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OPINION: Devante Cross is the best pick-up of the 2016 Virginia football recruiting class

Dual-threat commitment represents sea change for Cavaliers on gridiron

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National Signing Day is one of the premier days on the college football calendar, up there with New Year's Day and championship game Saturday. It's like the first day of spring training: Everyone is undefeated and you see the seeds of the future being sewn.

And the numbers show—fairly conclusively—that recruiting matters. You can be a good program with mediocre recruiting, but you'll never be a great one without good recruiting.

Some impact, though, is felt beyond a star rating. Sometimes it can signal a turning point for a program, be that a turn up or a turn down. This year, De'Vante Cross is that turning point for U.Va.

Any number of programs will bring in talented dual-threat QBs this year. Some of them will take snaps, while many will get shifted to other positions on the field. But Cross represents something more fundamental for U.Va.

After his commitment last weekend, his high school coach talked about what Cross saw in U.Va. He said the new coaches "are looking for a dual-threat quarterback, a kid that can run the football or a kid that can run a spread."

Philosophically, it's along the same lines of what we've been doing at Parkland the last three years. We're a spread, zone-read football team. The quarterback has to be an outstanding athlete. We're fortunate that we had Devante and we could do that. So I think it's a perfect fit for De'Vante and Coach Mendenhall, too. They were looking for that kind of quarterback.

Sign me up. After too many years being stuck in the dark ages of college football, U.Va. finally has a coaching staff that will leapfrog the offense into the 21st century.

What's even bigger to me, though, is how Cross's recruitment ended. From almost the moment he decommitted from Boston College and received an offer from U.Va., the Hoos were the front-runner. Even with the late start, these coaches saw a guy they wanted, a guy they needed, and went out and went full-court press to get him.

Take a look at how they interact on Twitter. These guys like each other. They love coaching football. That enthusiasm is infectious, and is obviously catching on with young players.

Can't wait to see it play out on the field.


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