Virginia Football Recruiting Notes: Donte Hawthorne Chooses UVA As In-State Commit

The Virginia football program picked up its second commitment for the 2023 class when Donte Hawthorne made his choice. The Massaponax standout selected the Hoos after receiving an offer earlier this spring.

Hawthorne attended the UVA Blue-White Spring Game and also visited Virginia Tech previously. He made his announcement on Twitter.

The 6’1”, 205-pound rising senior played quarterback for the Panthers, but in a triple option offense. He posted 1,123 rushing yards on 7.6 yards per attempt with 21 touchdowns this past season. That led to first-team all-area honors in Fredericksburg.

The Cavaliers have recruited him initially as a running back, though there is potential at other positions as well. He also played safety previously. His Hudl profile lists a 4.6 as a 40-yard dash time and 4.2 in the shuttle. Massaponax coach Eric Ludden told the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star that “we saw that speed burst that he has. He goes three yards and all of a sudden, he’s gone. His speed is kind of deceptive.”

As the new coaching staff looks to implement a different offensive scheme, building depth in the running back group is a recruiting priority. Virginia took one running back in the 2022 class with Kentucky’s Xavier Brown. Miami (Florida) running back Cody Brown transferred to UVA for the upcoming season as well.

What Do The First Two Commitments Tell Us?

Hawthorne became the second commitment in the 2023 class, joining Patriot High School offensive lineman Cole Surber. The duo has two things in common. One, each is a recruit on offense. Two, each is from the state of Virginia.

Both of those characteristics affirm recruiting priorities for Tony Elliott and his first UVA coaching staff. Elliott has said from the time of his hire in December that he wanted to place significant effort on building relationships within the state and region in order to recruit those prospects.

“As I said before, we have to make it a priority and start with building relationships,” Elliott said at his introductory press conference. “Knowing that we may not be able to take every player in the state of Virginia, but the ones that fit the profile, they need to come to the University of Virginia, and it’s going to start with me setting the tempo from a relationship standpoint with the high school coaches and making sure that we start inside out and we take care of our backyard, because at the end of the day the program is going to be built on the guys that are committed to the university and committed to the football program, and actually those guys that are closer can spend more time in your program and become truly committed and invested.”

By taking two in-state commits first for his first full recruiting class, Elliott is backing up that talk with action. It’s likely no accident either that both players are on offense and tilted toward building back a more traditional running game over time. That too has been a stated priority for the program in the early months of the Elliott era.

Incoming Virginia Transfers

Virginia picked up a handful of transfer portal recruits this spring and several of them now have numbers on the official roster. Transfer RB Cody Brown is listed at No. 0. DL transfers Paul Akere, Kam Butler, and Devontae Davis are listed at No. 1, No. 82, and No. 95, respectively.

The Cavaliers began their first days of summer strength and conditioning training this week. With numbers now in place, it’s safe to assume that this quartet joined the program ahead of that work.

First Tony Elliott Camps

As school winds down, camp season picks up in the recruiting world. That includes the first summer for Tony Elliott Camps at Virginia. There are sessions scheduled for June 7, 9, 11, 16, and 18 in Charlottesville. Interested participants must register online at

The camp circuit is when recruits try to get noticed by college coaches while receiving instruction through drill and skill work. Current Cavalier Billy Kemp IV, for example, is