by Isaac Marr
When Charles Snowden walks into a room, the first thing that jumps out is his height. At 6-7, Snowden towers over many of his fellow players. It would be easy to mistake him for a member of the basketball team. In fact, Snowden starred at power forward for St. Albans, a boarding school in DC.
“I played football a little bit as a kid, but basketball was always my main sport,” Snowden said. “In high school I committed myself to basketball and then my junior year I made the switch to play football again but, up until the day I committed to Virginia, I was always a basketball-first guy.”
When asked about Snowden, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said, “I don’t know where the limit is with him, the size, the range, the speed but also the type of person, those type of people, they maximize their abilities. It’ll be fun to watch.”
The offer to attend Virginia was too great an opportunity to pass up, and Snowden has flourished in his first two years as a Cavalier. At a slim 205 pounds when he first stepped on Grounds, Snowden and the coaching staff knew he needed to put on some weight to make full use of his physical tools. After playing in 10 games at outside linebacker his first year, Snowden gained 20 pounds in the offseason, entering his sophomore as a 225-pound week one starter.
Speaking about how his basketball background affects his play on the field, Snowden said, “the instincts when playing pass coverage are really similar to playing man or zone defense in basketball.”
Snowden proved this with his play in 2018. In addition to finishing second on the team with 61 tackles, Snowden led all linebackers in the nation with nine pass breakups and 11 passes defended. The length, explosiveness and analytical defensive mind that allowed Snowden to be a successful power forward in high school have given him a unique advantage on the gridiron.
Virginia football’s resurgence under Mendenhall has been built on players like Snowden, lightly recruited but athletically exceptional and with the work ethic necessary to maximize his potential. Snowden has reaped the benefits of his efforts.
Snowden is just as passionate off the field as he is on it. His favorite football player is former UVA star Chris Long. Snowden has a similar desire to change the world. A government major, Snowden wants to work on Capitol Hill at the conclusion of his football career.
“I’m really interested in studying the history of laws and public policy and how that affects us today.” Snowden said.
On the rare days that Snowden does not have practice or training, he enjoys hanging out with his roommates, including junior linebacker Elliot Brown, sophomore wide receiver Darnell Pratt and Donovan Rolle. He is passionate about a host of other sports.
“Usually I’ll go to other Virginia sports like if the men’s or women’s soccer team is playing,” Snowden said. “I’ll go to volleyball games at Mem Gym.”
He is also an avid European soccer fan. Having spent a summer in the University’s overseas learning program in Valencia, Snowden roots for them along with English club, Manchester City. He also still enjoys watching basketball and has at least one significant hot take, saying emphatically that “LeBron James hands down is the best player of all time.”
Snowden’s eyes light up when he talks about sports and he is a passionate fan of many teams and players. Snowden’s eyes also light up when talking about his team and the fan response this year.
When asked about his best friends on the team, Snowden essentially names the entire roster.
“Coach Mendenhall really stresses it and we’re all such good friends that when we see each other succeed we get pretty happy,” Snowden said.
The team clearly has a very strong bond that is reinforced by the coaching staff and has been a major contribution to the team’s elevated play since 2017. The energy and excitement throughout the football team has rubbed off on the fans, with attendance numbers reaching levels not seen in several years.
“At the first home game, seeing all those people out there was really special and hearing people talk [about the team] just walking to classes it’s been a different feeling,” Snowden said. “The guys really feed off the crowd so when we see that many people behind us, it really means a lot.”
Snowden is an explosive athlete who thought he would play basketball in college before Mendenhall recruited him to play football at Virginia. The coaching staff, players and fans are all glad that he chose football because of both his fiery play on the field and his passion for the team. Snowden will continue to make a difference in his football career and in government afterwards. He embodies “The Standard” that has propelled this football team forward through his hard work and dedication to make the most of his incredible physical tools. UVA will continue to move up the ranks on the shoulders of players like Charles Snowden.