At this point last year the Hoos had a commitment from one of the top players in the country in Quin Blanding. They also had a 4-star OL and a 3-star DT out of Florida (who ended up de-committing and heading to Texas). All told, London and his staff had 4 commits at this point last year (the final was 3 star DE/LB J.J. Jackson). The Hoos would also pull in a number of recruits from the end of May through the beginning of the season.
This year, the Hoos have just 3 commits, and none of them have the impact of Quin Blanding. This makes it seem like a disappointing recruiting cycle. Last year worked out well for the Hoos, with some of the top talent in the nation centered in Virginia. This year doesn't work out quite as well. Combined with the 2-10 season, fans are afraid that London will have trouble convincing top talent to come to Charlottesville.
Let's start by taking a quick look at the 3 players who've committed to the Hoos so far:
Juan Thornhill, DB, Altavista, VA (Altavista HS) - 3 stars
Ryan Bischoff, OL, Plymouth Meeting, PA (Plymouth Whitemarsh Senior HS) - 2 stars
Nick Johns, QB, Washington, DC (Gonzaga HS) - 3 stars
(Before you ask, Nick Johns is not related to current Virginia backup QB Matt Johns.)
Obviously, it is still early in the recruiting process, so rankings will change several times, but Johns is rated the #22 QB in the nation by ESPN and #15 by Rivals and Thornhill is the #19 Safety in the nation according to Rivals. Bischoff isn't yet rated and Thornhill isn't rated by ESPN.
So where do we go from here? Let's start by taking a look at the numbers. There are currently 85 scholarship players set for the 2014 roster. Of those, 17 are seniors in 2014. Assuming an average amount of attrition beyond the seniors (5-7 players), London and company can come close to a full 25 man recruiting class. Staying on the conservative side, we'll assume about a 22 man recruiting class. (We've included George Adeosun for now, even if it is a longshot that he'll be back. He's on the roster, so we're counting him.)
Next, we'll go position by position, looking at team needs and some top targets. Today, we're looking at Offense, and tomorrow we'll look at Defense.
(Rosters contain only 2014 scholarship players. * denotes 2014 senior.)
2014 Roster: Cutler, Johns, Lambert, Marshall, Watford
With the addition of Johns, UVA is almost definitely done at QB. With a sophomore at starter and several underclassmen behind him, there is no need for more QBs. Obviously, if a blue-chipper comes calling, the Hoos will answer, but that's it.
Top Targets: None
2014 Roster: Croce (FB), Ellis, Mizzell, Morgan, *Parks, *Shepherd, Smith, Wingo-Reeves (FB)
While the Hoos are losing 2 very good RBs in Parks and Shepherd, they have several talented underclassmen behind them. We've still got 3 years of Smoke, LaChaston Smith and walk-on Daniel Hamm. Plus newcomer Jordan Ellis will likely redshirt and then have 4 full years ahead of him. Still, the Hoos are likely to add at least one RB every year. College teams rarely extend offers to true fullbacks, and the Hoos are no different.
Top Targets: A.J. Turner, Centreville, VA - 3 stars; Nyheim Hines, Garner, NC - 4 stars; Reggie Gallaspy, Greensboro, NC - 3 stars; Joshua Thomas, Buford, GA - 3 stars
2014 Roster: Brown, Dockins, Dowling, *Gooch, *Jennings, Johnson, Kamara, Levrone, Severin, *Terrell
The Hoos have a ton of depth at WR, with sophomores and freshman all over the depth chart. In today's game, a team needs to have at least 5 WRs ready to go game in and game out. That usually means around 8 WRs on the roster. After this year, the Hoos will have just 6, so look for them to take one or two this year.
Top Targets: D.J. Moore, Philadelphia, PA - 4 stars; Jaason Lewis, Virginia Beach, VA - 4 stars; Felton Davis III, Highland Springs, VA - 3 stars; Quincy Watts, Virginia Beach, VA - 3 stars; Gary Jennings, Stafford, Va - 3 stars; Juval Mollette, Randleman, NC - 3 stars; Trevon Armstrong, Chesterfield, Va - 3 stars; David Eldridge III, Nokesville, VA - 3 stars
2014 Roster: Burns, Butts, Nixon, *Swanson
While the loss of Jake McGee will certainly hurt this year's team, it could help down the road. It means more playing time for the young TEs on the roster. With Zach Swanson graduating after 2014, the Hoos will need to take at least one TE, if not two.
Need: 1 or 2
Top Targets: G.G. Robinson, Lilburn, GA - 3 stars; Jake Pickard, Millburn, NJ - 3 stars; Chris Clark, Avon, CT - 4 stars
2014 Roster: Fieler, Mooney, Olanrewaju, Smith, Whitmire
As always, OT is a position of need. The Hoos have solid young guys at OT, but not a lot of depth. While Eric Smith may be the starter for the next 3 years, there still needs to be a backup plan. The Hoos will look to take at least 2 OTs, maybe as many as 4. Ryan Bischoff counts as one, although he could easily end up on the inside.
Needs: 1-3 more
Top Targets: Austin Clark, Lexington, VA - 4 stars; Isaiah Prince, Greenbelt, MD - 4 stars; Justin Skule, Clifton, VA - 3 stars; Blake Camper, Virginia Beach, VA - 3 stars; Chance Hall, Roanoke, VA - 3 stars; Sage Hardin, Atlanta, GA - 3 stars; George Brown Jr, Cincinnati, OH - 3 stars
2014 Roster: Adeosun, Burbank, *Davis, Doull, Karl, McDonald, Moss, *Wallace
Much like OT, OG is a position of need every year. In this case, the Hoos have upperclassmen along with some youngsters, but not much depth here. With both Connor Davis and Cody Wallace leaving after this year, there is a definite need at OG. I expect the Hoos to take at least 3 interior OLs.
Needs: 3 or more
Top Targets: Matthew Burrell, Woodbridge, VA - 4 stars; Nick Polino, Buford, GA - 3 stars
2014 Roster: Tetlow
The Hoos haven't had much of a plan at OC in a while. This has been one of the things holding the OL back over the past couple of years. There are only 2 OCs on the roster right now (Jackson Matteo, who is not on scholarship is the other along with Tetlow), so there is a need there. However, I can't seem to find a single OC recruit who is considering the Hoos. I suppose that position will have to be a convert from OG. To be fair, most schools do not recruit centers, and merely turn to OGs who can handle the mental aspects of playing OC. Only 25 OCs are rated 3 stars or better, and just 2 of them are uncommitted right now.
Needs: 1, although there will likely not be any OCs in the recruiting class
Top Targets: None
Counting both current offense commitments, that takes up about 10 spots in our recruiting class. Tomorrow, we'll look at the Defense.