The Week In Review is back for the 2014 season. This feature is a look at how University of Virginia commitments — both class of 2015 and class of 2016 — have performed on the gridiron so far this season. In most weeks we will have a “Player Spotlight”, and this week’s “Spotlight” is on Patrick Henry (Ashland, VA) senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Eli Hanback, who accepted a scholarship offer from his childhood favorite Cavaliers on August 16.
Hanback is in his fourth season on the Patriots varsity level and his second playing on both sides of the ball. The 6’4″, 270-pound prospect played only on the offensive line his freshman season and primarily on the offensive line as a sophomore, though he saw some spot duty on the D-line in short yardage situations. He has played both ways the past two seasons.
As mentioned, Hanback grew up a UVa fan. He has been to Charlottesville numerous times for various sporting events. Cavalier head coach Mike London offered him a scholarship following the August 16 cookout, and he accepted on the spot.
On the gridiron this season, Patrick Henry got off to a rough start by falling to Hanover and Atlee in the first two weeks. The Patriots rebounded last week with a 17-14 win over Lee-Davis. Mills Godwin awaits tonight.
As a lineman, what is it like playing both ways the entire game? How much do you think it will benefit you once you get to college, when you only have to focus on one side?
Eli Hanback: “It’s tough. The first game, around the fourth quarter, I was sucking wind. The only thing that kept me going was to not quit on my teammates. I’m getting in better game shape as the season goes on. Against Lee-Davis, I was ready to run the whole game. I could go a lot harder. But it’s tough, especially as a lineman. I give it everything I have. It’s a mental game. The fact that I’ll get to go to college and play one way, I’m going to like that.”
You mentioned when you committed that Virginia was recruiting you as a “lineman” with no specific side of the ball mentioned. What side of the ball do you feel would be your best?
Eli Hanback: “With coaching, I think I could be good on either side of the ball. I think offensively, being able to play more on that side in high school, I’m better there now. Defensively, I’m more instinctive. I can feel it out. For me, I have more instincts on defense and more technical stuff and fundamentals on offense. I think I could be helpful on both sides.”
When do you feel UVa started seriously pursuing you?
Eli Hanback: “Definitely after camp this June, I was really in a lot of contact with Coach Wach. He told me after camp he was impressed. He thought I did really well. The next day, he messaged me on Twitter and told me the defensive coaches said they thought I ran really well. I sent some defensive film in. Coach Wach told me there was still an offensive line spot open and plenty of defensive line spots open. They thought I could be flexible. They just kept in touch with me from that point. ODU had me at the top of their board and they really wanted me to commit. I finally asked Coach Wach what was going to happen. He told me to come to the cookout in August because the coaches wanted to see me. I went thinking I was at least going to get an answer. The coaches didn’t drop any hints. I met with Coach London and he offered me.”
What does it mean to you to know you’ll be a Cavalier next year?
Eli Hanback: “I told Coach London that I had been a UVa fan my whole life. He said it would be like a home away from home. It’s going to be a dream come reality. It’ll hit me more when I’m actually running out of the tunnel, but it’s awesome. It’s more than just football. I have friends up there outside of sports. I’ll go to basketball and baseball games with the rest of the students. I don’t know if I’m going to red-shirt, but it’ll be a good four or five years.”
What is your favorite UVa sports memory?
Eli Hanback: “I’ve got a good one. I go to all the sports – football, baseball, basketball. A few years ago, I went to watch the baseball team when they hosted UC-Irvine in a Super Regional. They were down 2-1 in the 9th in Game 3. They got two outs, so I thought, ‘Here we go again. Another Super Regional without a College World Series.’ We got one base hit. I thought, ‘Okay. We’re just prolonging it.’ Someone else got a hit and we had first and second. Reed Gragnani got up and walked. Chris Taylor came up. I’m pretty sure it was a tight count, but he got a hit and it was like it was in slow motion. Not only did they tie, but they won. The stadium erupted. That was my most memorable moment.”
HOW THE REST OF UVA’s CLASS OF 2015 PERFORMED LAST WEEK
– Ryan Bischoff, OL, Plymouth Whitemarsh (Plymouth Meeting, PA)
The Colonials defeated Upper Merion, 34-10, capturing a second straight win. Down 10-7 at the half, Plymouth Whitemarsh responded with 27 unanswered points to claim the victory and improve to 2-2 on the season.
Next: Home versus Wissahickon on Friday, September 26
– Richard Burney Jr., TE, Hickory (Chesapeake, VA)
After losing its first two games of the season, Hickory responded last week with a 42-9 win over Deep Creek.
Next: Home versus Grassfield on Friday, September 26
– Rasool Clemons, DE, South Aiken (Aiken, S.C.)
South Aiken defeated previously unbeaten Strom Thurmond, 16-13, to even its 2014 record at 2-2.
Next: Away versus Spring Valley on Friday, September 26
– Tanner Cowley, TE, Manasquan (N.J.)
Manasquan rebounded from a season opening loss with a 15-6 win over Monmouth Regional.
Next: Away versus Holmdel on Friday, September 26
– David Curry, S, Buford (GA)
Buford defeated White County, 42-10, to move to 4-0. Curry had a touchdown-saving tackle near the end of the first half. The tackle held White County to a field goal four plays later and took a 28-3 lead into the half. The Wolves have a bye next week.
Next: Away versus Chestatee on Friday, October 3
– David Eldridge III, WR, Kettle Run (Nokesville, VA)
Eldridge had seven receptions for 75 yards, but Kettle Run (1-2) lost to Sherando by a score of 24-7. The standout receiver has 15 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown this season.
Next: Home versus Skyline on Friday, September 26
– Kareem Gibson, CB, Greater Johnstown (Johnstown, PA)
Bedford dealt Greater Johnstown (3-1_ its first loss of the season, 50-36. Gibson returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the loss.
Next: Away versus Somerset on Friday, September 26
– Nick Johns, QB, Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.)
Gonzaga blew out McKinley, 51-0, and is now 4-0 on the season. Johns had two touchdown passes in the win, and he now has seven touchdown passes this season. He has 10 touchdowns total (7 pass, 3 rush).
The Purple Eagles will next take on the Falcons of Good Counsel, which features UVa-bound receiver/cornerback Myles Robinson.
Next: Versus Good Counsel on Saturday, September 27
– Kareem McDonald, LB, Woodrow Wilson (Washington, D.C.)
Wilson defeated Surrattsville, 27-20, to even its record at 2-2. The Tigers will take on Virginia Tech-bound cornerback DuWayne Johnson and H.D. Woodson tonight.
Next: Away versus H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) on Friday, September 27
– Gladimir Paul, DE, Northeast (Philadelphia, PA)
Northeast lost a heartbreaker to George Washington, 14-12. The Vikings are now 0-4 in 2014.
Paul has at least two sacks on the year.
Next: Home versus Roxborough on Friday, September 26
– Grant Polk, OL, Charlotte (Punta Gorda, FL)
Charlotte dropped its first game of the season, losing to Venice by a score of 30-6. The Fightin’ Tarpons are 2-1.
Next: Away versus Lakewood Ranch on Friday, September 26
– RJ Proctor, OL, Liberty (Bealeton, VA)
Liberty (3-0) defeated Mountain View, 44-7. The Eagles host 3-1 Broad Run next.
Next: Home versus Broad Run on Friday, September 26
– Myles Robinson, ATH, Good Counsel (Olney, MD)
Good Counsel’s 3-game winning streak to start the 2014 season came to an end last week, when the Falcons fell to Gilman, 20-0. Robinson and company will look to rebound against Nick Johns and Gonzaga this Saturday.
Next: Versus Gonzaga on Saturday, September 27
– Christopher Sharp, RB, The Hun School (Princeton, N.J.)
The Hun School kicked its 2014 season off in style with a 56-14 win over Wyoming Seminary Prep. Sharp had 156 yards rushing and two scores and 43 yards receiving and one score in the victory.
Next: Home versus Poly Prep Country Day in its season opener on Saturday, September 27
– Jahvoni Simmons, LB, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, VA)
The Dolphins are now 3-0 after dispatching of Green Run last week, 45-10.
Next: Away versus Bayside on Friday, September 26
– C.J. Stalker, LB, Lakota West (West Chester, OH)
Lakota West edged Middletown, 27-24, to even its record at 2-2.
Next: Home versus Colerain on Friday, September 26
– Juan Thornhill, DB, Altavista (VA)
Defending state champion Altavista handled Galax, 56-7, to move to 3-0. Thornhill accounted for four touchdowns (3 rush, 1 pass) in the win, giving him nine touchdowns in three games.
Next: Home versus Appomattox on Friday, September 26
– James Trucilla, DT, Cathedral Prep (Erie, PA)
Cathedral remains undefeated after downing DuBois by 30 last week. The Ramblers are 4-0.
Next: Home versus Aquinas Institute on Friday, September 26
– Brandon Wilson, DE, West Orange (Winter Garden, FL)
Wilson, UVa’s newest commitment, has helped West Orange to four wins to start the 2014 season. Wilson has 21 solo tackles including 4.5 sacks so far this season. The 6’4″, 240-pound senior is averaging nine tackles per game according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Next: Home versus Jones on Friday, September 26
– Olamide Zaccheaus, RB, St. Joseph’s (Philadelphia, PA)
St. Joseph’s Prep (1-2) had a bye last week. Zaccheaus has at least four touchdowns through the first three games.
Next: Away versus St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) on Saturday, September 27
CLASS OF 2016
– Cole Blackman, WR, Glen Allen (VA)
Glen Allen (1-2) lost to Mills Godwin, 37-16.
Next: Home versus Armstrong/Kennedy on Friday, September 26
– Joseph Reed, WR, Randolph-Henry (Charlotte Courthouse, VA)
Randolph-Henry has lost four straight games to start the 2014 season. Last week, the Statesmen fell to Goochland by 28 (42-14).
Next: Away versus Cumberland on Friday, September 26