If the Virginia Cavaliers are going to turn things around in the ACC this season, they will need players on both sides of the ball to step up and become stars in 2014. Mike London has made a habit of getting some big-time recruits to come to Virginia during his tenure but now has to have them make an impact on the field. Is defensive end Eli Harold ready to take that next step and become an elite pass-rusher this fall?
Harold was a consensus top-100 recruit in the 2012 recruiting cycle when he signed on to join the Cavaliers. He has consistently improved since he hit the field as a true freshman and has an extremely high ceiling that he could start to approach in 2014. Back in 2012, he recorded seven tackles for loss and two sacks in his first year on campus. He followed that up in 2013 with 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks as a sophomore.
Now a junior, Harold is ready to break out in 2014 as one of the nation’s elite pass rushers. He has an instinct for pass-rushing that he uses to get after the quarterback, using his athleticism and strength to throw a variety of pass-rushing moves at offensive linemen trying to block him. While the 235-pound frame could use a bit more bulk to stand up against the run, his pass-rush ability makes him a special player on the Virginia defense.
Virginia needs its star recruits to become star players on the field in 2014 if they have any hope of getting out of the ACC cellar anytime soon. Eli Harold has the skills to be a difference-maker on defense. Will he come through for the Cavaliers this fall?