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Nov. 21, 2005

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – – Virginia head baseball coach Brian O’Connor has announced the signing of nine players in the early signing period for the 2007 season. O’Connor and assistant coaches Kevin McMullan and Karl Kuhn have put together a recruiting class which will be rated as one of the top classes in the country.

The 2006 class consists of eight high school players and one junior college transfer from six different states including three players from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Four of the signees are ranked in Baseball America’s Top 200 national rankings including one ranked in the top 100.

“I am very excited about our recruiting class,” O’Connor said. “We filled our needs with talented players who are outstanding student-athletes that will contribute a great deal to the future of University of Virginia Baseball. It is always crucial to recruit high-level athletes who are the right fit for UVa. We have been fortunate to attract talented players in our two previous recruiting classes and it’s critical to attract another top-notch class for the future of our program. I am confident that we succeeded in this goal.”

Virginia signed five pitchers, two infielders and one outfielder and one utility player, who plays all three positions.

Virginia’s 2006 recruiting includes Infielder/catcher Tyler Cannon (Sevierville, Tenn.), LHP Neal Davis (Baltimore, Md.), RHP Brian Gray (Winchester, Va.), infielder Corey Hunt (Charlottesville, Va.), OF/1B/LHP Ryan Kalish (Shrewsbury, N.J.), LHP Jeff Lorick (Duluth, Ga.), RHP Drew Miller (Ada, Okla,), LHP Matt Packer (Germantown, Tenn.) and outfielder Mark Riffee (Vienna, Va.).Kalish headlines the class. He is rated as the No. 76 prospect in the country and the No. 2 player in the state of New Jersey by Baseball America. Davis ranks in the top 125 while Gray and Lorick are also listed in Baseball America’s top 300.

The last two Cavalier baseball recruiting classes have been ranked in the nation’s best including a No. 8 ranking for the 2005 class and No. 32 ranking for the 2004 class.

A Complete List of Signees Follows:

Tyler Cannon – 6-0 – 175 – IF/C – R/R – Sevierville, Tenn. – Pigeon Forge HS
Cannon is a four-year letterman for Pigeon Forge High School having started his varsity career as an eighth grader. He is a four-time all-district selection (2002-05) and was named district MVP in 2004 and 2005. He is a two-time Tennessee Baseball Coach’s Association All-State selection and was named the Region Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005. Cannon played two summers with the Tennessee Ravens, an all-star squad based out of Nashville, helping the team win back-to-back CABA World Series championships in the 14 – and later 15-under age groups. He was named World Series MVP in 2003 and won the Mr. Hustle Award. As a junior at Pigeon Forge, he hit .462 with six home runs, 36 RBI and 25 stole bases. He posted a 12-0 record on the mound with an 0.84 ERA in leading Pigeon Forge to the Class AA state championship game. He was named the District 2-AA Tournament MVP in 2004 and the Region 1-AA Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005.
Cannon on Virginia: “Choosing the University of Virginia offers me an opportunity to attain outstanding academics while pursuing baseball championships.”

Neal Davis – 6-5 – 195 – LHP – L/L – Baltimore, Md. – Catonsville HS
National Ranking: 104

Davis is considered one of the top pitching prospects on the east coast as he is rated the No. 104 high school prospect by Baseball America. He is projected to be the No. 1 prospect in the state of Maryland after having a good showing this past summer at the East Coast Professional Showcase. He was named first-team All-Baltimore County by the Baltimore Sun and second team All-Metro. Davis was also a 2005 state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman in Maryland. He was named the 2005 Catonsville Times Athlete of the Year having lettered three years in baseball, basketball and two years in cross-country for Catonsville HS.
Davis on Virginia: “I chose Virginia because it gave me the opportunity to play in a premiere conference and get a quality education.”

Brian Gray – 6-7 – 185 – RHP – R/R – Winchester, Va. – Sherando HS
National Ranking: 136

Gray is ranked No. 136 by Baseball America. He posted a 3-0 record with a 1.54 ERA and 40 strikeouts as he helped Sherando advance to the semifinals of the state playoffs. He also hit .300. Gray played summer league ball with American Legion Post 21 and helped the team to the Virginia state championship in 2004 and the semifinals in regional competition. He also plays for the Maryland Orioles during the fall. Gray is a member of the national honor society and holds a 3.826 GPA.
Gray on Virginia: “I decided to attend the University of Virginia because of the terrific balance between the education and baseball programs.”

Corey Hunt – 6-0 – 165 – IF – S/R – Charlottesville, Va. – Monticello HS

Hunt is a three-year letterman at Monticello High School. He batted .431 as a junior at Monticello and earned Jefferson District Player of the Year honors. Hunt was named first-team all-district, first team All-Central Virginia, first team All-Region and first team All-State. He has played the last three summers for American Legion Post 74 while serving as a team captain as a sophomore and junior.
Hunt on Virginia: “I chose the University of Virginia for their nationally ranked education and the opportunity to play Division I baseball in the ACC.”

Ryan Kalish- 6-1 – 200 – OF/1B/LHP – L/L – Shrewsbury, N.J. – Red Bank Catholic HS
National Ranking: 76 State Ranking: 1

Kalish is ranked No. 76 by Baseball America. He’s four-year starter for Red Bank Catholic having led the team in hitting the past three seasons. He owns a .466 career batting average having produced 100 hits in his first three seasons for the Red Bank Catholic. On the mound, Kalish has recorded 190 career strikeouts. He led the conference in stolen bases. Kalish has garnered all-parochial, all-conference and all-division team honors in baseball. He is a three-sport athlete (baseball, football, basketball) and has led Red Bank Catholic to its first division championship since 1989 as the starting quarterback. As a sophomore, he hit .507 and drove in 21 runs and posted a 6-1 record with a 1.60 ERA.
Kalish on Virginia: “I selected the University of Virginia because I like the coaches, the players and the atmosphere that surrounds the program. I also feel that this program has the potential to go to Omaha and that excites me tremendously.”

Jeff Lorick- 6-1 – 185 – LHP – L/L – Duluth, Ga. – Chattahoochee HS
National Ranking: 199

Lorick ranks in Baseball America’s top 200 high school prospects. He helped lead Chattahoochee to a No. 23 national ranking in the 2005 USA Today High School Baseball Poll. Lorick is a four-year letterman for Chattahoochee. He set singe-season records for wins in going 11-3 with a 2.30 ERA on the mound and producing 16 doubles at the plate. Lorick struck out 85 batters in 71 innings as a junior in helping lead the Cougars to the state championship. He was named pitcher of the year as a sophomore and freshman and was selected to Team Georgia and all-area in 2005. He needs only three wins this season to set the career record for wins at Chattahoochee. Lorick played summer ball for the well-know East Cobb Astros program where his teams won the AAU, CABA, NABF and Super 7 Series championships.
Lorick on Virginia: “The University of Virginia was an easy choice for me because it was the perfect combination of outstanding academics, super school spirit, tradition others would die for, and I get to play baseball there. UVa Baseball is one of the top programs in one of the top conferences in the country. You can’t beat that.”

Drew Miller- 6-3 – 190 – RHP – R/R – Ada, Okla. – Seminole State College

Miller played at Seminole State College last season where he posted a 3-4 record. He recorded 43 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched. He was drafted in the 37th round by the San Diego Padres in 2005. Miller prepped at Latta High School in Oklahoma and helped the team to three state championships. He recorded a 49-4 career record at Latta. He was named all-state and was selected to the Sunbelt Series as a junior and senior.
Miller on Virginia: “I chose Virginia because Virginia gives me the best opportunity in baseball and life.”

Matt Packer- 6-0 – 180 – LHP – L/L – Germantown, Tenn. – Christian Brothers HS

Packer led Christian Brothers to the Division 2 Tennessee state championship and the West Tennessee All-Conference Division 2 as junior as the Purple Wave posted a 34-8 record. Packer went 8-3 for the Division 2 state champion Purple Wave last season. He was a two-time all-region and two-time all-state selection. He played on the 2005 Tennessee Junior Sunbelt championship team.
Packer on Virginia: “I want to attend UVA because it gives me the rare opportunity to excel in both athletics and academics and very few schools offer both.”

Mark Riffee- 6-1 – 175 – OF – L/L – Vienna, Va. – Madison HS

Riffee is a three-year starter in the outfield for the James Madison Warhawks. He earned first team All-Liberty district honors after hitting .425 with 18 RBI, 20 runs scored seven doubles and 1.000 fielding percentage as a junior. He also 15 stole bases and picked up a 0.70 ERA on the mound. Riffee played for the North Team in the Virginia Commonwealth games where he went 6-for-11 at the plate. He was selected to play on Team Virginia at tbe Impact Games and earned Impact Games All-star honors. He was named first team All-CABA 18U World Series Team in Miami during the summer.
Riffee on Virginia: “I am extremely excited to become a member of the outstanding baseball program at the University of Virginia. The opportunity to learn from and play for Coaches (Brian) O’Connor, (Kevin) McMullan) and (Karl) Kuhn made my decision to attend UVa an easy choice. I look forward to the challenge of playing in such a prestigious program and I plan to stay humble and work hard, on field and in the classroom, during my time as a Cavalier baseball player.”

O’Connor on the 2006 Recruiting Class:

“This recruiting year we needed to address a variety of areas.”First of all, we needed a group of talented pitchers who have the ability to compete early in their careers. Neal Davis is one of top pitching prospects on the east coast. I believe he has the ability to develop into a dominant pitcher in the ACC. Jeff Lorick and Matt Packer both have a great feel for pitching and come from excellent high school baseball programs where they have proven to possess the ability to compete at a high level. With two years of college pitching experience at one of the top junior colleges in the country, Drew Miller could make an immediate impact. He is an athletic pitcher with a great arm. With additional strength and development, at 6-7, Brian Gray will be an exciting one to watch in a Cavalier uniform.”

“Secondly, it was our goal to sign two high caliber infielders. The two players we signed (Tyler Cannon and Corey Hunt) are both great athletes who have the ability to play anywhere on the field if needed. Tyler Cannon, the son of a coach, has a great understanding of how the game is played and will make immediate contributions to the success of our program. The local product, Corey Hunt, is a high-energy player with good defensive skills and with added strength will be an exciting offensive player.”

“We also needed to add a corner outfielder that could come to UVa and develop into an offensive player. Mark Riffee has had a lot of success in a very good high school baseball program and will have the opportunity to develop into a very good college hitter.”

“Finally, we needed to sign a versatile athlete that could make an impact in the ACC. Ryan Kalish was our #1 choice and I am glad he is a Cavalier. Ryan has the athletic ability to play outfield, first base, and pitch in our program. He is a competitive athlete who loves challenges and has all the physical qualities to be a difference maker.”

“Our success rate in landing the players we really wanted was amazing. For our program to receive early commitments from these top players is a real credit to the excellent education offered at UVa and the commitment our athletic administration has made to compete at the highest level of college baseball. Also, the efforts of our assistant coaches and current players during the recruiting process made the difference in landing this talented class. When a young man visits the University of Virginia and witnesses the commitment to excellence, enthusiasm of our coaching staff, and how excited our players are to be at UVa, I believe it makes a huge impact on their decision.”

“One of the biggest challenges in college baseball recruiting is dealing with the Major League Baseball Draft. I feel a number of our recruits have a chance to be draft picks in June. I believe all of these players are committed to earning a UVa degree, the college experience, and Cavalier Baseball.”

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