Virginia Football Notes: Cavs Gain Commitment From Zane Zandier

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Virginia may have lost to Miami, but it scored a victory on the recruiting trail with a verbal commitment from Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson Hills, PA) senior Zane Zandier.

Boston College, Cincinnati, Kansas, Michigan State, Syracuse, and West Virginia are other major FBS schools that offered Zandier, an 4-star and and 3-star outside linebacker prospect who plays strong safety and wide receiver on an undefeated Thomas Jefferson team.

Including the Miami game, Zandier has traveled to Charlottesville on three occasions since August. He attended one of Virginia’s fall camp practices and also watched the Cavaliers take on Pittsburgh in October.

The commitment caps off an exciting week for Zandier, who scored two touchdowns in Thomas Jefferson’s 35-7 win over West Mifflin in the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals on Friday night. The Jaguars meet New Castle in the championship game next Friday.

The Hoos now boast four potential linebackers — Matt Gahm, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Charles Snowden, and Zandier — in the 2017 Class and 22 commitments in total. At least four of those recruits plan to enroll on Grounds this coming January.

Check out highlights of UVA’s newest commit below (courtesy of Hudl).


Including Zandier, a large turnout of recruits turned up in Scott Stadium for the Miami/Virginia matchup. Previous Cavalier commitments Lamont Atkins, Darrius Bratton, Tommy Christ, and Ryan Thaxton were among the group, confirmed.

Atkins, a tailback out of Lake Braddock (Burke, VA), plans to enroll in January.

Bratton is a postgraduate cornerback prospect at Fork Union Military Academy (VA). The William Fleming High School (Roanoke, VA) graduate enrolled at FUMA in August and has expressed interest in enrolling at UVA in January of 2017, provided his academics are in order and he gains admission.

Bratton’s Fork Union teammate, Rashad Butler, was at Virginia as well. Butler is a 5’10”, 190-pound defensive back/running back/wide receiver prospect and a graduate of Carver High School (Winston-Salem, N.C.), where current Virginia commitment Germane Crowell Jr. attends. The extent of UVA’s interest in Butler is unknown as of this writing.

Christ, a defensive end prospect, has now been to at least three Virginia home games this season. Once again he was accompanied by his brother, Jimmy, who is a freshman offensive tackle at Dominion (Sterling, VA). Jimmy Christ is certainly a name to remember down the road.

Thaxton, a 6’5”, 250-pound senior, attends St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Alexandria, VA). He is also being recruited by UVA as a defensive end.

Battlefield (Haymarket, VA), Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach, VA), and Woodbridge High School (VA) were well represented inside Scott Stadium on November 12. Bishop Sullivan boasts a wealth of talent and we’ll try and confirm which prospects specifically were on Grounds. Battlefield and Woodbridge both boast quality high school football programs that have produced FBS athletes.

Below is a list of those recruits we confirmed to be in attendance for Virginia/Miami. It is not a complete list of those who made it.

More confirmations: Class of 2017

Ellison Hubbard, DT, 6’2”, 265 pounds, Grayson (Loganville, GA)

Hubbard has multiple major FBS offers. Virginia was not one of them heading into this weekend, but we’ll see if anything changes.

More confirmations: Class of 2018

Armani Chatman, WR/DB, Bayside (Virginia Beach, VA)

No UVA offer as of yet. However, Chatman does boast three major FBS offers including two ACC offers (NC State and Virginia Tech).

Matthew Hall, OL/DL, Walton (Marietta, GA)

Dashaun Jenkins, S, Woodbridge (VA)

Kevin Peprah, LB, Woodbridge (VA)

Mondo Walker, DB, Bethel (Hampton, VA)

Jalen Weddington, DB, South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.)

More Confirmations: Class of 2019

Taylor Harris, RB/CB, Woodbridge (VA)

Jalen Howard, DE/TE, Woodbridge (VA)

Andrew Kristofic, OL/DE, Pine-Richland (Gibsonia, PA)


Johns, pictured here in 2016 spring practice, has led on an off the field in his time at Virginia. ~ Kris Wright

Senior quarterback Matt Johns has been a model of class and leadership throughout his Virginia Cavalier career. Johns’ special character was on full display this season with how he dealt with junior Kurt Benkert supplanting him as the team’s starting quarterback.

It was no surprise then to see the remaining Scott Stadium crowd give Johns a well-deserved ovation when he led the offense onto David A. Harrison III Field in the fourth quarter against Miami.

“I love Matt and wanted to give him a chance and so I asked Coach Anae to put him in and I think he did well,” said head coach Bronco Mendenhall, whose team was down 34-14 when Johns took the field. “He gave us a spark and put a few balls on the money and his teammates were cheering hard for him as were his coaches.”

As a redshirt sophomore in 2014, Johns played in 12 games and started three. He took over as UVA’s full-time starter in 2015, passing for 2,810 yards with 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions his junior season. He had yet to see any action at quarterback this season prior to the Miami game, although as Virginia’s full-time holder he tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal against North Carolina.

Johns completed 3-of-7 passes for 64 yards in yesterday’s loss to the Hurricanes.

“You talk about a roller coaster of a ride,” Johns said, reflecting on his career. “This year, stepping back as a starter and really just embracing my role and trying to stay positive. Today I was just taking flashbacks of all those moments, throwing touchdowns in Scott Stadium and seeing the Hill going crazy, pointing at my parents. I’m going to miss it.”

While Johns wasn’t able to rally his team to victory, his completion to Taquan Mizzell put the senior tailback over the 1,500-yard receiving mark for his career. Mizzell becomes the first player in ACC history to achieve 1,500 yards rushing (1,831) and 1,500 yards receiving (1,517).

Johns wanted to get Mizzell the record. Mizzell, another UVA class act, was happy Johns was the one who threw the pass.

“It definitely would have felt much better with a win, but that’s something that I appreciate right there,” Mizzell said of his record. “That’s big for me; just how many great players that came through the ACC weren’t able to accomplish that. I really appreciate that, but it’s even more special with Matt Johns. That guy is second to none.”

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