When we first looked ahead to the 2019 recruiting class for the Virginia Cavaliers football program, many of the names to watch were in-state prospects. The Commonwealth has not been exactly a wellspring of commitments in recent classes: the 2018 class has as many signees from Hawaii as it does from Virginia.
Fast forward three months, and a foothold seems to be developing.
Of the first six commitments in the 2019 class, Blacksburg slot back Tiquest Terry represents the lone Virginia name at the moment. But over the weekend, two of the top rising seniors in Virginia both expressed their interest in joining the Cavaliers.
Cam’Ron Kelly is the #4 overall prospect in Virginia for 2019, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. A four-star defensive back from Oscar Smith in Chesapeake, Kelly boasts more than 40 offers, including Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, and Ohio State.
He spent the weekend in Charlottesville on an official visit:
Kelly is scheduled to announce his commitment on Friday, June 8th. Penn State is his other top suitor.
Fellow Chesapeake product Ben Smiley, a defensive tackle from Indian River, cut his list of schools down to 10 on Sunday night, and UVA made the finalists:
Smiley comes in five spots behind Kelly on the 2019 in-state rankings. At 6’4, 265 pounds, the four-star fits the “Silverback” mold that defensive line coach Vic So’oto has been selling.
One of Smiley’s role models is Andrew Brown, who was Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of Chesapeake and was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Back in January, Brown credited Bronco Mendenhall with saving his career.
Landing either Kelly or Smiley would be proof of the Virginia coaching staff turning a corner with in-state recruits. Landing one of them early could be a boon for luring other top local talent to Charlottesville.
While it’s almost too much to dream of, landing BOTH would set the foundation for a transformational class of signees.
Elsewhere in the UVA recruiting universe:
- Four-star running back Zonovan Knight decommitted from Duke over the weekend. The North Carolina prospect holds an offer from Virginia, and visited the Hoos back in February. Knight would be an every-down back in the mold of Jordan Ellis, complementing Tiquest Terry and Seneca Milledge playing the role of Olamide Zaccheaus.
- Defensive end Mario Kendricks has UVA in his final seven schools, together with VaTech, Georgia Tech, NC State, Louisville, Wake Forest, and Iowa State.
Kendricks played alongside 2018 UVA signee Jordan Redmond. He is a solid three-star in the 247 Composite.
- UVA extended two offers to dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2019 class in the past week. Robert Harvey, Jr. is a 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete from Edgewater, Florida, with Power Five offers from UNC and Syracuse. John Rhys Plumlee is a four-star, two-sport athlete from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, rated the 9th best dual-threat QB by ESPN. Both players are strong, dynamic runners, but Plumlee seems to be the more gifted passer of the two (a trait that contributes to his baseball acumen as well).