The Virginia Cavaliers received some big news today. Huge, in fact.
Quin Blanding, the number two safety and 4th ranked player overall in the 2014 class according to rivals.com, committed to head coach Mike London today. He’s the second player to commit to the Cavs in the class of ’14, joining defensive tackle Chris Nelson out of Lakeland, Florida.
There’s no way to undervalue how big of a snag this was for London. The embroiled coach has been on the hot seat following a disappointing 4-8 season, which eventually led to a major staff change up weeks before National Signing Day. Getting one of the best players in the country to commit to UVA, even though it’s very early in the recruiting process, certainly helps take a little pressure away from a hungry fan base.
Blanding is/was a major priority for the Cavs. The sensationally talented safety is not only one of the best players in the Commonwealth of Virginia (if not the best), but also the country. He also hails from a high school (Bayside High School in Virginia Beach, right in the heart of ‘the 757′) that the Cavs are trying to build a pipeline to from Charlottesville. And there’s been success.
In recent years, the Cavs have plucked such players as Henry Coley, Demetrious Nicholson, Anthony Cooper and Taquan Mizzell from Bayside, and that streak looks to continue with Blanding. Mizzell, a five-star all-purpose back is the most recent, having signed with UVA just three weeks ago. Having so many former teammates in Charlottesville already was clearly a deciding factor, but the way that new defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta wants to use the multitalented athlete was another.
Tenuta is joining the Cavs after having coached the linebackers at North Carolina State the previous three seasons. Prior to that, he was defensive coordinator at schools such at Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Tenuta’s defenses have long been known for their attacking and aggressive styles, which emphasizes physical safeties. The 6’2” 200 lbs. force that is Blanding should mesh well with the crafty Tenuta.
London knows he needs to put up a recruiting wall around not only the 757 region, but the entire state. If he’s to build a championship level team in Charlottesville, he needs all of the top players in-state to stay in-state. No longer can the Commonwealth be raided by schools in the SEC, ACC and Big Ten. There’s a ton of talent in the “Old Dominion”, and London knows he needs every bit of it if he wants to win championships.
Getting a verbal commitment from Blanding goes a long way to achieving that.
Rick Stavig is a National Recruiting Columnist for RantSports.com. In addition to covering College Football, he also covers the NFL and NFL Draft. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.