Virginia Football True Freshman Outlook: Who Might See The Field In 2021?

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The University of Virginia football program’s entire 2021 Class – the most highly rated class in the Bronco Mendenhall era – is on Grounds and taking part in Fall Camp. Which first years are most likely to play meaningful roles this season? We explore the topic in this latest ’50 Thoughts’ feature.


Which positions offer the best opportunity for a first year to emerge? My picks heading into the 2021 campaign are linebacker and backup quarterback.

The Linebacker Rotation

Junior inside linebacker Nick Jackson and senior outside linebacker Noah Taylor headline not only the linebacker position but the entire Cavalier defense, but Virginia is looking to replace longtime starters Zane Zandier (ILB) and Charles Snowden (OLB). Fifth-year senior Elliott Brown and redshirt sophomore Hunter Stewart are among the experienced players vying to replace the talented duo of Zandier and Snowden, and they are probably the best bets to start in the season opener. Asked about the competition at those open linebacker spots, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Kelly Poppinga mentioned these two along with redshirt sophomore Josh Ahern (ILB) and redshirt junior T.C. Harrison (OLB) during his media conference on Tuesday (August 10). He also mentioned redshirt freshman Sam Brady getting some snaps on the inside. In addition, redshirt sophomore D’Sean Perry and redshirt freshman Jonathan Horton are players to keep