Virginia head coach Al Groh and staff officially welcomed 18 players to the Cavalier family, when the 2004 recruiting
class signed letters of intent this afternoon. For the third straight season, Groh and company believe they have filled
needs at several positions and they are very happy with the talent they have signed this year.
"As every coach in the country is going to say today, and every coach in the NFL is going to say in April, we’re
very pleased with the new talent coming on the team, but we really are [pleased]," Groh said today in front of
reporters. "I think it’s consistent with the talent level of the two groups preceding it. Particularly in
positions that we targeted as primary positions to up the talent pool."
One of the biggest needs heading into the 2004 season had to be at the defensive backfield positions, where the
Cavaliers had several top signings. Phillip Brown, who prepped at Hargrave Military Academy last season, is rated to be
a shut down corner, which Virginia needs badly with the loss of Muffin Curry and Jamaine Winborne to graduation.
In addition, Groh picked up a commitment from defensive back Nate Lyles , who could play a number of positions in the
defensive backfield. The young man from Chicago, Illinois has terrific speed and plays a very physical game. In
addition, Virginia signed Jamaal Jackson , who can play both safety and wide receiver, and Chris Gorham , who will help
tremendously at the cornerback position.
"I think there is some real good talent at those spots," Groh said. "We targeted that as a major area,
both corners and safeties. Most of those players that we targeted as primary guys, and they were priority positions for
us. We feel very good about the numbers and skills coming in at that position. We increased the raw speed and overall
athleticism at those positions."
Virginia also picked up some strong players at the defensive front seven positions, as Olu Hall , the number one
player in Virginia, signed a letter of intent to Virginia. This is the third straight season that the Cavaliers have
picked up the state’s No. 1 rated player. Clint Sintim and Devonta Brown were also important pickups for Virginia to
give them some depth at the linebacker positions.
On the defensive line, Groh and company signed Chris Long (#4 in-state) and Jon Kircher (#13) to give the Cavaliers
plenty of depth up front. With Hall added in at the top of the in-state list, Groh is excited about the players that
they were able to bring in on defense.
"We’re trying to get the very best players in the state," Groh said on Wednesday. "This is the third
straight season that we signed the number one player in Virginia."
On the offensive side of the ball, Virginia picked up quarterback Scott Deke from all the way out in California. Deke,
who went to the Cavaliers’ football camp, is a player that the entire staff is excited about. Groh called the young
man a "Virginia" type of player with the connections that his family has in the state.
The Cavaliers picked up two players a fullback, Kevin Bradley and James Terry , both who will battle for playing time
behind Brandon Isaiah and Jason Snelling. Both of these incoming freshmen will be extremely versatile, as they are
listed at both fullback and linebacker.
At the tailback position, Virginia signed Cedric Peerman and Theirrien Davis , who possess tremendous speed and
athleticism. The Cavaliers also signed Zak Stair and Branden Albert as projected offensive tackles. Both players possess
tremendous size, as Stair is listed at 6’6", while Albert is listed at 6’7". Albert was a player that was
not on the radar of several recruiting sites, but Groh thinks he has the ability to be a tremendous player for the
Virginia also added to their tremendous corps of tight ends with Tom Santi , who has "tremendous vertical speed
and ball skills," according to Coach Groh. Santi figures to be a player very similar to Heath Miller, and that is
good news for Groh and his staff.
Last, but certainly not least, is placekicker Chris Gould , who also attended Virginia’s football camp. Gould is a
tremendous prospect who figures to get the job once Connor Hughes has graduated in a couple of years.
While Virginia filled several of their needs at most positions, they were unable to pick up a wide receiver, which
was very disappointing for Coach Groh. The Cavaliers were in it until the end with several premium wide receivers, who
ended up choosing national powerhouses.
"We were [disappointed]," Groh said of not picking up a highly ranked wide receiver in this class.
"There were a couple premium players that we targeted right from the start, and we went right to the finish line
with. You have to tell them you’re our guy. We went right to the finish line against pretty noteworthy programs. Just
like in those horses races, we got nipped in a photo finish, but that doesn’t do you any good."
Groh was also disappointed with the fact that Andrew Pearman decommitted from the program before choosing to sign
with Hawaii, especially with the fact that his brother Alvin is a member of the UVa football team. He did say, however,
that it likely turned out for the best if Pearman truly wanted to attend Hawaii.
"I’m not saying this to be a jerk," Groh said. "But I think if a player prefers playing in Hawaii
[rather] than playing in the premier football conference in the country, then I think it’s worked out well for
In other football news, Anthony Poindexter has been elevated to a full-time assistant, though Groh wouldn’t
announce exactly what his responsibilities would be. At first he said the new assistant coach would work with the wide
receivers, but then he said he has other plans in motion for his assistants. There should be an official update soon on
the full-time hiring and responsibilities of all those involved.
Coach Groh also said that wide receiver Michael McGrew’s recovery was going well, and that the young man could be
back in time for spring practice, though he would not make any guaranties. He said that the staff was not expecting
McGrew to play next season, so if he is indeed healthy, that would be like adding another experienced wide receiver to
the group already in place. Groh also mentioned that Jason Snelling was doing very well.
Groh said he expected another player to be added to this list of recruits, though he could not comment on the player,
due to NCAA recruiting regulations. But he did indicate that everything was going according to plan from the staff’s
point of view. (Editor’s Note: Groh is most likely referring to Ahmad Bradshaw , who did not send in his LOI. Sources say
Bradshaw is still on board with UVa, and his LOI will be forthcoming.)
While this season’s recruiting is over for the most part, Groh said that he has already started looking over
players for next season’s recruiting. In addition to having other players already looking toward coming to Virginia,
Coach Groh and his staff are ready to get back on the trail once this day ends.
"The cycle starts all over again when the clock strikes midnight," Groh said on Wednesday. "And the
hunt starts in earnest for the next class, if it hasn’t already, which in fact it has. But officially it starts