The Virginia football team is coming off its first eight-win season since 2011 and a dominant performance in the Belk Bowl against South Carolina. Add to that the Cavaliers’ highest-rated recruiting class since 2014 and it’s easy to see how expectations in Charlottesville are at a level unmatched by any UVa football team in the past decade.
The unofficial transition from summer to fall begins next week with ACC Media Days in Charlotte, North Carolina. Leading up to the event, we’re featuring 19 UVa players to watch in 2019. Some are familiar names. Some are new. All are expected to play massive roles in Virginia’s continued rebuild this season.
Number four in the countdown went from a brash, young wide receiver who got ejected from the spring game as a sophomore to a senior leader on the team many expect to rise in the ranks of the ACC. It didn’t take long last fall for Hasise Dubois to earn quarterback Bryce Perkins’ trust. As that connection continues to grow this season, so will his red-zone targets.
Last season: Dubois finished second on the team with 52 catches for 578 yards and third with five touchdowns. He posted a season-high six receptions against Ohio and N.C. State, caught touchdowns in back-to-back games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech and hauled in five passes for 57 yards in the Belk Bowl against South Carolina.
Depth at the position: Dubois will, once again, be Virginia’s top jump-ball option, but he may get some competition from Arizona State graduate transfer Terrell Chatman (6-4, 190). Of course, if Chatman lives up to the hype he received coming out of high school, the Cavaliers could go big and really give defenses fits in the red zone. Senior Joe Reed, Richmond graduate transfer Dejon Brissett and junior Terrell Jana will also see snaps outside the hash marks. Freshman Dorien Goddard enrolled in January and could see some playing time.
Number to know: 3. During his high school career at DePaul Catholic, Dubois was part of three non-public Group 3 sectional championship teams. As a senior, he hauled in 45 passes for 709 yards and nine touchdowns, including one in a 40-17 win in the championship game against St. John Vianney.
Outlook: This is a big year for Dubois. He has the frame to play at the next level, but he isn’t going to blow any NFL scouts away with his 40-yard dash time. So, he’s going to have to show them he can create separation with crisp routes, outmuscle defenders and produce when Perkins calls his number. Dubois is a possession receiver, built in much the same mold as former Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Olamide Zaccheaus was Perkins’ go-to target last season in short yardage and third-down situations. This fall, Dubois needs to emerge as a chain-mover.
Heading back to Heinz
The last time Dubois was in Heinz Field, he caught his first career touchdown pass. It was a 19-yard dart from former quarterback Kurt Benkert and gave the Cavaliers their first points of the day. Dubois will return to the scene of the crime on Aug. 31 when Virginia opens the 2019 season at Pitt.
Dubois would like nothing more than for history to repeat itself and to open his final college season with a touchdown or two, but he’ll have to do so against one of the ACC’s top secondaries. Redshirt senior cornerback Dane Jackson is back after he started 13 games last season and earned honorable mention all-conference honors after leading Pitt with 14 pass breakups and four forced fumbles. Safety Damar Hamlin is also back after he led Pitt with 90 tackles and two interceptions.
Chasing the greats
For years, every wide receiver that stepped into Scott Stadium was compared to two players: Herman Moore (1988-90) and Billy McMullen (1999-02). As a senior in 2002, McMulllen passed Moore on the team’s career receiving yardage list, and his 2,978 yards still leads all former Cavaliers.
Last season, Zaccheaus joined the club. He broke McMullen’s career receptions record with 250 and his own receptions in a season mark with 93. He also passed Moore and moved into No. 2 all-time with 2,753 career receiving yards.
Zaccheaus’ 1,058 yards last fall marked just the third time in program history that a receiver cracked the 1,000-yard mark. In 1990, Moore led the ACC with 1,190 yards. In 2001, McMullen did the same with 1,060. Dubois wants to add his as the fourth name on that list, and that kind of production would be sure to catch the attention of NFL scouts.