Preseason All-ACC Team Released
University of Virginia junior safety Quin Blanding was selected to the 2016 All-ACC Preseason Football Team, which was voted on by 191 members of the media.
The 6’2″, 205-pound Blanding, the only Cavalier to make the team, finished second in safety voting behind Florida State sophomore Derwin James. James (112 votes) and Blanding (107 votes) each received over 100 votes, finishing well ahead of Pitt’s Jordan Whitehead, who received 51 votes.
Joining James and Blanding on the All-ACC Defense are: Defensive Ends DeMarcus Walker (SR, Florida State) and Ejuan Price (SR, Pitt); Defensive Tackles Carlos Watkins (SR, Clemson) and DeAngelo Brown (SR, Louisville); Linebackers Ben Boulware (SR, Clemson), Keith Kelsey (SR, Louisville), and Devonte Fields (SR, Louisville); Cornerbacks Cordrea Tankersley (SR, Clemson) and Des Lawrence (SR, UNC)
The offense includes: Quarterback Deshaun Watson (JR, Clemson); Running Backs Dalvin Cook (JR, Florida State) and Elijah Hood (JR, UNC); Wide Receivers Artavis Scott (JR, Clemson), Isaiah Ford (JR, Virginia Tech), and Travis Rudolph (JR, Florida State); Tight End Jordan Leggett (SR, Clemson); Offensive Tackles Roderick Johnson (JR, Florida State) and Mitch Hyatt (SOPH, Clemson); Offensive Guards Dorian Johnson (SR, Pitt) and Tyrone Crowder (JR, Clemson); Center Jay Guillermo (SR, Clemson)
Placekicker Greg Huegel (SOPH, Clemson), punter Justin Vogel (SR, Miami), and specialist Ryan Switzer (SR, UNC) round out the All-ACC Special Teams.
In terms of how other Cavaliers finished in the voting, senior Nicholas Conte was the runner-up at punter with 60 votes to Vogel’s 100. Senior Jackson Matteo finished third in center voting behind Guillermo and UNC’s Lucas Crowley. Junior Micah Kiser received 84 votes, good enough for fourth on the linebacker list. Senior Taquan Mizzell finished fifth overall in running back voting behind Cook, Hood, Clemson’s Wayne Gallman, and NC State’s Matthew Dayes. Senior Eric Smith finished seventh in offensive tackle voting, receiving five votes in total. Virginia had two defensive linemen — junior end Andrew Brown (5) and senior tackle Donte Wilkins (4) — receive votes, while senior cornerback Tim Harris received seven votes. Sophomore Olamide Zaccheaus picked up a vote in two categories: Wide Receiver and Specialist.
Familiar Names Surface In Virginia Freshman Walk-On Class
Taking a look at the 2016 roster (click here to view the roster), a few names synonymous with past UVA football success jumped out. Ethan Blundin and Ray Savage III are following in the footsteps of their fathers, who were both impact players under head coach George Welsh.
In 1989, Ray Savage earned first-team all-ACC honors at defensive end, helping the Cavaliers become ACC co-champions and achieve a 10-win season. The standout defender has since had his jersey retired by Virginia. Ethan’s father, Matt, quarterbacked the Cavaliers to an 8-3-1 record and a Gator Bowl appearance in 1991. The elder Blundin earned ACC Player of the Year honors for his performance that season.
Ethan is a 6’3″, 190-pound wide receiver out of Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, while Savage III, who played for his father at Menchville High School in Newport News, is listed as a 6’2″, 200-pound outside linebacker.
Bronco Mendenhall has been successful in reeling in legacy recruits in the 2017 Class as well, securing commitments from safety Joey Blount and defensive back Germane Crowell. Blount’s father played safety at Virginia before Welsh arrived on Grounds. Crowell’s father, Germane, who like Ray Savage is a high school head coach, starred at wide receiver under Welsh. Coach Crowell’s brother is another former Cavalier standout, linebacker Angelo Crowell.
Additionally, Virginia has a commitment from rising senior running back PK Kier, nephew of former UVA football and basketball player Mark Cooke.
Ex-UVA Players Get A Chance In The NFL
The Washington Redskins added two wide receivers to its roster, one of whom played for the University of Virginia last season. TJ Thorpe, who spent the final season of his college career with UVA after attending UNC previously, has signed with the Washington Redskins.
What was a promising 2015 season for Thorpe was sidetracked when he suffered a broken collarbone in the preseason. The injury sidelined the speedy receiver for three games. Thorpe would finish with 23 catches for 321 yards and a touchdown in the final 10 games of Virginia’s season.
Hampton (VA) native David Watford, who spent four years (including one red-shirt season) at UVA before moving on to Hampton, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a wide receiver. Watford played quarterback for the Hoos from 2011-2013 but primarily played wide receiver in five games in 2014. He played the final season of his college career for Hampton, where he was the team’s starting quarterback.