Last season, we went through every player on the Virginia roster, profiling them and discussing their career thus far and/or their future potential. The only players who didn't really get profiled were last year's incoming class. Without having seen them on the field, or even in practice, it would be difficult to judge their potential.
Now, those players have been through a full season. Some of them played, some of them sat. Some of them were on the 2-deep, some weren't. One suffered a serious injury and may not return.
Over the coming weeks, we're going to take a look at each and every one of these guys to see where they are in their career and their impact could be this year and beyond. To make it easy to keep track, we're going in numerical order according to the roster. So Kirk Garner (#2 although he was #33 last season) goes first, and Tyrell Chavis (#95) goes last. All told, we'll include 26 players, from stud RB Smoke Mizzell to walk-on long-snapper Alex Foertsch.
We'll start today with the aforementioned Mr Garner.
Kirk Garner was a WR and S for Our Lady of Good Council High School in Olney, Maryland. Garner was rated 4 stars by Rivals and 3 stars by pretty much everybody else. He was recruited solely as a DB, and was slotted at CB when he arrived, which is where he remains today.
During preseason training camp last year, daily reports were glowing about how good Garner was. We were told how active he was, how he was all over the field and how he was pushing the starters. Then, the season began, and Garner was nowhere to be found. He ended up redshirting. Was this a case of misdirection from the coaching staff? Or was it simply that Kirk wasn't needed?
The Hoos last year had tons of depth at CB. With Tra' Nicholson, Drequan Hoskey and Maurice Canady, the Hoos were set at all 3 CB spots (two starters and a slot CB for nickel situations). When Demetrious Nicholson went down with a season ending injury, Garner's classmate Tim Harris stepped into the rotation. Garner simply wasn't needed.
Garner possesses outstanding speed for a CB. He's just undersized. He came in at just 175 pounds, although he's already put some more muscle on. Harris came in at 6'2" and 200 lbs. When it came time to replace Tra' in the lineup, the coaching staff, rightfully, went for the bigger player. Harris may also have been slightly more advanced than Garner, but we can't know for sure. These days, WRs are getting bigger and bigger, and having big CBs provides a better matchup.
Garner's speed would've been an asset on special teams last year, but there was simply no need. Players like Divante Walker and Kelvin Rainey had already used their redshirt and were likely to be just as useful onin that role. Burning Garner's redshirt for a handful of plays on special teams simply wasn't worth it. Could Garner have contributed at CB? Perhaps. But he wasn't going to overtake Canady and Hoskey, so there was just no need.
ll of the CBs mentioned so far return this year. The Hoos have the potential for a very, very good defensive secondary this year. Garner could be a part of that, but more likely, he'll spend most of his time on special teams. However, in another year or two, after Nicholson, Hoskey and Canady are gone, and Garner will be in line for a starting CB job opposite Tim Harris.
Keep checking back over the coming weeks as we go through last year's entire class.