Unless there is a great deal of attrition, expect the Cavaliers to sign a class with less than 20 members a year from today. One commit, 3-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson from Florida, is in the fold already. Other than Nelson, these are 10 of Virginia's top targets for the talent-rich 2014 cycle.
Quin Blanding, Safety, Virginia Beach, VA (Bayside)
Blanding is a 5-star safety and a consensus top ten player in the nation for 2014. Blanding, nicknamed "Pretty Ricky," is very familiar with the Virginia program, playing high school ball with Taquan Mizzell, Anthony Cooper and Tre Nicholson at Bayside. Blanding is an exceptional athlete and a very rangy safety. His offer list is beyond impressive, and he seems to be favoring Virginia, Florida State and possibly Oregon. Keep in mind that Bayside has a connection to FSU, with former Seminole QB E.J. Manuel being an alum. Virginia is in great shape to land Blanding at this early stage though.
Andrew Brown, Defensive Tackle, Chesapeake, VA (Oscar Smith)
Like Blanding, Brown is a consensus 5-star player, and top-ten talent in the nation. Brown is ranked the #2 player in the nation by 247Sports for 2014, behind fellow Virginian Da'Shawn Hand. Brown has been to UVa a bunch of times, including a recent mid-week trip. Brown has a great motor and tremendous strength for a high school junior. In fact, at Mike London's Big Man Camp over the summer, Brown was so dominant that London had to pull him aside and work with him one on one because nobody could stop him. Brown is high on UVa and UNC, as well as some other national powers, and we'll see if UVa can have the same successes they've had with other great players from the "757" recently.
Jalyn Holmes, Defensive End, Norfolk,VA (Lake Taylor)
Holmes listed a group of school she considered to be his favorites recently, and UVa wasn't on that list. The Norfolk native has a ton of great offers, including Florida State, Florida and Alabama. Don't count the Hoos out yet though. They have plenty of work to do, but if they can land some of Holmes peers in the Tidewater, notable Brown and Blanding, then they can get back into the race.
Chris Laye, Tight End, Suwanee, GA (Lambert)
Chris Laye called Virginia his favorite throughout much of the process, but recently said that he had no favorites. The Peach-State tight end holds early offers from Virginia, Vanderbilt and Boston College. UVa has been on several players from Georgia early over the past few years, and faded for many of them down the stretch. We'll see if the Cavaliers can assert themselves more with Laye in the coming months, and take the lead for his services again.
Jamil Kamara, Wide Receiver, Virginia Beach, VA (Bishop Sullivan)
Jamil Kamara has been high on Virginia for some time now. He almost committed to a school last summer, and many implied that the school he almost chose was UVa. Kamara is really tight with a group of elite prospects from the Tidewater, most of which seem at least open to the idea of playing in Charlottesville. Kamara has great speed and is an elite talent at wide receiver. He has a ton of offers, and seems to be really interested in both Virginia and UNC. UNC has their pass-happy offense working in their favor at this point. If Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown choose Virginia, it would go a long way to adding Kamara to the class.
Melvin Keihn, OLB/DE, Baltimore, MD (Gilman)
Keihn is just the next in a line of UVa targets at Gilman in Baltimore. The Hoos signed Micah Kiser from the prep powerhouse today, and Darius Jennings in 2011. Depending on the system he plays in, Melvin could either be a defensive end or a linebacker in college. The Baltimore native holds early offers from UVa, Miami, Virginia Tech and others. Anthony Poindexter has been recruiting the school hard for years now, and Virginia definitely has allies on their side in Keihn's recruitment.
Derrick Nnadi, Defensive Tackle, Virginia Beach, VA (Ocean Lakes)
Nnadi is a Virginia Tech legacy, but seems more than open to the idea of playing at rival Virginia. The Ocean Lakes standout holds offers from both in-state powers, Florida State, North Carolina, and others. At this point it seems like Nnadi will probably stay in the Commonwealth to play his college football. With Corwin Cutler and several other players that Nnadi is close with headed to or alraedy in Charlottesville, UVa has a real shot to land the defensive tackle. Coupled with Andrew Brown, UVa has a chance to recruit the best defensive line class in the nation in 2014.
D'Andre Payne, Cornerback, Washington D.C. (Friendship Collegiate)
D.C. native D'Andre Payne named UVa his favorite a while back, but now seems more open to a lot of options. Virginia is still one of the leading contenders for the Friendship defensive back. Payne has a great relationship with the UVa coaching staff, and played 7 on 7 with a group of 757 players last summer, including new Hoos Taquan Mizzell and Corwin Cutler. Payne's offer list is insane, with offers from Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia and plenty more. Hopefully UVa has better staying power in Payne's recruitment than they did in D.C. native and fellow defensive back Ronald Darby's recruitment in 2012. Darby had UVa high on his list before committing to Notre Dame and later signing with Florida State last year.
Troy Reeder, Linebacker, Wilmington, DE (Salesianum)
Troy Reeder is really high on UVa, and visited Charlottesville for a camp last summer. That's when the Cavaliers offered the Delaware native. Reeder has since picked up offers from Penn State, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Miami. UVa should have staying power in Reeder's recruitment. He could be a candidate to be one of the first players to commit to the Cavaliers if he doesn't get a big rush of offers soon.
M.J. Stewart, Athlete, Arlington, VA (Yorktown)
Stewart recently told 247Sports that he will enroll early at his school of choice, meaning he will likely make his choice early in the 2014 cycle. The Arlington native holds early offers from UVa, UNC and Maryland among others. Stewart could play running back or safety in college, and rushed for nearly 1,900 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior at Yorktown. Stewart is an intriguing prospect, and we could get a decision on his future as early as this Spring.