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Countdown to Kickoff: #88 Ryan Santoro

One of the best moments of the 2015 football season came from a walk-on receiver.

For a moment that was all-too-brief, the Virginia football team looked like it would beat #9 Notre Dame at Scott Stadium last September. The Hoos had stunned the Irish by rallying from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to take a 1-point lead with 1:54 left in the game. For the next few minutes, no longer than it took to finish that last bit of bourbon you brought for the day, UVA’s season...and Mike London’s job security...looked on the rise.

We all remember what happened next.

But we might not remember that it was walk-on receiver Ryan Santoro who put Virginia in position to pull off an unforgettable upset. On 3rd-and-15, Santoro caught a pass from Matt Johns and scampered to the Notre Dame 1-yard line. The place went bananas. It was the only catch of Santoro’s career to this point, and it probably would have become stuff of legend if Virginia had held on for the victory.

(The clip of Santoro’s catch starts at 4:14 in the video here. Don’t watch anything past 4:58 unless you want to get really sad or angry.)

Santoro enters the 2016 campaign listed as a senior, but this will only be his third year as an active player. After redshirting in 2013, he played in two games in 2014 and eight games last season. Santoro only played one year of high school football and was actually more accomplished as a swimmer. He was a 2012 state finalist in the 100M breaststroke and an All American qualified in the 200M medley.

Santoro will likely work with the outside receivers group alongside veterans like Doni Dowling and Andre Levrone, and newcomers like Hasise Duboise and Joseph Reed. Virginia will only have 8 scholarship receivers on the roster, so playing time should be available if Santoro can grab it. But if he can’t, he’ll always have the moment from last September when he made Cavalier fans stand and rejoice.