10-Day Hoo Preview ’07: A Hybrid Hoo?

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Mikell Simpson could provide UVa with some playmaking ability.

Al Groh looks for certain traits in his players, instilling the ‘smart, tough, focused’ mantra from his first days on the Virginia job. Unquestionably one characteristic he prizes is versatility. He has a certain soft spot for those players who can fill multiple roles, who can help their team win in more ways that one.

There’s no wonder then that Groh sounds a bit upbeat when he speaks about Mikell Simpson .

“Probably with Mikell, we’re seeing opportunities in this type of slot maybe differently than anyone else that’s been in there,” Groh said. “Mikell, as we have detailed, is a multi-skilled player and that was the attraction in the first place to Mikell when he was up in Harrisburg.”

The Cavaliers are looking for big things from the sophomore, even developing a hybrid receiver-running back role as Groh mentioned for the Pennsylvania native. The genesis of that concept took root during a summer 2006 trip to Florida where the UVa staff visited Urban Meyer’s program. The Cavaliers borrowed bits and pieces from the Gator program, building a variety of plays and wrinkles into their existing offensive system. Last year’s offensive line struggles and inexperience at quarterback kept those changes from fully joining the playbook, but the plan is for that to change this fall with Simpson playing in the Percy Harvin role frequently.

Simpson believes he can deliver.

“Basically, we’re kind of running Florida’s offense a little bit and kind of put me in that role that he used and excelled in a lot last year. I’m just trying to do the same thing, if not better,” Simpson said.

“I hope I can be the answer. … I’m not going to say I am until I get on the field and actually prove it,” he said later. “I’m not the type of person that talks about what I’m going