Virginia Head Coach Mike London has landed two successive strong recruiting classes. Now that the 2012 class is sewn up and 2013 recruiting has got a head of steam, we thought we'd take a look ahead at the teams needs going forward. What will be the Hoos biggest needs for 2013? Who are some of the top names both in-state and nation wide that will be on the Hoos radar?
Let's start by taking a look at some of the raw numbers. In the past few days, three UVA players have left the team for one reason or another. QB Ross Metheny, WR Kevin Royal and DE Thompson Brown are no longer part of the program, which frees up 3 scholarships. By my count, this gets us to exactly 85 scholarship players for the 2012 roster, assuming none of the incoming recruits end up at a prep school for the season.
Of those 85, just 13 of them will be seniors in 2012. That includes such team leaders as Perry Jones and LaRoy Reynolds, as well as key contributors such as Steve Greer and Oday Aboushi. This also includes our top two TEs, Paul Freedman and Colter Phillips. It is possible that certain players will not be invited back for their 5th years in 2013. This includes guys like Bobby Smith, who have had minimal (or no) impact on the field. Of course, should a guy like Smith step up in 2012 and have a solid year, he would likely earn his place on the 2013 roster.
So, it looks like the 2013 class will be on the smaller side, perhaps maxing at under 20 players. Let's take a look at the potential makeup of the class.
First and foremost, there are a few positions that need to be recruited every year. QB and RB are two, as is OL. We brought in 2 quality QBs this year, so I would expect no more than 1 this year. The coaches have their eyes on a few prospects for 2013, and if they miss on those, they may not take a QB. RB is a bigger need, because we lose Perry Jones after this year, plus the other 3 RBs on the roster (Kevin Parks, Clifton Richardson and Khalek Shepherd) are all rising sophomores. Getting a quality RB for 2013 is almost a necessity, just to keep the depth chart complete moving forward. There also aren't any true FBs on the roster, so the staff would probably take one, if they found the right guy.
OL is a bigger issue. There are a number of bodies on the line, but we may lose 3 starters after 2012. We'll probably try to bring in 2 or 3 OLs next year, with an emphasis on OT. Of course, if we know that Morgan Moses will be staying for his senior year, that number is closer to 2.
We brought in a number of WRs in both 2011 and 2012, so that position is well stocked. A number of the current WRs may end up at other positions (CB, TE) so there may be some spots open there. I expect the staff to bring in 1 or maybe 2 WRs, but likely not more than that. The TE position is one that has been somewhat de-emphasized over the past couple of years. Is that because of the players we have at the position, or is it because of the style of offense we run? I don't think anybody really knows. Regardless, we lose our top 2 TEs after this year, and the two remaining on the roster (Jake McGee and Jay Mathis) are relatively untested. Max Valles is expected to be a TE, and there could be another from the 2012 class (Kyle Dockin or Mario Nixon). I believe the staff would like to bring in at least one true TE in this class, and would take two if it was the right players.
So far, it seems pretty simple. One QB. One RB. One or two WR. One TE. Two or three OLs. The defense, sadly, is more of a problem.
The most glaring need on the defense is LBs. In 2012, the Hoos will have just 9 scholarship LBs on the roster (this includes 2012 recruits Kwontie Moore and). Three of those are seniors. While there may be a couple of guys moved to LB (Demeitre Brim, Kameron Mack are two possibilities), the position clearly lacks depth. I believe the staff will try to bring in as many as 5 or 6 LBs in this class. Anybody who moves down from Safety is likely to play outside, so MLB is the biggest need. We may bring in 3 guys capable of playing inside.
The DL is less of a pressing concern, due to the numbers of guys brought in the past couple of years. This is especially true at DE, where we have eight players who will be in either their first or second year on the field this year. On the inside, there are just five scholarship players, and Will Hill will be a senior. That makes DT a position of need, and I expect the Hoos to bring in 2 DTs. Keep in mind that a couple of DEs may move inside (Michael Moore, Courtney Wynn being the two most obvious). With the emphasis on passing games become more and more prevalent, generating pass rush from the DE positions is a necessity. Because of that, and the aforementioned possible switches from DE to DT, the Hoos will likely bring in one or two DEs as well.
The defensive secondary was another position that was stocked in the past couple of classes. Guys like Demetrious Nicholson and Brandon Phelps were brought in and have had immediate success. Still, with the team losing 4 DBs this year, and at least 1 more next year, there is a need there. The need isn't huge, but the staff does need to fill out the depth chart there. I expect the Hoos to bring in 2 or 3 DBs, with a larger focus on safety as the majority of the current safeties are still unknowns.
It should go without saying that all of this may change. Players get hurt. Players get in trouble. Unknowns may come out of nowhere to make big impacts. Walk-ons may earn scholarships due to perseverance and strong play. Any of those things, and many others, can affect the team's current makeup and the recruiting picture.
Top 2013 Targets
Now, let's take a look at some of the top targets both in state and nationwide.
At Quarterback, there were a couple of strong prospects in the state of Virginia that the Hoos were looking at, both of whom have already committed elsewhere. However, Brendan Marshall, out of Olney, MD is a guy the Hoos are high on.
As I mentioned, RB is not a huge need, but the Hoos would still like to take one this year. At this point, the Hoos have their focus on some of the top RB prospects in the nation, such as Virginia Beach's Taquan Mizzell and Philadelphia's David Williams.
As always the Hoos will take big time playmakers at WR such as Quan Jones and Eldridge Massington, both from Texas. The one WR prospect to keep your eyes on is Zack Jones, the younger brother of current UVA RB Perry Jones. While WR isn't a big need, TE may be. To that end, the Hoos have set their eyes on one of the top TE prospects in the nation, Pennsylvania's Adam Breneman.
There are a number of lineman on the Hoos radar, on both lines. One of our top OL prospects is Mike McGlinchey, who hails from Philadelphia and the same high school asand Sammy Zeglinski. In state, Lynchburg's Braxton Pfaff is an interior lineman that is getting a lot of looks from the Hoos. The defensive line isn't a need for this class, so while the Hoos have their eye on a handful of guys, it would have to be a perfect fit at this point.
Linebacker, as I mentioned, is another story, where the Hoos have a huge need moving forward. As such, there are a number of LBs on the Hoos radar. One is Ashburn's Matt Rolin, another is Lorton's Oren Burks. Other names to remember are Maryland's Marcus Newby, Dorian O'Daniel, Marcel Ngachie , Reggie McGee and Micah Kiser. O'Daniel, Ngachie and McGee are all teammates at Good Counsel High School in Olney, which is also where current UVA players Vincent Croce and EJ Scott hail from.
In the defensive backfield, the Hoos are looking more at Safety than CB, but will likely take a couple of DB prospects. One of the top is Richmond's Tim Harris, who may well end up as our first commit. The top CB on our list might be, from Suffolk.
There's a basic early look at the Hoos 2013 recruiting picture. We will continue to keep you updated with news and highlights along the way.