It is college football in 2023. What does that mean? As soon as a season ends, the transfer portal becomes the number one focus.
Just like practically every other program in America, there was a mass exodus of Virginia Cavaliers players who will be searching for another place to play next season. All things considered, though, the damage was minimized and the more significant storyline is who Tony Elliott has already added even after nabbing Notre Dame wide receiver Chris Tyree last week
A breakdown of Virginia football’s commitments over the past week:
Elliott began the week by picking up a transfer linebacker from Akron. At 6’4, 215 pounds, Thomas has recorded over 100 tackles in his career, including seven tackles for loss, as well as seven pass breakups, and four turnovers created.
The primary thing that stands out on Thomas’ film is speed, making him a great fit for the way John Rudzinski often uses linebackers and safeties almost interchangeably. At Akron, he saw over 100 snaps this season at each of the positions Pro Football Focus defines as “slot corner,” “free safety,” and “box.” This includes legitimate game film against Kentucky and Indiana, so power conference competition is not foreign.
Later on Monday, the Harvard transfer tight end pledged to the ‘Hoos. Considering his competition consisted of FCS Ivy League teams, Neville’s 585 receiving yards and 8 total touchdowns over the last two seasons are not eye-popping. However, Neville offers list was filled with power conference schools for a reason.
First off, Neville is an elite run blocker, which is especially critical for the stretch run concepts that Des Kitchings tends to implement. Furthermore, he is a reliable red zone target, which will expand the way the tight ends are used in the UVA offense. Ever since the departure of Jelani Woods two offseason ago, that position has been sparingly utilized in the passing game, usually as check downs, if anything. Neville provides a new element.
This week, Virginia landed another FCS Ivy League transfer, this time a cornerback from Penn. He did not have the same list of impressive offers as Thomas or Neville, but again, first team all-conference honors in consecutive seasons are nothing to gloss over.
The defensive back room is relatively short on depth, and Smith is spending his final year of eligibility at Virginia to play legitimate snaps. He will be asked to do similar things in Charlottesville as at Penn, operating in zone coverage schemes and tackling in space. The major difference is obviously the competition level in the ACC.
Arguably the headliner of the week, Metcalf has an impressive resume and addresses a major need on the offensive line. His multiple years of starting experience at UCF earned him offers from some of the nation’s premier programs, including Oregon and USC. Instead, Metcalf chose to stay in the east to play for offensive line coach Tony Heffernan, who he previously was coached by at Stanford.
Metcalf provides competence and upside on the interior of the offensive line, where he has experience at all three spots. Perhaps even more importantly, he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
To cap off the week, Elliott added his third player to the 2025 recruiting class, a three-star offensive lineman from Tennessee. This is another highly touted addition for Heffernan, who projects as a tackle at the ACC level. Adair chose Virginia just a few weeks after an official visit in November.