The timing of Bronco Mendenhall’s resignation has put the University of Virginia football program in a difficult predicament when it comes to recruiting. Less than two weeks remain until the beginning of the Early Signing Period, which starts December 15 and ends December 17. While a Regular Signing Period remains in place and begins on Wednesday, February 2, the majority of recruits have signed early since the Early Signing Period began in 2017.
On Thursday (December 2), the day he announced his resignation, Mendenhall was asked what plans may be in place to address recruiting in this transition period.
“I don’t have a plan that way,” he said. “That will be coordinated with our athletic director, et cetera. This is one step at a time. And I’ve tried to work sequentially through those that I work with, which are my coaches. Those that I care about so deeply in my players. And in the team meeting where all the support staff members were there as well and our football family. I’m now sharing it with you. And so I’m kind of working from the inside/out as best I can.”
Asked if he expects to be involved in speaking with recruits at some point, Mendenhall, who visited in-person with commits Xavier Brown, Karson Gay and Trey McDonald in the days before he resigned, said, “Uncertain at this point.”
“What I do know,” Mendenhall continued, “is anyone that chooses UVA has made the best decision of their life to become an amazing person — the educational part, the community part, the relationship part and the football part. I think it’s too much to say it’s not influenced by the head coach, but we already know Carla. We already know the principles she’s going to pick someone on. And you’re going to have another amazing UVA head coach of any sport. And I don’t think there’s any risk. Only benefit.”
Virginia had 16 verbal commitments in its class of 2022 as of Thursday. That number dropped to 15 on Friday (December 3), when Westfield (Houston, TX) defensive tackle Anthony Holmes Jr. announced his decision to reopen his recruitment. Along with Virginia, Colorado, Houston, Marshall, Memphis, SMU and Washington State had offered scholarships at the time of his commitment. Following a standout senior campaign in which he earned 14-6A Defensive Player of the Year honors, don’t be surprised if the 6’2″, 285-pound senior adds to the offer list.
Respect my decision. pic.twitter.com/TsN14WKF7I
— Anthony “AJ” Holmes Jr (@AnthonyJr10_) December 3, 2021
No other Virginia commits have publicly changed their decisions, although a few – placekicker Will Bettridge and safety Will Hardy – released senior season highlights on social media following Mendenhall’s resignation. I expect most of the commits will keep their options open at this point as we wait on a new head coach. Given the time crunch, the Early Signing Period may be quiet for UVA should commits wants to revisit Charlottesville when the new coach is in place.