June Setting Up To Be A Busy – And Important – Month For Virginia Football Recruiting

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June is shaping up to be a busy month official visit-wise for the Virginia football program. The NCAA announced that the recruiting dead period will be lifted on June 1, and head coach Bronco Mendenhall and company have a handful of rising senior recruits – and probably more to come – in line to take official visits, beginning with the first weekend of the month.

JUNE 4-6

Ryan Baer, a product of Eastlake North (Eastlake, OH), has scheduled his official visit to UVA the weekend of June 4-6. He also has an official scheduled to Tennessee for June 25-27.

The 6’7”, 305-pound Baer boasts at least one offer in each of the five Power 5 conference. In-state Big 10 powerhouse Ohio State is not one of them, though the Buckeyes are interested.

JUNE 11-13

Five-star offensive line prospect Zach Rice plans to be in Charlottesville this weekend. The Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg, VA) product includes UVA in his top five along with Alabama, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State, and he plans to take official visits to all five schools before announcing his decision.

UVA welcomes Andrew Gentry to the program next summer after he completes his two-year LDS mission trip. Bringing in Gentry, who was a consensus 4-star prospect in high school and one of the most highly rated prospects to commit to UVA in the Mendenhall era, and Rice together would be quite a feat for the Cavaliers.

Joining Rice in Charlottesville that weekend will be Virginia football class of 2022 commitments Karson Gay and Trey McDonald. Gay is a 6’6”, 225-pound tight end while McDonald is a 6’4”, 225-pound linebacker prospect. Both attend private schools in Tennessee.

I spoke with both Gay and McDonald about why they chose UVA. (Click here for the EDGE feature on Gay and click here for the EDGE feature on McDonald.) Both visited unofficially this past winter during a recruiting dead period.

“Me and my parents always have been kind of talking about it. My plan was just to commit sometime before my senior season to kind of relieve the pressure. My goal was to get out on some visits before April 15. When they extended the [recruiting dead period], we thought, well, we don’t know when or if I will ever get to go on visits. Virginia was the best opportunity I could have. My parents said it was up to me but they felt really comfortable with [UVA] and if I think it’s a good idea they love it. I thought and prayed over it, thinking about where to go. With the help of my parents and people around me, I decided to commit. It was a good moment.”

“As far as my commitment, there is no time like the present. I didn’t have any better offers in our eyes,” Gay added.

“I got on the phone with Coach Poppinga and we had a great conversation about the school and Baylor and what he liked in me,” McDonald said, reflecting on when he received the offer from UVA. “He let me know then that they were going to offer me. It blew me away. I knew it was an amazing opportunity. I was so thankful.”

JUNE 18-20

Beau Atkinson and Brody Meadows will be tough to miss in Charlottesville, with Atkinson measuring in at 6’6”, 235 pounds and Meadows at 6’7”, 290.

Atkinson hails from Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Hometown NC State has offered. Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Yale have too. He is a likely defensive line recruit for the Hoos.

Meadows is an offensive line prospect out of Graham High in Bluefield, Virginia. The weekend before this trip he plans to take an official visit to West Virginia. UVA and WVU have offered. As have Arizona State, Maryland, Purdue and Tennessee, among others.

JUNE 25-27

Jackson (GA) defensive lineman Felix Hixon plans on visiting UVA June 25-27. In addition to the Hoos, the 6’4”, 280-pound rising senior included Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, South Carolina, and Wisconsin in the top 10 he announced on April 1.

Jake Maikkula, a 6’5”, 265-pound offensive lineman out of Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch, CO), has tweeted his plans to take an official visit to UVA. Maikkula is scheduled to visit California the first weekend in June and Colorado June 18-20, so the official date at UVA will either be June 11 or this weekend.

VIRGINIA LANDS PREFERRED WALK-ON

Luke Byrne, a 6’3″, 230-pound senior out of Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, VA), announced that he will attend the University of Virginia. Byrne has accepted a preferred walk-on spot as a long snapper. He considered opportunities at Richmond and Charlotte before pledging to the Hoos.

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