Demetrious Nicholson is one of several Bayside High products that have made their way to Charlottesville in recent years. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
We hear over and over again that in order for Virginia to have success on the recruiting trail, they have to take advantage of the richest talent area of the state, the "757." With UVA landing guys like Clifton Richardson, Eli Harold and Kwontie Moore from the area in recent years, it appears they are doing just that. Although there are many schools in the Newport News-Norfolk-Virginia Beach area that have talented players and successful programs, it appears that Virginia is having a great deal of success in recent years at one school in particular.
Bayside High School in Virginia Beach is that school. The Marlins have sent players to Virginia in all three of the recruiting classes that Mike London has completed at UVA (although Al Groh and his staff recruited many of the commits in the 2010 class, London had to keep them in the fold.) In 2010, Henry Coley started the Bayside run for Virginia, by signing with the Cavaliers to play inside linebacker. Then in 2011, Virginia reeled in the Gatorade State Player of the Year, defensive back Demetrious Nicholson, from the school. The run of Marlins committing to Virginia continued in the 2012 cycle, when athlete Anthony Cooper signed with the Cavaliers. The only other school to send prospects to Virginia in each of the past three recruiting cycles was Fork Union Military Academy. That situation is different however, because three of those four FUMA commits (Morgan Moses, Kyrell Latimer and Adrian Gamble) had actually committed to the Cavaliers in the previous recruiting year, and prepped a year at FUMA before coming to Charlottesville.
Prior to the last few years, Virginia has not had much success recruiting at Bayside. Going back to 2002 (as far back as Rivals keeps records of recruiting classes), Virginia had a whopping zero commits from Bayside before Coley jumped onboard in the summer of 2009. The biggest prize from the Virginia Beach school in recent years was the state's top prospect in 2008, E.J. Manuel. Manuel was rated as the 2nd best dual-threat quarterback in the nation that year, and chose Florida State over a litany of other offers from big-time programs. Since then Manuel has become the starting quarterback in Tallahassee, and Virginia has landed every big-time recruit that Bayside has produced.
Led by Coach Darnell Moore, the Marlins have been one of the more successful programs in the AAA Eastern Region over the past few years as well. In 2011, Bayside finished 8-2, before losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs to Salem. In 2010, the Marlins had even more success. Led by Tre Nicholson, Bayside had an undefeated regular season, and didn't lose a game until running into Curtis Grant and Hermitage in the state semi-finals. Although they did not reach the state championship game in Charlottesville, going 14-1 in the always talented Eastern Region is nothing to sneeze at.
Virginia has had great success recruiting at Bayside recently, and UVA fans can hope that streak can go a few more years as well. UVA is the presumed leader for another Bayside standout in the 2013 class, 4-star running back Taquan Mizzell. Mizzell, who goes by the nickname "Smoke", is a massive talent who holds offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Miami, and many others. If Virginia can hold on to that lead and secure the signature of Mizzell, he would surely be one of the best players UVA signs in the 2013 class. Signing Mizzell would also help Virginia land an even bigger Bayside prize in 2014. Athlete Quin Blanding is expected to be rated a 5-star player when the 2014 ratings are released, and stop me if this sounds familiar, Virginia is considered by many to be the leader for the Marlin. Blanding, who many see as a safety, has been to Charlottesville several times already, and holds offers from both in-state schools, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Clemson, Miami....you get the idea. Blanding is expected to be the highest rated Bayside Marlin of the bunch, and if Virginia found a way to land him in 2014, it would be a massive coup for the UVA program.
Everyone knows that the "757" is rich with talent. Year after year programs from outside the state and region flood the area to offer kids scholarships, in hopes of luring them away from the Hoos and the Hokies. If Mike London and his staff can keep up their recruiting efforts and on-field results follow, expect those players to leave the state less and less often. Building relationships with coaches and players in the area goes a long way, and when you can set up a pipeline at a school like Bayside, you can set yourself up to replenish your roster with talent year after year.