After seeing his football team's recent triumphs in recruiting, Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage knows that's just one important step in a rebuilding process, but making the giant leap required of his program to reach a championship level requires more.
In his estimation, the championship formula requires key components on the field, including playmakers, consistent line play on both sides of the ball, a little luck in terms of staying healthy and minimizing mistakes. So, from his vantage point, what's missing from a talent standpoint at U.Va.?
There has to be some semblance of reliability from the man under center — something U.Va. still is seeking.
"You have to get quality and consistent play at the quarterback position," said Littlepage, a former men's basketball coach at Penn and Rutgers, and assistant coach at U.Va., Villanova and Yale.
"Quality play takes more than a few recruiting classes to be successful on a consistent basis. Recruiting success in certain positions or holes in the roster is equally important as talent on an ongoing basis. How injuries impact your roster is another factor."
Sophomore Greyson Lambert is next on deck to try to restore some confidence in U.Va.'s quarterback position. It's been a while since the position has been anywhere near on track for U.Va., which comes into the season having lost nine consecutive games under former starting quarterback and Hampton High graduate David Watford (completed 57.1 percent of his passes last season for 2,202 yards, eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions).
Since Matt Schaub completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 2,952 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2003, U.Va. has had primary starting quarterbacks in six of the next 10 seasons throw for as many or more interceptions as touchdowns.
With the introduction of a new indoor practice facility last year, U.Va. has put itself on the cutting edge in terms of football facilities needed to compete on a championship level. Now, the talent base needs to catch up.
"We continue to review and evaluate what it takes to be successful in all of our athletic programs," said Littlepage, who was an associate AD at U.Va. in 1995 when the Cavaliers last earned a share of the ACC football championship with Florida State under former coach George Welsh. "Facilities are certainly one component. ... There are other factors we look at that demonstrate the commitment to the development of our players' overall athletic abilities, well-being and that support their educational goals."
Wood can be reached by phone at 757-247-4642.