Through five games in its 2016 season, the Virginia football program has received contributions from eight true freshmen.
Outside linebacker Jordan Mack has started four games. More on him in a second. As the season has gone on, some of these true freshmen have made some key plays. Against Central Michigan, for example, defensive end Juwan Moye knocked down a Cooper Rush pass for a key third down stop late in the game. Receiver Joe Reed contributed a 47-yard kickoff return and an 18-yard reception against the Chippewas.
On the road against Duke, Bryce Hall stepped forth with a terrific performance. The 6’3″ cornerback has played in all five of Virginia’s games, but this became his most impactful performance by far. Playing in place of redshirt freshman Kareem Gibson, who started against the Blue Devils, Hall intercepted Duke quarterback Daniel Jones twice, broke up a pass, and racked up 4 tackles (2 solo, 2 assisted) in Virginia’s 34-20 victory in Durham.
Hall’s first interception was of the highlight reel variety. Speeding toward the line of scrimmage on a blitz, he leapt high in what appeared to be an attempt to knock down Jones’ pass. He came down with the ball, corralling the first interception of his college career. Later on in the first half, Hall thwarted a deep pass attempt from Jones to 6’5″ receiver Anthony Nash. The true freshman, in perfect cover position on the play, came down with the pick.
Hall’s performance throughout the Duke game proved noticeable. The team needed him and he came through.
“It’s fun to see some of the future of the program do some really nice things in big moments,” Mendenhall said on the Virginia Sports Radio Network, citing the play of Hall and Mack.
Back to Mack, though. The true freshman outside linebacker made one of the game’s biggest plays when he blasted Jones in the Duke end zone, forcing a fumble that was recovered by UVA defensive end Eli Hanback. The play put Virginia up by 2 touchdowns late in the game.
“That’s J-Mack. He’s no rookie,” senior nose tackle Donte Wilkins said on the Virginia Sports Radio Network.
True Freshmen Contributions This Season
Hasise Dubois, WR – Five games played with one start; 6 receptions for 82 yards
Bryce Hall, DB – Five games played; 6 tackles (3 solo), 2 interceptions, 1 pass breakup
Jordan Mack, OLB – Five games played with four starts; 20 tackles (9 solo), 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles
Chris Moore, DB – Four games played; 1 solo tackle
Juwan Moye, DE – Four games played; 2 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks
Joe Reed, WR – Five games played; 1 reception for 18 yards, 7 kickoff returns for 182 yards (long of 47 yards), 2 tackles (1 solo)
Matt Terrell, OLB/DE – Two games played; 5 tackles (2 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks
Landan Word, LB – Four games played (all on special teams); 2 tackles (1 solo)