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Virginia football adds two commits to 2020, loses one from 2019

Additions on each side of the ball for next year, with a defensive line loss from last year

Belk Bowl - South Carolina v Virginia Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

With three additions in one week, the Virginia Cavaliers football recruiting class of 2020 is up to 8 members. But the 2019 class dropped a man after a mid-summer reclassification.

Here is all the recruiting news that’s fit to print from the past seven days.

Two more join 2020

The 2020 class is expected to be quite a bit smaller than previous Mendenhall classes, as the staff is into their fifth year (fourth full cycle) of smoothing out positional depth and succession planning. But an eye-popping camp performance and a dynamic dual-threat have snagged two of those limited spots.

Sam Brady - Outside linebacker (Lincolnton, NC): Brady committed to the Hoos on June 18th after camping in Charlottesville. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound athlete has put on a show on the camp circuit so far this year, turning in the top performance at The Opening Combine in Charlotte back in April.

That performance included a 4.65 average 40-yard time and a 4.3 average 20-yard shuttle. At NC State’s camp, Brady ran a 40-yard dash under 4.6. Not too shabby for a linebacker.

Brady is listed as a wide receiver in the Rivals database, where he’s rated only a two-star with a 5.4 rating. But 247 Sports evaluated him as an outside linebacker and pegged him an 88—a high three-star rating. Don’t be surprised if Brady’s ratings and rankings skyrocket as other sources re-calibrate their assessments following his big spring. Watching Brady’s defensive highlights, you can see a player who is a bit stiff for playing safety, but shows good physicality that will serve him well as UVA transitions him closer to the line of scrimmage.

Virginia is his first—and as of now, only—offer.

Ira Armstead - Quarterback (South Bend, IN): Yes, THAT South Bend. Armstead is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound dual-threat from South Bend Adams high school, where he posted a 2,000/1,000 junior season: more than 2,200 yards passing, with another 1,000 rushing and 30-plus total touchdowns.

Armstead has his own testing results to brag about, as well:

His performance at The Opening Ohio was good enough to place top-10.

Armstead has a more extensive offer list, including most of the MAC (Buffalo, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, etc.), Cincinnati, Dartmouth, and Princeton. 247 has him as a three-star; Rivals is yet to rate him.

His film is everything you want to see in a quarterback for Robert Anae’s dual-threat system. Armstead is a DANGEROUS runner—quick laterally, with a total afterburner extra gear on a straight line. He also manages to avoid taking major hits without sacrificing needed yardage, going to ground early or angling out of bounds when he can. As a passer, there is plenty to work with. When Armstead throws in rhythm he shows a good combination of zip and touch, and he flashes the ability to throw off-platform on the run, too. Cleaning up his mechanics and speeding up his reads will be the main task for Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck. Expect Armstead to be in the thick of the competition to replace Brennan Armstrong once 2023 rolls around.

M’Ba drops from 2019

While June crootin’ giveth, June crootin’ also taketh away.

Just before the final signing period for the 2019 class, UVA added a pledge from French defensive lineman Jeffrey M’Ba, who had played just one season at St. Thomas More in Connecticut. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound athletic freak looked to be a high-ceiling developmental project that fit well beside instant-impact commits Jowon Briggs and Ben Smiley.

But M’Ba’s limited time in U.S. schools meant he was behind the eight-ball for meeting the core curriculum requirements for NCAA eligibility. His classes from France didn’t satisfy the NCAA eligibility clearinghouse, and M’Ba announced on Thursday he was re-classifying and re-opening his recruitment.

I would not expect Virginia to pursue M’Ba again, unless and until there is something approaching certainty about his eligibility.

This is one risk of turning to Europe for recruiting. Virginia has successfully added Luke Wentz and Kariem Al Soufi from Germany, but Danish defensive lineman Emil Bo Andersen also dropped from 2019 due to core curriculum issues. Highly touted Finnish offensive tackle Martin Veinberg is having to take a year at Iowa Western—although Veinberg tweeted in March that he still has an offer from UVA.

If the NCAA had half a sensible thought in the space where its brain might be, it would revisit the core-course requirements as athletic recruiting expands to include more international students. Even at the best schools in Europe, it would be hard for a student in a non-English-speaking country to satisfy BOTH four years of English AND four years of “foreign language.”

But that might be good for the kids and wouldn't do much to increase the NCAA’s revenue streams, so fat chance it ever happens.

Other quick hits

  • Virginia has drawn well from the state of Louisiana in 2019 and 2020, but lost out on top prospect Eric Reed, who chose Ole Miss on the eve of a planned visit to Charlottesville.
  • Two-way standout Elijah Gaines from Episcopal High School in Alexandria announced a top-seven that includes UVA alongside Michigan, Penn State, UNC, Duke, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. Gaines is #15 in Virginia for 2020 on the 247 Composite.
  • Florida cornerback Dave Herard was on his official visit to UVA this weekend. He is a three-star via 247 and Rivals, with offers from Boston College, West Virginia, Syracuse, and a good chunk of the Ivy League.
  • Andrew Gentry is one of the nation’s top offensive linemen, and is expected to announce his commitment decision by the end of the month. UVA is squarely in the mix for him, as Gentry’s LDS faith is an important factor in his choice: he wants a school that knows how to make a mission trip work with a football career. Virginia offensive line coach Garrett Tujague made sure to remind Gentry of the Hoos’ love for Gentry, retweeting over the weekend Gentry’s tweet from January 2018 announcing his scholarship offer from UVA.