Virginia Football Recruiting: Early Signing Period Storylines

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The Early Signing Period for Football Bowl Subdivision programs begins Wednesday, December 18, and runs through Friday, December 20. Fresh off of gaining verbal commitments from two top prospects, Virginia football boasts 13 commitments in the class of 2020.

Ira Armstead, Dual-Threat Quarterback, Adams (South Bend, IN)
Sam Brady, Linebacker/Athlete, North Lincoln (Denver, N.C.)
Jahmeer Carter, Defensive Lineman, Archbishop Spalding (Severn, MD)
– Ja’Darius Clark, Defensive Back, Alexandria (LA)
Lavel Davis Jr., Wide Receiver, Woodland (Dorchester, S.C.)
Elijah Gaines, Defensive Back, Episcopal (Alexandria, VA)
Andrew Gentry, Offensive Tackle, Columbine (Littleton, CO)
Dave Herard, Athlete, Stranahan (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
– Donovan Johnson, Safety, Helen Cox (Harvey, LA)
– Jestus Johnson, Offensive Lineman, Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.)
Josh Rawlings, Tight End, Woodland Hills (Pittsburgh, PA)
Lorenz Terry, Defensive Lineman, Varina (VA)
Brandon Williams, Outside Linebacker, Isidore Newman (New Orleans, LA)

Virginia could add to its Early Signing Period haul. The Hoos could have a defection or two as well. Here are some of the storylines we’re watching this week.

Who Signs & Who Doesn’t

Paraphrasing here, but UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall has indicated in the past that if a committed prospect does not sign early he basically considers them not committed. I agree with that sentiment, although I don’t think that costs the prospect a scholarship. It does force Virginia’s hand, though, and said prospect could lose his spot if the Cavaliers choose to take another commitment.

Alexandria (LA) 3-star defensive back Ja’Darius Clark remains “committed” to UVA. I use quotes because he has not publicly decommitted from the Hoos. However, there has been and continues to be significant buzz that he will not end up in Charlottesville. TCU is the current “Crystal Ball” consensus from 247Sports, and at this point I’m not sure what his plans are in terms of signing early or in February.

Another Virginia commitment to keep an eye on also hails from Louisiana. He is Helen Cox (Harvey, LA) safety Donovan Johnson, who does intend on signing early. What school he will sign with, though, is a question after he took an official visit this past weekend to Arkansas, which recently introduced Sam Pittman as its new head coach.

Johnson has seemed solid to the Hoos throughout and he reacted favorably to Virginia’s new commitments, retweeting both pledge announcements, but at this point we aren’t 100% sure who he will sign with this week.

Virginia Targets

Here is a rundown of known remaining Virginia targets in the class of 2020. Some plan to sign this week, while others are leaning towards a February signing.

Early Signing Period Decisions

Devin Chandler, Wide Receiver, Hough (Cornelius, N.C.)

There appears to be a 3-team race for the 6’1”, 175-pound wideout, who has reportedly taken officials to Maryland, Wisconsin and Virginia within the past two weeks.

Jonathan Horton, Outside Linebacker, Scotlandville Magnet (Baton Rouge, LA)

The 6’5”, 215-pound senior, who attends the same school as UVA men’s basketball recruit Reece Beekman, would be a tremendous fit at outside linebacker because of his size and athleticism. Bronco Mendenhall and three assistants were in-home with the springy senior last week. Louisiana recruiting expert Sam Spiegelman tweeted on December 15 that Horton, who took an official visit to Baylor this past weekend, will “decide from Baylor, Virginia and Arizona on Wednesday.”

(UPDATE: Per Spiegelman – click here for his tweet – Horton will not commit or sign early and will instead sign in February.)

(Possible) Regular Signing Period Decisions

Olasunkonmi Agunloye, Defensive Lineman, Lindenhurst (N.Y.)

The 6’6”, 252-pound standout reportedly (per 247Sports) took an official visit to Virginia this past weekend. Indiana, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse and UCLA are the other top contenders for this intriguing line prospect with good size and athleticism.

Alex Huntley, Defensive Tackle, Hammond School (Columbia, S.C.), South Carolina Commitment

247Sports, Rivals, and South Carolina recruiting guru Phil Kornblut reported that Huntley took an official visit to Virginia this past weekend. The consensus seems to be that the talented senior remains a solid South Carolina pledge. However, Lou Bezjak of The Herald reports that Huntley may not sign early. If he doesn’t, this recruitment could be worth paying attention to in January.

Nusi Malani, Defensive Lineman, Junipero Serra (San Mateo, CA)

UVA defensive line coach Vic So’oto had an in-home with Malani last week. The 6’6″, 250-pound senior claims offers from Arizona State, BYU, Nebraska and Virginia, among others. He took an official visit to Nebraska earlier this fall.

Koy Moore, Wide Receiver, Archbishop Rummel (LA), LSU Commitment

Virginia extended a scholarship offer to the star receiver in November. According to 247Sports, he made an official on Grounds this past weekend. It’s hard to believe the Hoos will be able to pull Moore away from the College Football Playoff No. 1 Tigers. One factor to consider when discussing national top programs such as LSU is the possibility of recruiting over commitments. I’m not saying this is the situation here, but it does happen, and as I always say, anytime a prospect takes an official visit somewhere it’s worth keeping an eye on until the letter is signed.

James Pogorelc, Offensive Tackle, Chantilly (VA)

Pogorelc has made official visits to Michigan (Dec. 6-8) and Virginia (Dec. 13-15) this month. He called the UVA visit “great” in this tweet. The 6’8”, 275-pound in-state standout is expected to sign during the Regular Signing Period, which begins Wednesday, February 5, after making more official visits in January. North Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse and UCLA are among the many other scholarship offers Pogorelc is considering.

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