VirginiaSports.com Summer Notebook
July 7, 2014
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Most of the UVa football team’s first-year class has yet to enroll at the University, where the final session of summer school doesn’t start until July 14. But the Cavaliers’ veterans have been in town for more than a month, training under the direction of Ryan Tedford, who oversees the strength and conditioning program for football.
Tedford, who came to Virginia as an assistant in the summer of 2011, moved into a leading role in February when Evan Marcus left to become the Minnesota Vikings’ strength and conditioning coach. Tedford’s full-time assistants are Everrett Gathron and Steven Cuccia.
Marcus and Tedford have had some of the same mentors, most notably Rock Gullickson, who’s now the St. Louis Rams’ strength and conditioning coach.
“We’re not starting from scratch at all,” Tedford said. “We’re just picking up where [Marcus] left off. It was a smooth transition that way. It’s not like I came in and had a completely different philosophy from him. The kids kind of understood what we were doing, what direction we were going.
“There are some small differences. I try to incorporate a little more single-leg stuff, and we have run a little bit more this summer than we have in years past. But that’s as much to do with who we’re playing this year as anything else.”
Under NCAA rules, a player can take part in eight hours of supervised training per week while in summer school. For the first time, however, players are allowed this summer to spend up to two of those hours studying videotape with coaches.
“So now, depending on how much time [the coaches] take,” Tedford said, “I get six to seven hours [with the players] a week.”
For eight years, Tedford was head strength and conditioning coach for 16 sports, including football, at Kent State. He then spent five years in Texas running the strength and conditioning program at McKinney North High near Dallas.
Asked about his evolution as a strength coach, Tedford said, “I’m a little more patient than I used to be. You would like for things to always be black and white, but they’re not always not black and white, and so you have to evaluate each situation and understand that.
“I’ll just put it this way: When I went to that high school, I learned a great deal more patience, working with younger athletes.”
At Kent State, Tedford said, he thought college freshmen knew nothing about training. “And then I go to a high school and have to work with high school freshmen,” he said, smiling.
“It’s not that they weren’t trying, they just didn’t know. And you kind of sometimes have to put on the brakes a little bit, slow down, teach it first, and then go from there. So I’ve developed a lot more patience than I used to have. So in that aspect I teach a little more than I used to, instead of expecting them to know. Because each kid comes with a different background to the weight room.”
The Cavaliers finished 2-10 in 2013, but “even when things weren’t going very well [on the field], we had no issues in the weight room with effort or intensity or anything else,” Tedford said. “It was business as usual.”
His goal this offseason, Tedford said, is to inspire players “to work for somebody else. Don’t do it just for yourself, because then that individualizes everything, and in football you have to be as a unit. You’re going to succeed and you’re going to fail as a unit, and so I’m trying to get those guys to buy into being more of a close-knit group. Don’t just be in your own little bubble. Your energy can be transferred to somebody else, and your effort can be transferred to somebody else.”
UVa opens Aug. 30 at Scott Stadium against UCLA, which is expected to begin the season ranked in the top 10.
Harris “is not overly vocal, but when it’s time to go, he goes. And so he’s a definite leader by example,” Tedford said. “Henry’s a very vocal leader, and when Henry works, Henry really works, and he tries to bring [others] along with him. He’s done a really good job.”
BASEBALL: During the recent NCAA tournament, all of Virginia’s games were shown on one ESPN platform or another, and his program benefited tremendously from that exposure, head coach Brian O’Connor said last week.
Still, O’Connor said, that the Cavaliers’ season didn’t end until June 25 presents challenges, too. For most college teams, the season ended in late May or early June.
“One of the negatives of playing that late is you feel like you’re playing catch-up [in recruiting],” O’Connor said. “You feel like you’re four weeks behind most of the college baseball programs in evaluating players, getting players to your campus, getting commitments and things like that.
“Now, I’m sure there’s 300 college baseball coaches that would trade the position that we’re in, [and] as we get an opportunity over the next couple weeks to evaluate more players, get more players here to campus, we’ll catch up, and that’s just part of it. Hopefully it makes it easier to get those players because of where you were playing.”
The Wahoos’ 11th season under O’Connor ended with a one-run loss to Vanderbilt in the third game of the best-of-three College World Series Finals in Omaha, Neb.
During O’Connor’s tenure, the `Hoos have won 514 games and made 11 trips to the NCAA tournament. They’ve advanced to the College World Series three times (2009, ’11, ’14). That success has opened doors in recruiting that were closed to O’Connor and assistants Kevin McMullan and Karl Kuhn when they arrived in Charlottesville after the 2003 season.
“We’re dealing with high school players now that grew up Virginia baseball fans,” O’Connor said. “Let me tell you, that makes a huge difference in the recruiting process, that not only did they grow up wanting to play baseball in this program – maybe they came to a game at this stadium or they saw a game on television–but also they want to get their degree from here.”
Over the years, O’Connor said, UVa’s recruiting philosophy has changed little.
“I would say our footprint has expanded a little bit,” he said. “We’re not ever going to be a program that recruits nationally, but we certainly do have the capability, if there’s the right fit and it’s the right connection, to grab a player out of Texas, like Brandon Waddell. We have three incoming first-years this fall from the state of Florida. Maybe 10 years ago that wasn’t possible, but it is possible now, and it certainly makes a difference.”
MORE BASEBALL: While his classmates Mike Papi, Derek Fisher, Branden Cogswell, Brandon Downes and Nate Irving are pursuing professional careers, third baseman Kenny Towns will be back at UVa for his fourth year in 2014-15, and that’s great news for O’Connor’s program.
Towns, after a slow start, finished this season with a .278 batting average and repeatedly delivered in the clutch during the NCAA tournament. A graduate of Lake Braddock High in Northern Virginia, Towns has started 110 games during his college career.
“Kenny’s a terrific leader,” O”Connor said. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed player. He’s done a lot of great things in this program. It gives Kenny Towns an opportunity to really leave his legacy here, and that is from being a great leader, doing things the right way, being a great example to those young players, and he has an opportunity to pass it on to this incoming first-year class: How do you play, what is Virginia baseball about, and what do you need to do to have success?”
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Head coach Joanne Boyle’s fourth team at UVa will be a young one. The Cavaliers’ 2014-15 roster includes only four upperclassmen: juniors Faith Randolph and Jaryn Garner and seniors Sarah Imovbioh and Sarah Beth Barnette. (Imovbioh, the team’s leading rebounder last season, sat out 2011-12 and is expected to be eligible to compete as a fifth-year senior in 2015-16.)
New to Boyle’s program are four freshmen, three of whom signed letters of intent in November. The fourth, Jae’Lisa Allen, joined the class this spring.
A 6-2 post player from Pine Bluff, Ark., Allen averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots for White Hall High last season.
Allen, who also played volleyball in high school, provides much-needed size for a UVa team that has no players taller than 6-2.
MEN’S LACROSSE: Coming off a season in which it won only 47.2 percent (203 of 430) of its faceoffs, UVa returns almost everyone who took draws in 2014, including Mick Parks (157-307), Nate Menninger (29-69) and Jeff Kratky (13-42).
They may get some competition from Jason Murphy, a transfer from Ohio State who has four years of eligibility remaining.
Murphy, whose brother, Justin, is Princeton’s No. 1 faceoff specialist, played in the nationally known program at Landon School in Bethesda, Md. The younger Murphy suffered a serious knee injury during his senior year at Landon, UVa coach Dom Starsia said, and did not play at Ohio State in 2013-14.
Academics were the primary reason Murphy, who also wrestled at Landon, transferred to Virginia, but Starsia is eager to see what Murphy can do at the faceoff-X.
“The kid’s really put together,” Starsia said. “Seems like a nice kid, so we’ll certainly give him a shot to make the team. If he’s capable at all, you can always use a kid committed to facing off.”
Justin Murphy, also a Landon graduate, is a rising senior at Princeton, where he won 106 of 192 faceoffs (55.2 percent) last season.
Another newcomer of sorts in Starsia’s program this fall will be midfielder Will McNamara, who enrolled at the University in the summer of 2012 but has yet to play for the `Hoos.
A graduate of Haverford School near Philadelphia, McNamara was a heralded recruit whom Inside Lacrosse ranked No. 3 in his class. But a hip injury kept him from playing as a freshman, and then he withdrew from UVa for personal reasons in 2013-14.
McNamara will return the University this summer, “and I’m hopeful that the lacrosse piece of it will work out,” Starsia said.
In high school, McNamara “could do a little bit of everything,” Starsia said. “People at Haverford say he’s the best long-stick middie they’ve ever had. I’ve only seen him play with a short stick. There’s a chance that he could help us at a position where we could use some help.”
“That’s a position where we could actually wind up pretty good if we wind up in one piece,” Starsia said, “because you got Falk there also, I think.”
The Cavaliers’ incoming recruits include Jack Falk, a Landon graduate whose high school career was marred by back problems.
Starsia has seen other players recover from similar injuries, including brothers Rob and Matt Emery, and hopes Falk can do the same.
“It’s kind of a growing-up injury, I think, and then in general guys get past it,” Starsia said. “I don’t think anybody here sees it as a debilitating injury. Now, whether he’ll be able to play full-out fall lacrosse, I don’t know, but we’re hopeful that he’ll be fine and may just be 100 percent before the year is out.”