CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — Bronco Mendenhall makes no secret that Virginia will look much different in coming seasons, but on his first National Signing Day as the Cavaliers' coach, he lauded his predecessor's recruits as a "great starting place."
Mendenhall replaced Mike London after last season, and the school announced Wednesday that it has signed 24 players, including four who are already enrolled and will be eligible for spring practice.
Five of the 27 players that had committed to London changed their minds after the coaching change. Mendenhall said that while some wanted to follow departing coaches to their new schools, others didn't really fit in with what the Cavaliers want to do.
With that new style in mind, and while professing his admiration for incumbent starting quarterback Matt Johns, one of Mendenhall's priorities was finding a quarterback who better meets the coach's desire for a dual threat.
They hope they found that in 6-foot-2, 180-pound Devante Cross from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He's one of the top prospects in a class that also includes highly regarded wide receiver Hasise Dubois of Irvington, New Jersey, running back Tre Harbison of Shelby, North Carolina, and defensive back Jordan Mack of Lilburn, Georgia.
As a new coach in foreign territory, Mendenhall said he spent a lot of time visiting committed recruits with holdover wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, and that Hagans' continued presence on the staff was a huge factor in holding together much of what London and his staff had put together.
"It was kind of linking the past culture with the future direction," Mendenhall said.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: Tre Harbison, RB, Shelby, North Carolina. Ran for 5,770 yards and 100 touchdowns in a high school career that ended with back-to-back state championships and a 32-0 record his last two seasons.
Best of the rest: Hasise Dubois, WR, Irvington, New Jersey. A 6-3 receiver who caught 97 passes for 1,976 yards and 26 touchdowns during his high school career and had nine interceptions as a defensive back.
Late addition: Trysten Hill, DL, Lee, Florida.
One that got away: Laderrian Wilson, RB, Kissimmee, Florida (went to Maryland).
How they'll fit in: Mendenhall takes a unique approach to redshirting and wants his players to arrive looking to play right away, and he doesn't promise a redshirt year even if they never get in a game as a freshman. Instead, he wants them to "earn" a redshirt designation and fifth season after their eligibility is otherwise completed.
For the full list: http://www.virginiasports.com/sports/m-footbl/2016-signing-day.html