National Signing Day 2011: Virginia Football Signs 2 More Top Recruits

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IFebruary 2, 2011

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 09:  Head coach Mike London of the Virginia Cavaliers against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Cavaliers may have lost plenty of football games in 2010, but they did not lose much on the recruiting trail this season.

Virginia, despite just one ACC win, finished national signing day with a top 25 recruiting class, the fourth best in the ACC behind Florida State, Clemson and North Carolina.

Coach Mike London's 2011 class already looked stellar heading into today, but the addition of star receiver Darius Jennings and athlete Dominique Terrell helped bolster one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory for the Virginia Cavaliers.

In total, Virginia has 26 commitments, 17 of which were from the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Headlining the class besides new additions Terrell and Jennings are cornerback Demetrious Nicholson, running back Clifton Richardson and defensive end Brandon Phelps.

All of these recruits have received high marks from Scout and Rivals and produced some impressive achievements on the gridiron this year in high school.  Most importantly, they will upgrade the overall talent level and hopefully bring a new energy and passion into the program.

This day has certainly been a pleasant one for Cavalier fans, even with the news that their most coveted recruit, Curtis Grant, will be heading to Ohio State. 

While picking up the No. 1 linebacker in the country would have helped, it does not diminish what Coach London has done.  He took a program in the cellar of one of the weakest BCS conferences and produced a stellar class.

He re-opened pipelines in the Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads area, a hotbed for talent.  He picked up two of the top five recruits in the state.

He brought back alumni and sponsored big recruiting weekends to get commitments to bring along others.

Most importantly, he made weary Cavalier fans believe again that their program can become a power in the ACC.  They stole the headlines from their arch-rival Virginia Tech for one day and made some noise nationally.

Still, winning the blue chippers is only part of the equation.

The scary reality must now set in: If Virginia wants to stay relevant they must do something with these recruiting gains.  After all, London's predecessor Al Groh was able to bring in some top-notch classes in the beginning only to see an opportunity squandered.

Despite the influx of young players, Virginia still has major issues entering the 2011 season on both sides of the ball and pressure to improve.  The fans cannot handle another losing season. 

Will these young athletes play sooner or later? 

London redshirted Parade All-American running back K.P. Parks, but he played true freshman Mike Rocco at quarterback despite a loaded depth chart.

When can Virginia fans expect to see these potential heroes?  That remains to be seen.

What is crystal clear is that, no matter who is playing, the Cavaliers must improve on defense. Virginia finished in the bottom three in the ACC rankings for total defense, scoring defense and rush defense. 

In six of Virginia's seven ACC losses, the defense gave up at least 33 points.


The switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 could be blamed for some of those problems but just how much can another year of experience help?

Virginia has an opportunity to ride this momentum into next fall, but that is when rankings and 40-yard dash times no longer matter.  The only number that matters then is the final score.  Something these fans know all too well.

The Cavaliers took a step in the right direction but can they stay on track?