Virginia Football Signing Day
Feb. 6, 2002
How did other ACC schools do on Signing Day?
|Georgia Tech||Wake Forest|
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
Al Groh’s first season as football coach at Virginia ended with a 5-7 record and mixed reviews, but the former New York Jets coach is obviously doing a good job persuading high school players to be part of a Cavaliers turnaround.
Groh and his staff on Wednesday pulled off one of the biggest surprises of National Signing Day, getting commitments from 26 blue-chip prospects, and wooing enough highly sought players to rate among the best classes in the country.
“If you want to have fast guys, recruit fast guys. If you want to have big guys, recruit big guys. If you want to have winners on your team, recruit guys who know what it takes to win,” Groh said, adding this class possesses all three.
The Cavaliers’ list includes four Parade All-Americans – linebackers Ahmad Brooks of Woodbridge, Va., and Kai Parham of Virginia Beach, running back Michael Johnson of Newport News, Va., and defensive end Kwakou Robinson of New York.
It is a list that caught the attention of national recruiting analysts, who were surprised to see Virginia in the top 10 with Texas and other powers.
“Virginia stands out as the most pleasant surprise of the year,” said Allen Wallace of SuperPrep Magazine. Wallace called Monday, when Brooks and Parham committed to Virginia, “the best recruiting day you could ever expect to have.”
Brooks, 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds, was USA Today’s national defensive player of the year. He picked Virginia over Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Florida State.
Parham, 6-3, 233, picked the Cavaliers over Tennessee.
Groh, a former linebackers coach and defensive coordinator in the NFL, said the announcements for Virginia on the same day by Brooks and Parham set off a celebration “that looked like Mardi Gras in the corridor” of the football office.
“We had a picture in our mind of what type of player we want to have on the team and we decided to go for it with those guys,” he said of the two linebackers, who were among the last to say they would be joining the Cavaliers’ program.
“I think when you go after that type of player, there’s a great value in being able to say, ‘Look, you’re our guy. We’re not recruiting four or five guys for the position. You have what we want and we’re going to hold out for it,”‘ he said.
Anthony Martinez, a second-team all-state quarterback in Virginia, was among the early players to say he would attend Virginia, and Groh said the early shows of confidence in the Cavaliers program was a help in selling later recruits.
“Other players could see what was happening here,” he said.
Franklin rushed for 3,400 yards and scored 43 touchdowns, leading St. Peter Chanel to an Ohio state title.
“Certainly it’s a very exciting day. We brought some significant talent onto this team,” Groh said, comparing the list to a good pick in the NFL draft.
“When we picked a player off the draft board that we really wanted, we knew that we had made our team better at that moment. We couldn’t wait to start coaching them, and I think that’s the attitude of the staff right now,” he said.
The following is a list of individuals who have signed letters-of-intent on Wednesday (Feb. 6) to attend the University of Virginia on football grants-in-aid.
|Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Hometown (High School/Prep School)|
|Robert Armstrong||DE||6-3||286||Alexandria, Va. (Washington-Lee)|
|D.J. Bell||OL/DL||6-4||285||Camden, Del. (Caesar Rodney)|
|Darryl Blackstock||LB||6-4||224||Newport News, Va. (Fork Union Military Acad.)|
|Ahmad Brooks||LB||6-4||242||Woodbridge, Va. (C.D. Hylton)|
|Brad Butler||OL||6-8||268||Lynchburg, Va. (E.C. Glass)|
|Braden Campbell||DE||6-5||255||Slippery Rock, Pa. (Slippery Rock)|
|Keenan Carter||NT||6-1||299||Dumfries, Va. (Potomac Senior)|
|Ron Darden||OL||6-4||315||Pasadena, Md. (Glen Burnie)|
|Willie Davis||S||6-2||182||Wilmington, N.C. (Laney)|
|Lance Evans||S||6-4||201||Voorhees, N.J. (Eastern)|
|D’Brickashaw Ferguson||OL||6-4||265||Freeport, N.Y. (Freeport)|
|Tony Franklin||RB||5-11||177||Cleveland, Ohio (St. Peter Chanel)|
|Tom Hagan||P||6-2||175||Roanoke, Va. (Cave Spring)|
|Marcus Hamilton||CB||6-0||177||Centreville, Va. (Centreville)|
|Robert Jenkins||OL||6-4||280||Bronx, N.Y. (Nassau C.C.)|
|Michael Johnson||RB||5-10||187||Newport News, Va. (Heritage)|
|Wali Lundy||RB||6-1||204||Willingboro, N.J. (Holy Cross)|
|Anthony Martinez||QB||6-3||217||Montpelier, Va. (Patrick Henry)|
|Ron Morton||WR||6-1||178||Hamilton, N.J. (Hamilton West)|
|Stefan Orange||CB||6-2||181||Culpeper, Va. (Culpeper)|
|Kai Parham||LB||6-3||233||Virginia Beach, Va. (Princess Anne)|
|Kwakou Robinson||DE||6-4||303||Brooklyn, N.Y. (Poly Prep)|
|Jason Snelling||FB||6-1||221||Chester, Va. (L.C. Bird)|
|Damian Spradlin||OL||6-3||284||Montvale, Va. (Liberty)|
|Brett Tobin||OL||6-6||272||Green Bay, Wisc. (Pulaski)|
|Kenneth Tynes||RB||6-0||186||Clifton, Va. (Centreville)|