At a 2:30 p.m. press conference at his school, Bayside (Virginia Beach, VA) junior safety Quin Blanding will announce his college intentions. The University of Virginia, which has landed one player from Bayside High in each of the past four recruiting classes, stands a good chance with the 5-star talent, who is also considering Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UVa, and West Virginia.
The Cavalier nation is tuned in and hoping for big news this afternoon. The news of a commitment from Blanding would certainly be big on several fronts.
The Bright Future Of Virginia’s Defense
First and foremost, Blanding is really, really good. You don’t get 5-star status (from Rivals, Scout, and 247Sports) and earn offers from top programs throughout the nation (including national champ Alabama) without good reason. At 6’2″, 195 pounds, he is a ball-hawking, hard-hitting safety that has excelled on offense and defense in one of the state of Virginia’s toughest districts. Last season, Blanding had over 1,000 yards receiving and 111 tackles, earning Beach District Defensive Player of the Year for his performance.
Blanding would be the latest highly regarded defensive player Mike London has landed in his time as head coach of the Cavaliers. In Coach London’s first three full recruiting classes, 13 defensive players have earned 4-star status from at least one of the four major national recruiting outlets (ESPN, Rivals, Scout, 247Sports). The breakdown is as follows:
DE: Eli Harold (rising sophomore), Mike Moore (rising sophomore)
The above list does not include other promising young players such as rising sophomore cornerback Maurice Canady and rising sophomore linebacker Demeitre Brim , as well as more experienced players such as Anthony Harris , who started at safety as a true sophomore this past season. Canady started two games this past season as a true freshman.
Virginia’s defensive future seems bright, and Blanding would be a dynamic addition with the potential to make a big impact as a true freshman in the 2014 season.
Providing A Spark
Optimism surrounded the University of Virginia’s football program heading into the 2012 season, but a 4-8 performance and major coaching turnover created uncertainty. Blanding, if he commits to Virginia, infuses a big dose of positive energy into the program heading into the spring.
Blanding would be one of UVa’s most highly rated recruits in school history. Terry Kirby came before the age of star rankings, but he was Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior at Tabb High School (VA) in 1988. He certainly qualifies as one of UVa’s best recruiting scores ever. Since 2002, the Cavaliers have landed five Rivals.com 5-star prospects, including class of 2005 offensive tackle Eugene Monroe , class of 2002 linebackers Kai Parham and Ahmad Brooks , and running backs Michael Johnson (class of 2002) and Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell (class of 2013).
Parham (no. 11), Johnson (no. 14), Brooks (no. 27), and Mizzell (no. 29) were ranked by Rivals.com as top overall players in the nation. Monroe was ranked no. 3 overall in the class of 2005 by Rivals, which currently ranks Blanding as the no. 4 junior in the country regardless of position.
Blanding’s impending decision has already created positive buzz within the Cavalier fan base. A commitment should prove very beneficial on the recruiting trail as well, giving recruits — especially those in the 757 area — a good feeling about the Cavaliers program heading into the important spring and summer months of class of 2014 recruiting. The majority of recruits commit before their senior year, so the coming months are of the highest importance in recruiting high school seniors.
A Blanding commitment can only help improve Virginia’s position with some of the state’s best rising seniors, including Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, VA) defensive lineman Andrew Brown and Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach, VA) wide receiver Jamil Kamara , players the talented safety knows very well. It could also help with players like Chancellor (Fredericksburg, VA) offensive tackle Steven Moss , who said the following this past December:
“I don’t really go by wins and losses,” Moss said when asked what he is looking for, football-wise, in his school of choice. “The main thing I’m looking at is my recruiting class and what other players they are bringing in.”
Players want to play with other top players, making Blanding’s decision all the more important.
No question, today is an important one for Virginia football. Stay tuned to TheSabre.com for the announcement and much more, including quotes and video from today’s press conference.