Home Tony Elliott’s first recruiting class at Virginia ranks near the bottom of the Power 5

Tony Elliott’s first recruiting class at Virginia ranks near the bottom of the Power 5

Chris Graham
tony elliott
Photo: UVA Athletics

With a borderline embarrassing 30-minute spectacle on Instagram Wednesday evening, Kamren Robinson grabbed a Virginia hat – after first reaching for a Florida State lid – announcing his commitment to Tony Elliott’s fledgling football program at the end of early-signing day.

Robinson was the lone pearl of the Class of 2023 for Elliott, a four-star linebacker from Essex High School who had committed in July, but had taken recent visits to Florida State and South Carolina, both of which are on the upswing, making it natural to assume that they might be able to lure Robinson into a last-minute flip.

Penn State ended up signing six of the top 10 players in Virginia on the early signing day, rendering whatever Elliott and Brent Pry, the first-year coach at Virginia Tech, had to say about renewing their programs’ reach in the Commonwealth moot.

Pry did land 13 of the state’s top 50 players, led by Antonio Cotman Jr., a cornerback from Colonial Heights who was rated by 247Sports at the #16 prospect in Virginia in the Class of 2023.

Robinson rated ninth on the 247Sports list. The 6’2”, 215-pounder rates as the #25 linebacker recruit nationally, and is the 450th-best prospect overall in the 2023 class.

In all, Virginia signed 19 players on Wednesday, including six from Virginia, in a class that 247Sports ranks 13th in the ACC and 60th nationally, and 57th among the 65 members of Power 5 conferences.

The other national profile recruit signed on Wednesday was Suderian Harrison, a 5’10”, 165-pound athlete from Dorcester, S.C.

Harrison played QB at Woodland High School, but projects at wideout at the college level.

Harrison had offers from Louisville, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech, among others.

If you think you’ve heard of Woodland High School before in the context of UVA football, you have.

Lavel Davis Jr., a freshman All-America wide receiver at Virginia in 2020, was a Woodland alum.

Davis was one of three UVA football student-athletes shot and killed in a mass shooting on Grounds on Nov. 13.

Harrison and Virginia connected late in the recruiting game. He didn’t take his official visit to Virginia until Dec. 2.

Outside of Harrison and Robinson, the Virginia 2023 class is a lot of reaches, and if you’re judging commitment by what you saw out of Robinson on his Instagram announcement, I don’t know, the transfer portal could be something to watch for there.


(courtesy UVA Athletics)

CB Trent Baker-Booker – Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central

Earned All-Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference and All-Marion County honors as a senior … played in eight games, recording 24 tackles, eight passes defended, three interceptions and a fumble recovery in 2022 …  helped team to second round of state playoffs in 2022 … had 26 tackles as a junior and 19 as a sophomore … had four interceptions during prep career … three-star safety according to 247Sports, ESPN and On3 … No. 19 safety in the state of Indiana according to 247Sports and no. 87 cornerback in the country according to ESPN … played for head coach William Patterson at Lawrence Central.

DT Anthony Britton – Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor

Helped lead Lake Taylor to an 11-2 mark, a regional final appearance and the No. 21 Virginia state ranking according to MaxPreps in 2022 …  Played offensive line and defensive line at Lake Taylor … 2022 Eastern District Defensive Player of the Year … led Hampton Roads area with 22 regular season sacks and finished the year with 28 sacks, a Lake Taylor school record… invited to play in the 2022 U.S. Army Bowl in Frisco, Texas … three-star recruit according to 247Sports, On3, ESPN and Rivals … played for head coach Hank Sawyer at Lake Taylor.

BANDIT Mekhi Buchanan – Acworth, Ga./Allatoona

Played defensive end at Allatoona High School in Acworth, Ga. … named first-team all-region 6-6A as a senior … helped Buccaneers rally from a 1-5 start to the state playoffs as a senior … that marked the 13th straight season Allatoona advanced to the 6A state playoffs from Region 6 … team reached second round of state playoffs and finished with a 6-6 mark … had 54-yard pick-6 vs. River Ridge in 31-0 win to clinch a home playoff game …  also had five tackles and a sack in that game … earlier in the season blocked a punt and returned it 15 yards for a score vs. Cartersville … a 3-star prospect by Rivals … credited with 90 tackles as a senior including 54 solo stops … finished the 2022 campaign with 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks … credited with 11 QB hurries … junior season posted 19 tackles in six games of action … had two sacks in 2021 … finished his prep career with 113 tackles that included 64 solo stops … had 8.5 sacks during prep career.

QB Anthony Colandrea – St. Petersburg, Fla./ Lakewood

Set to enroll at UVA in January of 2023 … Dual threat quarterback from Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Fla. … committed to Virginia in July … completed 224 of 349 (.642) passes for 3,137 yards as a senior … passing total ranked No. 7 for the state of Florida … led his team to a 9-5 record and the semifinals finals of the FHSAA 2M championship … Pinellas County player of the year … threw for 28 touchdowns … averaged 14.0 yards per completion … tossed a season-high 437 yards in a 63-42 victory vs. Calvary Christian (11/25) … had five TD passes in that contest and the previous week vs. Tampa Catholic … rushed 82 times for 657 yards (8.0 avg.) and six touchdowns … finished the 2022 season with 3862 yards of total offense (297.1 per game) … as a junior in 2021 he threw for 3,252 yards and 27 scores … completed 216 of 345 (.626) during that campaign … had season high 448 passing yards and six TD tosses vs. Hardee as a junior … he led Lakewood to the 4A semifinals that season … and a 10-3 overall record … during a four-year high school career he threw for 7,311 yards and completed 508 of 812 passes (.625) … threw for 60 TD passes during prep career … team was 35-4 during his high school career … averaged 14.4 yards per catch during high school career … rated 3-stars by Rivals, ESPN, On3 and 247Sports … played for head coach Cory Moore at Lakewood.

WR TyLyric Coleman – Danville, Va./ Dan River

Helped Dan River rattle off five-straight regulars wins to close out the 2022 regular season and qualify for the Region 2C playoffs … 2022 River City Sports Offensive Player of the Year … in 2022 was recognized as a First Team All-District performer at three positions – WR, DB, PR … went on to earn All-2C Region honors as a wide receiver and defensive back as a senior … led his region in receiving yards (1,026) and receiving touchdowns (8) in 2022 … amassed 1,687 all-purpose yards, scored 13 total touchdowns, 50 tackles and 3 interceptions in his final prep season … during his breakout junior season at Dan River, had 36 receptions for 699 yards and seven touchdowns … on the defensive side of the ball had seven interceptions, tied for the most in Virginia according to MaxPreps … named to the Region 2C Second Team at defensive back … member of the Dan River 2021 state champion basketball team … 2022 state runner-up 4×400 relay team … three-star athlete according to 247Sports, On3, and Rivals.com … ranked 43rd-best athlete in the Commonwealth of Virginia according to 247Sports … played for head coach Brian Womack at Dan River.

ATH Landon Danley – Irmo, S.C./Dutch Fork

Played safety for Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C. … helped team to 14-1 record and the SCHSL 5A state championship … that was Silver Foxes sixth state title in last seven years … Silver Foxes were the No. 17 ranked prep program in the nation according to High School Football America … named to 5A all-state team by South Carolina Football Coaches Association … also played wide receiver and filled in at quarterback during 2022 campaign … named to the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas roster … helped South Carolina defeat North Carolina 17-13 … had 59 tackles and team-high four interceptions and also two fumble recoveries in 2022 … credited with 77 tackles, four interceptions and three tackles for loss during his junior season … had 39 tackles and two interceptions in 2020 as a sophomore … finished his career with 175 tackles and 10 interceptions in 38 prep games … team was 12-1 as a junior and 10-0 as a sophomore … 3-star prospect by 247Sports, On3 and ESPN … rated the No. 31 player in South Carolina by 247Sports, Rivals and No. 29 by On3 … played for coach Tom Knotts at Dutch Fork … also plays basketball at Dutch Fork where he averaged 5.8 ppg. as a junior … competes in long jump and triple jump for high school track squad.

WR Jaden Gibson – Rabun County, Ga./Rabun County

Set to enroll at UVA in January … helped Rabun County to a 23-3 record in two seasons including a state quarterfinal appearance in 2021 …set the Georgia state records for career receiving yards (5,124), career touchdown receptions (59) and single-season touchdown receptions (29 in 2022) … his 1,950 receiving yards as a senior in 2022 and his 1,878 yards as a junior in 2021 are the second and third-most, respectively, in a single-season in state history… had seven 200-yard receiving games in his prep career including a 13-catch, 285-yard receiving effort, the eighth-most in a game in state history, against Elbert County on Oct. 22, 2022. He broke the state’s 49-year-old career receiving record and the state’s career touchdown record with his fourth TD catch of the contest … 2022 Region 8A-D1 Player of the Year … named the 2022 Born 2 Compete Wide Receiver of the Year and the 2022 BLITZ Player of the Year … one of nine finalists for the 2022 Mr. Georgia Award presented to the top senior football player in the state of Georgia by the Peach Bowl … 2021 Max Preps First Team Small Town All-American … 2021 Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), Georgia High School Association (GHSA) & Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) First Team All-State selection … played his first two seasons at Dawson County where he earned all-region honors as a sophomore before transferring to Rabun County … originally committed to Georgia Southern but reopened his recruitment in November of his senior year … three-star recruit by 247Sports and Rivals.com … ranked in the top-100 wide receivers in the state of Georgia according to Rivals.com … played for Jaybo Shaw (2021) and Mike Davis (2022) at Rabun County.

DE Miles Greene – Richmond, Va./Highland Springs

Helped Highland Springs to VHSL Class 5 state title and a perfect 15-0 season in 2022 … Springers were the No. 75 ranked prep program in the nation according to High School Football America … named all-Metro, all-region and VHSL 5A all-state as a junior … as a junior finished with 56 tackles (30 solo, 26 assists) that included nine tackles for loss, five sacks … helped Springers to VHSL Class 5 semifinals and a 10-4 record … 3-star prospect by ESPN, 247Sports, On3 … named to Lemming Report’s top prospects for Virginia for Class of 2023 … rated the No. 33 player in the state by On3 … older brothers Mike and Malcolm were also standout players at Highland Springs … Mike was an All-American defensive lineman at James Madison and signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay Buccaneer last May … Malcolm is junior cornerback at Clemson … played for coach Loren Johnson at Highland Springs.

DT Jason Hammond – Miami Gardens, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas

Played defensive tackle for coach Roger Harriott St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., … helped Raiders to their fourth straight Florida Class 3M state title, the 14th in the school’s history … Raiders were the No. 3 ranked prep program in the nation according to High School Football America … ranked No. 6 prep program in the nation by MaxPreps … St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Homestead 38-21 for the title, marking the first time in Florida High School Association history that schools from Broward and Miami-Dade met for the state title … the Raiders finished the season 14-0 … defense only allowed more than 14 points twice during the season … as a senior he had 58 total tackles, including 28 solo stops … had seven sacks and nine tackles for loss … as a junior totaled 30 tackles, five tackles for loss and one sack …  Raiders finished 14-1 during the 2021 campaign … completed his prep career with 91 tackles including 45 solo stops … had eight sacks, caused one fumble and recovered one fumble … played his sophomore season at Chaminade-Madonna High School in Hollywood, Fla. … 3-star prospect by 247Sports, On3, Rivals … cousin, Jaleel Johnson, was a fourth-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2017 NFL Draft and currently plays for New Orleans Saints.

SAF Caleb Hardy – McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing

Was an honorable mention on the 2022 7-5A All-Region team … two-year team captain of the football team and captain of the track team … state finalist in the 4×200 relay … 24 tackles with two pass breakups and recovered a fumble in his junior season … invited to play in the 2022 Georgia Elite Classic all-star game … comes from athletic background, cousin Leonard Little played 12 years with the St. Louis Rams, uncle Devin Aromashadu played football at Auburn and in the NFL with the Bears, Colts and Vikings, aunt Britte Hardy/Aromashadu played softball at Ole Miss, the first African American softball player at the school … three-star safety according to 247Sports, ESPN, On3 and Rivals … played for head coach Markus Brown at Eagles Landing.

WR Suderian Harrison – McCormick, S.C./Woodland

Helped lead Woodland High School (Dorchester, S.C.) to an 11-2 record in 2022 … team reached the quarterfinals of the Class 2-A state championships … Region 6AA offensive player of the year … named to 2A all-state team by South Carolina Football Coaches Association … completed 84 of 128 passes for 2018 yards and 26 touchdowns … rushed the ball 133 times for 1,185 yards and 21 scores … had 23 tackles on defense and two interceptions including one pick-six … also returned a kickoff for a touchdown … accounted for 49 scores during his senior campaign … had six touchdown passes in 55-14 victory vs. Edisto … as a freshman passed for more than 1,200 yards and let McCormick to the second round of the state playoffs … named to the South Carolina roster for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas … helped South Carolina defeat North Carolina 17-13 … 3-star prospect by 247Sports and Rivals … ranked the No. 114 “athlete” for Class of 2023 by 247Sports … attended same high school as former UVA wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. … also plays basketball and baseball … competed for track team at McCormick High School where he clocked an 11.93 in the 100 meters and 25.03 in the 200 meters during a meet in 2021 … that same season he helped set the school record (43.44) in the 4×100 relay … participated in the Under Armour Baseball Factory showcase following his freshman year of high school … plays shortstop for baseball team … played football for coach Eddie Ford at Woodland.

RB Donté Hawthorne – Spotsylvania, Va./Colonial Forge HS/Massaponax HS  

Began his prep career at Massaponax High School (Fredericksburg, Va.) before transferring to Colonial Forge for his senior year … at Massaponax became the starting quarterback his junior year … totaled 1,123 yards rushing and tallied 23 touchdowns in three seasons, playing in a run-heavy, triple-option offense … as a junior earned first-team all-area for all-purpose and second-team All-Commonwealth District at quarterback … his senior season at Colonial Forge ran 159 times for 846 yards and 10 touchdowns … earned second team all-region honors in both his junior and senior seasons … Virginia was first to offer scholarship … played for head coach Eric Ludden at Massaponax High School and head coach Bill Brown at Colonial Forge.

WR Titus Ivy – Concord, N.C./Cox Mill

Helped Cox Mill to a 9-3 record and second round of the North Carolina 4A state playoffs in 2022 … appeared in six games and caught nine passes for 120 yards … had two receptions for scores for the Chargers who compete in the Greater Metro 4 Conference … outstanding prep basketball player as a small forward… rated the No. 185 players in the state of North Carolina by Prep Hoops … averaged 8.0 ppg. as a junior at Cox Mill, earning all-league honors … rated 3-stars by Rivals and 247Sports … played for coach Shawn Baker at Cox Mill … son of Tamika and Tyrone Ivy … born in Starkville, Miss.

DE DJ Jones – Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough

Played defensive end for Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla. … team went 4-6 his senior season finished the 2022 season with 32 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks … second team all Federal Division … transferred to Hillsborough for his senior season after attending Sumner High School in Riverview, Fla. … had 25 tackles as a junior, eight sacks and six tackles for loss … helped the Stingrays to a 9-3 mark in 2021 and the second round of the 6A state playoffs … named second-team all-conference at Sumner … played tight end on offense 3-star prospect by 247Sports, On3, Rivals … was also listed as a 3-star prospect as a tight end prior to his senior season … also plays basketball for the Terriers … also enjoys chess … played football for coach Earl Garcia, Jr., at Hillsborough … first name id Daryl.

TE TeKai Kirby – Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas

Played for national high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas which won its fourth-straight state championship in 2022 … Raiders were the No. 3 ranked prep program in the nation according to High School Football America … ranked No. 6 prep program in the nation by MaxPreps … STA posted a 51-2 record during the school’s four-peat including a 28-1 mark in Kirby’s final two seasons … as a senior hauled in six receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns … played with current Cavalier offensive lineman Blake Steen and Dawson Alters at STA … son of Virginia legend Terry Kirby, who is third all-time on UVA’s career rushing list with 3,348 yards … his father played high school football and college football with current UVA defensive end coach Chris Slade … three-star tight end according to 247Sports, ESPN and On3 … played for head coach Roger Harriott at St. Thomas Aquinas.

LB Kam Robinson – Tappahannock, Va./Essex 

Helped Essex to a 13-1 overall record and an appearance in the VHSL Class 1 state semifinals his senior season … 2022 Northern Neck Region Defensive Player of the Year … first-team all-VHSL as both a wide receiver and linebacker … earned First Team All-District honors as a wide receiver, linebacker and punter as well as Second Team All-District accolades as a punt returner … 2021 Region A and Northern Neck District Offensive Player of the Year … first team all-state as a wide receiver and Second Team All-State as a linebacker his junior season … in eight games played caught 39 passes for 1,014 yards and 11 touchdowns and on defense recorded 89 tackles including 10 tackles for loss and four sacks in 2021 … three-sport athlete at Essex, playing football, basketball and baseball … garnered VHSL Class 1 First Team All-State honors as a first baseman for the Essex baseball team in as a junior … averaged over 17 ppg as a junior on the Essex basketball team … four-star recruit according to 247Sports and a three-star according to ESPN, On3 and Rivals … ranked the No. 25 overall linebacker and the No. 8 linebacker in the Commonwealth of Virginia according to 247Sports … received 17 D-1 offers and chose Virginia over Florida State, Pitt, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia … played for head coach Todd Jones at Essex High School.

OL Cole Surber – Bristow, Va./Patriot

Will enroll at UVA in January … team captain at Patriot High School in Nokesville, Va. that went 11-2 and reached he VHSL regional finals in 2022 … had over 40 pancake blocks as a senior … allowed just one sack and just over 10 pressures in 13 games … first-team VHSL all state and all-region 6B selection that marked his second all-region selection … 2022 second-team All-Met as offensive lineman… started on offensive line beginning his sophomore season … earned first-team all-Class 6 honors as a junior when Patriot went 7-4 and reached state playoffs … team was 10-2 as a sophomore and reached second round of the state playoffs … two-time team captain … three-time all-district pick … 3-star prospect by 247Sports, ESPN, On3 and Rivals rated the No. 32 player in the state by On3 … named to Lemming Report’s top prospects for Virginia for Class of 2023 … grandfather, Kenneth, was an offensive lineman at Concord College and coached the position at Woodbridge High School … first player to commit to UVA’s Class of 2023 … No. 22 rated player in state of Virginia when he committed … played for coach Sean Finnerty at Patriot.

RB Noah Vaughn – Maryville, Tenn./Maryville

Led team to a 10-4 record in 2022 and a semifinal appearance in the Tennessee Class 6A championship … named the Five Star Preps Region 2-6A player of the year … named a finalist for the Tennessee Titans’ Mr. Football award … a semifinalist for the Class 6A Mr. Football award … rushed for 1,279 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior before missing his final regular-season game and the playoffs due to injury … he averaged 7.9 yards per carry … caught 15 passes for 248 yards and two scores as a senior … had a 99-yard TD rush in win vs. Bearden … named to Knox News’ Elite 8 team prior to start of his senior season … as a junior he piled up 2,378 all-purpose yards and rushed for 1,611 yards … he totaled 22 rushing touchdowns as a junior, averaging 8.9 yards per carry … in 2021 he had 15 receptions for 320 yards and 1 score … he returned 11 kickoffs that season for 447 yards, an average of 40.6 yards per return … team went 13-1 in 2021 and reached semifinals of state playoffs … helped Maryville to state title and perfect 15-0 record in 2019 … rated 3-stars by Rivals, ESPN, On3 and 247Sports … ranked the No. 29 player in Tennessee by Rivals and No. 34 by On3 … runs sprints and relays for Maryville track squad … played for coach Derek Hunt at Maryville.

CB Keandre Walker – Denver, N.C./East Lincoln

Played cornerback and wide receiver at East Lincoln High School in Denver, N.C. … helped Mustangs to 16-0 record and the 3A state championship … named the team’s most outstanding offensive player of the game in state championship final … caught a 30-yard touchdown pass and also picked off a pass during the game … program’s first state title since 2014 … team allowed more than 10 points just three times in 16 games … finished his senior season with 47 receptions for 859 yards and nine touchdowns … had 39 tackles and four interceptions in 2022 … as a junior in 2021, caught 20 passes for 326 yards (16.3 avg.) … had four touchdown catches in 2021 … on defense that season, had five interceptions and eight pass defenses … team was 8-4 as a junior and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs … named to the North Carolina roster for the 2022 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas … received 3 starts from 247Sports, Rivals, ESPN and On3 … rated the No. 42 player in North Carolina by 247Sports, No. 36 by Rivals and No. 32 by On3 … named Western Hills all-conference in basketball as a junior … averaged 9.3 ppg. as a junior … runs 200 and 400 meters for Mustangs’ track team … played football for head coach David Lubowicz at East Lincoln.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].