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Countdown to Virginia Football: #28 Wil Wahee

Wil Wahee is a DB. He’s played both CB and S in his UVA career and could be slotted at either one. He’s also a valuable special teams player.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Position: SS
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 200
Year: Redshirt Senior
Hometown: Norfolk

The Hoos have depth problems at a number of positions this year, many of which we’ve discussed at length in these player previews. Safety, however, is one place where we really haven’t mentioned the depth issues. The Hoos have just 5 scholarship safeties on the roster, and only 3 of those have seen the field. One of them moved from RB this offseason.

Of course, one of those safeties is Quin Blanding, perhaps the best player on the team. Almost definitely the best NFL prospect on the team. And another one is Wil Wahee. Wahee played both safety and corner in the previous scheme, and started 6 times last year. He mostly lined up as the nickel DB, which had him at CB more often than not. The previous year, Wahee spent most of his time on special teams and actually led the team with 9 special teams tackles. In total, Wahee has 55 tackles in his career, including 1 TFL. He also has 4 passes defensed, a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries (one of which he returned for a TD last year against Syracuse.

This year, the Hoos are likely to spend a fair amount of time in nickel packages. Whether than means bringing another DB onto the field, or simply moving a LB (Malcolm Cook most likely) into the secondary remains to be seen. There has been much talk about Bronco Mendenhall’s 3-4 defense being malleable enough to move to a 3-3-5, 4-2-5 or even a 2-4-5 without needing to substitute.

Though Wahee has spent more time at CB than at S, he is more comfortable at S. He’s not really a man cover guy, though he is certainly capable of handling a TE or RB. Wahee wants to play facing the line of scrimmage. He’s best in zone schemes where he can use his read-and-react skills to break on the pass and make a play on the ball.

Wahee was recruited as an athlete and was rated a 3-star recruit by ESPN and 247sports. He was rated 2-stars by Rivals. Wahee played LB and WR in HS, but was too small for LB in college. Thus the move to safety. He also returned kicks, and though he hasn’t had an opportunity to do that in college, he’s proven to be a valuable cover man on both KR and PR.

Below is his high school highlight reel. This video includes music and the quality is poor. The first 1:40 of the video is offensive highlights. It then transitions to defense.

The only thing we can learn from the offense portion of the video is that Wahee seems to have good hands. This proved true on his scoop-and-score against Syracuse last year. On defense, Wahee is a physical player, despite his size limitations. Though we do see Wahee intercept a pass and play zone coverage a few times, there aren’t any highlights of him in man coverage. It has been 4 years since Wahee left HS, and he has spent that entire time at DB. So it is possible that his coverage skills have developed since leaving HS. This is one reason why can be hard to project HS prospects over their college careers. Wahee is playing an entirely different position from what he did in HS and has only recently begun to truly develop as a DB.

Though Wahee has put on a significant amount of weight since arriving on grounds, he’s still a bit undersized as an in-the-box safety. This is why he’s likely to be used as an extra DB. He can line up opposite a slot receiver and handle the flat zone. He is capable of supporting the run on the edge, but isn’t big enough to fight off the blocks of bigger OLs or TEs.

Both starting safeties from last year return and are unlikely to be replaced in the starting lineup, unless they are injured. So Wahee isn’t looking to enter the starting lineup. However, he projects to be one of the top candidates for snaps as an extra DB when needed. Because he isn’t the best cover guy, he may not be used on 3rd downs or other passing situations, but he’ll likely be used in other situations, especially against teams that like to run the ball.