Today was the 3rd day of fall camp for the Virginia Cavaliers, and the first with pads. After practicing for the first two days with helmets, the team sported helmets and shells, or shoulder pads, with shorts today. Streaking the Lawn was on-hand for today's practice, and here's what we saw, in today's Camp Report.
Quarterback group is strong
When Mike London took the Virginia job in late 2009, the quarterback situation was, frankly, a mess. There was very little experience in the depth chart, and Marc Verica was the only signal-caller that was capable of managing Bill Lazor's offense in London's first year. Well, I'm glad to report those days are over. The QB group Lazor is working with now is much better from top to bottom than the 2010 group, or many of the groups under Al Groh were. Michael Rocco seems solidly in the starter's role, taking a lot of first team reps today. Overall he had a pretty solid day. Obviously Phillip Sims has been a big storyline over the summer. Today, we saw flashes of what made him such a highly rated prospect coming out of high school, and also what challenges he will have to overcome to earn playing time. Sims is still working on getting the timing down with Virginia's receiving core, something that Rocco and David Watford have had a long time to work on. Speaking of Watford, he had a decent day as well. He has a really strong arm, and throws a nice ball. Sure, Virginia fans have seen flashes of that already in Watford's game action from last year, but it's just worth noting, because Sims isn't the only quarterback with a nice arm.
Speaking of strong-armed quarterbacks, I was quite impressed with Greyson Lambert today. The freshman from Georgia is the biggest of the quarterback group, and can throw the ball with a lot of velocity. Today though, his accuracy in the 1 on 1 drill was pretty remarkable. Lambert hit two really nice passes in a row, connecting with Anthony Cooper on an out route right on the money, and then a long touchdown to E.J. Scott over coverage from C.J. Moore. Lambert will redshirt this year, and it will be a great opportunity to learn from a group of veteran quarterbacks and Coach Lazor, but his time will come. He's going to be a good one.
Young wide receivers make their mark
The 2012 wide receiver class looked pretty nice today. First off, the group, particularly Canaan Severin, Adrian Gamble and Kyle Dockins, don't necessesarily look like freshmen. Dockins has great height and a decent frame, and Dockins and Severin look like big, grizzled veterans out there. Severin in particular showed well today. In the 1 on 1 drills, the Massachusetts native was tough to stop, and got some oohs and ahhs from the crowd with a great over the shoulder grab with fellow freshman Maurice Canady in defense. Kyle Dockins showed good hands and footwork in receiver drills, and Anthony Cooper was tough to handle in 1 on 1's. This group will has a chance to be really special down the road, and Severin and Gamble (and perhaps others) could make an impact right away.
Interesting group at fullback
With Max Milien graduating, Virginia needs to find a brand new fullback to plug into this years' offense. The group that is competing for that spot is pretty intruiging. First there's Zack Swanson, who at 6'6'', is the tallest fullback I've ever seen. Then, there's Lo'Vante Battle, who comes over from defense to try his hand at the position. Also in the mix is Canadian freshman Trent Corney, who looks like a cyborg out there on the practice field. Built like a tank with speed to burn, Corney could really be interesting at fullback if he can get the offense down. Freshman linebacker Kwontie Moore also worked a little bit a fullback today, but I wouldn't bet on him playing there this year.
Other Random Notes:
- The new orange Nike cleats the team is wearing this year are pretty awesome
- Freshmen Mario Nixon and Divante Walker both sat out of practice again Wednesday. Both players have yet to practice, as they recover from injury. They were both on hand today though.
- Also on hand was the Cavaliers' top ranked commit for 2013, Varina defensive back Tim Harris. He took in practice at The Park today, watching the defensive back unit closely.
- Kyle McCartin turned his ankle in a special teams drill. He tried to go again on his next turn, but his injury didn't seem to get better. It didn't look like he participated for the rest of the session
- Maurice Canady is going to factor in at cornerback this year. He is built solidly, and showed well today. He might not start at corner this year, but he WILL contribute.
- Morgan Moses looks a lot more athletic than before. The starting right tackle looks a lot more lean this year, and very athletic. Still has a great beard too.
- Anthony Poindexter is the loudest coach out there. He gets after his guys, and in return, they seem to put out great effort for him.
- Speaking of yelling, Mike London gave a few yells of displeasure today. For most of the practice he seemed pretty calm, but if he saw something he didn't like, he wasn't afraid to let the team know.
- Khalek Shepard looked really good today. He seems to be a lock for the kick and punt return spot, and may see some time at running back if he keeps it up.
- Finally, a special thanks to Brad Franklin from CavsCorner.com for letting us use of of his high-quality photos for this piece. He is a gentleman and a scholar.
That's it for today. We'll be back at practice tomorrow, and will report our observations again tomorrow evening.