Year: Redshirt Freshman
We often talk about recruit rankings because they give us an easy way to differentiate between players. But most fans know that these rankings are far from perfect. Even between the different recruiting services, they can differ quite a bit. Take Virginia wideout Warren Craft, for example. ESPN gave him 4 stars and ranked him the #51 WR in the nation. 247sports gave him 3 stars and ranked him 155th in the nation among WRs. Rivals and Scout each gave him 2 stars and did not rank him within his position group.
That is quite the contrast between the different services. How could they differ by so much? Well, there could be a number of explanations. Different scouts look for different things, after all. Maybe one scout saw him play a good game while another scout saw him play a bad game.
Ultimately, recruiting rankings don’t matter once the players get to college. That’s when they have to prove themselves to their coaches, their teammates and the fans. Ask Warren Craft whether he cares about his rankings and I’m sure he’ll say no. Craft was actually a basketball commit for Virginia Tech, but changed his mind when the Hokies fired their head coach. At that point, he began looking at playing football at the next level and chose the Hoos.
Craft is a bigger WR, though he still has room to fill out. He has already put on 10 pounds of muscle since arriving in Charlottesville. He’s fast, though not a “speed” guy. When he arrived on Grounds, he was very raw as a route runner. Hopefully, that improved during his redshirt season. Here’s his senior year highlight video:
Craft is good at going up and getting the ball at the top of his leap. That, combined with very good leaping ability (remember his basketball basketball), makes him very good on jump balls and elevated throws. He also has very strong hands and will often come away with the ball in traffic. If the Hoos have hail-mary opportunities this year, expect Craft to be involved. In HS, Craft was primarily a deep threat, though he also ran some screens and slants. He didn’t need double moves or precise routes to get separation, and he didn’t need separation to get the ball.
Craft has enough quickness to help out on WR screens. He’s not a great open field runner, but he’s serviceable. And his footwork is good, allowing him to be used on sideline routes. As you can see in the video, Craft has experience lining up all over, from slot receiver, to split end, to H-back.
Craft is listed as a starter on UVA’s Week 1 depth chart. Part of his ascension is attributable to Andre Levrone’s injury. But Craft is also a very good blocker, some of which is shown in his highlight reel. The offense that the Hoos will run relies heavily on perimeter blocking from WRs. A good block on the outside can be the difference between a 5 yard play and a TD. The Hoos have enough playmakers for the offense to be good. Having a guy like Craft can make that offense even better.