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Class of 2012 Ready to Compete for Playing Time

Mike London and the Virginia coaching staff will be watching the incoming freshman class closely as fall camp gets underway next week.  Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
Mike London and the Virginia coaching staff will be watching the incoming freshman class closely as fall camp gets underway next week. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

Virginia Football will welcome 25 new players into the fold next week, when fall camp opens up. Last year, a lot of the 2011 class, Mike London's first as head coach, earned playing time. Demetrious Nicholson, Clifton Richardson, Darius Jennings and others earned a solid chunk of playing time, while others like Brandon Phelps and D.J. Hill contributed on special teams. Hopefully this year, Virginia will have the luxury to redshirt more of its incoming talent. It is a shame when teams have to use up eligibility on young players who aren't ready to play a major role, because they have to. Just think, Perry Jones should really be a junior this season, rather than a 4th year Senior. This is the type of situation that teams can avoid as they add depth and talent to the two-deep.

So, which freshmen will contribute for Virginia right away? Here's a look at the entire incoming 2012 class, as they battle for playing time on a steadily improving team. Keep in mind that two signees, athlete Max Valles and defensive tackle Tyrell Chavis, are set to play at Fork Union this year, and move to Grounds in 2013.

Demetrie Brim | Safety | #42

Brim, a Florida native, committed to Virginia early in the 2012 cycle and signed with the Cavaliers despite constant rumors that he was considering flipping to another school. Despite breaking his jaw before his senior season, Brim still had a solid year. A solid athlete with good size, Brim could play either linebacker or safety. Brim was a standout on offense in high school, but don't look for him to get a great chance to play there, because of more pressing needs on defense. It is possible that Brim will start out at Safety, and possibly transition into an outside linebacker role later on. Brim can cover a lot of ground and deliver a big hit, and could very easily work his way into playing time this fall. Virginia has almost no real experience at the safety spot, so if ever there was a position for a young player to break through and get playing time, this is it. If Brim is slotted at outside linebacker though, it would pay off down the road, as Virginia's linebacker depth for 2013 and onward is somewhat thin.

Jamall Brown | Wide Receiver | #86

Virginia obviously loved this Hampton Crabber. Virginia was the only team that offered the under the radar prospect, and he jumped at the opportunity to play at his dream school. A wide receiver, Brown will be tutored by former Hampton standout Marques Hagans at Virginia. Brown is one of a bunch of new receivers joining the team, but only a few will play. Brown is likely going to be one of the odd men out who will be taking a redshirt this year. If he is explosive in practice that could change, but there just aren't enough reps and playing time to go around at a suddenly deep position.

Maurice Canady | Cornerback | #26

"Reese" Canady is my sleeper for the 2012 class. Somewhat lightly recruited, the Varina standout jumped at Virginia's summer offer. Canady is a relatively big cornerback, and has great quickness as well. Of all the new corners and safeties, I like Canady and Brim's chances the most to earn early playing time. Both of these players have good size and jump out of film with athleticism and play-making ability. Their size and range will help them adjust quicker to the college game, and, in turn, make them more likely to earn playing time this fall.

Anthony Cooper | Athlete | #18

Anthony Cooper will join his former Bayside High teammate Demetrious Nicholson in Charlottesville this fall. It will be interesting to see where Cooper is slotted once fall practice begins. Most people think that Cooper will factor in on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver. There's still a chance though that the Virginia Beach native joins Nicholson in the secondary as a safety. Either way, Cooper's athleticism could make him a candidate for early playing time this year.

Trent Corney | Athlete | #43

A late addition to the 2012 class, Corney was expected to enroll in January of next year. Instead, he was cleared to join the team this fall. Corney is a native of Canada, and could play a number of different positions. His film is incredible, but the level of competition his team played against was far from it. Corney is a freak athlete, who has exceptional speed and great strength to boo. Corney is projected at either linebacker or fullback, both areas of need in the future for the Cavaliers. The fullback position is somewhat in limbo, and Corney could help out there immediately. Corney may be a more natural fit as a Linebacker though, and he could certainly contribute on special teams with his speed and toughness. Don't expect Corney to make a major impact in 2012 though, and unless he makes waves at the fullback spot, he'll probably redshirt.

Ryan Doull | Guard | #63

Doull, like Corney, is also a native Canadian. The big guard played this past season at Fork Union, and earned his UVA offer last spring, committing in early June. Virginia has had some real success pulling talented players out of Fork Union, and hopefully Doull's career will follow the same trajectory as Austin Pasztor, Morgan Moses, and others. Doull already has the size for a college lineman, at 6'5'' 310 lbs. Pretty big for an incoming freshman. Having said that, it's worth noting that very few freshman offensive linemen play in their first year, unless they are forced to because of injuries or severe lack of depth along the line. Doull could be an exception to the rule, and is the most likely of the incoming class of linemen to play in 2012. Still, redshirted Doull would be convenient for the coaching staff, and they probably will do just that unless the FUMA grad really dominates in camp.

Kyle Dockins | Wide Receiver | #87

Kyle Dockins is another addition to the Virginia Cavalier from the "757." Dockins, along with fellow Tidewater natives Jamall Brown and Anthony Cooper and Mario Nixon, will play wide receiver for the Cavaliers. At 6'4'' 200 lbs, Dockins will be another big, red-zone target for UVA quarterbacks, and could eventually become a tight end. In fact, with Virginia's pending depth issues at tight end (for 2013 and beyond), Dockins might be a better fit there. In any case, Dockins is almost a lock for a redshirt year in 2012, with UVA having nice depth at both wide receiver and tight end for this season.

Adrian Gamble | Wide Receiver | #80

Gamble is the lone holdover in the 2012 class from the Al Groh era. Gamble, originally from Charlotte, committed to the Groh staff as a member of the 2011 class, and stayed committed when Mike London took over. After spending 2011-12 at Fork Union, Gamble is finally ready to make his mark on Grounds. Perhaps a bit more college ready than the others in the incoming class, Gamble has a decent chance at earning playing time this season. With Kris Burd and Matt Snyder moving on, there is some time available at the position, but not a whole lot. Gamble, outside of maybe Canaan Severin or Anthony Cooper, has the best chance to play immediately.

Mark Hall | Linebacker | #59

Hall, the first commitment for Virginia's 2012 class, should provide some much needed depth at linebacker. Hall has already helped the Virginia athletic department a little, because his signing with UVA probably helped Tony Bennett and the Men's Basketball program land 2013 blue chip point guard Devon Hall, Mark's brother. Hall looks to make an even bigger impact on the football field over the next few weeks. The former Green Run star could provide some depth for LaRoy Reynolds and DaQuan Romero at outside linebacker this year, and possibly contribute on special teams. A redshirt year is possible as well, and fall camp will tell the tale on whether Hall will see playing time this season.

Eli Harold | Defensive End | #7

Eli Harold was the top ranked player in the Commonwealth for the class of 2012, and has a chance to make an immediate impact at Virginia. Harold is a great athlete who could step right in and get after the quarterback at the collegiate level. In fact, Harold is so athletic that not every school was recruiting him as a defensive end. Others, like Florida, saw him as more of a hybrid outside linebacker, and some schools offered Harold as a wide receiver. What Harold still needs to acquire is size. For a 4-3 defensive end, Harold is a bit undersized at about 225 lbs. That can easily be remedied this year, with weight training and a change in diet. Still, expect Harold to make an impact early, because of his athleticism and arsenal of pass rushing skills.

Matt Johns | Quarterback | #15

Johns was the first of two quarterbacks to commit to Virginia for 2012 (along with Greyson Lambert). Both of the incoming freshmen are going to redshirt this fall, with a solid group of veteran quarterbacks ahead of them on the depth chart. There have been whispers though that Johns has been pretty impressive since stepping on Grounds earlier this summer, in unofficial team activities. The Pennsylvania native has a pretty good arm and could definitely factor in to Virginia's starting QB battle a few years from now. The fact that Johns and Lambert (and maybe even David Watford) can afford to redshirt is a sign that Virginia's quarterback position is in a much, much better place than it was just two years ago, when Michael Rocco's redshirt was burned to play limited reps out of necessity.

Sean Karl | Tackle | #62

The New York native, like most freshman linemen, will almost surely not see the field this year. Karl's most important work will come in the weight room with trainer Evan Marcus, and in the dining hall. The first year for of college is very important for offensive linemen, even if they aren't playing. Adding size and strength is imperative for most linemen, as the college game is a major transition from the high school game from a physicality standpoint. Karl is one of these players that can really benefit from their first year on Grounds, learning from older players and getting stronger as well.

Greyson Lambert | Quarterback | #11

The Georgia native Lambert is one of three new quarterbacks on Virginia's roster this fall, joining fellow freshman Matt Johns and incoming transfer Phillip Sims. And like Matt Johns, Lambert looks bound for a redshirt year. There are just too many quarterbacks (particularly Michael Rocco, David Watford and Sims) ahead of Lambert on the depth chart to justify any playing time in his first year on Grounds, unless he is Peyton Manning in fall camp or something. Having said all that, Lambert showed a big time arm in spring practice after enrolling in January, and does look to have a bright future in Charlottesville.

Andre Miles-Redmond | Guard | #68

Miles-Redmond, or AMR as I'm calling him, will probably redshirt this year. As we've said before, most linemen do. Coaches say that the further a player lines up from the ball, the easier it is for them to play early. This means that interior linemen like AMR will need a transition period before they are ready to be thrown into games.

Mike Mooney | Guard | #76

Same thing for Mooney. Mooney and Sean Karl have represented a recent trend for Virginia of landing offensive linemen from the Northeast. The Cavaliers signed Tim Cwalina from Pennsylvania in 2011, and Mooney, also from the Keystone state, followed in 2012. Virginia also signed the New York native Karl, and have verbal commits from three 2013 linemen from the Northeast. Virginia is making inroads in the North for linemen, in hopes that they will find the next D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Eugene Monroe or Oday Aboushi, all of whom hailed from the northeast as well.

C.J. Moore | Cornerback | #30

The speedy Georgian is an intriguing addition to the Cavalier secondary. Moore earned his Virginia offer after an impressive camp performance last summer, and committed soon after. The battle for playing time in the secondary is wide open, and Moore, with blazing speed, will factor in. Moore could also be used as a kick returner down the road, as he was at powerhouse Buford High School. Virginia should be able to redshirt more players this year, and Moore should probably be one of them. Down the road, Moore's speed could really be an asset to the Cavaliers, and he is definitely one to keep an eye on in fall camp.

Kwontie Moore | Linebacker | #34

Moore was the consensus 2nd ranked player in Virginia's 2012 class, and along with Eli Harold, was an Army All-American. And like Harold, Moore figures to skip his redshirt year at UVA. Wearing #34, Moore will remind many Cavalier fans of former Cavalier star Ahmad Brooks when he is patrolling the middle of the defense at inside linebacker. With Steve Greer and Henry Coley ahead of Moore on the depth chart going into camp, it will be interesting to see how much playing time Moore can earn. At the very least, he will probably play some on defense and get a good deal of playing time on special teams. He is simply too talented to redshirt in my opinion, barring an injury in camp.

Mike Moore | Defensive End | #32

Stuntin' like his daddy. Mike Moore will follow in his father Shawn's footsteps in becoming a Cavalier this fall. Unlike his father who made his mark at Virginia as a quarterback, Mike will play on the defensive line for the Cavaliers. Moore, who started at defensive end for DeMatha Catholic, has a chance to grow into a defensive tackle role if he gets any bigger. Unlike Eli Harold who excels in getting after the quarterback, Moore is a bigger, stronger type of End. Like Harold however, Moore is extremely talented. Virginia had to fight off the big dogs to sign Moore, and he is also a candidate for early playing time. I am not as confident in Moore's ability to gain that playing time as a few other guys in the 2012 class, mostly because of need at those positions. Still, Moore is an exceptional talent and I wouldn't be shocked at all if he factored in on the defensive line for the Cavaliers this year.

Kye Morgan | Running Back | #36

Kye Morgan is the only Running Back in Virginia's 2013 class. The possibility of him joining the Secondary unit has been thrown out there too, but for now, Morgan is a Running Back. The New Jersey native is a solid player, with a knack for leaping defenders. With Virginia's current 3-headed monster of Perry Jones, Kevin Parks Jr. and Clifton Richardson at Running Back though, don't look for Morgan to play in 2012. It just makes sense to redshirt him and have him come in and compete to play in 2013, or change positions.

Mario Nixon | Wide Receiver | #82

Nixon was originally committed to Virginia Tech before flipping to Virginia and joining his high school teammates Kwontie Moore, Courtnye Wynn and Wil Wahee in Charlottesville. The Norfolk Christian product will be one of the taller receivers at Virginia from the moment he steps on the practice field. The Cavaliers haven't had a lot of good, tall wideouts lately, and are hoping for a good fall camp from 6'4'' Miles Gooch to fill that role this year. Nixon is also 6'4'', and could be an excellent red-zone target for the Cavaliers in the coming years. This year though, it makes sense to redshirt him. With all the receivers the Cavaliers already have, there just isn't enough playing time for all the freshman coming in at the position. I'd expect Nixon to sit this year out, then in 2013 competing to be the Cavaliers' tall red-zone target.

Kelvin Rainey | Cornerback | #37

Rainey is an intriguing freshman cornerback prospect from Houston. Virginia fans will be hearing that again this time next year as well. Rainey and the other young cornerbacks will be competing for playing time this fall, especially in the Nickel and Dime back roles. Even though Tre Nicholson is entrenched at one cornerback spot this season, the rest of the secondary is pretty much up for grabs. Obviously the coaching staff will try to redshirt as many guys as they can, but Rainey will certainly make his case for early playing time in August.

Canaan Severin | Wide Receiver | #84

Canaan Severin is one of Virginia's most highly touted recruits in the 2012 Freshman class. The New England native will be really hard to keep off the field at wide receiver this year. Severin projects as a solid possession receiver, who could make his mark going across the middle on short to intermediate routes in Bill Lazor's pro-style attack. Severin's role will be much like that of Kris Burd's. If Severin can pick up the offense quickly, watch out. He is a real talent, and could be a great Cavalier when all is said and done.

Wil Wahee | Cornerback | #28

Wahee was the first of the Norfolk Christian foursome to commit to the Cavaliers last summer. Virginia was the only school that had offered Wahee at the time, but Wahee proved his offer was deserved with a solid senior season. Wahee, like all the other cornerbacks joining the Cavaliers this fall, is going to compete for immediate playing time in a young secondary unit. Not all of the players will play though, and I would say it's likely Wahee will redshirt in 2012. The new #28 could also be used as a weapon in the return game as well.

Divante Walker | Cornerback | #38

Divante Walker was the last member of the 2012 class to join before Signing Day in February. Walker didn't hold any BCS offers, but his film was nonetheless impressive. A standout at running back at Salem High School, Walker will play cornerback at Virginia. The secondary seriously needed some depth, and with at least 6 new players back there, the 2012 class will provide just that. Expect the incoming freshmen to compete for playing time in the inexperienced defensive backfield this fall, but don't expect all of them to play. It is irresponsible to just throw all the freshmen out onto the field at that position, especially if only a few are really ready to contribute. It is somewhat hard to predict who will rise to the top amongst this group and earn time, but Walker's athleticism will put him squarely in the mix. At this point, I expect Walker to redshirt, but with help needed in the secondary, it's obvious that nobody can be written off for playing time this year.

Courtnye Wynn | Defensive End | #94

Another one of the Four Horsemen from Norfolk Christian, Wynn is a nice addition to the talented group of defensive linemen at Virginia. Wynn, like Harold, is tall and athletic, with a high motor. Whether he can play major minutes? That remains to be seen. With Wynn, Mike Moore and Harold all entering the fray this fall, it's going to be hard to get all of them significant minutes right off the bat. For that reason, I think Wynn might get redshirted this year. It is a really nice luxury to have, as Wynn almost certainly would not have redshirted a few years ago or maybe even last year. Wynn, like anyone else joining the team this fall, will get a fair shot to prove himself and earn playing time though.