In his second year at the University of Virginia, former E.C. Glass High School (Lynchburg, VA) standout Sackett Wood Jr. earned a walk-on spot on the Cavalier football program last season. Just making the team wasn’t enough for the 6’3”, 250-pound tight end, who, worked his way onto the field for 13 snaps combined against Abilene Christian and Virginia Tech.
Wood Jr., whose grandfather played at UVA, has continued to ascened in Charlottesville. He turned in a great offseason, becoming one of 13 players to receive the “Dirty Dozen” strength and conditioning award. The “Dirty Dozen” award wasn’t all he received this preseason.
Congrats Sackett! 🔶⚔️🔷 pic.twitter.com/VbpZyWw891
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) August 21, 2021
Wood Jr. played wide receiver and outside linebacker his senior year at E.C. Glass. The previous two years he played quarterback, throwing for over 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons. As a senior, he racked up 500 yards receiving and four touchdowns and totaled four interceptions. Wood was a two-time team captain on the E.C. Glass football team and team captain on the basketball team. He played lacrosse for good measure and helped his school capture a 2018 state championship, earning all-region honors in the process.
Wood Jr. did play any sports his first year at Virginia. Given the offseason dedication he showed this offseason, it’s clear his fire for football is back. UVA teammates, particularly his fellow tight ends, erupted in celebration at the news of his scholarship. This includes graduate transfer Jelani Woods, who enrolled at UVA in February of 2021 and is expected to be the starting tight end in next Saturday’s season opener against William & Mary.
“Sackett Wood. That’s my dawg, man,” Woods said. “Me and him, we play around in the locker room all the time. Just seeing the hard work that he puts in since I got here. Me and him, we connected … really, the whole tight end room, we all connected off the rip. We feel like were are brothers for real. With Sackett earning a scholarship, I feel like he deserved that. Me and him, we both was competing in the offseason and we both talked about our goals, what we wanted in the weight room, and actually me and him close to doing about the same amount of reps when it comes to different lifts. We’ve always competed, and just seeing him gain that scholarship, that reward, it was just awesome to see.”
Woods and Grant Misch are expected to receive the majority of the tight end snaps, but don’t rule out a role for Wood Jr., especially with the status of talented redshirt freshman Joshua Rawlings in question. Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae told media this week that Rawlings has been out this spring and summer because of injury. No return timetable was specified. If Rawlings is out for an extended period and the Hoos are looking to develop true freshman Jack Witmer, Wood Jr. could be the next man up at tight end behind Woods and Misch. Woods, Misch, Wood Jr. and redshirt sophomore Mike Kosar are the tight ends that have earned numbers through three rounds of jersey selection.
Last year, UVA placed two walk-ons on scholarship in preseason camp – wide receiver Hayden Mitchell and safety Coen King. Mitchell went on to lead the team in special teams snaps last season, while King emerged as a factor in the defensive backfield, contributing 30 tackles (20 solo) in eight games. King seemed to improve as the season went on. He achieved his second-best defensive grade (68.2) and run defense grade (71.3) as well as his best tackling grade (84.5) in a 10-tackle performance at Virginia Tech in the season finale. King had four solo tackles in each of UVA’s final three games of 2020.
Oh yeah … we have more post-practice news 📰
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) August 27, 2020
Virginia has had a number of recruited walk-ons earn scholarships under Mendenhall. Current starting center Olusegun Oluwatimi and former safety Brenton Nelson are the most notable in terms of contributions, but others include wide receiver Ben Hogg and top special teams performers Lester Coleman, Reed Kellam and Joe Spaziani. Wood Jr. is the latest, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he can make in his first season on scholarship for the Hoos.