Virginia Football Recruiting Notes: Hoos’ Class Of 2021 Surges Up Rankings

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The University of Virginia football program’s recent recruiting surge has vaulted the Cavaliers’ class of 2021 into top 25 status according to national recruiting outlets 247Sports.com and Rivals.com.

Seven months remain until the Early Signing Period, but UVA’s class – now 13 strong after eight prospects announced for the Hoos between the dates of April 21 and May 10 – is ranked no. 18 in the nation by 247Sports and no. 25 in the nation by Rivals. Virginia is fourth in the ACC according to 247Sports, behind North Carolina, Clemson, and Miami. Meanwhile, Rivals ranks Virginia fifth in the ACC behind Clemson, North Carolina, Miami, and Pittsburgh.

Nine of Virginia’s pledges have a 247Sports ranking of over 85. The entire three-star rating is 80-89, which includes a high three-star level of 87-89, a mid three-star level of 84-86, and a low three-star level of 80-83. A four-star prospect has a grade from 90-97 while a five-star is 98-110.

McCarron kicked off Virginia football’s run of commitments when he pledged on April 21. UVA has since landed seven more pledges to bring its class of 2021 commitment total to 13. ~ Photo courtesy of McCarron

Washington outside linebacker Josh McCarron, Texas dual-threat quarterback Jacob Rodriguez, Virginia outside linebacker Michael Green, Georgia defensive lineman Hugh Laughlin, and Virginia dual-threat quarterback Jay Woolfolk are UVA’s top five rising senior commitments as rated by 247Sports. McCarron and Rodriguez fall into the “high three-star” category, meaning each is “considered a player with significant NFL upside who expect to be an impact college football player.”

The ratings for Green and Laughlin fall in between “mid three-star” and “high three-star” levels, while Woolfolk is on the upper end of the mid three-star category. Per 247Sports, a “mid three-star” is “a player that we consider to be a capable starter for a Power Five football team and an impact player at the Group of Five level.”

Rivals’ player ratings fall into the following categories:

6.1 – Five-star
5.8 – 6.0 – Four-star
5.5 – 5.7 – Three-star
5.2 – 5.4 – Two-star

McCarron (5.8) is Virginia’s most highly rated commit per Rivals. Linebacker West Weeks is next with a 5.7 mark, and he is followed by five prospects with a 5.6 rating – Woolfolk, running back Amaad Foston, Rodriguez, cornerback Micah Gaffney, and Laughlin. Eleven of UVA’s 13 commits have a 5.5 rating or better.

McCarron’s 5.8 mark gives him “All American Candidate” status, meaning he is “considered one of the next-tier elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 300-325 prospects overall, a national All American candidate and a player deemed to have first to third round NFL potential.”

All three-star prospects are on the “All Region Selection” level, meaning they are “considered among the region’s top prospects and generally among the nation’s top 800-850 prospects overall, a potential All-Conference candidate and a player deemed to have mid to low end pro potential and ability to impact at the college level.”

In-State Top Targets Move Closer To Decisions

Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, VA) cornerback Tony Grimes and Robinson (Fairfax, VA) offensive lineman Tristan Leigh, who are among the top three class of 2021 prospects in the state of Virginia, have provided further clarity in their respective recruitments.

Grimes, who is rated by Rivals as a 5-star and the top rising senior in the state, released a top eight of Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Virginia in April. At the end of May, he plans to whittle his list even further.

Georgia has long been thought of as the favorite and should be a lock to make the top three. The star cornerback posted this favorable tweet regarding Ohio State last week, perhaps an indication that the Buckeyes are on his mind for one of the spots as well. Virginia has made Grimes a priority, but the Hoos have serious competition to beat out to make the top three.

Grimes appears further along his decision-making process than Leigh, who revealed a top 15 that includes Alabama, Central Florida, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, USC, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Leigh, a UVA football legacy, has also been a priority target for the Hoos.

UVA Makes The Cut For …

Several class of 2021 targets included Virginia among their top schools recently, including offensive lineman Tristan Bounds, defensive end Byron Turner Jr., defensive back Tyrell Raby, and wide receiver/safety O’Mega Blake.

Tristan Bounds, a 6’8”, 270-pound rising senior out of Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, CT), kicked off the month of May by revealing his “official top 8” list. Boston College, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Virginia Tech made the list.

Bounds, who told TheSabre.com in this EDGE report in March that Virginia would make his first cut, was on Grounds for an unofficial visit in March.

“I felt very comfortable there,” Bounds said. “I have a good relationship with Coach Tujague, but Coach Mendenhall’s messaging was the primary highlight. He’s passionate about what he does. I like the way he speaks. I also preach the values he preaches, like family and accountability. Those are the things he opens with and they are important to me.”

Byron Turner Jr. and Tyrell Raby hail from Louisiana, a state Virginia has enjoyed quite a bit of success recruiting since Ricky Brumfield was hired as Special Teams Coordinator in January of 2018 (Senior Scout Jordan Arcement has played a significant role as well.).

Turner Jr., a 6’4”, 235-pound rising senior out of St. Augustine (New Orleans, LA), lists Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Virginia. Rivals analyst Sam Spiegelman has predicted Florida as the choice for the standout prospect.

In a since deleted tweet, Madison Prep Academy (Baton Rouge, LA) cornerback Tyrell Raby revealed a top 10 of Arizona, Central Florida, Houston, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Miami, Purdue, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Two Rivals.com analysts have predicted Purdue as the choice for the 3-star athlete.

South Carolina native O’Mega Blake, a 6’3”, 180-pound wide receiver/safety, released a top 15 that includes East Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas State, Kentucky, Michigan State, NC State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UNLV, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. He added, “Recruitment Still Open!!!”.

Notable New Offers

The Virginia football staff has stayed busy in terms of extending scholarship offers. Prospects ranging from the class of 2021 to the class of 2023 have recently claimed offers from UVA, including …

Shield Taylor, TE, Alexandria (LA), Class of 2021

The 6’4”, 235-pound rising senior is the latest tight end prospect to land an offer from the Hoos. As I’ve mentioned throughout our “Strategy Session” features, tight end is a position I expect UVA to address in 2021. We know of eight tight end prospects Virginia has offered in this class – two of them are off the board having committed elsewhere.

Taylor holds offers from Arkansas, Duke, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, and Stanford, among others. Virginia had a commitment from Alexandria High School in last year’s class; however, defensive back JaDarius Clark wound up signing with TCU.

Davin Driskell, OLB, Greenbrier (Evans, GA), Class of 2022

The 6’5”, 190-pound Driskell plays tight end and strong safety in high school but looks like a prototypical outside linebacker at UVA, which became the first school to offer on May 15. The Peach State has been good to UVA over the years. In the class of 2021, for example, the Hoos have three commitments.

Rashaud Pernell, DE, Highland Springs (VA), Class of 2022

The 6’3”, 250-pound Pernell has enjoyed a fruitful May recruiting-wise, landing offers from Boston College, Maryland, Minnesota, Virginia Tech, East Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Virginia. Current Cavalier H-back Billy Kemp IV hails from Highland Springs, which has been one of the state’s top high school football teams the past decade.

Travious Lathan, WR/S, Gulliver Prep (Miami, FL), Class of 2022

The 6’2”, 188-pound rising junior has earned 4-star status by 247Sports. According to 247Sports, Florida State is the predicted choice for the dynamic two-way player, who hails from the same school that produced current Virginia Cavaliers Mandy Alonso, D’Sean Perry, and Sean Moore. Gulliver Prep is coached by former Hoo linebacker Earl Sims.

Isaiah Montgomery, OL, Landstown (Virginia Beach, VA), Class of 2022

The 6’5”, 280-pound line prospect landed his first Power 5 offer on May 8, when Tennessee came through. Virginia Tech and UVA have offered since. Old Dominion and Kent State offered previously. The Hoos are pursuing Montgomery as an offensive lineman.

Christian Hamilton, ATH, Hickory Ridge (Harrisburg, N.C.), Class of 2023

Georgia, Louisville, Michigan State, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia have offered the 6’0”, 175-pound freshman wide receiver/cornerback.

Nolan McConnell, OL/DL, Colonial Forge (Stafford, VA), Class of 2023

McConnell, who measures in at 6’6”, 260 pounds, burst onto the class of 2023 recruiting scene with an offer from Penn State on May 13. He has since landed scholarship offers from Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt, and Virginia. UVA likes him as an offensive lineman.

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