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Five Star Bayside Running Back Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell Commits to Virginia

Taquan 'Smoke' Mizzell (Photo courtesy @dantrevinophoto)
Taquan 'Smoke' Mizzell (Photo courtesy @dantrevinophoto)

Virginia scored a massive commitment for their 2013 class on Tuesday, when star running back Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell announced for the Cavaliers. Smoke made the announcement at Bayside High School in Virginia Beach, over fellow finalists West Virginia and North Carolina. Mizzell earned a 5-star ranking on Rivals earlier in the week, and becomes UVA's first 5-star commit, according to Rivals, since Eugene Monroe in 2005. (2012 signee Eli Harold was a 5-star prospect according to 247sports and Scout.) The Virginia Beach native is the Cavaliers' highest-ranked commit for the 2013 class. Mizzell earned the rare 5-star moniker by basically tearing up the camp circuit this summer. Whether it was in Atlanta or Oregon, Brooklyn or Orlando, Mizzell turned heads at every camp and combine he attended. And this was against some of the best competition in the country.

"Smoke" is the perfect nickname for the future Cavalier tailback. Possessing incredible elusiveness, Mizzell is a terror in the open field. In 7 on 7 work this summer, Smoke made countless defenders look silly as he froze them with his ability to stop on a dime, then immediately accelerate by the competition. The ability to quickly stop and start is Mizzell's calling card. In addition to a great balance of quickness and balance in the open field, Mizzell can still be a workhorse back, and carry the ball between the tackles. In Virginia's offense, the Cavaliers have relied on some smaller running backs in Perry Jones and Kevin Parks, and they've done just fine. Mizzell is bigger than both of them, so size won't be an issue for the Bayside star.

This summer, Smoke has been able to showcase another facet of his game, the ability to catch the football. In 7 on 7 situations, running backs often struggle to adjust, because they aren't getting carries but instead are forced to become slot receivers. Mizzell thrived in this setting. Whether it was catching the ball out of the backfield on wheel routes or in the flats, or lining up in the slot and winning one on one matchups, Smoke was too much to handle for almost all defenders during the camp season. These types of skills all translate extremely well to Virginia's pro-style offense. Virginia can get creative with Mizzell, using him in the screen game or in the slot, in addition to the regular carries he will receive. And I haven't even mentioned Mizzell's potential in the return game. Virginia's special teams have been much maligned over the past couple years, and adding an elite talent with great elusiveness and sure hands could be just what the Cavaliers need in that department.

Although Virginia being Mizzell's pick Tuesday was not unexpected, its impact could be profound. First, there is the obvious impact that Mizzell could have on the field. With Perry Jones graduating, Mizzell will almost surely play as a Freshman, platooning with Clifton Richardson, Kevin Parks and possibly Khalek Shepard or Kye Morgan. Smoke's commitment to Virginia goes beyond that though. First, he is yet another elite pickup for Mike London and the Cavaliers in the talent-rich "757." Joining current Cavaliers Eli Harold, Demetrious Nicholson, Kwontie Moore and others, Mizzell helps form a super-talented group from that area on Grounds. Smoke is also close with a bunch of coveted underclassmen recruits as well, most notably, teammate and future 5-star safety Quin Blanding. Others, including blue-chippers Andrew Brown, Jamil Kamara, and Derrick Nnadi have played with Mizzell for a long time, and Virginia appears to be near or at the top for all of them. Smoke is just another familiar face for these younger guys in Charlottesville, and another commit that can recruit for the Cavaliers before making the leap to college football.

Taquan Mizzell was the missing piece, so to speak, in Virginia's 2013 class. Sure, missing on Wyatt Teller to Virginia Tech last week hurts, but Mizzell was the one Virginia really had to land. Overall the 2013 group is really solid, and almost complete. Only a few potential spots remain, and with Virginia's biggest target in the fold, the coaching staff can concentrate on their small group of remaining targets. Virginia fans should be thrilled to add Mizzell to the fold, and don't be surprised if he's one of Virginia's best players, on a team that's talent level is ever-increasing.

Hit the jump view Virginia's 2013 recruiting class to date.

Virginia Football: 2013 Recruiting Class

Brendan Marshall, Quarterback, Good Counsel (Olney, MD)

6'5'', 210 lbs

Rating: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, California

Sadiq Olanrewaju, Offensive Tackle, Salisbury School (Salisbury, CT)

6'5'', 260 lbs

Rating: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, UConn, Rutgers, Temple, West Virginia

Andre Levrone, Wide Receiver, Good Counsel (Olney, MD)

6'1'' 198 lbs

Rating: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, Auburn, Mississippi State, USC

Tim Harris, Cornerback/Safety, Varina

6'2'' 173 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (4*) 247sports (4*)

Offers: Virginia, California, Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Syracuse

Zack Jones, Wide Receiver, Oscar Smith

5'11'' 178 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, Illinois

Micah Kiser, Linebacker, Gilman

6'1'' 215 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*) 247sports (4*)

Offers: Virginia, Boston College, Florida, Maryland, Oklahoma, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Stanford, Virginia Tech

Corwin Cutler, Quarterback, Ocean Lakes

6'4'' 180 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, Marshall, UConn, ECU

Hipolito Corporan, Cornerback, Westside (Houston,TX)

6'1'' 160 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, Baylor, Tulsa, UTEP

LaChaston Smith, Linebacker, South Iredell (Statesville, NC)

5'11'' 215 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Minnesota, ECU, Wake Forest

Jack English, Defensive End, St. Christopher's (Richmond, VA)

6'6'' 250 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (NR), 247sports (2*)

Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech

Keeon Johnson, Wide Receiver, A.L. Brown (Kannapolis, NC)

6'3'' 200 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, North Carolina, Notre Dame, NC State, Duke, Wake Forest, Minnesota, Miami, ECU

Donta Wilkins, Defensive Tackle, Potomac (Dumfries, VA)

6'3'' 315 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (4*)

Offers: Virginia, Penn State, Miami, UNC, Boston College, NC State

Kirk Garner, Cornerback, Good Counsel (Olney, MD)

5'11'' 180 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (4*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, Florida State, Tennessee, Michigan, Maryland, Michigan State, West Virginia, Boston College, Nebraska, Cincinnati, N.C. State, Penn State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Houston

Jack McDonald, Guard, Boston College High (Dorchester, MA)

6'5'' 275 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, North Carolina, Boston College, Miami, UConn, Maryland, Duke, UMass

Brad Henson, Offensive Tackle, Monsignor Donovan (Tom's River, NJ)

6'5'' 275 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (3*), 247sports (3*)

Offers: Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Miami, Penn State, South Carolina, Wisconsin, UConn, Rutgers, Boston College, Maryland, West Virginia, ECU, NC State, Syracuse, Temple, UCF

Malcolm Cook, Safety, Fork Union Military Academy (Fork Union, VA)

6'1'' 215 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (NR), 247sports (NR)

Offers: Virginia

Taquan Mizzell, Running Back, Bayside (Virginia Beach, VA)

5'10'' 183 lbs

Ratings: Rivals (5*), 247sports (4*)

Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Clemson, California, Boston College, Cincinnati, UConn, Miami, Illinois, NC State, ECU, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Temple, ODU, Purdue