Virginia Football Recruiting Notes: Offensive Line Recruiting Update

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The University of Virginia football program boasts seven verbal commitments in the class of 2022. UVA is still awaiting its first offensive line commit in the class, but decisions from some of the Cavaliers’ top targets are on the horizon.

From left to right, top Virginia offensive line targets Rice, Maikkula, and Anderson. The quarterback in the back is Cavalier pledge Davis Lane, a teammate of Rice’s. ~ Photo courtesy of Jake Maikkula

Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg, VA) rising senior Zach Rice tops the list of offensive line targets. The 6’6”, 290-pound Rice is rated a 5-star prospect by Rivals.com, a 4-star prospect by 247Sports.com, and is considered one of the nation’s top 20 rising seniors regardless of position by both sites. UVA hosted Rice, consensus 4-star tackle Fisher Anderson, and consensus 3-star Jake Maikkula on official visits this past weekend.

Alabama, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Virginia make up the top five for Rice. He began June with an unofficial at UNC before taking an official to Ohio State June 4-6 and heading to UVA June 11-13. Rice arrives in Tuscaloosa for an official on Friday (June 18) and reportedly is planning an official to Notre Dame the weekend of June 25-27.

“UVA has been front-and-center in the whole process from the get-go,” LCA head coach Frank Rocco said when asked about UVA’s standing following last weekend’s official. “His grandfather went to school there. Virginia has been very connected from the beginning of the process. He is a high-level recruit with high-level programs showing interest. He wants to see how he could develop in those systems as well.”

Coach Rocco, who complimented Rice for maintaining his work ethic and being humble despite the high accolades and constant recruiting attention, said his standout tackle is taking a methodical approach to these college visits.

“Zach is being very systematic when taking these trips,” Rocco said. “He has given numerical values to each of his criteria. I think UVA is right up there certainly, but he is doing a steady job of breaking down everything on all of these visits.”

A late June/early July decision is probably not out of the question for Rice, who would have taken in-depth visits to all five favorites by then.

Anderson, a 6’7”, 270-pound rising senior out of Franklin, Tennessee, has completed official visits at Northwestern and Virginia. He begins an official at UNC on Friday (June 18) and plans to close out the month with an official at Stanford June 25-27. All four schools seem to have a real chance.

Maikkula, who attends the same high school (Valor Christian in Highlands Ranch, CO) as former UVA standout offensive lineman Dillon Reinkensmeyer, is having a whirlwind of a month in terms of college visits. The 6’5”, 270-pound rising senior is on track to visit all eight favorites this month, and a decision presumably won’t be far behind.

In order, Maikkula has visited Missouri (unofficial), California (official), Kansas State (unofficial), Virginia (official) and Minnesota (unofficial). He’ll take an official to in-state Colorado this weekend, then head to Nebraska, and then close out the month with an official at Duke.

The weekend of June 4-6, Virginia played host to 6’7″, 325-pound Ryan Baer. The Ohio native told The News-Herald the experience in Charlottesville “was amazing. I love the coaches. Everything they say, they don’t feed you any bull crap. That’s a hard-nosed football program there.”

Baer headed to Ohio State immediately after the Virginia trip, but as of this writing the Buckeyes have not offered. He has since traveled to Illinois (official) and Pittsburgh (unofficial). According to The News-Herald report, he has plans to visit Kentucky, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Tennessee as well with a decision possibly coming before August.

Decisions from the aforementioned four prospects could well come in July. Graham (Bluefield, VA) rising senior offensive tackle Brody Meadows could have his decision made before then. The 6’7”, 290-pound prospect plans on taking an official visit this weekend to UVA, the heavy favorite according to 247Sports experts.

Joining Meadows in Charlottesville this weekend is 6’6″, 275-pound offensive tackle Carter Smith. Virginia will be the fourth official visit in as many weekends for the Ohio native, who traveled to Tennessee, Northwestern and Indiana earlier this month.

Meanwhile, UVA continues to offer class of 2022 offensive lineman prospects as well. Justin Kanyuk, a 6’6”, 310-pound prospect out of Bethlehem Catholic in Pennsylvania, announced an offer from the Hoos on Thursday (June 17).

Maryland and North Carolina are the other two Power 5 offers for Kanyuk, who has double-digit scholarship offers in total, including Ivy League opportunities. He has visited UVA twice this year. However, he was not allowed to interact with the coaches in person the first time around because of the recruiting dead period.

RECRUITING NUGGETS

OFF THE BOARD: Two prospects who were scheduled to take official visits to UVA this weekend have verbally committed elsewhere. Defensive lineman Beau Atkinson decided to stay in-state and pledged to North Carolina, while Georgia defensive back Ryland Gandy announced he is headed to Pittsburgh.

In addition, top in-state rising senior defensive back Sherrod Covil has committed to Clemson.

NEW OFFER FOR CLAIBORNE: Speedy class of 2022 running back prospect Demond Claiborne announced Wednesday (June 16) that he has received a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech. The offer comes two days after the King William (VA) rising senior revealed he would be announcing his “top schools soon.”

Claiborne opened the month of June with a visit to Wake Forest before heading to UVA for an official visit June 4-6. Two 247Sports.com analysts have predicted the 5’10”, 185-pound standout will ultimately commit to Virginia. He tweeted that he had a “great talk” with Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, so we’ll see if the Hokies become a top competitor here as well.

RAINER’S SONS CAMP AT UVA: Wali Rainer, who starred at linebacker for Virginia in the late 1990s, has taken his sons, Elijah and Zahir, to multiple schools this month for camps. UVA was one of the stops on the schedule.

Elijah is a 6’1”, 210-pound rising junior who recently picked up an offer from Georgetown, while Zahir is a 5’10”, 175-pound rising sophomore cornerback/athlete. Both attend Trinity Episcopal in Richmond, Virginia.

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