As one of the top players in the entire 2014 recruiting class, safety prospect Quin Blanding had a chance to go almost anywhere in the country. In the end, he decided he wanted to play for Virginia.
Mark Giannotto of CavsJournal first reported the news of the announcement:
Blanding is a 5-star safety according to virtually every recruiting publication. According to 247Sports' composite rankings, he is the top safety and No. 5 overall prospect in the country.
These projections helped the Virginia Beach native accumulate dozens of college offers, including from most of the ACC, SEC and Big Ten.
Still, Blanding is more than just hype; he is the real deal. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, the safety has the size to match up with bigger receivers and tight ends. He also is big enough to provide plenty of help in the run game and should rack up close to triple-digit tackles each year.
In addition, the star of Bayside High School is excellent in pass coverage and has the speed to cover almost the entire field.
If that was not enough, Blanding has good enough hands to make him a legitimate receiving prospect if he wanted to play offense. Mike Farrell of Rivals.com tweeted this while watching him play last season:
Quin Blanding doing his Keenan Allen imitation on offense and defense. 16 yard TD catch and 8 tackles so far.— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) August 31, 2012
He will almost definitely play exclusively on defense at the next level, but his overall skill and athleticism to dominate both sides of the ball is quite impressive.
Like all high school players, he could stand to improve his strength before competing in college. However, it would not be surprising at all to see him on the field early on for the Cavs.
This type of impact player does not come around often, which makes this a major pickup for Virginia.