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Aug. 30, 1999

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Cavaliers kick off their 110th season of play againstlong-time rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 4,in a renewal of the South’s most played rivalry. This is just the secondtime the Cavaliers have opened against North Carolina (1963) and only thethird September game (1963, 1997) between the two teams in more than acentury of match-ups.

The Cavaliers finished with a 9-3 overall record a year ago, including a6-2 mark in the ACC which was good enough for third place. They moved up to23rd in the first weekly Associated Press poll this week and are ranked24th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Tar Heels compiled a 7-5 marka year ago and tied for fourth in the ACC with a 5-3 league record.

This is the 104th meeting of one of the most hotly contested rivalries inthe history of college football. North Carolina holds a 54-45-4 all-timelead in the series, one that has been dominated by the home team throughoutthis decade. The home team has won the last eight meetings, with UVa’s24-10 win in Chapel Hill in 1990 standing as the last time the visitingteam won.

Virginia at North Carolina
Sept. 4, 1999 Noon (ABC)
Kenan Stadium
Chapel Hill, N.C.

1999 Virginia Schedule/Results/Statistical Leaders

Date  Opponent           Time    Score  Att.  AP/USA  Rushing  Passing  Receiving  Tackles9/4   at North Carolina1 Noon                 23/249/11  at Clemson1        3:30 pm9/18  Wake Forest2       7:00 pm9/25  at Brigham Young2  9:00 pm10/2  Virginia Tech2     6:00 pm10/9  Duke               TBA10/16 at N.C. State      TBA10/30 Florida State3     7:00 pm11/6  Georgia Tech       TBA11/13 Buffalo            1:00 pm11/20 at Maryland        TBAAll times Eastern1-ABC regional telecast, 2-ESPN2, 3-ESPN

Television: The game is being televised regionally by ABC. Tim Brant callsthe play by play, while Dean Blevins is the color analyst.

Radio: All UVa games are heard on the Virginia Sports Network originatingat WINA/WQMZ in Charlottesville. Mac McDonald calls the play by play. FrankQuayle, the 1968 ACC Football Player of the Year, provides the colorcommentary, while former UVa signal caller Mike Groh provides sidelineanalysis and conducts the postgame interviews.

Cavaliers Kick Off Another Campaign
Virginia is 72-28-9 all-time in season openers. The Cavaliers had lostthree of four openers prior to last season’s 19-0 win at Auburn in theopener.

The Cavaliers haven’t won back-to-back openers since 1992-93 (both winsover Maryland).

Under head coach George Welsh the Cavaliers are 9-8 in season openers.This year’s opener marks the 10th time in head coach George Welsh’s 18years at Virginia that the Cavaliers have opened away from home.

This is only the 24th time in school history the Cavaliers have not openedthe season in Charlottesville, but is the second year in a row and theseventh time this decade the Cavaliers have done so. Their record when theseason opener is away is 5-13-2 and at neutral site openers the record is1-2.

Virginia in First Road Game
Saturday’s game against North Carolina is Virginia’s first road game of theseason.

Over the years, the Cavaliers have not had much success in their first roadgame of the season, compiling a 37-66-4 (.364) record.

The Cavaliers won last season’s first road game 19-0 at Auburn (also theseason opener), but overall have lost three of the last five road openers.

UVa Opens Season on Road
This is the sixth time in school history the Cavaliers open with twostraight road games (1957, ’70, ’77, ’87, ’94). Next week Virginia travelssouth again to face Clemson.

The last two times the Cavaliers played the first two games on the road,they earned bowl invitations.This is the 16th time that Virginia has opened with an ACC game and theeighth time on the road. The Cavaliers are 4-11 when opening with aconference game, including a 1-6 record when the game is on the road.Virginia is 16-29 (.356) overall in ACC road openers.

First Time in 30 Years
Virginia’s schedule this season marks the 13th time in ACC history that ateam has opened a season with two ACC road games. It was a rather commonoccurrence in the league prior to 1970 (12 times), but this is the firsttime since 1969 (North Carolina) that this has happened.

This game is just the second time the Cavaliers have opened against NorthCarolina. The first time was an 11-7 Tar Heel win in Chapel Hill on Sept.21, 1963.

The Series vs. the Tar Heels
North Carolina holds a 54-45-4 advantage in the all-time series that datesback more than a century to 1892.

Before Virginia head coach George Welsh arrived in Charlottesville, theCavaliers had lost 12 of their last 13 games to North Carolina (1969-81).Since Welsh took over at UVa, the Cavaliers have compiled an 11-5-1 recordagainst the Tar Heels. Virginia has won nine of the last 12 meetings.

The Cavaliers have faced the Tar Heels more times (103 games) than anyother school (next is VMI, 81 games vs. UVa). Virginia has an all-timerecord of 8-27-3 against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. The Cavaliers havelost the last three games in Chapel Hill (1992, ’95, ’97) and have not wonthere since 1990.

Virginia won last season’s meeting 30-13 in Charlottesville and looks towin back-to-back meetings for the first time since 1993-94 (both inCharlottesville).

The series between these two long-time rivals has taken a decidedlyhome-team flavor during the 1990s. The home team has won the last eightmeetings with Virginia’s 24-10 win in Chapel Hill in 1990 standing as thelast win by the road team. (North Carolina hasn’t won in Charlottesvillesince 1981.)

Last season, the Tar Heels’ only touchdown against Virginia came on aninterception return. Curiously, North Carolina has scored touchdowns oninterception returns in the last three games with UVa.

The rivalry started with a 30-18 Virginia win on October 22, 1892, and hasgrown to be the most played series in the South. The two teams have playedeach other every year they have fielded a football team since 1910.
*Neither school had a football team in 1917-18 due to World War I.

This is the 104th Meeting
The game is the 104th meeting in the long history of the Virginia-NorthCarolina series. This rivalry is the fifth longest in Division I-A history.It became the seventh series in NCAA I-A history to reach 100 meetings withthe 1995 game.

The two schools have met every season since 1919 and there have been onlyfour seasons since 1900 when they didn’t meet (1906, 1909 and 1917-18, whenfootball was postponed at both schools due to World War I).

A listing of the longest series is below.

Who                     Games '99 Game First GameMinnesota/Wisconsin     108   Oct. 9   1890Missouri/Kansas         107   Oct. 23  1891Nebraska/Kansas         105   Oct. 30  1892Texas/Texas A&M         105   Nov. 26  1894Virginia/North Carolina 104*  Sept. 4  1892Miami (OH)/Cincinnati   103   Oct. 30  1894Texas Christian/Baylor  103   DNP      1899* includes 1999 meeting

Rivalry Sports Rare September Flair
The rivalry between Virginia and North Carolina is one of the nation’soldest and most played (103 previous meetings). For many years, the clashbetween two of the South’s oldest programs was held on Thanksgiving Day.But for the second time in the last three years, the teams are meeting inSeptember.

The Tar Heels have won both previous September meetings, including an 11-7win in the season opener on Sept. 21, 1963, in Chapel Hill. (UNC prevailed48-20 two years ago.)

A breakdown of the series by month is below.

Month     Games  Last GameSeptember  2     1997October   11     1995November  86     1996December   4     1961

Rankings Mark Recent Games
This season’s game against North Carolina marks the eighth consecutive gamein the series in which one team has been ranked in The Associated Presspoll at game time. Virginia has been ranked in seven of the last eightmeetings, while North Carolina has been ranked four times.

Since the first AP poll in 1936, at least one team has been ranked 23 timesentering the game.

A look at the previous 22 games in the series when one or both teams wereranked is below.

Year   UVa Rank   UNC Rank   Result1937*     -          19      UNC, 40-01939*     -          16      UNC, 19-01945*     20         -       UNC, 27-181946      -          11      UNC, 49-141947*     -          10      UNC, 40-71948      -           4      UNC, 34-121949*     -          19      UNC, 14-71958      -          15      UNC, 42-01972*     -          18      UNC, 23-31977      -          19      UNC, 35-141980*     -          15      UNC, 26-31981      -          13      UNC, 17-141983      -          19      UVa, 17-141984*     19         -       tie, 24-241990*      9         -       UVa, 24-101992*     17         -       UNC, 27-71993      21         12      UVa, 17-101994      25         15      UVa, 34-101995*      9         -       UNC, 22-171996      24          6      UVa, 20-171997*     -           5      UNC, 48-201998      21         -       UVa, 30-131999*     23         -       TBD* played in Chapel Hill

Tar Heels Limit UVa Rushing Game
The top-two rushers (Tiki Barber and Terry Kirby) in school history haveplayed in the 1990s so it stands to reason that Virginia has done aconsistently good job of rushing the ball, particularly in ACC games. Butone team has throttled the Cavalier ground game throughout the decade- North Carolina.

UVa has had a 100-yard rusher in each of the last two meetings (AntwoineWomack in 1997 and Thomas Jones last season). Jones’ 180 yards in lastseason’s game are the most by a Cavalier against North Carolina since BillDudley romped for 215 yards in his classic 1941 performance in Chapel Hill.

Womack and Jones efforts the last two seasons mark the first time Virginiahas had back-to-back 100-yard rushers vs. UNC since 1988-89. Virginia hasnever had a 100-yard rusher vs. the Tar Heels in three consecutive games.

ACC Media See Cavaliers Third
Virginia was selected to finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference thisseason by media representatives attending the annual ACC Football Kickoffat the Grandover Resort and Conference Center in Greensboro, N.C., on July19-20.

The media pickers exhibited good selection skills last season as they feltthe Cavaliers would finish third and they did.

The predicted conference standings for 1999 look like this (first-placevotes in parenthesis):

1. Florida State (84)  7802. Georgia Tech  (3)   6883. VIRGINIA            5654. North Carolina      5165. N.C. State          4826. Clemson             3027. Duke                2138. Wake Forest         1979. Maryland            171

Projected National and Conference Finish
Several publications have made their predictions about the upcoming seasonand most see the Cavaliers finishing in the first division of the AtlanticCoast Conference standings again this season. The general opinion among themedia pickers is a third place finish in the league for the Cavaliers in1999 (behind Florida State and Georgia Tech according to most).

Virginia finished third in the conference last season with a 6-2 leaguemark. The Cavaliers haven’t finished lower than fourth in the league since1986 when they tied for sixth.

Publication                       ACC  National rankStreet & Smith's                   3   16Athlon                             3   19Preview Sports                     3   21CNN/                         3   28College & Pro Football Newsweekly  3   NAJim Feist's College Football       3   NALindy's                            4   29The Sporting News                  4   41Game Plan                          4   NRSagarin Ratings                    NA  13Football News                      NA  23

Replacing 10 Starters in 1999
Head coach George Welsh and his staff will have to replace a total of 10starters (four offense, six defense) this season. The Cavaliers areexpected to return 37 lettermen in 1999, while losing 20.

On offense, the most notable void comes at quarterback with the loss oftwo-year starter Aaron Brooks. Brooks’ favorite target in 1998, TerrenceWilkins, is also gone. Two linemen also must be replaced-guard Fady Chamounand tackle Robert Hunt.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cavaliers will be hard hit in thesecondary, having to replace safeties Adrian Burnim and All-AmericanAnthony Poindexter.

Replacements must also be found for two other All-Americans-defensive endPatrick Kerney and middle linebacker Wali Rainer.

Defensive tackle Antonio Dingle, a three-year starter, and linebacker DonnyGreen, a two-year starter, must also be replaced.

Thweatt Named to Butkus Award List
Linebacker Byron Thweatt is among 65 players named to the initial list ofcandidates for the 1999 Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’soutstanding linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando (Fla.).Thweatt was also named to the initial list a year ago.

The list will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on Oct. 21 and the threefinalists will be announced on Nov. 11. The winner of the Butkus Award willbe announced on Dec. 10.

Thweatt has been in on 196 tackles in his career, the third-highest totalafter two years in school history. Charles McDaniel, UVa’s second-leadingall-time tackler, had 239 after two seasons, while career leader JamieSharper had 217.

UVa to Rely on Rushing Offense
Led by Thomas Jones’ 1303 yards, Virginia featured one of the top rushingattacks in the nation in 1998. The Cavaliers ground out an ACC-leadingaverage of 213.1 yards rushing per game last season and ranked 15th in thenation in rushing offense.

A lot will be expected of the ground game again this season in an effort totake some of the pressure off quarterback Dan Ellis, particularly early inthe season.

Jones will run behind a battle-tested line that features three returningstarters and another player who started five games. Josh Lawson, who wasnamed first-team All-Freshman by The Sporting News last season, returns atleft tackle. Next to him is All-ACC guard Noel LaMontagne. John St. Clair,an All-ACC second-teamer in 1998, returns at center. Evan Routzahn, afive-game starter last season, moves in at right guard, while Brad Barnesis the leader at the right tackle slot.

Taking a Look at the Schedule
The Cavaliers’ 1999 schedule features six games against teams that playedin bowl games last season.

Virginia’s schedule includes two games against teams that won at least 10games last season (Florida State, Georgia Tech), and two against nine-gamewinners (Brigham Young, Virginia Tech).

Among the bowl teams on the Cavaliers’ 1999 slate are Brigham Young,Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech.Several of these teams are also listed among the nation’s top-25 squads inpreseason rankings.

UVa’s opponents this season had a combined 70-60 (.538) record last season.

Cavaliers Receive Preseason Recognition
Seven of Virginia’s 14 returning starters this season have receivednational or conference recognition this preseason by various publications.

Leading the way is All-ACC running back Thomas Jones. Jones, the ACC’sleading rusher a year ago, is among the top returnees in the nation and isa Doak Walker candidate as the nation’s top running back.

UVa’s honor candidates are listed below in alphabetical order.

Tight End Casey Crawford

* Honorable Mention All-American by Street & Smith’s
* #5 tight end in the nation by Lindy’s (only ACC tight end listed)
* Listed as top TE in nation by Mel Kiper
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Athlon
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Football News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Street & Smith’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Lindy’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Jim Feist’s College Football
* 2nd-Team All-ACC by The Sporting News

Defensive End Travis Griffith
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Street & Smith’s
* 2nd-Team All-ACC by The Sporting News

Defensive Back Antwan Harris
* #23 cornerback in the nation by Lindy’s
* 2nd-Team All-ACC by Lindy’s

Running Back Thomas Jones
* Doak Walker Award Candidate
* Football Writers Assn. All-America checklist
* 2nd-Team All-American by Football News
* #8 running back in the nation by Lindy’s
* #12 running back in the nation by The Sporting News
* Honorable Mention All-American by Street & Smith’s
* Listed among the ACC’s top-five offensive players by CNN/
* Listed as the sixth-best player in the ACC by Lindy’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Preview Sports
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Athlon
* 1st-Team All-ACC by The Sporting News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Football News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by College & Pro Football
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Street & Smith’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Lindy’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Jim Feist’s College Football

Guard Noel LaMontagne
* Football Writers Assn. All-America checklist
* #7 guard in the nation by The Sporting News
* #11 guard in the nation by Lindy’s
* 2nd-Team All-American by Football News
* 2nd-Team All-American by Athlon
* Honorable Mention All-American by Street & Smith’s
* Listed as the ACC’s “Secret Weapon” by CNN/
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Preview Sports
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Athlon
* 1st-Team All-ACC by The Sporting News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Football News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by College & Pro Football
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Street & Smith’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Lindy’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Jim Feist’s College Football

Center John St. Clair
* Football Writers Assn. All-America checklist
* #12 center in the nation by Lindy’s (only ACC center listed)
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Preview Sports
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Athlon
* 1st-Team All-ACC by The Sporting News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Football News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by College & Pro Football
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Street & Smith’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Lindy’s

Linebacker Byron Thweatt
* Listed among candidates for the Butkus Award
* Football Writers Assn. All-America checklist
* #5 outside linebacker in the nation by The Sporting News (only ACC OLB listed)
* #9 outside linebacker in the nation by Lindy’s (top ACC OLB listed)
* Honorable Mention All-American by Street & Smith’s
* Listed as the eighth-best player in the ACC by
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Preview Sports
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Athlon
* 1st-Team All-ACC by The Sporting News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Football News
* 1st-Team All-ACC by College & Pro Football
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Street & Smith’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Lindy’s
* 1st-Team All-ACC by Jim Feist’s College Football

Ellis Slated to Be Starting Signal-Caller
Despite seeing limited action during his first two years in the program,junior Dan Ellis is expected to be UVa’s starting quarterback this season.Coming into this season he has attempted just 39 passes and saw his mostextensive action two years ago as a true freshman when he attempted 33passes.

Starting a quarterback with so little experience is nothing new for coachGeorge Welsh. In fact, it has been a relatively common occurrence for himas UVa’s head coach.

Welsh has had two starting quarterbacks who had never attempted a passprior to their first start (Kevin Ferguson, Bobby Goodman) and three otherswith fewer than 10 attempts (Matt Blundin, Scott Secules, Symmion Willis).A list of past starters under Welsh, with the number of career pass attempts prior totheir first start, looks like this:

Player        Class Yr Opp.    Comp. Att. Int. Yards TD  Career Att.Wayne Schuchts Jr.  82 NCSU    10    23   0    156    1  49#Kevin Ferguson So.  84 Clem.    5    12   2     68    0   0Don Majkowski  So.  84 GaT      6    20   3    161    1  44Scott Secules  So.  85 UNC      8    14   1    106    2   8Shawn Moore    So.  88 W&M     13    22   1    167    2  18Matt Blundin   So.  89 Clem.   14    34   2    248    2   3Bobby Goodman  Jr.  91 Navy    11    18   2    119    0   0Symmion Willis So.  93 Md.     15    23   1    192    2   2Mike Groh      Jr.  94 Navy    26    35   1    257    3  48Tim Sherman    Sr.  96 C. Mich. 6    10   0    103    0  24Aaron Brooks   Jr.  97 Auburn  25    41   1    305    2  91Dan Ellis      Jr.  99 UNC               TBD                          # Schuchts transferred to UVa after playing two years at Colgate. 
His attempts are UVa only.
Other notables from the past:                              Gary Cuozzo    So.  60 NCSU    10    24   2    106    1  25Bob Davis      So.  64 WFU     14    27   2    250    0   0Gene Arnette   Jr.  67 Army    14    25   3    164    0   0Mike Cubbage   So.  69 UNC     10    19   0    141    0  42Scott Gardner  Fr.  72 Clem.    3    12   2     62    0  19

Cavaliers Extend ACC Record Streak
The Cavaliers finished 9-3 last season and extended their ACC record streakto 12 consecutive seasons with at least seven wins. Virginia is the onlyteam in ACC history to compile more than eight consecutive seasons of 7+wins. The 1998 season also marked Virginia’s 12th consecutive winningseason, the longest current streak by an ACC team. (Florida State is notincluded as the 1998 season was the Seminoles seventh in the ACC).

The Cavaliers join Florida State, Michigan and Nebraska as the only teamsin the nation to win at least seven games every season since 1987.

Welsh Seventh Among Active Wins Leaders
Head coach George Welsh, tabbed last season by The Sporting News as thenation’s best coach, enters this season ranked seventh in wins among activeDivision I-A coaches.

Welsh has won 176 games in a 26-year career at Navy (1973-81) and Virginia(1982-present). He is tied for 31st in NCAA Division I-A history in winswith Frank Kush, Don James and Ralph “Shug” Jordan.

His overall career record is 176-121-4 (.591).

The dean of ACC coaches, Welsh is the only coach in league history to winat least 100 games. He has a 121-75-3 record in 17 seasons at Virginia. His

75 wins in ACC games is also a record.A look at the winningest active coaches is below.

1. Joe Paterno    Penn State   (34 years) 308-80-3  (.792)2. Bobby Bowden   Fla. State   (34)       293-85-4  (.772)3. LaVell Edwards BYU          (28)       243-91-3  (.726)4. Lou Holtz      So. Carolina (28)       216-95-7  (.690)4. Don Nehlen     West Va.     (29)       191-116-8 (.619)5. John Cooper    Ohio State   (23)       178-75-6  (.699)6. George Welsh   UVa          (27)       176-121-4 (.591)

Thweatt Primed to Top Century Mark
As the most experienced returnee among a rather young group of linebackers,junior Byron Thweatt will be expected to help spearhead the defense thisseason.

A preseason All-ACC selection by many publications, Thweatt has been secondon the team in tackles in his first two seasons. He was in on 97 tackles asa freshman in 1997 and in on 99 last season.

A remarkably steady player, Thweatt has started all 23 games in his career.He had five games of 10+ tackles a year ago, including a career-high of 13stops three different times.

He will long be remembered for his 53-yard interception for a touchdownagainst Virginia Tech last season to start the Cavaliers on theirrecord-setting come-from-behind victory.

Thweatt has been in on 196 tackles in his career, the third-highest totalafter two years in school history. Charles McDaniel, UVa’s second-leadingall-time tackler, had 239 after two seasons, while career leader JamieSharper had 217.

Griffith Leads Sack Attack
Senior co-captain Travis Griffith returns for his third year as a starterat defensive end in 1999. After playing in the shadow of NFL first rounddraft pick Patrick Kerney the last two years, Griffith might shift to theright side to better utilize his pass rushing skills.

He is UVa’s leading returning sacker after recording three last season torun his career total to 11 (tied for 13th all time). Overall, Virginia’sreturning players combined for seven sacks last fall.

Despite missing three games with injury last season, Griffith recorded 40tackles, just three off his career high.

With 101 career tackles, Griffith joins Byron Thweatt as the only returningplayers with at least 100 tackles.

Coffey Returns to Provide the Big Play
Wide receiver was a big concern for the Cavaliers last season, but TerrenceWilkins blossomed into a clutch receiver.

Wilkins wasn’t the only receiver to come into his own last fall. KevinCoffey proved he could make the big catch as well. Witness his 61-yardtouchdown reception in the season opener at Auburn that proved to be thewinning score.

Coffey joined Wilkins as the only Cavaliers with more than 200 yardsreceiving last season. He caught 23 passes for 583 yards (25.4 avg.) and ateam-leading five touchdowns.

A possession-type receiver, Coffey showed a knack for getting a lot ofyards after making the catch. His 25.4-yards per catch average was topsamong ACC receivers with at least five receptions and is the UVa record forhighest average by a player with at least 20 receptions.

He had two receptions of more than 60 yards and only two of less than 10yards, while 21 of his 23 catches went for a first down or a touchdown.

Coffey finished the regular season with a flurry with 82 receiving yardsagainst North Carolina and five catches for 111 yards (both career highs)vs. Virginia Tech.

For his career, Coffey is averaging 23.2 yards per reception, the top markin school history.

Joining Coffey to bolster the receiving corps are returning lettermenDemetrius Dotson and Ahmad Hawkins, and James Johnson, who saw action lastseason as a true freshman. The quartet combined for 40 receptions for 850yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Red-shirt freshman Tavon Mason and true freshman Billy McMullen could alsosee some time at wide receiver.

Ellis is Eighth this Decade
Winning seasons and points on the scoreboard are constants for the Virginiaprogram in the 1990s. They are made all the more remarkable due to theseemingly annual change in the starting quarterback.

When Dan Ellis starts as expected at quarterback for Virginia against NorthCarolina on Sept. 4, he will be the eighth different quarterback thisdecade to start a season opener for the Cavaliers.

This will also be the fifth time in the last six years that Virginia hashad a different quarterback start the opener.

Virginia’s starting quarterbacks throughout the 1990s are listed below.

1990: Shawn Moore 11, Matt Blundin 1
1991: Blundin 10, Bobby Goodman 2
1992: Goodman 11
1993: Symmion Willis 12
1994: Mike Groh 8, Willis 4
1995: Groh 13
1996: Tim Sherman 12
1997: Aaron Brooks 11
1998: Brooks 12
1999: Dan Ellis (Jr.)

Virginia’s Secondary Unsettled
Of prime concern to defensive coordinator Rick Lantz coming into the 1999season is the shape of the secondary. At first glance it would seem thatthe Cavaliers are set as three very experienced players return-AntwanHarris, Tim Spruill and Dwayne Stukes. But Harris has never played morethan nine games in a regular season due to various injuries. Stukes’ 1998season was marred by injury and he was injured again during springpractice. An injury to any one of the three will compromise the depth inthe secondary.

The cornerbacks will come from the group of Harris, Spruill and Stukes.Harris could move to safety which would mean Spruill and Stukes would manthe corners.

If Harris moves to safety, he will likely be joined by red-shirt freshmanChris Williams. If not, red-shirt freshman Shernard Newby will likely be atsafety with Williams.

Spruill was solid in his first season on the field last fall, recording 57tackles and intercepting a pass in 11 regular season games (10 starts). Healso picked off a pass in the Peach Bowl vs. Georgia.

Stukes looks to return to his form of two years ago when he very quietlyput together an outstanding campaign with a career-high 54 tackles. Lastseason he was in on 21 stops and intercepted two passes.

Harris, primarily a cornerback during his first three years, is anoutstanding defender when healthy. He was in on 20 hits last season andintercepted two passes, while breaking up three others.

Both Newby and Williams will be seeing their first action this season.

Scott Booms School Record Five 60-Yard Punts
Unlike last season when the Virginia roster didn’t feature a single playerwho had ever kicked, punted or kicked off in a game, this year’s squad hasexperience in all three areas.

The punting will be handled by All-America candidate Donnie Scott. Scott,who endured a fierce battle for the job last year with Mike Abrams, wasoutstanding in his first year as the starting punter.

He averaged 42.6 yards per punt last season, with 16 over 50 yards(including five of 60+) and 23 inside the 20-yard line.

Scott finished third in the ACC in punting in 1998, but his ability tolimit returns enabled Virginia to rank second in the league in net punting.

Since Virginia started keeping track of punts inside the 20 in 1984, onlyWill Brice has had more in a season than Scott. Brice had 26 in 1995.S

cott’s five 60-yard punts is the school record for most in a season. RussHenderson (1978) and Brice (1994) had four in one season.

Jones Attains Ironman Status
Despite leading the ACC in rushing by nearly 400 yards and standing as thethird-leading returning rusher in the nation, Thomas Jones doesn’t get theattention he deserves.

He ran for 1303 yards last season, the eighth-highest total in ACC history,and tied the ACC record with two 200-yard games.

Going into his third year as the starting tailback, perhaps it’s importantto also note his durability. A testament to his offseason work ethic, Joneshas not missed a game in his career, while starting the last 23 games.

His streak of 23 consecutive starts is the longest by a UVa running backsince Terry Kirby got the nod in 30 consecutive games from 1990-92. (TikiBarber had a string of 21 consecutive starts.)

Defense Bolstered by Return of Two
Virginia defensive coordinator Rick Lantz welcomes back two players who didnot play last season-Johnny Shivers and Shannon Taylor.

Shivers, a starter at defensive tackle two years ago, provides added depthand experience along the line. He had a career-high 19 tackles and foursacks in 1996 as a sophomore.

Taylor has alternated between defensive end and linebacker during hiscareer, but is expected to play outside linebacker this season. He letteredat linebacker in 1996 as a red-shirt freshman and recorded 20 tackles. With23 career games under his belt, his experience will be beneficial.

Thweatt Lone Returning Starter at Linebacker
Butkus Award candidate Byron Thweatt is one of the top returninglinebackers in the nation and is Virginia’s lone returning starter at theposition.

Going into his third season as a starter, Thweatt will no doubt be expectedto provide leadership and experience to coach David Turner’s linebackingcorps. He has finished second on the team in tackles in each of his firsttwo seasons and was in 99 stops last season.

Joining Thweatt in the starting line-up are expected to be senior ShannonTaylor and junior Yubrenal Isabelle.

Taylor returns after sitting out last season for personal reasons. He wasrecruited as a quarterback, but moved to linebacker shortly after hisarrival in Charlottesville.

He has alternated between linebacker and defensive end during his career,lettering as a linebacker in 1996 and at defensive end in 1997. Taylorstarted his only game at linebacker three years ago against Virginia Tech.

A gifted athlete who excels at getting to the quarterback, he has been inon four sacks in his career.

Isabelle was an understudy behind All-ACC performer Wali Rainer the lasttwo years. He saw action in every game last season, making 23 tackles andbreaking up one pass. He didn’t see much action as a true freshman twoyears ago, but had a career-high eight tackles against Florida State thatseason.

The back-ups at linebacker are a relatively inexperienced group. JuniorEarl Sims is the most “experienced” with 12 career regular season games and11 tackles under his belt. Sophomore William Clark moved to linebacker fromwide receiver during the 1998 preseason and played in all 12 games lastseason with four tackles. Red-shirt freshmen Darnell Hollier and AntonioMayfield are also expected to see reserve duty this season.

Four of Five were Winners
New starting quarterback Dan Ellis looks to join some pretty good companywhen he goes up against North Carolina in the season opener. Four of thelast five UVa quarterbacks dating back to 1991 won their first career start.

Bobby Goodman (Navy, 1991), Symmion Willis (Maryland, 1993), Mike Groh(Navy, 1994) and Tim Sherman (Central Michigan, 1996) all won theirstarting debuts, with Willis and Groh winning on the road. Aaron Brooks isthe only UVa quarterback this decade to lose his first start-Auburn 1997.

Overall, quarterbacks have done remarkably well for Virginia in their firststart under head coach George Welsh. Ellis is the 12th different player tostart at quarterback under Welsh and the first-time starters have compileda 6-4-1 record.

In addition to those mentioned above, other UVa starters include WayneSchuchts (N.C. State, 1982), Kevin Ferguson (Clemson, 1984), Don Majkowski(Georgia Tech, 1984), Scott Secules (North Carolina, 1985), Shawn Moore(William & Mary, 1988) and Matt Blundin (Clemson, 1989). Secules and Moorewon, Majkowski tied and Schuchts, Ferguson and Blundin lost their firststart.

Braverman, Greene Handle Kicking Chores
For the second year in a row, the place-kicking duties this season look tobe handled by Todd Braverman and David Greene.

Braverman was UVa’s kicker for field goals and extra points last season,while Greene was the kick-off man.

Braverman, a left-footed junior, had an up-and-down season last fall. Hemade 12 field goals and 38 extra points to finish second on the team with74 points.

He made eight of his first nine field goal attempts in the first half ofthe season, but connected on just four of his last 12 tries, including twomisses in the Peach Bowl.

Braverman seems to have put last season’s performance behind him. He madetwo field goals in the spring game and connected on two field goals in eachpreseason scrimmage without a miss.

Greene could ultimately win the kick-scoring responsibilities, but he willcertainly do the kicking off. Last season in his first action, he did allthe kicking off. In 59 kickoffs he had 14 touchbacks, while typicallyplacing the ball deep.

He started slowly, but got stronger as the season wore on. In the last fourregular season games, he kicked off 22 times and had nine touchbacks. Thiscontrasts to the first seven games when he kicked off 37 times and had justfive touchbacks.

Greene made one field goal in the spring game and had a field goal in eachof the two preseason scrimmages.

Virginia by the Numbers

1 – UVa head coach George Welsh is the winningest coach in ACC history. Theonly coach in league history to win 100 games, he has a 121-75-3 record atVirginia. Welsh has also won 75 ACC games, the most in league history.

2 – Only two active Division I-A players rushed for more yards than ThomasJones’ 1303 yards last season. Jones, who led the ACC in rushing by a widemargin, finished 11th in the nation in rushing last season. Only TexasTech’s Ricky Williams (1582 yards) and Travis Prentice from Miami of Ohio(1787 yards) ran for more yards than Jones among this season’s returningplayers.

3 – Thomas Jones earned his undergraduate degree in psychology in just threeyears. He received his degree in May of 1999.

6 – Expected first-time starters for Virginia against North Carolina. This isthe most since 1997 when 11 players made their first start against Auburnin the opener. Last season’s squad had five first-time starters in theseason opener.

7 – UVa head coach George Welsh is seventh among active Division I-A coachesin wins. He has won 176 games in a 27-year career at Navy (1973-81) andVirginia (1982-present).

12 – Consecutive seasons with at least seven wins by UVa, the longest streakin ACC history. UVa is one of only four Division I-A programs (Fla. State,Michigan, Nebraska) to post at least seven wins in each of the last 12seasons. It is also tied for the eighth-longest current streak of winningseasons in the nation.

28 – Receptions by Thomas Jones last season led all ACC running backs.

39 – Starting quarterback Dan Ellis has attempted 39 passes (completed 19) ineight games in two years at Virginia. He has thrown for 282 yards, with twointerceptions and one touchdown.

1190 – Thomas Jones needs 1190 yards rushing this season to break TikiBarber’s UVa career rushing record. Barber rushed for 3389 yards, whileJones has 2200 career rushing yards.

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