Virginia ranked 98th nationally last season in sacks, among the reasons the Cavaliers fired their defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. The program’s most recent commitment for the 2014 recruiting class might well improve that tepid pass rush.
Andrew Brown, rated the nation’s top defensive tackle by Rivals.com, pledged Saturday afternoon to Virginia during an ESPN online chat. A 6-foot-3, 298-pound rising senior at Chesapeake’s Oscar Smith High, Brown chose the Cavaliers over Virginia Tech, Alabama, Clemson and Florida State.
Brown’s relationship with head coach Mike London was pivotal.
“My heart already told me when I went up there (to campus unofficially),” Brown said at his ESPN announcement. “I felt like I could trust Coach London.”
Brown is Virginia’s ninth commitment, the second Rivals five-star from Hampton Roads, joining Bayside defensive back Quin Blanding. He made his decision without taking any official campus visits.
“I'm just ready to end the process,” Brown told Rivals prior to his announcement. “I don't really have time to be getting stressed out, especially when I know in my heart where I want to go.”
Brown also is weary of chatter about outsiders steering him to Virginia.
“Everybody talks about how I'm being influenced by people around here to go to Virginia. I'm really getting tired of that,” he told Rivals. “It's my decision, it's my life and I'm going where I where I want to go because I feel comfortable there. …
“I feel like I can really trust Mike London and his decision making. I think that that if all of the top recruits in Virginia and the 757 went there, we could turn that program around.”
The Cavaliers endured their second 4-8 season in London’s three years in 2012, prompting a staff overhaul that included the departures of defensive coordinator Jim Reid and defensive line coach Jeff Hanson. London hired veteran coordinator Jon Tenuta, a Virginia graduate, to replace Reid and moved linebackers coach Vincent Brown to the defensive line.
Brown is Virginia's second recent commitment, joining tight end Evan Butts of Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pa. He chose the Cavaliers over the likes of Boston College, Pitt, South Florida, Army and Navy, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Brown transferred to Oscar Smith from Southeastern District rival Indian River prior to his junior season. He bruised a knee during the season and didn’t start a November playoff victory over Bayside, but when his backup was injured, Brown strapped on a brace and played.
Oscar Smith is a haven for major college prospects. Jaylen Bradshaw, a 2014 receiver, has committed to Virginia Tech, where former teammate J.C. Coleman is a running back; ex-Tigers Tim Smith and Zack Jones are receivers at Virginia. Jones’ brother, Perry, was a productive running back for the Cavaliers.
Commitments are not binding until February's national signing period.
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