Ever wanted something really, really, REALLY badly, and then you get it—seemingly out of nowhere—but very shortly thereafter it turns out you DIDN’T get it after all?
Well, if you’re a devotee of UVA football recruiting, now you have.
Ben Smiley is good. Like, extremely good. Top-ten-in-Virginia, top-20-positionally-nationwide good. Four star ratings from Rivals and the 247 Sports Composite, offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, and more than half the ACC. That good.
So when the defensive tackle from Indian River in Chesapeake tweeted just after 5 PM today that he was coming to UVA, it was a MASSIVE development in the Cavaliers’ efforts to land in-state talent.
A development that lasted all of sixteen minutes.
By 5:30, Smiley had both deleted his initial tweet and subsequently tweeted that he wouldn’t commit anywhere until after he took all five allotted official visits.
Here’s the screenshot of Smiley’s “announcement” tweet:
(That picture is from his official visit, and was part of how we knew UVA would have new uniforms for 2018.)
Defensive line coach Vic So’oto was his usual understated self in reaction:
BEEN SMILING ALL DAY!!!— Vic So'oto (@Coach_Sooto) May 31, 2018
And this is where things stand now on the twitterverse
After Talking with Coaches and Parents I will be making my Decision after taking my 5 official visits !!!!— Ben Smiley lll (@BenSmiley9) May 31, 2018
What exactly happened in those sixteen minutes will be fodder for endless, baseless speculation. If Smiley ends up somewhere other than Charlottesville for his college ball, it’s a quarter-hour that will enter the Ronald Curry Wing of the Virginia Athletics Letdown Hall of Fame.
There’s no reason to conclude that this will necessarily turn to doom and gloom just yet. Yes, some of the most resource- and championship-rich programs in the country will have the chance to court Smiley. But they were going to do that right up until signing day even if Smiley announced a verbal commitment now.
And Virginia has a weapon no one else can deploy: Andrew Brown. Smiley reportedly idolizes the former Chesapeake standout, and Brown credits Bronco Mendenhall with saving his career. So’oto was quick to play that card on Thursday night:
The best part of being a Coach is the lifelong commitment to love/develop/mentor/trust the ones you coach.— Vic So'oto (@Coach_Sooto) June 1, 2018
Control what you can control and take no prisoners @DrizoBeats !
You still ugly tho... but that's out of your control #SILVERBACK pic.twitter.com/Cn6Wkd10SE
Smiley had already named UVA among his ten finalists. Even if someone else walked Smiley back from announcing his commitment tonight, it seems safe to assume Virginia is the leader in his heart—for now.