Ever have one of those weeks where everything falls into place at the same time? Cuz Bronco Mendenhall had one last week. With dozens of recruiting targets on Grounds for summer camps, the UVA football staff was able to seal the deal with a half-dozen recruits, from linemen to a quarterback and even a kicker.
Here’s your Monday morning rundown of a crazy weekend in Charlottesville.
Very excited to have committed to the University of Virginia to continue my academic and football career! ⚔ pic.twitter.com/y9ohNCznTF— Harry Crider (@HarryCrider) June 24, 2016
Crider kicked things off Friday morning, becoming Commit #10 in the Class of 2017. A 6’4, 260 pound offensive lineman from Indiana, Crider has a frame that will need to fill out to be an impact player in the ACC. Rated as a two-star by 247 Sports, UVA is Crider’s only Power Five offer; Buffalo is his only other FBS offer. (It’s worth noting here that offensive line coach Garrett Tujague has a very solid reputation for scouting hidden gems.)
Speas’s commitment came pretty quick on the heels of Crider’s, and was an offensive lineman who had been on UVA’s radar for quite some time. Speas and Crider are about the same size, and Speas is rated a two-star as well. However, his offer sheet includes Navy and ECU, with NC State, UNC, and Virginia Tech all sniffing around as well.
Delaney committed Friday also, adding a specialist to UVA’s roster of incoming recruits. He’s got a small frame (5’11, 200) but a HUGE leg. His highlights from Westfield High School in Chantilly show him putting a very high percentage of kickoffs through the back of the end zone. Even accounting for the five yards of extra distance in college (high schools kick from the 40, colleges from the 35), Delaney could find an early role as a kick-off specialist as he develops technique and accuracy for scoring attempts.
The hit parade continued Saturday night with a commitment from defensive tackle Mandy Alonso out of Gulliver Prep in Miami. The three-star lineman comes in at 6’2 and 275 pounds, a frame that seems like it could fit well at nose tackle (but could be a little short to play defensive end). Alonso’s other offers include Georgia Tech, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Navy, along with a slew of other Group of Five programs.
Thaxton is an early candidate for the most under-rated prospect of the 2017 class. The 6’5, 245 pound defensive end from St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes in Alexandria has yet to be rated by 247 or Rivals, but picked UVA over offers from Tennessee and Vanderbilt (and Cornell, and Yale). He had a couple moves on his film that made me audibly go, “Whoa”—his hands are really fast and he was clubbing offensive lineman to the ground with one arm. Several times on read-option plays, he could hold a lineman at arm’s length and make both reads—give or keep—losing propositions.
Thankful for this opportunity pic.twitter.com/yuzMaZ0j9O— Clayton Cheatham (@Claycheet7) June 26, 2016
The cherry on Virginia’s recruiting sundae was Hanover’s Clayton Cheatham, a hard-nosed running quarterback who committed as a recruited walk-on. ODU, Army, and JMU had all offered Cheatham, whose 6’3, 220 stature seems in line with what Mendenhall looks for in his quarterbacks. His arm strength won’t break any records and he won’t win a sprinting medal anytime soon, but tacklers roll off Cheatham left and right on every run. He could make for an excellent scout team quarterback immediately to help prepare for teams with option attacks, and grow into a more prominent role later in his career.
After the flurry of commits this weekend, UVA’s 2017 class stands at 15 as of this morning. There’s probably room for about six or seven more, and having this much depth this early will allow the coaches to focus energy on their top targets (like defensive lineman Jordan Williams of Virginia Beach, and linebacker Levi Jones out of Texas).