Two four-stars highlight small Virginia football recruiting class

uva footballVirginia got paperwork from two four-stars on Wednesday, the opening day of the early signing period for football recruits.

Andrew Gentry, a 6’8”, 310-pound offensive lineman from Littleton, Colo., is #79 on the ESPN 300 who helped lead Columbine High School to a state 5A championship game in 2019.

New Orleans linebacker Brandon Williams is also a four-star ESPN 300 guy. The 6’3”, 220-pounder had 12.5 sacks for Isidore Newman High School, the alma mater of NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.

The Cavaliers landed 12 National Letters of Intent all told on Wednesday, addressing needs at quarterback (Ira Armstead, South Bend, Ind.), wideout (Lavel Davis, a 6’7” target from Dorcester, S.C.), tight end (6’5”, 245-pound Joshua Rawlings from Pittsburgh) and defensive back (Elijah Gaines from Alexandria, Donovan Johnson from Harvey, La.).

It’s a small class, because Virginia had a small senior class, this being the fourth year out from coach Bronco Mendenhall taking over the reins.

Mendenhall said today that he expects to add up to two more names by the end of the week, and that there could be a few other additions in the February signing period.

“Most of our needs have been met, not all,” Mendenhall said. “I’ve never been able to in a recruiting class say that all our needs have been met. And there are projections, but in terms of fit on the field in relation to where we currently are, to continue our unbroken growth pattern, in terms of off the field fit and academic fit, I’m at peace and really happy and satisfied with what this class brings.”

The class ranked 60th in the 247Sports rendering and 67th in Rivals as of late afternoon Wednesday, so, not the greatest haul of all-time, but that has as much to do with the size of the class as anything.

Which, bad timing, from the perspective of the program getting its first New Year’s Six bid, to the Orange Bowl, coming up on Dec. 30.

You’d love to see the Orange Bowl bid have a more immediate impact on recruiting, but because of the limitations in terms of the number of scholarships available, it’s going to have to be more a Class of 2021 thing.

“If early indications are relevant, that’s already happening,” Mendenhall said. “Our 2021 interest in relation to predicted or recruit rankings, that would say it’s already had a significant impact. That’s prior to players committing, but it’s based on players’ level of interest and the amount of attention that they’re giving us and vice versa.

“I certainly see a difference in that, and so it could lead it that,” Mendenhall said. “Doesn’t guarantee it, but certainly could, and right now it is. So, it’s a matter of now I would say developing and fostering the existing level of interest and then helping that come to fruition through relationships to the point where we can say that at this time next year.”

Story by Chris Graham

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