVa, so that is part of the reason why his percentage is lower than the others.
Suraj Jain Asks: Which position projects to be strongest / weakest over next few years (apart from QB)?
The wide receiver position should be really solid in 2013. Everyone returns, and Virginia has added some nice athletic recruits to that position group over the past couple years. The running back position should be decent as well, with Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson returning, as well as the arrival of Taquan Mizzell. Kye Morgan and Khalek Shepard are nice pieces as well. The secondary returns everyone as well. Trouble areas are the linebacker and tight end positions. At linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and Steve Greer graduate, two significant losses. D.J Hill, Kwontie Moore and others will need to step up and fill that void, despite not having a ton of game experience. At tight end Jake McGee returns, but Paul Freedman and Colter Phillips depart. Virginia has not brought in many tight ends during London’s time in Charlottesville, and depth at that position will be a concern going forward.
STL’s own Will Campbell asks: With coaches being fired, do you see the impact on recruiting being extremely negative? Expect us to lose any commits?
One thing that will happen right away (I’m sure it’s already happening) is that opposing staffs will use the change at UVa against them on the trail. They can tell UVa targets or commits that Mike London’s job is no longer safe, and that he could be next. Recruits often take these comments seriously, and it can cause them to think twice about going to Virginia. Mike London has done a really good job since the changes to reach out to the commits that may have questions or are wavering, to try to ease their worries. For a lot of players, once they get assurance from London that the right coaches will be in place for success, they calm down. At this point I don’t see Virginia losing more than one or two guys, and they could very well lose none of them.
TJ Conley asks: Is it true UVA has used up all of their scholarships and that is why they can't get any more recruits for 2013 class?
Yes, Virginia is close to the limit on scholarships for this recruiting cycle. Based on the number of players currently on scholarship and expected to return next year, the Cavaliers are close to the ceiling. Attrition, both in the recruiting class and on the team, like Michael Rocco transferring for example, can open up new roster spots. UVa is being very selective though, and only going after a few guys for the remainder of this cycle. With Daesean Hamilton (Penn State) and Tevin Montgomery (Boston College) both off the board, UVa could very well be done for the 2013 cycle.