Virginia fans can tune in for a glimpse of defensive lineman Vincent Croce who is one of 20 high school seniors to commit to UVa. The 6-4, 265-pound Croce projects as a defensive lineman at UVa but may start at linebacker for the Falcons this season.
Other players to watch in the game include St. Xavier senior linebacker Sean Duggan, a 6-4, 215-pound prospect who has narrowed his list of schools to Boston College, Duke, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. Good Counsel senior cornerback Blake Countessand sophomore defensive back/wide receiver Kendall Fuller are on Virginia’s radar as well. Countess has an official offer from the Cavaliers, while Fuller has been verbally offered.
Had a chance to catch both prospects in scrimmage action this week. Harris, a 6-3, 195 pound senior, guides L.C. Bird (Chesterfield, VA) as the Skyhawks starting quarterback and cornerback. How important is Harris’ to Bird’s success? Well, head coach David Bedwell’s squad lost the only game Harris missed last season. It happened to be the first round of playoffs, as the versatile prospect was out due to a leg injury.
Harris returned to the field on Thursday, when Bird faced off against Westfield and Dinwiddie in preseason scrimmages. The star senior didn’t do anything spectacular, but he is unquestionably the leader of the Skyhawks. He plays with poise and determination and I expect he’ll lead his team to another quality season.
Brown and St. Christopher’s (Richmond, VA) scrimmaged against J.R. Tucker (Richmond, VA) on Friday night. Brown, every bit of 6-4, 225 pounds, lined up at defensive end and tight end. A terrific athlete, Brown’s speed was evident on two plays in particular. On defense, he tracked down a J.R. Tucker runner from clear across the field, preventing a touchdown on what must have been a 30-yard run. On offense, Brown hauled in a short pass and got in the open field, covering about 15 yards in a hurry before being pushed out of bounds.
Both Harris, who will likely be a defensive back in college, and Brown, who could play defensive end or tight end in college, look like good gets for the Hoos. Stay tuned for more on the EDGE later this week.
Other FB recruiting notes
L.C. Bird junior linebacker Deion Clarke is a prospect to keep an eye on. The 6-2, 205-pound prospect was all over the field on Thursday, making big plays in both the Westfield and Dinwiddie contests. He can add weight, but the playmaking ability is evident. … According to this report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, UVa appears out of the running for Eagles Landing Christian Academy (GA) star senior DB Avery Walls.
On the basketball recruiting front, both of the University of Virginia’s 2011 commitments made Scout.com’s updated 2011 Top 100. 6-5, 205-pound Greater Atlanta Christian (Atlanta, GA) shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon comes in at #87 while Merrill (WI) wing forward Paul Jesperson is right behind his future teammate at #88.
Aug. 11 marked the beginning of the preseason for the UVa field hockey team. With an ‘obnoxiously positive’ attitude, the Hoos are hoping to return to the NCAA Final Four. Last season, UVa tasted victory frequently during a 20-win season and advanced to the ACC finals and the NCAA semifinals. Head coach Michele Madison comments on how quickly preseason went by because of “all the new players and new enthusiasm.” Madison said the preseason theme has been “an obnoxiously positive attitude – hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” because just like last year “the secrets to success don’t change.”
Freshmen Chloe Pendlebury and Elly Buckley hail from Australia. They bring “an intense and high level of play back to our team only challenging us to get better. Their experiences can only help,” senior goalie Kim Kastuk said. In addition to the two Australians, UVa welcomes seven other new players. Taylor Swezey and Shelly Edmonds are among the seniors that will provide years of experience for the team that lost many defenders. Still with so many new faces, Kastuk understands that change means adjusting, and UVa is doing just that. “Even though we have lost a lot of the defenders and our defense may be a continual progression throughout the season, I’m excited about the direction we are moving in and our defensive unit will be ready once the season starts, only improving throughout the season,” Kastuk said.
Indeed, the defense played well in the preseason as UVa’s hard work these past two weeks payed off with a 3-1 win against JMU in a scrimmage. The Hoos’ season starts in Pennsylvania this weekend. They face St. Joseph’s on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Philadelphia and they hit the field again at No. 18 Penn State on Sunday at noon. UVa’s first home game is against No. 16 ODU on Sunday, Sept. 5 at 1p.m. UVa is predicted to finish third in the ACC and NCAA with defending NCAA Champion UNC taking the No. 1 spot in both polls and defending ACC Champion Maryland coming in second.
Friday, a hot topic on the football board was about weddings during football season – read the thread (message board link will eventually expire). I figured a blog poll related to the topic might be fun this week. Personally, I’ve missed a UVa game for at least one wedding previously – my own in October 2007.
The Oregonian’s John Hunt blogged Friday that the Oregon men’s basketball team will play Virginia on Dec. 17 at the John Paul Jones Arena. The full UVa schedule for Tony Bennett’s second season will not be released until late August or early September even though tickets are already on sale – read more here.
Still, as The Sabre first put together in this blog post, you can figure out much of the non-conference schedule from other published reports. Here it is again:
at Stanford (Nov. 18)
vs. Washington at The Maui Invitational (Nov. 22-24) – the second-round match-up will be with either Oklahoma or Kentucky; other teams in the field include Chaminade, UConn, Michigan State, and Wichita State
at Minnesota (Nov. 29) for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
vs. Oregon (Dec. 17)
vs. Iowa State (Dec. 30)
vs. LSU (Jan. 2)
The Hoos have 17 regular-season home games, including nine non-conference opponents. I’d expect the remaining six opponents to be against teams away from the power conferences.
Virginia tight end Colter Phillips lost his father in a plane crash last Monday. William “Bill” Phillips Sr. was among the victims of a plane crash in Alaska that took the life of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Colter Phillips and two of his brothers spoke about their father and football in an ESPN interview on Wednesday.
The Sabre’s “State of the Programs” series keeps rolling along – this article on women’s soccer is the latest in the series. Here are the leftover answers from coach Steve Swanson that didn’t make the article.
On the current assistant coaches Kerry Dziczkaniec and Ron Raab as well as volunteer coach Jen Bhalla …
“Our staff is great. We’ve got one of the few staffs where I think all of the coaches have been head coaches at the Division I level. That’s unique. Our volunteer coach this year, she’s got more of a sports psych emphasis and she’s been a Division I coach as well. We’ve got good people working in the program. I feel strongly that we’re going to break through.”
On recruiting …
“Recruiting has changed in the sense that everything is happening earlier for our sport. Our sport, it’s gotten so competitive so fast that you’re not recruiting one class in a given year, you’re recruiting three. You’re finalizing your class that is incoming, you’re getting commitments from the year below them, and you’re evaluating the next year below them. You’re working with three different classes and you’re trying to get the crystal ball out three years down the road and see how they’re going to fit into your team. That’s a difficult process in and of itself. … Three years makes a big difference. That’s a lot of time to develop and grow.”
On Coach Gelnovatch’s team breaking through to win the NCAA Championship in 2009 …
“It’s interesting, I think George’s run just shows what can happen in our game. It shows what can happen. I think both teams are pretty tight, George and I have coached our sons together the last couple of years, and I think it was such a good example of the kinds of things that can happen to a team playing together and grinding out games, getting good contributions from all over the field. I think George would probably tell you that he’s had more talented teams in his time, but the team had a resolve to it and they played together and they all knew their roles and did their roles very well. There are certainly things we can take away from their year. We were so happy for him. Our payers were ecstatic and went to the games. Look at how long George has been here and I think it’s part of it. Our sport is so difficult. It’s one of those where you can dominate and not win. You have to have a certain mentality to get through it.”
The Virginia women’s basketball program received some encouraging news this week when guard Bria Smith verbally committed to the Hoos, according to ESPN HoopGurlz. Interestingly, on its ESPN HoopGurlz profile page for Smith, it doesn’t list UVa as one of the top five contenders to land the high profile recruit. In the end though, the Cavaliers beat out the likes of Georgia, Louisville, UConn, and Notre Dame.
Here’s part of the HoopGurlz evaluation of Smith’s game from an April Boo Williams event:
“She isn’t your prototypical shooting guard in terms of size but she embodies the position in every other way. … There are very few guards who possess her knack for scoring in traffic and of those guards she is the best at her trade.”
Smith is ranked No. 1 at her position and No. 3 overall in the ESPNU 100 rankings.
So you think your group is full of great tailgaters? Here’s your chance to cash in on it! Enter a contest at VirginiaSports.com and you could win the following: a $100 gift card courtesy of Kroger, a football signed by Mike London, and a feature spot in a video on HooVision during the football season. Contestants must enter a tailgating recipe. All contestants must be over 18 or receive written consent to appear on camera. Click here for more information or to enter.
Recently, Sabre contributor Greg Waters wrote about Ryan Zimmerman’s “A Night At The Park” fundraiser, which took place on Monday night at Nationals Park. The night was hosted by ziMS Foundation, a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) charitable organization classified as a public foundation working to raise money and awareness of Multiple Sclerosis.
Monday night’s event appears to have been a roaring success. For a blog report on the evening, click here. There’s also a post of pictures from the event (click here). Here’s hoping that “A Night At The Park” becomes a long-running success.
As always, not everything makes the story for The Sabre’s “State of the Programs” series. The most recent piece focuses on football so here are some leftover thoughts from Cavalier coach Mike London. Enjoy!
On whether he has anything up his sleeve for fans on game day …
“Let’s put it this way, there are a few things in the works that I want to initiate and it will involve the team, the fans, the students, and what we do on the sideline and I’ll just leave it at that.”
On alumni of the program and their support …
“Without a doubt. We are in contact constantly with former Virginia football alumni and I think that’s important, that you never lose contact with guys that have bled on the field, won on the field, lost close games, and gone on to great things either in the world or in the NFL. It’s been really neat to see the different generations of Virginia football contact us or we’ve contacted them and they’ve come back. It’s really neat. I think what happens a lot of times, players of today really have a disconnect of the history of Virginia football. Who’s AB? Not everybody knows AB is Aaron Brooks. I think reconnecting the history of some of our younger guys to some of the guys that played before them is important. They all know the Heath Millers of the world and Chris Long and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Eugene Monroe and Branden Albert, but think about it they were in middle school or high school. Any names before those guys, they were watching Teletubbies or something like that. The pictures in and around McCue Center, in the media room at Scott Stadium, and you see all of those names, I think it’s important that guys and our team understand that there’s a connection to the players that played before them.”
On outsiders’ perceptions of the Virginia program …
“There’s a lot of optimism and excitement, but it’s a process also. I know sometimes you just want to instantly win every game. I think there’s a measured amount of success that’s going on right now off the field and you look to bring those kinds of excitement and opportunities on the field also. I think as recruiting goes on, as the message continues, as people continue meeting the Anthony Poindexters, Shawn Moores, Ron Matteses, Jim Reids, and Bill Lazors of the world, they’ll gain appreciation for the types of men that are here and trying to represent the program and the University.”
“The reception and the message that has been received is overwhelming. It’s very good. In ‘Building The Program’ I make a comment in there about having traveled to Rhode Island all the way down to Florida for different events, going to different VAF functions, clinics, and so many different things. The recruiting the staff is allowed to do when we get on the road into the different areas of the state and the areas that touch Virginia, the D.C., Maryland, North Carolina areas, the message has been received really well. We’re cautiously optimistic about continuing down the path and getting people excited about Virginia football again.”