UVA football recruiting class light on Virginia kids: Does that matter?

UVA footballMan, the old-timers would look at the 2019 UVA football recruiting class, and say, where are the Virginia kids?

Of the 20 players to sign on Wednesday, just four are from Virginia, and only two of the top 25 high-school recruits in Virginia in the Rivals rankings (Ben Smiley, No. 16, and Chayce Chalmers, No. 25) are headed to Charlottesville.

For comparison: Virginia Tech has six. Penn State, three, including Nos. 1 (North Stafford running back Devyn Ford) and 2 (Louisa County linebacker Brandon Smith).

Also leaving with two Virginia kids: Notre Dame, West Virginia, Purdue.

You can hear the old-timers now: you can’t even keep the kids in-state?

Meh, I say.

(I’m saying meh a lot these days.)

Mike London famously made recruiting the 757, the fertile Tidewater area of Virginia, a target, and he did well, bringing in back-to-back-to-back Top 30 national classes from 2011-2013.

And you saw how that worked out.

London, to this day, I don’t know what he was trying to do to win games. The offense was never really defined. The defense, a mystery.

I do remember London talking a lot about coaching guys up, but he had one winning season.

Mendenhall, we know what he wants to do. Defensively, he values speed at linebacker and in the secondary.

Up front, he wants guys who can eat up blockers so that his speed guys can swarm to the ball.

On offense, offensive coordinator Robert Anae wants a dual-threat QB, speed at running back, size at wideout.

How does the class of 2019 address those wants?

The centerpiece is four-star defensive tackle Jowon Briggs, from Cincinnati, who will be a beast on the inside against the run and creating havoc for quarterbacks in the A gap.

Ben Smiley, 6’6”, 260, also a defensive tackle, had an offer from Alabama.

The D line is looking good the next few years.

Chalmers is a big (6’2”, 208) defensive back, one of five in the signing class, which also includes four linebackers, the big name probably being Hunter Stewart, a four-star from Washington, D.C.

Size at wideout: 6’5” Nathaniel Beall III (Houston, Texas), 6’3” Dorien Goddard (Greeneville, Tenn.), 6’2” Dontayvion Wicks (Plaquemine, La.).

Another Louisiana kid, running back Mike Hollins, might be one of the steals of Signing Day for UVA, earning comparisons from Mendenhall to current ‘Hoos starting tailback Jordan Ellis.

Bottom line: Mendenhall and staff addressed their needs.

Most of the kids didn’t come from Virginia. In fact, more come from Florida (five), not that that matters, either.

The kids on their way fit into what Mendenhall wants to do.

Does it matter what their area code is?

Column by Chris Graham

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by June 10, 2019, and will retail for $25.
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The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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