As we reported Wednesday, the Virginia football program picked up a big addition this week with the signing of former UNC lineman Jared Cohen. The Owings Mills, Maryland native will enroll at UVA after the spring semester and will be able to play immediately this fall. Cohen has three years of eligibility remaining.
The Cohen addition is significant for a number of reasons. As we've mentioned, Virginia lacks depth on the interior offensive line. Cohen projects as a guard, so he'll help out there immediately and will likely compete for a starting spot. The longest-tenured guards on Virginia's roster, Jack McDonald and Sean Karl, only have 4 starts combined during their UVA careers.
Virginia also lacks OL depth when it comes to underclassmen. Of the 13 scholarship linemen Virginia has at spring practice, only five of them are sophomores or "redshirt" freshmen. Even scarier, none of those five have played in a game. Virginia will enroll three freshmen linemen this fall, but Cohen's addition is of a higher caliber. From the moment he steps on Grounds, Cohen will become one of the most experienced linemen Virginia has.
From another angle, Cohen's commitment is significant because it validates the message that Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff are promoting. Throughout these first few months, it's become clear that Mendenhall will try to attract talent using a message of family, academics, self-improvement, and eventually winning. Cohen, having attended a private school in the Baltimore suburbs and having mentioned the importance of academics in picking his destination, fit the UVA mold perfectly.
It's worth noting that Cohen eventually chose Virginia over Louisville. I'm not sure I can think of two schools with more disparate things to promote to recruits than UVA and Louisville. Bobby Petrino's past is well...checkered. And the academic chasm between the two schools is vast. The Cardinals, to their credit, can certainly sell their recent on-field success. But for what Cohen said he was looking for, there's just no question that Virginia was the better fit. That Mendenhall's message won out bodes well for Virginia's future attempts to recruit its type of player going forward.