Mike London and Frank Beamer will go to war over Virginia's deep talent pool in the 2014 class. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
There has been a lot of talk in recent months about how good the 2013 class in the State of Virginia is. With three stud quarterbacks, a bunch of talent running backs, and several great front seven players, that certainly is the case. As good as the 2013 class is, the 2014 class is even better. At least three 5-star players for 2014 play their high school football in the Commonwealth. Besides those three there are plenty of other prospects with impressive offer lists and 4 and 5 star potential residing in the state. 2014 will be a great opportunity for both Virginia and Virginia Tech to find top talent for their respective squads without having to leave the state. So, with all that said, let's take a look at some of what will likely be the State of Virginia's most talented recruiting class ever.
Quin Blanding, Safety, Bayside (Virginia Beach)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, UConn, ECU, Illinois, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Vanderbilt
Blanding is one of the best players in the nation for 2014. His offer list is already impressive, featuring both in-state schools and powerhouses Notre Dame and Ohio State, and it's only going to get bigger. Blanding, who goes by the awesome nickname "Pretty Ricky," is projected to play safety at the collegiate level. He also is expected to earn a 5-star rating when the 2014 rankings are released down the road. Obviously, this would be a huge pull for the Virginia program. Blanding has visited Charlottesville a bunch of times and as of now, UVA is seen by many as the favorite. As more offers roll in however, that can all change. Virginia has positioned itself well for Blanding by reeling in his Bayside teammates in the past 3 recruiting classes, and they are hot on 2013 Marlins running back Taquan Mizzell as well. It will be interesting to see if UVA can hold on to its advantageous position as Signing Day 2014 approaches.
Andrew Brown, Defensive Tackle, Indian River (Chesapeake)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Miami, NC State, North Carolina
Brown also projects as a 5-star prospect, and one of the top players in the state. A big defensive end, Brown already holds a bunch of offers from top-level programs, and like Blanding, expect that offer list to grow rapidly as time goes on. Also like Blanding, Virginia is in a solid position for Brown's services. Brown has visited both in-state schools, as well as a recent trip to Chapel Hill for North Carolina's spring game. There have been some rumblings recently that Brown will transfer from Indian River to nearby powerhouse Oscar Smith for his final two years of high school. That move probably wouldn't hurt Virginia's chances with Brown, considering current players Perry Jones and Tim Smith, as well as a possible transfer quarterback, are all Oscar Smith alums. Brown, like many players from the "757," has a relationship with 2012 Virginia signee Eli Harold, and that could prove huge for the Cavaliers' chances with the 2014 standout.
Da'Shawn Hand, Defensive End, Woodbridge (Woodbridge)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Miami, Michigan, NC State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse
Hand could be the top player in the nation in the 2014 class. He's that good. His offer list tells the story, as Hand holds offers from teams that have combined for 9 national titles since 1997. Hand, like the other two projected 5-stars in the 2014 class, is projected to play on the defensive side of the ball in college. Both UVA and Virginia Tech are in the mix for Hand, but he is more likely to go out of state than Quin Blanding or Andrew Brown are. It's going to take a lot of work for the Virginia staff to get a commitment from Hand, but that certainly won't stop them from trying. In the end, I see Hand ending up at an SEC school, where he certainly belongs from a talent perspective.
Caleb Henderson, Quarterback, West Potomac (Alexandria)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland
Henderson is the only quarterback in the Commonwealth's 2014 class that has BCS-level offers at this point. Henderson, who has been offered by the ACC trio of UVA, Virginia Tech and Maryland, already has good size for a QB, even as a high-school sophomore. At 6'3'' 215 lbs, it will be interesting to see how much more Henderson grows before graduating. It's safe to say after watching this video that Virginia is probably the leader for Henderson's services. The Alexandria native speaks glowingly about the UVA staff, and even dons a Virginia hoodie at the New Jersey camp. Henderson will be interesting to track as more offers start coming in. As for now though, Virginia is in a great position to land the West Potomac signal-caller.
Jayln Holmes, Defensive End, Lake Taylor (Norfolk)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Penn State, Vanderbilt
Holmes is yet another defensive end in the 2014 class in the Commonwealth. Holding a bunch of solid offers already, Holmes could also see his recruitment blow up of over the next year or so. At 6'5'' 225 lbs, Holmes is has an athletic frame for a defensive end, not unlike that of Virginia signee Eli Harold. As far as his recruitment goes, there hasn't been a lot of buzz regarding Holmes and Virginia. The Lake Taylor standout did attend Virginia Tech's Spring Game weekend, and it appears for now that the Hokies hold the edge over the Hoos in the in-state battle for Holmes. In the end, Holmes could end up choosing to leave the state, but as for now, if he does stay in state, I think he will choose the Hokies.
Jamil Kamara, Wide Receiver, Lake Taylor (Norfolk)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Illinois, Marshall, Miami, Toledo, Vanderbilt
We finally get to our first offensive weapon in the Virginia 2014 class, in Lake Taylor wide receiver Jamil Kamara. Kamara played at Princess Anne before making the move to Lake Taylor for the remainder of his high school career. Kamara could end up as a 4 or 5 star prospect, making him among the top rated players in the state for 2014. The Virginia staff has been on Kamara for some time now, but so have a bunch of other schools, including of course, Virginia Tech. For now, this looks to be an in-state battle between the Hoos and Hokies for Kamara, and it could go either way at this point. There is a long way to go in Kamara's recruitment, but Virginia is not in a bad spot as of now.
Vincent Mihota, Defensive End, Massaponax (Fredericksburg)
Offers: Virginia Tech
The Hokies struck first in the 2014 in-state battle, grabbing a commitment from Mihota during their Spring Game weekend a few weeks back. And if you were wondering, yes, Vincent is the younger brother of former Virginia center Anthony Mihota. UVA however, did not offer Mihota. This is somewhat puzzling on the surface, but I'm sure Mike London and his staff had their reasons for choosing not to offer. The younger brother will not follow his brother's footsteps as an interior offensive lineman however. Instead, Mihota projects as a defensive end in Bud Foster's scheme.
Steven Moss, Offensive Tackle, Chancellor (Fredericksburg)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Clemson, East Carolina, Illinois, NC State, South Carolina
The Chancellor offensive tackle already holds offers from 5 ACC schools, making him one of the most pursued players for the 2014 class already. As a high school sophomore, Moss is already 6'4'' 270, so he's a big boy. Moss' recruitment has been pretty quiet so far, but that's not too unusual considering he's only a sophomore. Hopefully we'll hear more about Moss taking visits and forming a pecking order among those schools who have offered. For now, Virginia is continuing to pursue Moss, and we'll know more about where they stand with the Fredericksburg native as time goes on.
Derrick Nnadi, Defensive Tackle, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach)
Offers: Virginia, Illinois, NC State
The Ocean Lakes defensive tackle was offered by Virginia this week, brining his offer total to three. Nnadi could see more offers come in soon, as Virginia Tech could be close to offering the Virginia Beach native. Nnadi already weighs over 300 lbs, and he could really clog up the interior line at the next level if he continues to grow. With Virginia's offer to Nnadi being so recent, it is somewhat difficult to say what kind of impact it will have on the defensive tackle. Nnadi plays at Ocean Lakes, so its probably safe to say he has a relationship with Eli Harold of some kind (this is becoming a trend if you hadn't noticed), and that certainly can't hurt in Virginia's pursuit of the 2014 prospect.
C.J. Reavis, Athlete, Thomas Dale (Chester)
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech
Both in-state schools have offered the Thomas Dale star, who projects as a defensive back at the next level. This sets up to be yet another in-state battle between Virginia and Virginia Tech for Reavis. With Virginia Tech bringing in Shane Beamer to help bolster their recruiting, the Richmond area (where Beamer recruits) is becoming quite the battleground between the Hoos and the Hokies. The Hokies grabbed a commitment from Thomas Dale star Desmond Frye in the 2012 class, and are considered the leader for another Thomas Dale star, 2013 running back Daniel Reid. This can't hurt with their position with Reavis, and as of now, I'd call the Hokies the favorite.
Marshawn Williams, Running Back, Hampton (Hampton)
Offers: Virginia Tech
So far the Hampton Crabber only holds one offer, from Virginia Tech. It's still early however, so expect a bunch of schools, including Virginia, to get involved. Chip West, who spearheads Virginia's recruiting in the Tidewater area, has had some recent success at Hampton, reeling in David Watford and Jamall Brown in the past two recruiting classes from the school. Graduate Assistant Marques Hagans is also a Hampton alum. Tech has also had success at Hampton, snagging former quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the school (even though he didn't really know the name of the school he was committing to). Expect Virginia to offer and get involved with Williams soon, and we'll see where Virginia stands when that happens.
As you can see, this is a really talented group for the 2014 class in Virginia. Keep in mind, this doesn't even include a bunch of talented guys from the DC and Maryland areas, that Virginia always recruits really hard. It will be interesting to see how much of this talent Virginia and Virginia Tech can keep in-state when 2014 rolls around. For now, expect a bunch of these guys to stay in the state, with a few, including the biggest prize Da'Shawn Hand, possibly leaning towards playing their college ball further away.