Virginia football is on the right track. Wins, of course, are the easiest measuring stick against which to assess the program. And now we have one. But the fundamentals are strong as well, with Coach Mendenhall and the staff making big strides on the recruiting trail.
Three #NewHoos signed their grant-in-aid letters earlier in September. Running back Lamont Atkins and defensive backs Zachariah Burton and Germane Crowell will all enroll early at Virginia.
I'm a Hoo ⚔️ #Hoosrising pic.twitter.com/KbfuWitjyr— ⚔HoosUp⚔ (@Royal_Hoos) September 15, 2016
Feels good to officially be a Virginia Cavalier. #HoosRising #Wahoowa ⚔ pic.twitter.com/nqHcHHAsnt— Lamont Atkins (@atkins2017) September 12, 2016
(Atkins, by the way, followed up his signing ceremony with a 13-carry, 331-yard, three touchdown performance to move Lake Braddock to 3-0.)
We shared earlier in the week that the Hoos had gotten a big—literally—commitment from California, in offensive tackle Ryan Nelson.
Nelson has been hailed as one of the top 2017 prospects in Southern California, drawing attention from Tom Lemming after just his freshman year.
Ryan Nelson 6'5" 252 Buena Park LT is a 2017 with the athletic ability and frame to be a standout OT in college. pic.twitter.com/yw5HdGG5Lm— Tom Lemming (@LemmingReport) April 22, 2015
And it’s easy to see why. Nelson’s highlights are the first time I’ve openly, gleefully giggled watching tape of a UVA commit. He has the lanky athletic frame that Mendenhall, Anae, and Tujague want in their linemen. On screens, he gets down the field like a tight end.
I know nothing about this young man’s personality. He seems like a smart, very pleasant person. But as a football player? He’s an asshole—in the best possible way. The way he torques smaller defenders to the ground, then smothers them once they’re down... I’ll take five please.
There are 18 commits in the class of 2017 now (plus Darius Bratton coming off a post-grad year at FUMA). Depth is the coaching staff’s biggest goal, so look for another five or six spots to fill up by Signing Day.
One of those spots should have Mekhi Becton penciled in. All eyes are on the mammoth Highland Springs offensive lineman to announce his decision. Odds are, we’ll be waiting right up until the fax machine warms up February 1.
But other big men could come into the UVA fold between now and then. The Hoos offered Utah lineman Cole Clemens on September 14th. Virginia’s offer joins both major in-state programs, as well as Vanderbilt. Texas defensive lineman Sammy Ochoa is another name to watch, especially so long as UVA remains his only Power 5 offer.