Mendenhall ‘really excited’ about UVA signing class, which had two late surprise additions
CHARLOTTESVILLE - Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff had the bulk of the 20 recruits who signed on the first day of the early signing period locked down months in advance, but even he couldn’t hide a grin Wednesday afternoon when he met with the media after the Cavaliers received a couple of pleasant surprises.
“We’re really pleased with our efforts and the results of this class. A nation of progress with resources is now combining to produce a stronger result,” Mendenhall said. “So, I’m encouraged and excited and think momentum has been generated for our program, for our team and for all the parties around the program.”
Virginia flipped two recruits, wide receiver Nathaniel Beal and cornerback Tenyeh Dixon, late in the process.
Dixon, one of the top cornerbacks in Washington D.C, was originally committed to Temple. After an official visit to U.Va. over the weekend, Dixon announced Monday on his Twitter page that he was re-opening his recruitment.
Mendenhall said Dixon called on Sunday to offer his verbal commitment.
“As our needs shifted slightly, that became a real strong possibility, and on the visit, I felt really good that we had a great chance,” Mendenhall said.
Dixon was the third true cornerback to join the class, following Florida’s Major Williams and South Carolina’s Fentrell Cypress, and he was the fifth defensive back to join.
Beal — a 6-foot-5, 200-pound wide receiver from Houston, Texas — originally gave his verbal commitment to Iowa State. He made up his mind about a week ago to switch and join the Cavaliers, but he kept the decision private until Wednesday.
“Nathaniel, in particular, has really nice size. We call players with that size always open,” Mendenhall said. “We wanted more size on the outside. We wanted more productivity, and we needed more consistency. So Nathaniel, that was a really nice addition to this class, and we’re really excited about him.”
The Cavaliers also made a late pitch to Louisiana wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks (6-3, 195). He signed Wednesday after helping Plaquemine High School win district titles as a junior and a senior.
Earlier in the day, verbally committed wide receiver Dorien Goddard signed his National Letter of Intent. As a junior, the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Tennessee native racked up 1,012 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns and helped Greeneville High School win a state title. As a senior, he put up 1,046 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
“We love winners and we love state champions,” Mendenhall said. “Dorien, man, the number of catches alone is really impactful and really impressive. He was one of our earliest commits at receiver, and we really like his production.”
Mendenhall said the plan all along was to be aggressive and land some playmakers in the passing game.
“We wanted size. We wanted speed, and, again, we wanted players that are always open,” Mendenhall said. “We need more yield from our outside receivers, so we targeted that specifically and I like the three players that we landed.”
The Cavaliers lost one member of their 2019 class on Wednesday. Emil Bo Anderson, a defensive tackle from Denmark, was removed from U.Va.’s list of committed players at the last second and reports of admissions issues immediately began circulating.
Anderson is undergoing an NCAA Clearinghouse issue, which could be grade related or simply an issue of credits not transferring properly. The issue could be resolved by the traditional signing day on Feb. 6 or it may require Anderson to take a postgraduate year.
It’s safe to say Mendenhall is content with the direction his 2019 recruiting class is going.
“We could stop now and I’m comfortable and confident and happy with our class and really excited about the direction and future of our program,” Mendenhall said.