UVA Football Notebook: What’s up with the no kids from Virginia?
Well, technically, on that last point, considering that Elijah Gaines played his high-school ball at Episcopal in Northern Virginia, but he’s from Queens, N.Y.
And then, OK, complicating the point that reporters were trying to make this week when they had the chance to quiz UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall, Gaines is listed as the 12th-best prospect from Virginia in the Class of 2020.
Let’s go with the line of questioning from the Wednesday presser, that Virginia didn’t land any Virginia kids.
It’s an issue, certainly, that only one kid signed, in a year when 247Sports.com had nine Virginia ballers as four-stars, all of them going out of state – to locations including LSU, Clemson, Florida, Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan.
“Lots and lots of players are leaving the state,” Mendenhall conceded. “I keep a list in the room where I work. Many are leaving the state. Of those, I think there were eight players in state that we offered and really wanted that chose elsewhere of the long list.
“So, yeah, anyone that we offered in state that didn’t come, I would say that’s a defeat,” Mendenhall said. “I offer them because I want them. If they don’t choose us, there is a reason. I can’t speak for what the reasons are, other than we’re going to continue to work on it. It’s our first priority every single year. The number of times we’re not the first to offer an in-state player is very few. We’re usually first, most thorough, and usually deepest earliest.
“Then for whatever reason, they haven’t chosen us. However, I sense that trend is changing. The results in this class, again, because of size, but also some of the defeats within the relative small class magnify that, I still sense momentum being gained.
“So, we’ll see if it plays out the way I’m hopeful for, and the way I’m predicting,” Mendenhall said.
I wanted to highlight a line of thought from Mendenhall in response to a follow-up question on the lack of Virginia kids thing.
“Eventually, there will be those players that want championship football in their own state,” Mendenhall said. “They want New Year Six bowl games in our state. They want to win the game against their rival in our state. Eventually the body of work … there will be a tipping point at some time.”
Look back at that list of schools that took the four-stars from the Commonwealth.
Virginia is in a New Year’s Six, along with Penn State and Florida.
LSU and Clemson are in the CFP.
Notre Dame and Michigan, thanks for your time.
About one of the four-stars in the Class of 2020. Offensive lineman Andrew Gentry is huge (6’7”, 305 pounds) and expected to be a difference-maker.
But he likely won’t be available to UVA until after he serves his two-year mission with the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
Mendenhall said this week that Gentry’s plan is to serve his mission after high school, meaning he would begin his matriculation at Virginia in 2022.
Mendenhall has loads of experience with kids serving a two-year mission from his years at BYU.
“The challenges certainly are the physical preparation,” Mendenhall said. “Usually takes roughly one year to return to the starting point of where they left. That means to get them back physically to some level of capability where they can then excel or achieve from. That change is also based on where they served.
“And then mindset. When you’ve been sharing spiritual and significant messages and then coming back and then you’re looking to run into people as hard as you can, there is quite a void there. So sometimes mindset is a challenge between those two things.
“That would be just a thumbnail of what I’ve seen in my time.”
Story by Chris Graham