Miami Virginia Football

Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall (from left), offensive line coach Garett Tujague, defensive line coach Vic So’oto and offensive coordinator Robert Anae celebrated after a play in the second half of this season's win over Miami.

College football’s 2018 early signing period has arrived. In gyms and auditoriums all over the country, the next generation of NCAA stars is set to sign national letters of intent.

Some have already made their commitment known. Others have fans hanging on the edge of their seats. There is still the traditional national signing day yet to come on Feb. 6, but if last year was any indication, the bulk of the big signings are going to happen today.

Virginia currently has 22 verbally committed players to its incoming recruiting class, which ranks No. 35 nationally and No. 6 in the ACC, according to 247sports.com.

National letters of intent will start rolling in at 7 a.m. and continue until well into the evening. Follow along right here on cavalierinsider.com as we roll out profiles as each player signs on the dotted line.  


7:10 a.m.

Hunter Stewart was the first player Gonzaga head coach Randy Trivers met after he stepped off the plane to take the job in Washington D.C., and Stewart is the first Cavalier to get his national letter of intent in on Wednesday morning. Stewart has ideal size and athleticism to become Virginia’s next pass-rushing outside linebacker.

HUNTER STEWART

Gonzaga, Washington D.C.

Height: 6-3

Weight: 225

Position: OLB

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 4-star

Position outlook: Virginia’s coaches love big, physical linebackers and Stewart fits that mold. His size makes him an ideal replacement for senior Chris Peace, who has led the Cavaliers in sacks in each of the past two years. UVa is loaded at outside linebacker, though. Charles Snowden looks like a star in the making, sophomore Elliott Brown and freshman Noah Taylor are both 6-5 and athletic and sophomore Matt Gahm saw snaps this season in place of Peace.

Verbally committed: June 22

UVa’s top competition: Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Illinois

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2LodxyP

* Gonzaga head coach Randy Trivers said Stewart is “gonna be a monster” at UVa bit.ly/2EAcVpj

* This fall, Stewart helped Gonzaga win its first WCAC title in 16 years bit.ly/2Exn70Z


7:20 a.m.

Virginia’s second NLI of the day comes from versatile athlete Antonio Clary, who is likely to end up at safety for the Cavaliers. As a junior at Sandalwood High School, he racked up 376 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns, two punt returns for touchdowns, 39 tackles and three interceptions.

ANTONIO CLARY

Sandalwood, Jacksonville, Florida

Height: 6-0

Weight: 200

Position: DB/WR

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Clary will most likely end up as a safety for the Cavaliers, but he also has the athleticism to play cornerback and he’s dangerous enough with the ball in his hands that he could move to offense if the need arises. Virginia does have to replace top safety Juan Thornhill next season, but starters Joey Blount and Brenton Nelson will only be juniors, and the Cavaliers expect to have Chris Moore and Myles Robinson back from injury.

Verbally committed: April 8

UVa’s top competition: Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Purdue, USF.

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2GugLlB

* Junior season highlights bit.ly/2CnhkcG

* Clary makes the Times-Union’s Super 11 and comes in at No. 10 in a preseason ranking of the area’s top 25 players bit.ly/2LpXJvp

* Video: Clary with a nice interception and return in a game this season against Ribault bit.ly/2PNbfcQ


7:30 a.m.

Virginia’s next NLI comes from undersized but explosive quarterback RJ Harvey. He was the fastest player on the field more often than not in high school, and he’ll fit perfectly into the Cavaliers’ offensive scheme.

RJ HARVEY

Edgewater High School, Orlando, Florida 

Height: 5-10

Weight: 182

Position: QB

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Harvey is undersized, but he’s explosive and productive. As a junior, he accounted for accounted for 3,035 yards and 35 touchdowns. Bryce Perkins is going to be the man for another year, and it looks like freshman Brennan Armstrong is his heir apparent. Mendenhall loves athletic quarterbacks, though, so Harvey is sure to get a chance to compete for the job once Perkins is out of the picture.

Verbally committed: July 30

UVa’s top competition: UCF, Army, Navy, Akron, Richmond.

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2EEkMC7

* Harvey is eager to prove the doubters wrong bit.ly/2Ot5zW9

* For Edgewater, Harvey’s commitment goes beyond football bit.ly/2Etha4S


7:35 a.m.

The Cavaliers just got an NLI from productive wide receiver Dorien Goddard, who, as a junior, posted 1,012 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns while helping his team win a Tennessee 4A state title. This fall, he put up 1,046, receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

DORIEN GODDARD

Greeneville High, Greeneville, Tennessee 

Height: 6-3

Weight: 208

Position: WR

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: The Cavaliers’ coaches were looking for a big-bodied receiver to step in for Hasis Dubois after next season. Goddard has the size to contend on the outside and he has plenty of impressive high school game film, but he’s going to have to prove he has the speed to create separation in the ACC. He’s one of two receivers in the class, joining Dontayvion Wicks. In two years, both will likely be competing for reps at wide out with Terrell Jana and Ugo Obasi.

Verbally committed: March 29

UVa’s top competition: Georgia Tech, Central Michigan, Middle Tennessee

Extras

* Video: Goddard shows off his route running and hands bit.ly/2A3cS11

* Breaking down the past, present and future of the UVa passing game bit.ly/2JqssaE


7:40 a.m.

Improving the talent and depth on the offensive line has been job No. 1 since Mendenhall arrived in Charlottesville. Picking up a commitment from 4-star tackle Ja’Quay Hubbard goes a long way toward achieving that goal. Hubbard is the No. 2 offensive lineman in Pennsylvania, according to 247sports.com. He has played in both spread and option systems, and even at 320 pounds, he’s athletic enough to be a contributor on the Sharpsville varsity boys basketball team.

JA’QUAY HUBBARD

Sharpsville High, Sharpsville, Pennsylvania 

Height: 6-6

Weight: 320

Position: OT

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 4-star

Position outlook: Hubbard is an athletic specimen with surprisingly quick feet for a 320-pound grown man. The Cavaliers desperately need offensive line help, and Hubbard looks like the man to do the job. Redshirt freshman Ryan Nelson and true freshman Bobby Haskins saw time at left tackle this fall, while graduate transfer Marcus Applefield started every game at right. With a strong spring, Hubbard could find himself in the mix for a starting job sooner rather than later.

Verbally committed: Sept. 1

UVa’s top competition: Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse.


7:50 a.m.

The Cavaliers latest tackling machine has signed his letter of intent. As a junior at Lake Braddock, Josh Ahern racked up 182 tackles and three interceptions. This season, he earned second-team All-Met honors from the Washington Post. He’s also UVa’s first in-state recruit to sign.

JOSH AHERN

Lake Braddock, Burke, Va. 

Height: 6-3

Weight: 217

Position: ILB

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Ahern looks like the latest in a long line of tackling machines to line up at inside linebacker for the Cavaliers. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall has now added four linebackers in each of his three recruiting classes. In part because of that, Ahern is going to have to wait his turn, but he and Lovett School product Nick Jackson seemed poised to eventually take over in the middle of UVa’s 3-4 defense.

Verbally committed: May 25

UVa’s top competition: Air Force, Army, Cincinnati, Navy, Temple.

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2QC2ise

* Not only is he a tackling machine, but Ahern speaks fluent German bit.ly/2R48Kb6

* Washington Post’s 2018 All-Met teams wapo.st/2Sc2lrI


7:55 a.m.

There has been buzz around Miami area pass rusher D’Sean Perry since his sophomore year at Gulliver Prep, where he played for former UVa player Earl Williams. Perry led Gulliver this season with 89 tackles, and he looks like the pure pass rusher Virginia so desperately needs.

D’SEAN PERRY

Gulliver Prep, Miami, Florida 

Height: 6-3

Weight: 225

Position: DE

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: The closest things Virginia’s defensive line had to a consistent pass rushing threat was Richard Burney, and he was less than a year removed from lining up at tight end. The Cavaliers need a true edge rusher, and Perry looks like he’s the guy for the job. In UVa’s 3-4 defense, he’s going to have to pack on some pounds to play with his hand in the dirt, but he could be just as dangerous rushing the quarterback as an outside linebacker.

Verbally committed: June 22

UVa’s top competition: Florida State, Duke, Florida, Louisville, North Carolina, Oregon, Pittsburgh.

Extras

* Junior season highlights bit.ly/2LqXQXJ

* At Gulliver Prep, Perry plays on the same basketball team as the sons of former NBA players Jamal Mashburn and Juwan Howard and the brother of former Redskins safety Sean Taylor hrld.us/2Co3abv


8 a.m.

The Cavaliers picked up their second in-state NLI of the day from Stonewall Jackson safety Chayce Chalmers, who comes in as one of the faster defensive backs on the team. Over the summer, he posted a 4.24-second 40 time at a skills camp at UVa.

CHAYCE CHALMERS

Stonewall Jackson, Manassas, Va. 

Height: 6-1

Weight: 205

Position: Safety

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Chalmers is one of the Cavaliers three in-state recruits, and he’s an interesting prospect. He has low 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, but he also has the potential to put on some weight and move to inside linebacker. Both safety and linebacker are two of Virginia’s deepest positions, so he has a tall mountain to climb if he’s going to see playing time early in his career.

Verbally committed: June 19

UVa’s top competition: Army, Connecticut, Rutgers, Towson.

Extras

*Senior season highlights bit.ly/2SZFsaR

* Chalmers excited to join home-state Cavaliers bit.ly/2rHGrAQ


8:05 a.m.

A lanky, explosive playmaker from South Carolina just filed his NLI. Fentrell Cyrpress is a terror on the field and on the track. He’s a solid cover corner on the football field and a state champion on the track.

FENTRELL CYPRESS

Northwestern, Rock Hill, South Carolina 

Height: 6-0

Weight: 170

Position: CB

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Like Virginia’s coaches do with most of their defensive backs, they’ll have Cypress learn the safety and cornerback positions. With relatively few proven options beyond this year, cornerback looks wide open. Cypress is also a track state champion and a dangerous kick and punt returner. Those skills will be his ticket to early playing time.

Verbally committed: June 19

UVa’s top competition: Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Syracuse.

Extras

* Cypress shows off his ball skills and speed in these highlights bit.ly/2S77elC

* The Charlotte Observer gets to know Fentrell Cypress bit.ly/2BweKj1

* Cypress is excited to return to his Virginia roots bit.ly/2EE7plp

* Cypress spoke with the Miami Herald about his commitment to UVa hrld.us/2GrTyAp


8:10 a.m.

It didn’t take Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall long to figure out a coach simply cannot have enough good linemen on either side of the ball. The Cavaliers just got an NLI from one who can play on both sides of the ball. 757 product Ben Smiley is coming in as a defensive lineman, which is a position of dire need.

BEN SMILEY

Indian River, Chesapeake, Va.

Height: 6-4

Weight: 265

Position: DT

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Smiley has the athleticism to play end or tackle, and he adds even more depth to a defensive line, which started two true freshmen (Faumui and Redmond) this season. The Cavaliers need bodies on the offensive line, too, and Smiley could also be a nice addition to that interior. That will depend on what defensive linemen the Cavaliers add in coming years and how Smiley and those around him develop.

Verbally committed: Oct. 14

UVa’s top competition: Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Maryland, Miami.

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2LrYCUb

*Smiley ranked No. 5 among the top 15 recruits in Virginia, according to the Daily Press bit.ly/2UUrEQy

* In November, Smiley sat down with Recruit757.com after Indian River’s win over Nansemond River in the regional semifinals bit.ly/2S4uq48

* Smiley commits to Virginia bit.ly/2Lqjdbn


8:18 a.m.

Talk about putting an exclamation point on a career. UVa running back commit Mike Hollins not only led University Lab back to the Louisiana state finals this fall, he racked up 287 yards of offense and five touchdowns in a 46-43 victory. Naturally, he was selected MVP of the game for the second year in a row.

MIKE HOLLINS

University Lab, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Height: 5-10

Weight: 205

Position: RB

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Hollins has the look of Virginia’s next workhorse running back and the thunder to Seneca Milledge’s lightning. He’s coming in at a time that Virginia is preparing to replace its top two rushing options in seniors Jordan Ellis and Olamide Zaccheaus. PK Kier looks like the favorite to carry the load next year, and Lamont Atkins and Chris Sharp are likely to see expanded roles. Don’t be surprised if Hollins sees a few carries as a true freshman, though.

Verbally committed: Oct. 28

UVa’s top competition: SMU, Utah, Alabama, Georgia Tech

Extras

* Hollins ends his career with a monster game and a second-straight state title bit.ly/2BsxyzJ

* Junior season highlights bit.ly/2S88aWR

* 2017 state championship game highlights bit.ly/2QHbY4W


8:30 a.m.

The Cavaliers were late to offer Louisiana wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks, but they’re hoping they’ve found a diamond in the rough. He has helped Plaquemine has won District 6-4A titles in five of the past six years. This season, the Green Devils went 5-0 against district competition and 8-4 overall.

DONTAYVION WICKS

Plaquemine High, Plaquemine, Louisiana 

Height: 6-3

Weight: 195

Position: WR

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Wicks is a lanky explosive receiver, who fits exactly what the Cavaliers’ coaches are looking for on the outside. With Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois set to graduate next year, Wicks, Dorien Goddard, Tavares Kelly and Ugo Obasi look like the future of this passing attack.

Verbally committed: Dec. 16

UVa’s top competition: McNeese State, New Mexico, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Prairie View A&M, Southeastern Louisiana.

Extras

* Lining up at quarterback, Wicks led Plaquemine past rival Lutcher bit.ly/2PN2JLe


8:35 a.m.

The highest-rated recruit of the Bronco Mendenhall era has signed on the dotted line and filed his national letter of intent. Cincinnati’s Jowon Briggs is a consensus four-star recruit and the No. 2 overall recruit in Ohio.

JOWON BRIGGS

Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, Ohio

Height: 6-2

Weight: 290

Position: DT

Rating: 247sports – 4-star; Rivals – 4-star

Position outlook: Defensive line was the Cavaliers’ biggest need in this class, and it looks like they scored. The addition of Briggs and fellow incoming defensive lineman Ben Smiley suddenly takes what was Virginia’s weakest unit and puts it on the right path to becoming one of the team’s deepest. Next year, tackle Eli Hanback and end Richard Burney will be the team’s only seniors on the defensive line. Mandy Alonso started this season as a sophomore, Jordan Redmond and Aaron Faumui saw starts as true freshmen and redshirt freshman Tommy Christ saw action late in the season.

Verbally committed: June 22

UVa’s top competition: Alabama, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2Sfok0Z

* Snail mail helped land Virginia’s highest-rated recruit of the Mendenhall era bit.ly/2ECC7ez

* Briggs will play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on Dec. 22 in Mexico bit.ly/2BuhmOe

* “You can’t just step over a field of diamonds.” Briggs on his commitment to UVa bit.ly/2rIznDU


8:45 a.m.

More reinforcements for Virginia’s offensive line have arrived in the form of 290-pound tackle Zachary Teeter. He is one of six verbal commits from the state of Florida.

ZACHARY TEETER

Lake Gibson High, Lakeland, Florida 

Height: 6-5

Weight: 290

Position: OT

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Much like Ja’Quay Hubbard, Teeter is likely to come in and compete for playing time relatively soon. Redshirt freshman Ryan Nelson and true freshman Bobby Haskins lined up at left tackle this season, but the Cavaliers have to replace graduate transfer right tackle Marcus Applefield.

Verbally committed: June 30

UVa’s top competition: Arizona, California, Cincinnati, Harvard, Louisville, Missouri.

Extras

* Junior season highlights bit.ly/2PPx6Rd


10:15 a.m.

Another of the Cavaliers’ late offers produced results on Wednesday. Tenyeh Dixon, a former Temple commit, reopened his recruitment on Monday – one day after an official visit to Virginia. Dixon is the third true cornerback and fifth defensive back to join the class.

TENYEH DIXON

H.D. Woodson High, Washinton, D.C. 

Height: 6-0

Weight: 185

Position: CB

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 2-star

Position outlook: This is a really interesting signing. It’s one that makes me think that UVa’s coaches believe there’s a very real possibility Bryce Hall won’t be in Charlottesville next season. Dixon is the third true cornerback to join the class the second to sign. Fentrell Cypress got his NLI in early, and Major Williams is expected to sign around 2 p.m. Like the aforementioned players, Dixon has good size, and with a lack of experience behind the starters, he’s going to get a chance to prove himself early.

Verbally committed: Announced on signing day.

UVa’s top competition: Temple

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2PNw8ov

* Dixon seals an overtime win over rival Ballou with a late interception wapo.st/2GvO0F7

* This fall, the Washington Post named Dixon second-team All-Met wapo.st/2Sb2Xxs


10:20 a.m.

The Cavaliers went back to the well in the greater Atlanta metro area to pull offensive lineman Jonathan Leech. He’s a former high school teammate of center Tyler Fannin, and Leech is from the same area that produced Jordan Mack, Robert Snyder, Jordan Ellis and Joey Blount. Leech was the first offensive lineman to verbally commit to UVa's 2019 class.

JONATHAN LEECH

Mill Creek, Hoschton, Georgia 

Height: 6-5

Weight: 275

Position: OT

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 2-star

Position outlook: Offensive line recruiting continues to be a priority for the Cavaliers, but with so much youth in the unit, predicting when Leech may hit the field is even more impossible than usual. Redshirt freshman Ryan Nelson, true freshman Bobby Haskins and sophomores Chris Glaser and Dillon Reinkensmeyer all started game this season.

Verbally committed: June 18

UVa’s top competition: Syracuse, Maryland, SMU.

Extras

* A call to former high school teammate Tyler Fannin sealed Leech’s commitment to UVa bit.ly/2rKECDp


2:55 p.m.

Florida cornerback Major Williams and his cousin, Seneca Milledge, have played on the same football team for the majority of their lives. They committed on the same day, and they were the first two verbal commits of the Cavaliers’ 2019 class. It’s only right they spend their college careers together, too. Williams has good size and elite speed. He’s going to be a prospect to watch, especially is junior Bryce Hall decides to leave for the NFL a year early.

MAJOR WILLIAMS

Dunbar High School, Fort Myers, Florida

Height: 6-1

Weight: 180

Position: CB

Ratings: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Verbally committed: Feb. 27

UVa’s top competition: Florida International, Florida Atlantic

Position outlook: Williams has ideal size to cover big receivers on the outside, and his 40 time is around 4.48 seconds, so speed isn’t an issue. How quickly Williams gets on the field will have a lot to do with Bryce Hall’s decision to play his senior year or test the NFL waters. If he leaves, UVa will be forced to replace both starters, and Darrius Bratton is the only other cornerback on the roster that has started a game. Redshirt freshman Germane Crowell would most likely be in the running to start opposite him.

Extras

*Senior season highlights bit.ly/2SSg1b4

* Williams came in at No. 8 this summer in the Naples News’ countdown of the top 15 high school players in southwest Florida bit.ly/2LpTlfX

* Williams and Milledge commit to Virginia on the same day bit.ly/2GqNJ63


2:56 p.m.

Another Dunbar High School prospect, Seneca Milledge is the No. 9 all-purpose running back in the nation, according to 247sports.com. He has started at running back, quarterback, cornerback and safety, and even he's 165 pounds at best, he doesn't mind making a tackle.

SENECA MILEDGE

Dunbar High School, Fort Myers, Florida

Height: 5-6

Weight: 165

Position: RB

Ratings: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Verbally committed: Feb. 27

UVa’s top competition: N.C. State, Kentucky, Maryland, USF, West Virginia

Position outlook: Built in the same mold as senior Olamide Zaccheaus and freshman Tavares Kelly, Milledge is undersized, but he has sub-4.4 second, game-changing speed, which is something that will get anyone on the field sooner rather than later.

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2GwexC6

* Milledge goes from No. 11 in 2017 to No. 6 this fall in the Naples News’ countdown of the top 15 high school players in southwest Florida bit.ly/2SasGpQ

* Milledge lifts Dunbar to an overtime win bit.ly/2QJ1Bxl


3:10 p.m.

Virginia’s class of wide receivers is getting pretty interesting. The former Iowa State verbal commit flipped at the last second and joined Dorien Goddard, Dontayvion Wicks and potentially Seneca Milledge (think Olamide Zaccheaus) as potential game-changing wide receivers.

NATHANIEL BEAL

Strake Jesuit, Houston, Texas

Height: 6-5

Weight: 200

Position: WR

Rank/Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Wide receiver was obviously much more of a focus coming into today than anyone thought, and the Cavaliers may not be done. Stanley King, who recently had his offer pulled by Louisville, was high on the Cavaliers before giving the Cardinals his verbal.

Verbally committed: Announced on signing day.

UVa’s top competition: Iowa State, Arizona, Arizona State

Extra

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2rMqp8J

* Junior season highlights bit.ly/2POvCX7


7:15 p.m.

Virginia’s final national letter of intent of the day came in from one of its most promising prospects, Lovett School linebacker Nick Jackson, who is built to be an inside linebacker and has the instincts to prove it. As a senior, he led Lovett with 95 tackles and 10 tackles for a loss and finished with 2.5 sacks

NICK JACKSON

The Lovett School, Atlanta, Georgia

Height: 6-1

Weight: 220

Position: ILB

Rating: 247sports – 3-star; Rivals – 3-star

Position outlook: Jackson has the size and athleticism to contribute early, but the Cavaliers are loaded at inside linebacker. Jordan Mack will be a senior next year, and both Zane Zandier and Robert Snyder are sophomores. Virginia should also get Dominic Sheppard back after he missed all of this season with a knee injury.

Verbally committed: Oct. 25

UVa’s top competition: Duke, Texas A&M, Northwestern

Extras

* Senior season highlights bit.ly/2Gu32Lk

* Jackson has honed his craft thanks to help from former UVa players Chris Slade and Tony Covington bit.ly/2rGULtj

* Jackson verbally commits to Virginia bit.ly/2yyRJLK

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Ron Counts covers University of Virginia athletics for The Daily Progress.​ Contact him at rcounts@dailyprogress.com, (434) 978-7245, or on Twitter @Ron_CDPsports.