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National Signing Day 2020: What to watch for as Virginia closes out its football recruiting class

A few signings—and fewer surprises—expected for UVA on final day of 2020 recruiting cycle

Capital One Orange Bowl - Virginia v Florida Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

As has become customary after a few years with the new recruiting rhythm, the February signing period for the Virginia Cavaliers should be a fairly drama-free day.

The Hoos signed 13 players in the early window, picking up late commitments from defensive end Olu Agunloye and outside linebacker Jonathan Horton. There are two additional expected signings today:

  • Demick Starling (WR; Nashville, TN): An under-the-radar, late blooming, athletic freak of a recruit—basically this year’s version of the Dontayvion Wicks recruitment in 2019. Starling is rated low 3-star in the 247 Composite as his evaluations have not caught up to his senior year performance. Starling’s school is holding its signing day ceremony at 3PM Eastern.

UPDATE: Starling has committed and signed.

  • Nusi Malani (DE; San Bruno, CA): Another defensive lineman of Polynesian descent, with a long athletic frame that can add good muscle—aka a Vic So’oto special. Malani has seen his recruiting rating rise steadily since this time last year, and has been wooed by a good chunk of the PAC-12. He visited UVA in mid-January and the Hoos are expected to beat out Arizona and Washington State for his commitment. The signing ceremony for Malani’s school starts at 2PM Eastern. (UPDATE: Malani committed, as expected.)

News also came in yesterday about one of Virginia’s committed but unsigned players, Varina defensive end Lorenz Terry. After the need for a higher ACT score held Terry out of signing in the early window, he will be taking a post-grad year at Fork Union before coming to Virginia as a mid-year enrollee next season.

The situation seems to reflect what Mendenhall’s philosophy has been about recruits’ academic qualifications: they don’t just need to be able to get admitted to UVA; they also need to be equipped to stay, succeed, and graduate. Kudos to the coaching staff, Terry’s family, and Terry’s high school coaches for reaching a plan that seems to be in the young man’s best interests.

We’ll cover any other late-breaking news or developments, as well as Mendenhall’s thoughts on the final class.

UPDATE: In lieu of a signing day press conference, Mendenhall issued a statement through the University.

Our emphasis was on finding the right fits for positions based on matriculation at particular positions. With it being a smaller-than-usual class, it meant we needed to achieve that to continue to build our depth and address future position needs. At the same time, we recruited quality individuals who have a desire, mindset and work ethic to help us continue our unbroken growth and who align with the principles and values of UVA.

I’ve been told, based on average ratings of players, this is our top class using that metric, so we are pleased with the results. As I said in December, most of our needs have been met and I’ve never been able to say that all of our needs were met in a particular recruiting class, but I’m pleased with what this class brings.

We were very pleased to add Nusi and Demick to this class and it is interesting how they have diverse backgrounds regarding the recruiting process. Nusi has been a highly-targeted prospect after playing so well as a sophomore in his team’s state championship season. He’s played in a program that has produced Power Five players and we loved his physical approach, mentality and leadership. He will be a good fit in a 3-4 scheme.

Demick blossomed late in his high school career, didn’t attend summer camps, a bit of a diamond in the rough. We were fortunate to have one of our analysts, Zach Bradshaw, identify him. He’s an amazing, amazing athlete. Fantastic track and field competitor who excels at sprints and the high jump. We feel he has the skills, and more importantly the desire and work ethic, to fit into our wide receiver room and develop along the same path that some of our recent players at that position have.”