By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Some college football coaches, most notably Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe, are famously averse to playing true freshmen.
UVa’s Al Groh never has been in that camp. During his first eight seasons as coach at his alma mater, Groh played an average of about 7 true freshmen per year.
Some years he’s played more – 14 in 2002, for example, and 11 in ’05 – and some years fewer. Defensive lineman Nate Collins was the only true freshman to play for the ‘Hoos in 2006, and the total was five in ’07 and again in ’08.
In this, Groh’s ninth season at UVa, he’s likely to hit his average this year when it comes to playing newcomers. Don’t be shocked if he exceeds it.
At the recent ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., Groh confirmed that he plans to use Will Hill this season, and the freshman defensive end from Williamsburg won’t be alone from his class.
Hill enrolled at UVa in January after graduating early from Lafayette High, and he went through spring practice, so he’s more integrated into the program than his fellow true freshmen. But Groh considers several of them too talented to keep on the sideline this fall.
Training camp starts Friday for the Cavaliers. The season opener is Sept. 5 against William and Mary at Scott Stadium. Here are some of the candidates to play as true freshmen (in alphabetical order, with heights and weights from the media guide):
*OT Oday Aboushi (6-6, 305) – Played for the United States this summer in the International Federation of American Football’s first junior world championship … Has the size and skill to compete for a spot on the second-team line.
*DE Will Hill (6-4, 250) – Has impressed Virginia’s coaches with his work ethic and sense of purpose … Light for a 3-4 end but figures to provide depth at a position where UVa has little.
*WR Quintin Hunter (6-1, 185) – Played wideout as a sophomore at Orange County High before switching to quarterback later in his career … Tremendous athlete who also starred at defensive back and in basketball.
*PK Drew Jarrett (6-0, 185) – Finished his career at Virginia Beach’s Cox High with 29 field goals, the most in South Hampton Roads history … Booted 12 field goals as a senior, including a 54-yarder.
*DB Perry Jones (5-8, 185) – Pound for pound and inch for inch, might have been the state’s top player at Chesapeake’s Oscar Smith High last year … Whether the secondary will be his permanent home isn’t clear, but he may earn playing time on special teams this fall.
*DE Justin Renfrow (6-6, 270) – From the Philadelphia high school, Penn Charter, that produced UVa basketball players Sean Singletary and Sammy Zeglinski … Has the size to work into the mix in the 3-4 this season.
*WR Tim Smith (6-0, 175) – Put up incredible numbers last season for Group AAA, Division 6 state champion Oscar Smith, catching 73 passes for 1,681 yards and 24 touchdowns … Also returned five kicks for TDs and is likely to play on special teams as well as at wideout this season.
*DE Brent Urban (6-7, 280) – Has the size to get on the field as a freshman, but comes to UVa from Ontario and will need time to adjust to the speed of the U.S. game … Superior athlete who also played hockey and basketball in Canada.
INTO THE FIRE
True freshmen who have played for U.Va. during Al Groh’s tenure as football coach: