One of the Virginia football team’s newest quarterbacks is no stranger to long odds.
When Jared Rayman’s freshman year rolled around at Pace Academy in Atlanta, the Knights already had an entrenched quarterback in Gunnor Faulk, who led the team to a state title before transferring to private school in California. He’s now a redshirt freshman at UC-Davis.
Rayman joined the Cavaliers this summer as a walk-on. With Bryce Perkins entering his final year of eligibility and Brennan Armstrong beginning his redshirt freshman season, Rayman has a few years ahead of him as a scout team quarterback before ever competing for snaps on game day.
But one of the greatest defensive players in Virginia history said that isn’t going to dissuade his former signal caller from competing like it’s his job to lose.
“He’s a fearless competitor and a self-made quarterback,” said former Virginia defensive end Chris Slade, who still holds the Cavaliers’ career sack record with 40 and is the head coach at Pace. “He could have gone Division III and been a star, but he wanted to be part of a big program and learn the game from that perspective, even if he didn’t get to play his first couple of years.”
Rayman could have gone to Fordham and he looked at Division III programs such as Rhodes and Millsaps, but in the end, the chance to join an ACC program and Virginia’s academic prowess drew him to Slade’s old stomping grounds.
Rayman was a two-year starter at Pace. As a senior, he threw for 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for another 770 yards and 10 scores.
“I told Jared ‘If you put your time in and compete, the opportunity is going to be there,’” Slade said. “He wants to play, of course, but quarterback is a very fickle position. There’s only one of them.”
Last season, Perkins joined Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray as one of only two players in the country with more than 2,600 passing yards and more than 900 rushing yards. This fall, he’s on the short list for ACC Offensive Player of the Year and a dark horse Heisman candidate.
Armstrong looked good in limited action last fall, and backup Lindell Stone is in his third year in the program. Virginia also added two scholarship quarterbacks to its 2019 class, RJ Harvey and Luke Wentz, and has a verbal commitment from three-star 2020 dual-threat prospect Ira Armstead.
Virginia’s 2019 class of walk-ons includes another high school quarterback who is busy adjusting to a new position. Landry Gerbers went 20-4 in two seasons under center at Glenvar High School in Southwest Virginia, but at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he originally joined the Cavaliers as a tight end but is now listed on the roster as on offensive tackle.
His high school coach, Kevin Glifford, wasn’t surprised. He predicted Gerbers’ move to the trenches a couple years ago, and after the Cavaliers’ first day of fall camp, his son, redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Glifford, who also is a walk-on, called to tell him how prescient his words were.
“Landry is a team guy, he’s tough and he was a good leader for us,” Coach Glifford said. “He just loves football, and I’m sure he’s happy with the opportunity he has with an up-and-coming program.”
When wondering how Gerbers will fare in the trenches, Glifford harkens back to a game during his junior year against Galax. Gerbers separated his non-throwing shoulder early in the game, but he didn’t tell anyone and led Glenvar to the win with more than 170 passing yards.
Gerbers is one of three members of this year’s walk-on class from the Roanoke area. He joins former Patrick Henry offensive lineman Charlie Boxley and former Lord Botetourt defensive back Jake Dewease.
The class also includes two local products, Charlottesville kicker Joe Von Storch and Western Albemarle running back/linebacker Aidan Saunders. Here’s a look at the rest of Virginia’s 2019 class of walk-ons.
» Enzo Anthony, LS, 5-10, 225, Port Charlotte, Florida: The No. 1 2019 long snapper in the state of Florida and No. 7 in the country, according to Kornblue Kicking.
» Bo Bigelow, C, 6-1, 260, Montclair, New Jersey: A member of Montclair High’s 2017 state championship team. Also played lacrosse.
» Charlie Boxley, OL, 6-5, 285, Roanoke: Three-year letter winner at Patrick Henry in football and lacrosse.
» Jude Carlon, DB, 6-3, 200, Louisville, Kentucky: Played wide receiver and free safety at St. Xavier High School and led the team in interceptions in 2017 and 2018.
» Jake Dewease, DB, 6-0, 190, Daleville: Owns Lord Botetourt High School’s career interceptions record with 17.
» Justin Duenkel, K, 5-11, 195, Great Falls: Two-time all-state pick at Flint Hill and a five-star prospect, according to Kornblue Kicking.
» Brandon Farrell, P, 5-11, 200, Dunwoody, Georgia: Kicker and punter at Marist School in Atlanta and a two-time Dekalb County Kicker of the Year.
» Sam Galletta, DL, 6-3, 275, Leesburg: Played offensive line at Tuscarora High and was named second-team All-Met by the Washington Post in 2018.
» John Izlar, WR, 6-1, 180, Atlanta: A wide receiver and defensive back at The Westminster School who finished his senior year with 58 tackles, four interceptions, 567 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
» Zack Kindell, WR, 5-11, 190, Stafford: A team captain and honorable mention all-state pick as a senior at Colonial Forge High School.
» Mike Kosar, TE, 6-6, 235, Woodbridge: A tight end and defensive end at St. John Paul the Great who, in 2017, tied the single-season program record with nine sacks.
» Sean Moore, DB, 6-1, 165, Cutler Bay, Florida: Played at Gulliver Prep for former Virginia linebacker Earl Sims and was a high school teammate of UVa freshman outside linebacker D’Sean Perry.
» Aidan Saunders, LB, 5-11, 210, Crozet: Three-year letter winner at Western Albemarle and a second-team All-Jefferson District pick in 2018.
» Joe Von Storch, K, 5-9, 160, Charlottesville: Played wide receiver, defensive back and kicker at Charlottesville High School and helped the Black Knights’ boys soccer team win a state title as a senior.
» Logan Snead, LB, 6-0, 215, Eufaula, Alabama: As a senior, he led Eufaula High School with 120 tackles. The son of Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead.