Hometown: Onley, Md
High School: Our Lady of Good Counsel HS
Vincent Croce was a 3 star DT recruit. He was ranked the #40 DT by Rivals, #55 by Scout and #36 by ESPN. In HS, Croce played a variety of positions on defense. He was a DE, DT, OLB and ILB. There was actually some talk, early in his UVA career, of making him a LB. He also played TE in HS.
As a redshirt freshman, Croce played in 4 games, all on special teams. With little depth on the DL, it seemed like Croce had a chance to make an impact this year at the position. However, following the season, Croce apparently requested a change to FB. Perhaps he saw a chance to get on the field quickly at FB. Or, perhaps he realized that a 250 lb DT wasn't likely to see the field, and he's been having trouble keeping on additional weight. Whatever the reason, Croce is now slotted at FB.
Last year, the Hoos did not have a traditional FB. The primary FB was converted TE Zach Swanson, who is more of an H-back. Swanson has moved back to TE following Croce's move. Croce is currently the only scholarship player listed at FB. He's also listed on the depth chart as the starting FB. On some level, that makes him a starter. He would not have been a starter at DT.
However, with a lot of depth at RB and WR, plus two very good TEs, the Hoos aren't likely to use the FB all that often. Last year, Swanson caught 8 passes at FB. Granted, his role at FB was likely different from Croce's. If Croce can pick up the blocking aspects of the position, especially lead blocking, he could be a big asset there. The Hoos struggled mightily in short yardage last year, and a 250 pound lead blocker would certainly help.
As a receiver out of the backfield, Croce is likely going to be used even less than Swanson, simply because he lacks the experience. His size could make him an interesting weapon as an outlet receiver, because he'd be tough for a DB to bring down. He could also be used as a ball carrier on short yardage, for much the same reason. He'd be tough to bring down.
It remains to be seen how much Croce will be used this year as a FB. He lacks experience at the position and the Hoos may not need a FB all that much. Croce will, however, see extensive time on special teams. A guy with his size and athletic profile could be a special teams star.