We are just three—count ‘em, THREE—days away from the start of the 2016 Virginia Cavaliers football season. We’ve previewed the offense and the defense. We’ve covered new uniforms and new/old stadium elements.
Today, we talkin’ crootin’. Below you’ll find a quick refresher of the lay of the land for the class of 2017. Each week we’ll share news on the recruiting front: visitors who were or will be on Grounds, guys who name Virginia among their leaders, and of course, commitments.
By the Numbers
- 18: The number of players who have committed to Virginia’s class of 2017. Includes 9 players from the Commonwealth, as well as Darrius Bratton, who committed to UVA under London and is spending a post-grad year at FUMA.
- 46th/48th: UVA’s national recruiting class rankings, according to 247Sports and Rivals, respectively. Both services have the Hoos’ class pegged as 11th in the ACC.
- 2.76/2.59: The average star rating of a Virginia 2017 commit, again via 247 and Rivals respectively. The highest rated commit by both services is Germane Crowell, who is also the only 4-star UVA commit under ESPN’s rankings.
Best of #HoosOnBoard
- Germane Crowell (ATH, 6’3, 180): The son of the UVA legend of the same name, Crowell is, as mentioned above, the most highly ranked of any Virginia commits so far. He signed his grant-in-aid earlier this month and plans to enroll early. UVA recruited him as a cornerback, and he fits the field corner mold well—tall with good jumping ability to contest deep balls along the sideline. Picked UVA over MANY others, including Notre Dame, Florida, Georgia, and Penn State.
- Lindell Stone (QB, 6’2, 205): Stone was an early commit to Mendenhall & Co., and opened the pipeline to Woodberry Forest through which UVA picked up two more commitments this class (Terrell Jana and John Kirven). He’s one of the top QB prospects in this class and, if he adds quality muscle under strength coach Frank Wintrich, could emerge as a multi-year starter in a few years. Other offers included UCLA (who offered Stone in 8th grade), Ole Miss, and Pitt.
- Lamont Atkins (RB, 5’11, 200): After decommitting from Vanderbilt, Atkins committed to Virginia during the Hoos’ spring game/festival/open practice. The 3-star back out of Burke, Va., looks like an athletic addition that would fit in well in the “Big Back” role that Albert Reid occupies this year. Atkins held a handful of Power Five offers, as well as offers from Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth.
#HoosNext? Names to Watch
- Mekhi Becton (OT, 6’7, 345): Becton is a man-mountain, as I saw with my own two eyes at the spring game. The Highland Springs prospect doesn’t plan to announce a commitment until Signing Day, but the Hoos are in the driver’s seat for his services. They’ll have to fend off a weighty group of challengers, including Michigan, Michigan State, Georgia, and VPISU.
- Ellis Brooks (LB, 6’2, 240): This would be a pretty long long-shot for Virginia but a major in-state recruiting coup. Brooks committed to Duke then pulled back his commitment. Maryland and Michigan are thought to be the front-runners but the UVA coaching staff has been in Brooks’s ear frequently. He’d be a great fit as an athletic, strong linebacker that gives Mendenhall lots of game-planning versatility.
- Levi Jones (LB, 6’2, 215): Kelly Poppinga and Ruffin McNeill have been to Austin, Texas, to visit this Westlake prospect a few times. Scooping an Under Armour All-American from the Lone Star State out from under Texas, LSU, and Oklahoma is a daunting task for the Cavalier coaches. But Jones has long-standing family ties to Coach Ruff, who coached Levi’s brother Zay at ECU. Their father, Robert, was a star linebacker for ECU in the late 1980s before a 10-year NFL career, and was born and raised in Virginia. Like Becton, Jones has emphasized patience with his process and will likely not make many announcements until after his senior season.