Division 1 football’s early signing period wasn’t that long ago, and here we are already, just two weekend’s remaining before the regular signing period begins on Wednesday, February 7. Nineteen prospects signed with Virginia football during the early signing period. Four of those signees – junior college transfer quarterback Bryce Perkins and recent high school graduates Brennan Armstrong (QB), Bobby Haskins (OL) and Noah Taylor (OLB) – have enrolled, while the other 15 will join running back Wayne Taulapapa in enrolling in the summer of 2018.
Using the current roster on VirginiaSports.com, Virginia football projects to have 83 scholarship players on its roster in the 2018 season. If that number holds true, the Cavaliers have two scholarship spots available to use. It’s safe to assume some flexibility with that number, though, so I’d estimate Virginia could use anywhere from 2-4 more scholarships if they so choose.
There are three high school seniors who have verbally committed to Virginia but did not sign early. They are St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) cornerback DJ Brown, Harding Academy (Memphis, TN) offensive lineman Will Lawrence, and Kahuku (HI) offensive lineman Micah Mariteragi. Mariteragi wanted to visit UVA before signing, and he was able to do so last weekend. By all accounts, he remains firm in his pledge and will sign with the Hoos on February 7.
— Micah Mariteragi (@MicahMariteragi) January 20, 2018
As for the other two commits, there is speculation that Lawrence may give up football, so I didn’t include him in the scholarship number. Meanwhile, Brown is exploring other options. 247Sports reports he will take official visits to Northwestern and Notre Dame back-to-back in the next several days, and an official visit to Ohio State is possible before signing day. Brown remains a Virginia “commitment” in name only at this point, but I did include him in the scholarship tally. We think the Hoos still have a chance to land his signature, but it would come as no surprise to see him head elsewhere.
— JORDAN MILLER (@MILLJ70) January 26, 2018
– Sandalwood (Jacksonville, FL) defensive tackle Jordan Miller, a player who has risen fast on Virginia’s wish list, is on Grounds this weekend on an official visit. He is no. 44 in the above tweet. No. 58 is another defensive line prospect, Aaron Faumui of Kapolei (HI). As this weekend begins, only Miller has a scholarship offer from the Hoos.
Miller, a 6’4”, 310-pound senior, was underrecruited before committing to Georgia Southern. He didn’t sign early, a move that has paid off with offers from UVA, Florida Atlantic, South Carolina and Tennessee. UVA was his first Power 5 conference offer.
Tennessee, which had three coaches (including head coach Jeremy Pruitt) in-home this week, is making a strong push here. Vol Recruiting Reports quotes Miller as saying Tennessee is the leader with Virginia second. The same site reports Miller is scheduled to visit UVA this weekend, Georgia Tech next week, and Tennessee next weekend. Needless to say, this weekend is an important one for Virginia’s hopes here.
(Update: Miami has now offered Miller, coming through on Friday, January 26.)
– Virginia is in hot pursuit of Rutgers graduate transfer Marcus Applefield. UVA was a strong contender for the now 6’5”, 300-pound offensive lineman when he was a prospect coming out of Weeki Wachee High School (FL). He ultimately chose the Scarlet Knights and is coming off his best season there, starting 10 of 12 games at right guard in 2017. He played in all 12 contests.
Applefield was on Grounds on an official visit last weekend. He will be at Pittsburgh this weekend with a decision possibly coming next week. Virginia’s need for graduate transfer offensive linemen isn’t quite as strong as it was last offseason. Nevertheless, Applefield would be a quality addition. The 6’5”, 300-pound redshirt junior could play guard or tackle and could give some of the young talent more time to develop.
– Cornerback Noah Boykin de-committed from Maryland earlier this week and now lists a final four that includes Florida, Maryland, Notre Dame and Virginia. Virginia defensive coordinator/secondary coach Nick Howell retweeted Boykin’s de-commitment, an indication perhaps that Virginia feels they have a shot. However, 247Sports’ Crystal Ball feature is heavily in favor of the Gators.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said during his early signing period press conference that he would like to add an experienced wide receiver with size through graduate transfer market. This is something to keep in mind for the immediate future as well as in the coming weeks and months. Applefield has emerged as a top grad transfer target on the offensive line. If Mariteragi stays solid and Applefield comes on board, I suspect UVA could be finished with offensive line recruiting for next season.
Defensively, it’s all about the defensive line with defensive backs still in play as well. The former is my top remaining need in this class. Why? Well, by mid-season, sophomores Juwan Moye and Steven Wright were significant pieces in Virginia’s defensive line rotation and figured to play prominent roles over the next two years. Those two are now gone, leaving nose tackle Eli Hanback and end Mandy Alonso as the only returning defensive linemen with any starting experience. There is little else in terms of game experience in general. A grad transfer would be a great fit. For now, though, the focus is on the high school senior front. Miller is a top target (maybe the top target) but there are others being eyed. Whether its with Miller or someone else, look for Virginia to address this position before February 7, perhaps with multiple recruits.
At defensive back, keeping DJ Brown in the fold would be huge. Brown is a player who could add immediate depth at cornerback, a position riddled with injuries the past two seasons. If he decides to go elsewhere, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cavaliers extend another defensive back offer. Boykin is on the wish list as well, but again Florida is the heavy favorite.
Moving On To 2019
Virginia has been busy extending scholarships in the class of 2019 the past few weeks. We’ll have the latest on that front soon. Coach Mendenhall has been hosting some top prospects as well. Earlier this week, Mendenhall hosted top in-state defensive back Cam’Ron Kelly of Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, VA).
I spotted Mendenhall walking Kelly around during the Virginia/Clemson basketball game. Virginia defensive backs Juan Thornhill and Bryce Hall and coach Nick Howell were there as well. Kelly, a 5-star prospect with top offers from across the country, is a player Virginia has a real chance with. He would be a huge pickup for Virginia, which has struggled to land top in-state talent in Mendenhall’s first two classes.
Virginia hosted in-state class of 2019 offensive linemen Jesse Hanson and Jakai Moore last weekend. Hanson, a star out of Lord Botetourt High School, boasts offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, Iowa State, North Carolina and West Virginia. Moore, a 6’6”, 275-pound offensive and defensive lineman out of Patriot (Nokesville, VA), has been offered by Louisville, Maryland, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.
— Jesse Hanson (@jessehanson72) January 20, 2018