Taquan Mizzell gave Virginia the centerpiece of its 2013 recruiting class by committing Tuesday to the Cavaliers, who now have another highly-recruited offensive component to build around.
Mizzell, a 5-foot-10, 183-pound senior running back at Bayside High in Virginia Beach, announced his decision to attend U.Va. in a news conference at the school. He's considered by most recruiting analysts to be one of the nation's top 30 running backs.
In addition to U.Va., his final decision came down to scholarship offers from West Virginia and North Carolina. He had nearly 20 offers overall. He'd long been considered a heavy lean to U.Va., which had cornerbacks coach and Kecoughtan High graduate Chip West head up his recruitment.
"My relationship with (U.Va.) coach (Mike) London made it a great fit for me, and there's the fact I know I can get a great education there," Mizzell said to the Daily Press. "I've known for a while I liked it there, but I just had to go through the process to make sure this is what I wanted."
MIzzell is U.Va.'s 18th commitment, and first running back pledge, for the '13 class. Feb. 6 is the first day recruits can sign a letter of intent.
Last season, he sprained his ankle in Bayside's third game and never fully recovered during the fall, but he still finished with 1,098 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. He took a big step forward in recruiting rankings with strong performances during the spring and summer at various elite camps and 7-on-7 competitions.
Rivals.com recruiting website rewarded him Monday by elevating him from 4-star status to coveted 5-star distinction. He's one of only four running backs in the class of '13 with a 5-star rating, and one of just 22 players total.
Rivals.com keeps public archives and rankings of recruiting classes on its website dating back to '02. In the past 10 years, U.Va. has had four 5-star signees, the most recent of which was offensive tackle Eugene Monroe in '05. If Mizzell signs in February, he'll be U.Va.'s fifth 5-star signee.
In '02, U.Va. signed three 5-star players - linebacker Ahmad Brooks, running back Michael Johnson from Heritage High and linebacker Kai Parham. Brooks signed again in '03 after going to Hargrave Military Academy.
Mizzell likely will be reunited with a few of us old high school teammates at U.Va.. Sophomore cornerback Demetrious Nicholson, sophomore linebacker Henry Coley and freshman wide receiver Anthony Cooper all went to Bayside.
Mizzell is slated to join a U.Va. backfield in the fall of '13 that should include Kevin Parks, Menchville High graduate Clifton Richardson, Khalek Shepherd and Kye Morgan. Parks, Richardson and Shepherd are all on schedule to be juniors in '13, while Morgan will be a redshirt freshman or sophomore, depending on if he plays this season.
"It's going to work out perfect for me," Mizzell said. "My first year, I'm still going to get the chance to play...once I get the playbook down, I'm going to get a chance to compete for that starting job even before the (other running backs) graduate. At U.Va., they don't play favorites. They play the best man. So, I'm going to get a pretty good shot."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun