The headliners of Virginia’s 2014 recruiting class have been well-profiled since the group started to take shape last February when five-star safety Quin Blanding picked the Cavaliers over a who’s-who of national powerhouses during a ceremony inside his Bayside High School.
Soon after, Corwin Cutler, a heralded 2013 quarterback signee for the Cavaliers, would join after deciding to take a prep year at Fork Union Military Academy.
Andrew Brown, the country’s top defensive lineman, selected UVa on June 29. Jamil Kamara, a four-star receiver, announced he was a Wahoo last month.
Together, they’re Virginia’s version of the Core Four, childhood friends from Hampton Roads on a mission to turn their home state program around.
“We all can’t wait,” Cutler said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve been playing together since we were little, so it’s going to be fun just to get back together and try to win these games again.”
But they’re scheduled to have a few classmates join them on that quest.
Virginia unveiled a ’14 class of 17 players Wednesday. They hail all the way from California to Pennsylvania.
Collectively, five states are represented as well as Washington, D.C.
“They’re really quality, quality players,” said UVa head coach Mike London. “We’re very excited about who they are and what they represent and the opportunities for them to come in and help this football team.”
So besides the Core Four, what other pieces to this class were talked about Wednesday during London’s press conference inside John Paul Jones Arena?
A sampling ...
- London on Steven Moss, a four-star prospect out of Fredericksburg and one of only two 2014 offensive linemen: “No. 1, he’s a very tough and aggressive player — and that’s something you need in an offensive lineman. He’s played left tackle, right tackle. ... What’s interesting is he likes to bowl. The translation between bowling and footwork and balance, it might sound crazy, but there’s something to that. So when you watch him play, whether he’s pulling, whether he’s pass protecting on either side, it’s something he’s really, really adept at doing and does it well.”
- London on Darrious Carter, a three-star defensive end from Indiana, Pa., listed at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds: “I don’t know [if he has to add] 80 pounds. But it does speak to the fact that he’s a long, athletic guy. He’s spent most of his career playing basketball. ... He’s into his last basketball season as a senior. He’ll start getting regimented to the type of weightlifting program and nutritional needs he’s going to need for the game. ... He kind of reminds me of [former UVa All-ACC defensive end] Chris Canty. He was about 222 pounds, came in long and lean. I’m not saying he is a Chris Canty, but you look at the body type, he’s like that.”
- London on Evan Butts, a three-star tight end/long snapper out of Newton Square, Pa., who becomes UVa’s first true TE recruit since Zach Swanson in 2010: “He’s long. He’s played lacrosse, and he kind of reminds me a little bit of [former Virginia All-American defensive end] Patrick Kerney. He’s a tall, big type of guy. ... He’s a tight end that can help us run the ball, catch the ball and do the things we ask tight ends to do. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”
- London on Chris Peace, a late-blooming linebacker prospect out of Newport News who verbally committed Jan. 26: “Under recruited? Probably. Under the radar? Probably, because the year before he was a receiver. And I don’t know what he was eating or what he was doing, but at 6-3, 225, he’s a big young man. I believe he had over 20 sacks [last season].”
- London on Jordan Ellis, a 5-11, 210-pound three-star prospect from Suwannee, Ga., and lone running back in this class: “Just a phenomenal natural athlete that has size. And that was important in talking about addressing needs, having a size running back was important to us.”
Virginia’s class of 2014 features four defensive linemen, three linebackers, two receivers, two cornerbacks, two offensive linemen, a quarterback, a running back, a tight end and a safety.
It’s missing a kicker, something London pointed out as the most disappointing part of this particular recruiting period.
On Aug. 15, Gary Wunderlich, considered one of the top kickers in the nation, de-committed from UVa and pledged to Mississippi.
Kickers currently on Virginia’s roster include junior Ian Frye, sophomore William van Reesema and sophomore Dylan Sims.
Senior punter Alec Vozenilek played both roles last year in place of an injured Frye, connecting on 12 of 15 field goals with a long of 40.
“Losing out on Gary, it hurt a little bit,” London said. “But we have quality guys that are in the program right now.”
Three-star offensive lineman Will Richardson, a May 25 UVa commit, flipped two weeks ago. Wednesday, he signed with N.C. State.
Anthony Poindexter, a longtime successful recruiter of the Washington, D.C. area, left Virginia in early January to become Connecticut’s defensive coordinator.
London said UVa is exploring the option of putting newly hired defensive line coach Jappy Oliver in Poindexter’s former stomping grounds.
“He fit in perfectly,” London said of Oliver. “I believe he’ll do a great job recruiting. He helped replace Anthony Poindexter, but that’s another guy right there that I think is personable, has great communication skills.”