Bronco On Future Of UVA Football: ���Still More Here At UVA To Go And Do And Become���

Virginia head coach

Bronco Mendenhall spoke to UVA's Jeff White about the 2022 class and his thoughts on the playmakers signed to this year's class.

Bronco 10 players signed with UVA today, nine of them are high school seniors. The other is a transfer from the University of Wisconsin. First of all, what are your general thoughts on this class?

I think first of all, they're amazing people in today's age, of uncertainty, and of transfer and of commitment or non commitment. These young men and their families are, I think, exemplary. And I'm so thankful for their commitment. I love their ability. They're aligned with the University of Virginia in terms of the values but also the ability to help the program move forward. And in a very unique transition time. Yeah, they've provided a really nice sense of stability.

With current college players having extra eligibility because of the COVID year roster, management has become more complicated for coaching staffs. How big of a challenge was that for you when you started putting together the class?

It was and still is. And so the unique challenge that that every college coach is facing is that the players that have an additional year now, because of COVID, they're playing their season. And you really don't want to interrupt that with thoughts of are you coming back? Are you not coming back? And then there's this time period, whether there's a coaching transition or not, between the last game in the bowl game to then approach that. And so what this is regards from coach to player, your thoughts are coming back or not coming back? Well, in the meantime, during that entire span, you really have to prepare as if those players are not going to come back, which means you recruiting high school players. Now the unique challenge would be as if those players that are in your existing roster with experience, choose the comeback and you've committed and accepted commitments from high school players. And then you have to at some point, then say no, which is a really poor position to be in. And so the uncertainty and the lack of clarity makes it really challenging knowing that you want every opportunity for existing players to stay. But in the event, they don't you have to be prepared with high school players, and so you're making decisions on limited information against the timeframe. And it's really a challenge and so a lot has to be done with the calendar a lot has to be done with timing a lot has to be done with the processes. Certainly something has to be done with the transfer portal and and kind of the free agency window of possibly from this date to this date. You can enter the portal and be recruited much like the NFL but open ended makes it really difficult in terms of managing the roster, which ties to the question this class is likely to grow later on for now.

It consists of 10 members, let's if you will, let's go through the groups: the high school quarterbacks.

Davis Lane played in the ultra successful program at Liberty Christian, in Lynchburg.

Delaney Crawford is from California. What did you like about each of those two unique skill sets?

Davis lane? Wow, did we vet him and work him and test him in every possible way. So besides his game film, and he came to Camp, right, and then there's all kinds of drills we put him through. And he kept answering the challenge and answering the test and answering the challenge and his mobility, his speed, his arm strength is accuracy and his leadership and we couldn't have turned him upside down and shook him any more to see what kind of fit he would be. And Coach Beck ultimately just said to me he has to be at UVA. And he has a very bright future based on all the quarterbacks that we've trained and all three here have been very, very good, and we think he has a chance to be another one of those with his own unique skills. And we love who he is. And as a student, he just be a lot of a lot of great things about him.

Delaney Crawford was I think, a late addition relatively late addition to the class.

Delaney Crawford is is electric, dynamic athlete, more of the Bryce Perkins type of quarterback, where if he does pull it and run, watch out - and just his ability to extend plays to make plays and to score and go the entire distance. Again with an amazing grade point average and amazing family. Great values. Yeah, we like the dynamic ability with the personal characteristics and see a huge upside for him.=

Davis Lane is one of three mid year enrollees in the class. The other two are Stevie Bracy and

Devin Chandler . Stevie is from the Lovett School in Atlanta, which is also the alma mater of

Nick Jackson , who's done great things here. What What attracted you to Stevie as a player, person?

Production. Production. Production. And the school is something we would call a profile school. And he and

Nick Jackson , if they're lined up side by side, they look like brothers or twins in how they play, how they tackle, their command presence, their leadership, but their preparation for UVA as well. Wow, amazing people. And so Stevie fits UVA in every regard and a really, really good football player. And I love his presence. I love his durability. I love his physicality. I love his production, as I've already mentioned, but I also love his preparation and, and from that school and having

Nick Jackson , we already know what that's going to look like. And this is the next version of that.

Devin Chandler will come here with three years of eligibility from Wisconsin. Virginia was one of his finalists the first time around, I believe. What he's also in addition to being a wide receiver, I believe he's a talented returning specialist.

He is and I still remember Devin on his visit as a high school player and coach Hagans and I sitting with him, and it was basically down to us and Wisconsin, and and he ultimately chose Wisconsin. I thought at that time, he would be a better fit with us. And so when he became available, it was an easy choice. Exceptional wide receiver: fast, athletic, dynamic, very good hands, and great after the catch, and we need a returner as well...with three years of eligibility really addresses a need, but also addresses it with a level of competency that is is really growth oriented for him and us, and coach Hagan's has built a great relationship with Devin. He knows that this is the place for him. I'm really excited as any receiver would be the chances of Brennan coming back, and already knows not only the system we were in but is excited about the system Coach Elliott will bring and and so a lot of upside and a lot of potential there.

Xavier Brown is from Lexington, Kentucky, and this week he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for his state. I think his team made it to the state final for the first time. He put up impressive numbers as a running back in high school. Is he comparable in his skill set that anyone who's here?

I'm not sure, comparable but he plays football. And so Keytaon is a football player. Xavier is very good out of the backfield. He can line up on the slot and catch the football. It tells me he can throw but he does a lot of things. He's very versatile. And I like players that are versatile and productive and capable to contribute in multiple ways. And that's what he is and again a really good student an amazing person and pretty high honor. When you look at what his peers and the coaches and others think of him. And light lights up the room when he comes in and just a joy to be around.

The class includes two players from Chattanooga, Tennessee Trey McDonald as a linebacker,

Karson Gay as a tight end. They play at different schools but I believe they know each other. Did that synergy kind of help get them both here?

A fun relationship to see develop. Trey McDonald, a great lacrosse player also and, and just everything about him, any kind of helmet he could wear to play a sport. He's going to put on that helmet. He loves contact. And so how and who he is, is exactly the type of player I like to coach on defense and it's it's all gas and no brakes, which is really fun at an amazing school. That's so challenging. And he's got this kind of split personality happening of of aggression and then academic modeling which is unreal. And then Karson, wow, has length and size and speed and ability to be a great receiver and athleticism. We've coached players like him at throughout our career as a staff, and while they've been successful, so huge, huge upside, especially in the receiving game for him.

Two of the high school players who signed today are wide receivers - both stand around six foot five. First one I'll ask you about is

Dakota Twitty who's from North Carolina. And Dakota has been absolutely steadfast I believe in his commitment to Virginia from from day one. What has impressed you about him?

Well, as a football player, you already mentioned size, but very good hands. I think exceptional production. But we like big targets at wide out. And we like capable players, and we like physical players. And we think that's the next step. As for growth in our offense, but also for college football, those matchups are hard. And as a defensive coach, we know they're hard. And so we're presenting in attracting as many players as possible for that to happen.

Sean Wilson is another big target, he's from from Brooklyn, New York. He is dealing with an injury now but what is his upside?

I don't know where it is, other than it's beyond what I could think. So we don't put a limit on it. But it's off the chart, another very big physical, active, fast, talented football player. That's a great person. And so when you consider the chance of maybe Lavel and Dakota, being on the field all at the same time, in addition to Dontayvion, there starts to be a pretty powerful combination from quarterback to those players. And again, a lot of that I would say a lot of the credit should go to coach Hagans for identifying and attracting and building that room.

Last but certainly not least, is

Will Bettridge a kicker from Gulliver Prep in Miami , which is a program that's been very good to UVA. Will comes with a lot of accolades for high school kickers?

I don't think you can have more. So every every game or thing you could be invited to, or every award you could get, he has and points matter. And so why was I proud of Brandon Farrell this year, and what he did for our program, this now becomes someone targeted early on, that has a great chance, again to fit perfectly at UVA, and have elite production at a position that adds points and points determines outcome. And so, so proud of Will but also just really excited for what he's going to bring.

How much of an opportunity have you had to discuss these players with

Tony Elliott ?

I'm spending an hour or so per day right now with Tony, every morning, just talking about everything in our program, which is pretty unique in college football. I want this program to succeed, to continue to become to thrive, and from our current roster to all of our staff to every part of support group, including the recruits, right, that was early on. And so when asked, I gave my assessment for every single player, and that gave a point of reference then to establish wherever Tony chose to go with it

One final question, when the early Signing Day was implemented several years ago, there was a lot of initial positive feedback. I think, in the years that have followed we've seen some unintended consequences that may not be as as good. Do you see this as something that could be changed or the calendar altered? Or do you think this is here to stay?

It doesn't work. The calendar needs to be revised. The bowl season, how that works, coaching changes how that works, the transfer portal, how that's working, the timing with a signing date in mid December, none of that is is aligning to allow the appropriate responses, the most educated decisions or the roster management that needs to happen at the best level that it could. And so the calendar in my opinion needs a complete redesign, as well as the portal timing. As well as the the chance for players to decide when to decide for coaches to know that and so the rosters can be balanced and managed before the first opportunity to sign and all that's happening at the same time right now, which is going to lead to more mistakes and more portal entries. And it doesn't need to be that way.

Source : https://247sports.com/college/virginia/Article/Everything-Bronco-Mendenhall-said-after-Early-Signing-Day-Virginia-Cavaliers-football-class--178457752/

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