Fall camp practices at UVa aren’t the only thing about Virginia football that’s going full speed. The coaching staff’s recruiting efforts are as well, and they paid off Tuesday with a commitment from wide receiver Darnell Pratt, Jr.
BLESSED AND HONORED TO ANNOUNCE THAT I'M COMMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA ⚔ #HOOSRISING17 pic.twitter.com/nRsdrTnjjx— Darnell Pratt Jr (@DJPratt21) August 9, 2016
A 6’3 wideout from Good Counsel in Olney, Md.—the same school that produced current Hoo Brendan Marshall—Pratt is a two-star according to Rivals and 247. Virginia is his only Power Five offer, but his offer sheet includes all three service academies and schools in the MAC.
Pratt was one of the recruits to tweet about his “official offer” from UVA back on August 1. He becomes the 19th commit in the Hoos’ class of 2017.
#HOOSRISING pic.twitter.com/fkBLZKWziY— Darnell Pratt Jr (@DJPratt21) August 1, 2016
His main contribution to the Cavaliers’ crop of wideouts will be flat-out speed. Pratt is a decorated track runner, and was named the outdoor track Athlete of the Year by the Baltimore Sun after his sophomore campaign. He ran sprints in high school and will help UVA blow the top off opposing defenses.
(The titles at the beginning of that video tell you why Pratt was on UVA’s radar: his 40-yard dash time and his GPA are almost the same.)
It will be interesting to see what Pratt can do with a quarterback who can throw to his speed. A lot of the passes he snags in his highlight film are bad underthrows. But he’s got the ups you’d want in a 6’3 receiver, and strong enough hands to wrestle contested receptions away from stockier defenders. There’s also some quality run blocking, which has been emphasized as a must-have for any edge player under Mendenhall.