Hasise Dubois, Joe Reed and Terrell Jana accounted for about 67% of receptions in Virginia football’s historic 2019 season. The trio amassed 70% of the team’s receiving yards – Dubois had 1,062, Jana totaled 878, and Reed finished with 679 – and was on the receiving end of 16 of the Cavaliers’ 23 touchdown passes.
Terrell Jana, who had 49 of his 73 receptions in UVA’s final seven games, will be back for his final year of eligibility, but the Hoos must replace the production of Dubois, Reed, and tight end Tanner Cowley, who added 28 catches for 311 yards and a touchdown in his final season in Charlottesville.
Jana should be a major focal point of the offense, but where else will new starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong turn to in the receiving corps? Dubois and Reed are confident the rising redshirt sophomore signal caller will have quality options.
“Definitely Dontayvion Wicks, Tavares Kelly, Billy Kemp,” Dubois said. “Grant Misch at tight end. I feel as though this is going to be a spread between the whole offense. It’s not going to be one set person who’s going to break out. I feel as though they’re all going to take their touches. You can’t forget about Ugo Obasi as well. They’re all over the place. They’re all going to get the ball. They’re all going to shine. It’s going to be a well-rounded receiving corps this year.”
Reed added: “Everybody’s going to be capable of making big plays. Even Dorien [Goddard]. I think Dorien will be a [Hasise Dubois]-type receiver. Dorien is a bigger guy. He can catch the ball really well. I think all the receivers have a chance to have a breakout year.”
Billy Kemp IV, a rising junior, made some big plays for Virginia last season. The 5’9” H-back finished the season with 35 receptions for 289 yards and a touchdown, which came in UVA’s 39-30 win over Virginia Tech. The speedy Tavares Kelly Jr. has shown flashes in his first two years in Charlottesville. He contributed 14 catches for 152 yards in 2019. Wicks, a 6’1”, 215-pound rising sophomore out of Louisiana, flashed his considerable athleticism and speed on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Armstrong against Liberty.
Jana, Kemp, Kelly and Wicks look like the early frontrunners to headline Virginia’s receiving corps next season, but, as Dubois mentioned, there is also rising redshirt sophomore Ugo Obasi, who was a heralded prospect out of Maryland, and others who could be primed to step up. They’ll all be under the tutelage of Marques Hagans, who will be entering his eighth season as Virginia’s Wide Receivers Coach.
Hagans was hired at UVA by head coach Mike London. When Bronco Mendenhall was hired in December of 2015, the former Virginia star. Under Hagans’ guidance in the Mendenhall era, nine times have Virginia receivers made 50 or more catches in a season. Eleven times did a receiver achieve 500 or more yards receiving in a single season, including two – Olamide Zaccheaus in 2018 and Dubois in 2019 – who racked up over 1,000 yards in a season.
Out on the recruiting trail and had to check on my guys while they are training for Combine/Pro Day. They made my night. The love, loyalty and support is no matter where, no matter what, it’s for life🧡🤞🏽 @JoeBee_2 @DuBois_5k pic.twitter.com/6ZPLztv5Gm
— Marques Hagans (@coachmhagans) January 29, 2020
“My four years at UVA, I feel as though if there was no Marques Hagans there would be no Hasise Dubois,” said Dubois, who closed out his Cavalier career with 151 receptions for 1,859 yards and 12 touchdowns, 11 of which came the past two seasons. “Coach Hagans has been in my corner a lot. He’s been helping me a lot. There’s been times where I’ve messed up and he’s been the only person to believe in me at the moment. He pushed me to another level I didn’t know I could reach, and that’s what led me to the career I had at UVA.”
Hagans’ leadership extends beyond the field according to Reed.
“Coach Hagans, I tell a lot of people, it was kind of like his whole family is a family away from home, always there if you needed something whether it was about football or not,” Reed said. “I think that was the most important part is how easy it is to talk to him about life. Once you get over that, that also helps with the whole football experience. He’s just a well-rounded guy, a well-rounded coach, and just a fun person to be around.”
Selected in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, Hagans can relate to what Dubois and Reed are experiencing in terms of preparing for professional football. He can especially relate to Reed as both were versatile college players. Hagans starred at quarterback and receiver at UVA before playing receiver in the NFL. Reed is getting looks at several spots, including receiver, running back, and kick returner.
“Coach Hagans tells me every day, just enjoy the process, enjoy the experience, and just do whatever I can so I don’t have to look back and have regrets or wish that I did something differently,” Reed said. “Coach Hagans is the perfect person to go to throughout this whole process. Played multiple positions, got drafted, played at Virginia, so he knows all the ins and outs of what’s going on, so it’s easy to ask him questions about what’s going on now.”
“He just said have faith, have fun in the process,” Dubois said. “It’s out of our hands right now, so just let our film do the talking for us because we can’t have Pro Day, we can’t show ourselves more, so just let the film talk for itself and just have fun in it.”