Virginia Football Notes: ESPN’s McShay Talks Kurt Benkert’s Draft Stock

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Virginia football QB Kurt Benkert can improve his draft stock with a good performance at the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl. ~ Photo by Michael Ingalls

In a December 5 article, ESPN NFL Draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay answered 25 questions regarding the 2018 NFL Draft. Question 17 asks, “Which prospect has helped his stock the most this season?”

McShay’s response: It’s tough to give any other answer than (Oklahoma Sooners QB Baker) Mayfield. I wrote that he was probably a Day 3 prospect at this time last year. Since we touched on Mayfield earlier, though, I’ll offer up South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, who ranks No. 1 at the position. He’s super-talented and could sneak into the first round. I’d also throw in Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert, who has generated some buzz and could move up if he performs well during Senior Bowl week.

Benkert, linebacker Micah Kiser, and defensive lineman Andrew Brown have all accepted invitations to play in the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl, which will take place on January 27, 2018 in Mobile, Alabama. As a senior, the 6’4” signal caller became the first player in Virginia history to pass for 3,000 yards in a season. He has started 23 games since arriving on Grounds as a graduate transfer from East Carolina.

Click here to read the entire Kiper Jr./McShay feature.

Blanding, Kiser Walter Camp All-Americans

Postseason accolades continue to roll in for Virginia linebacker Micah Kiser and safety Quin Blanding.

Kiser, who was announced as the 2017 Campbell Trophy award winner on December 5, and Blanding, who became Virginia’s all-time leading tackler this season, have been announced as 2017 Walter Camp All-American second-team selections.

Per the Walter Camp Football Foundation website, Walter Camp, “The Father of American football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation – a New Haven-based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team.

NC State senior defensive end Bradley Chubb was the only Atlantic Coast Conference player to earn first-team Walter Camp All-American honors. Eight other ACC players joined Blanding and Kiser on the second-team: Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (junior QB); Syracuse’s Steve Ishmael (senior WR); Clemson’s Mitch Hyatt (junior OL), Austin Bryant (junior DE), and Christian Wilkins (junior DT); Duke’s Joe Giles-Harris (sophomore LB); Florida State’s Derwin James (sophomore safety); Boston College’s Lukas Denis (sophomore safety).

Football Recruiting: New Offers Extended in the Class of 2018

Coach Bronco Mendenhall and company have hit the ground running with respect to recruiting since the end of the regular season. Virginia boasts 19 verbal commitments in the class of 2018 and just added a commitment from junior college dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins, who fulfills Mendenhall’s hope of adding an experienced player to the quarterback position for next season.

Virginia has extended at least four new scholarship offers in the class of 2018 in recent weeks. Despite having six offensive line prospects committed in this class, the Cavaliers recently offered two more line prospects. Defensive back — cornerback, to be specific — is a position I see the coaches addressing with its remaining scholarships in this class. The Hoos reaffirmed a previous offer and extended a new one in recent weeks.

JAYLON BAKER, CB/WR, 6’3”, 170, Baylor (Chattanooga, TN)
Recruitment: UMass was Baker’s lone FBS offer until Virginia offered the Division II-AAA East/Middle all-region defensive back on December 7.
Highlights, per Hudl (Senior season)


JACKSON CRAVENS, Defensive Tackle, 6’3”, 285 pounds, Timpview (Provo, UT)
Recruitment: Cravens announced a top 7 of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan State, Oregon, Utah, Vanderbilt and Washington on November 6. He took an official visit to Michigan State in September. Virginia offered on December 6.
Highlights, per Hudl (Junior season)


JOSHUA EZEUDU, Offensive Tackle, 6’5”, 295 pounds, Archer (Lawrenceville, GA)
Recruitment: Colorado State, Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, Purdue, Syracuse and West Virginia offered prior to December. UNC (Dec. 1) and Virginia (Dec. 7) have come through this month. An excellent student, Ezeudu boasts a 3.9 GPA and has received several Ivy League opportunities.
Highlights, per Hudl (Early senior season)


TAIYON PALMER, Cornerback/Wide Receiver, 5’11”, 177 pounds, Archer (Lawrenceville, GA)
Recruitment: Palmer, previously a Duke commitment, reopened his recruitment on November 26. Virginia has since reaffirmed the offer it had previously extended in his recruitment. Florida, Minnesota and South Florida are among those involved as well.

Highlights, per Hudl (Senior season)


RYAN WINKEL, Offensive Tackle, 6’6”, 280 pounds, Christian Brothers (Memphis, TN)
Recruitment: Arkansas State, Cornell, Jacksonville State, Louisiana Tech, Massachusetts, Memphis, Tulane, Western Kentucky and Yale are among the schools that offered last spring and summer. Northwestern (Nov. 30) and Virginia (Dec. 6) have come through more recently.
Highlights, per Hudl (Junior season)

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