Virginia adds warm body to depleted defensive line unit
Camper, a 6’5”, 250-pounder, missed the final 10 games of the Spartans’ 2021 season with an injury. A backup in Michigan State’s first three games, he was on the field for 31 snaps.
He saw action on a career-high 249 snaps in 2020, with a Pro Football Focus grade of 59.3, and over portion of four seasons, two cut short by injury, he played 532 snaps, had 15 QB pressures, one sack and 29 tackles.
Assuming he can come back from injury, he’s a warm body, which new Virginia coach Tony Elliott desperately needs.
Elliott knew coming in that he was already losing Mandy Alonso and Adeeb Atariwa to graduation.
Then the ‘Hoos lost Nusi Malani to Washington State, and two other defensive linemen – Aaron Faumui and Jordan Redmond – are still in the portal.
All three were recruits of Bronco Mendenhall, who played a 3-3-5 scheme with a foundation of space-eaters on the D line.
Malani, at 6’6”, 275 pounds, certainly fit that bill – as did Faumui (6’1”, 300) and Redmond (6’0”, 305).
Malani (127 snaps in 2021) and Redmond (123 snaps) battled injuries, and none of the three were particularly effective.
Pro Football Focus gave Faumui (460 snaps) the best season grade of the three at 53.2. Redmond earned a 49.6 grade, and Malani out at a ghastly 29.7.
Still, they were on the field for 32.9 percent of the defensive line snaps in 2021, and with Virginia losing Alonso (617 snaps, 61.3 PFF grade), the whole being left behind is gaping.
The leading returning guy would be 6’2”, 315-pound sophomore Jahmeer Carter (496 snaps, 49.4 PFF grade in 2021).
After that, it’s 6’4”, 270-pound sophomore Ben Smiley III (219 snaps, 30.4 PFF grade) and 6’6”, 280-pound redshirt freshman Olasunkonmi Agunloye (204 snaps, 54.0 PFF grade).
Class of 2021 four-star recruit Bryce Carter, a 6’3”, 280-pounder, only got four snaps this past season, but just based on what the recruiting services thought of him, you’d think he’d be in the mix to earn some two-deep time in the spring.
Another Class of 2021 recruit, Michael Diatta, a 6’5”, 255-pounder, got 35 snaps (with a 59.3 PFF grade) as a true freshman in 2021.
Other names to throw in for posterity: freshmen Lorenz Terry, Hugh Laughlin and Andrew Williams, redshirt freshmen Nate Morris and Sam Bond, junior Samson Reed.
Elliott and his staff will need to continue to work the transfer portal to beef up the D line.
Story by Chris Graham