Since the 2020 season ended, the University of Virginia football program announced the signing of 24 high school recruits in the class of 2021 as well as a pair of graduate transfers including cornerback Anthony Johnson and tight end Jelani Woods. Virginia also has a commitment from running back Devin Darrington, who plans to transfer to UVA after graduating from Harvard this coming spring.
Is UVA finished in terms of roster additions for next season? In an interview with Virginia Director of News Content Jeff White, Virginia football Director of Player Personnel Justin Anderson answered this question.
“I think the only thing at this point is it would be either a grad-transfer or undergrad. Some of these guys going in the portal are also undergraduate transfers, so if there was a really good undergraduate transfer as well, we would be looking at that. You wouldn’t see more than just a couple at this point,” Anderson said in an extensive interview in the latest Wahoo Central Podcast, which you can listen to by clicking here.
“No more [class of 2021] high school kids for us,” Anderson continued. “Unless it was a really good player. There are a couple of really good ones out there. If somehow we were to land them then that would replace a grad-transfer or undergraduate transfer for us.”
The Hoos had great success with transfers last offseason, landing six grad-transfers plus traditional transfer Ronnie Walker Jr. Some of the graduate transfers established larger roles than others, but Shane Simpson, Keytaon Thompson, Ra’Shaun Henry, Tony Poljan, Adeeb Atariwa and D’Angelo Amos all contributed. Thompson, Henry and Atariwa are returning next season. Walker is, too.
Virginia’s grad-transfer success continued with the additions of Johnson and Woods, who address immediate need positions and have two years of eligibility remaining. Assuming Darrington follows through on his plans, he is another capable player at the tailback position.
Mendenhall and company have consistently pursued transfers since he arrived in Charlottesville. The focus on the transfer portal has yielded strong results, particularly in the past year, and the staff will continue to focus on transfers in the years to come.
“This is gonna be something that’s different moving forward,” Anderson said, referring to the significance of recruiting the transfer portal. “This is something that we’re going to have to adapt to. I think we’ve kind of had a plan knowing this was coming down the pike. The number of kids in the portal on a daily basis, it’s staggering. The hard part I would say for most programs is what you need versus what is out there. You might get enamored by, ‘I’m going to take this guy.’ There’s some really good players in there. Do you need that position? Is it going to help you become better? And if not you kind of have to weigh those options. I would say it’s a challenge and it is a lot of information. It is literally a daily … we’re in that thing daily and gathering film daily, and when guys are in the portal, if it’s a position of need, gathering transcripts … those are things we need at Virginia. There’s only going to be more in there, so we have to have a plan for that moving forward.”
“I think that’s how it’s going to be moving forward,” Anderson later added. “When someone’s in there, you better do your research quick, because these guys are jumping in and they’re getting picked up within a week or two, especially if they’re good players.”
Getting A Head Start
Under the direction of head coach Dyrri McCain, Maury High School captured its first state championship in 80 years in 2019. The Commodores featured wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith, who took his talents to Penn State the following year. More talented skill position players such as freshman wide receiver/defensive back Da’Vontae Floyd are in the pipeline, making for a bright future for the Norfolk (VA) program.
The 5’10”, 170-pound Floyd has yet to see a snap in a regular game setting on the varsity level because of the coronavirus, but he is already on the radar of FBS schools, including the University of Virginia.
Floyd’s first scholarship offer was Pittsburgh on December 30. Old Dominion offered one day later. On January 4 the talented youngster announced …
I am blessed to say I have received my 3rd offer from the University of Virginia 🧡💙. I would like to thank God, my parents, Coach McCain, Coach Rio, Coach meat, and Coach Brice. Thanks to my teammates and family as well pic.twitter.com/OVaXJrnace
— Da’Vontae Floyd (@FloydVontae) January 4, 2021
In addition to Floyd, Virginia has also extended a scholarship offer to sophomore Peyton Jones, a versatile performer who has played running back, wide receiver and defensive back as a freshman at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake (highlights below). The 5’11”, 180-pound Jones is now apparently enrolled at Maury.
UVA is currently Jones’ only scholarship offer.
UVA Adds New Recruited Walk-on
James Monroe (Fredericksburg, VA) has become a pipeline for Virginia the past two classes. Linebacker Jack Hardy came to UVA as a recruited walk-on in the class of 2020, senior safety Aidan Ryan signed a letter of intent with the Hoos last month as a scholarship player, and now senior lineman Andrew Williams has accepted a preferred walk-on offer.
— Andrew (@Arwill4) January 7, 2021
Here are highlights from the 6’4”, 235-pound prospect’s junior season.
Last month, West Springfield (West Springfield, VA) speedster Ethan Davies announced his commitment to UVA as a preferred walk-on. The 5’10”, 185-pound senior, who discussed his commitment in this article by Ultimate Recruit, has the look of an H-back at UVA.
Last fall, Culpeper (VA) star outside linebacker Joseph Holland III accepted a preferred walk-on offer from the Cavaliers. Holland is a 6’4”, 190-pound senior.