Groh confirms Hall's ineligibility
By Jay Jenkins / email@example.com | 978-7250
August 18, 2007
Virginia played in 2006 without linebacker Olu Hall on the field.
Apparently, it was a sign of things to come.
Virginia coach Al Groh confirmed Friday that Hall has been ruled ineligible for the upcoming season.
“We will not have Olu this fall,” Groh said Friday morning. “Olu is in positive academic standing with the university, but not with the NCAA.”
To remain eligible by NCAA standards, Hall needed to have completed 40 percent of the workload required to earn his degree, which is likely 53 credit hours, and needed to possess a grade point average that was 95 percent of what is required to graduate.
In past situations, it has mainly been university-issued suspensions that removed players from the program.
“That has certainly been the case with those few situations that we have had here,” Groh said.
Hall’s departure did not come from a lack of effort, his teammates said.
“Just being around him, he really tried his best to make everything work around here, but it was too much too fast for him,” said Antonio Appleby, who was Hall’s roommate when the pair were rookies.
“You kinda knew he was doing his best, but I guess he couldn’t make it happen.”
Hall, who entered the season with three years of eligibility remaining, was expected to play a key role in the Cavaliers’ nickel package this season. The 6-foot-3, 232-pounder had been working with the first team in that scheme during the first week of practice.
Groh admitted last week that he was hopeful that something “positive” would occur for Hall in football, the classroom and life.
“He has just been so easy to root for and he has put so much into this,” Groh said. “I think I said it this way last week, ‘We just want to see something positive happen for him.’
“Whatever plan we are able to put in place for Olu will be with that in mind. That is to see what we can do to give him a chance to really have some fun and get that degree that is so important to his future.”
Groh waited to announce the ruling on Hall, allowing the process to run it course. Virginia likely filed a “progress-toward-degree” waiver with the NCAA.
“I want to make sure we have looked into every possibility, but it would seem that it is going to be what it is,” Groh said.
Given the ruling and past history in similar circumstances, it would seem unlikely that Hall would return next season.
“I don’t know,” Groh said. “That is to be resolved here.”
After attending Hargrave Military Academy in 2004, Hall jumped into the playing rotation the following year at Virginia, but was credited with only one tackle, a stop against North Carolina.
Several players used Friday’s practice to train at new positions.
That contingent included safety Jamaal Jackson - the senior was dressed in a white jersey with the offensive players and ran routes at wide receiver.
Alex Field, a junior defensive end, also worked at tackle on the offensive line.
The move, Jackson said, was done in case of an emergency during the season.
With Jackson at wideout, Rico Bell and Brandon Woods worked at safety with the second-team defense. Dom Jopseph and Ras-I Dowling were in at the same time at cornerback.
A reason was not given, but running back Cedric Peerman was held out of Friday’s practice. That allowed extra opportunities for Andrew Pearman and Keith Payne to take extra snaps. Payne was clearly the standout, breaking what would have been a lengthy touchdown in one play.
… Redshirt freshman Staton Jobe and junior Maurice Covington opened the day with the first-team offense at wideout. The next unit included Chris Dalton and true freshman Dontrelle Inman, who clearly has been one of the standouts at the position throughout training camp. Junior wide receiver Cary Koch (knee) missed practice, but was seen walking around the field with a brace on his knee.
… The nasty thunderstorm that swept through Central Virginia knocked out the power at the Cavalier Inn, which serves as the team hotel. Never fear - the players did not oversleep. A wake-up call came to each room at
… Today’s practice, which starts at 8:35 a.m., will mark the final open practice opportunity for fans.
Cavaliers' new strength coach gets high marks
By ED MILLER, The Virginian-Pilot
© August 17, 2007
For someone who spent the spring putting Virginia's players through the toughest workouts of their lives, new strength coach Matt Balis is a popular guy.
Since camp opened, several players have commented on the difference Balis made. He came from the University of Florida to replace Evan Marcus, who returned to the NFL after four seasons at Virginia.
"He pushes us in ways I don't think a lot of the guys have been pushed before," said linebacker Clint Sintim, who said he's leaner, stronger and faster after working with Balis.
"Not too long ago we came out here and ran all these steps, up and down, all the way around," he said, gesturing toward the Scott Stadium stands. "That's something we've never done before."
Coach Al Groh said he met Balis on a trip to Florida last year. When Marcus left, Groh said he and the players were concerned that the strength program would stay on the same level.
"It would look as if we were able to accomplish the aspect of progressing to an even higher level," Groh said.
Unhappy with his play, safety demotes himself
In a move Groh said he'd never seen before, safety Nate Lyles demoted himself from the first team last week. Lyles continues to work with the first unit, but he took off the orange jersey that signifies a defensive starter.
"He said he made a couple of mental errors Friday that, if you're going to be an elite player, you don't make," Groh said Sunday. "When he thought his game warranted it, he would put his orange jersey back on."
As of Thursday, that hadn't happened. Lyles and Byron Glaspy are the returning starters at safety, but senior Jamaal Jackson has earned a spot in the rotation, and sophomore Brandon Woods has had a good camp. Woods intercepted two passes Saturday and returned another interception for a touchdown Wednesday.
"He's finding the ball and he's making some plays back there," Groh said.
Groh still awaiting summer school grades
Groh has a blank spot in his desk where summer school grades should be.
Recent history suggests that the eligibility of a player or two could depend on their summer school grades. Last year, fullback Kevin Bradley and linebacker Olu Hall were late academic casualties.
U.Va. to play Richmond in '08, '10, '12 and '14
Virginia will play its first Division I-AA opponent since 2001 next year when it hosts Richmond. The Cavaliers and Spiders will also meet in 2010, 2012 and 2014, with all games at Scott Stadium.
The Cavaliers are 1 of 4 ACC teams that will not play a I-AA foe this year; Duke, Florida State and Miami are the others. Games against I-AA teams have become attractive, particularly because a win counts toward bowl eligibility.
Olu Hall sidelined by academics again at U.Va.
By ED MILLER, The Virginian-Pilot
© August 17, 2007 | Last updated 7:17 PM Aug. 17
For the second straight year, Virginia linebacker Olu Hall's season is over before it started.
Hall's career could be as well.
Virginia coach Al Groh said Friday that Hall, a sophomore who was the state's top recruit in 2004, is academically ineligible for this season. Hall missed 2006 for the same reason.
"Olu is in positive academic standing with the university but not with the NCAA," Groh said in a teleconference.
Asked if Hall's career is over, Groh said:
"That's to be resolved."
Hall, 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, has played only 94 snaps since signing with Virginia out of Fairfax's Robinson High in February 2004. He failed to qualify academically and played the 2004 season at Hargrave Military Academy.
Hall enrolled at Virginia and played in eight games as a true freshman. He was declared academically ineligible during pre-season practice last year.
Hall was considered to be a pass-rushing specialist who could thrive as an outside linebacker in Virginia's 3-4 defensive scheme.
"He's just been so easy to root for," Groh said. "He's put so much into this. You just want to see something positive happen for him. Whatever plan we're able to put in place for Olu will be with that in mind."
Heralded lineman eager to finally make impact for U. Va.
SuperPrep scouting service rated Eugene Monroe the top prospect in the nation in 2005.
By ED MILLER, The Virginian-Pilot
© August 18, 2007
Offensive linemen don't usually get the kind of attention Eugene Monroe did coming out of Plainfield High in New Jersey in 2005. Monroe was not only widely regarded as the top offensive line prospect in the nation, he also was considered by one scouting service, SuperPrep, to be the top player at any position.
Another service, collegefootballnews.com, rated him the nation's No. 2 player, while rivals.com pegged him No. 3.
Virginia fans were understandably thrilled when the Cavaliers landed the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Monroe. The expectation was that he would step in for All-American D'Brickashaw Ferguson, making for a seamless transition at the important left tackle position.
It hasn't worked out that way. Injuries and a slower-than-expected transition to the college game have prevented Monroe from living up to his recruiting hype. He lost his starting job to Zak Stair last year, before regaining it at the end of the season.
Monroe showed flashes of his considerable potential over the final three games, and was named the team's most improved player after spring practice. Now a junior, he says he understands people are expecting a lot from him this season.
Monroe's expecting a lot from himself.
"I think it's time for me now to really play to my potential," he said. "Coming in here hearing that I was a good player in high school means nothing. Now that I'm in my third year with two years left to play, it's time for me to really get at it."
Monroe backed up Ferguson as a freshman and also played right guard. Ferguson was selected No. 4 overall in the 2006 NFL draft, at about the same time Monroe dislocated a kneecap in spring practice.
Monroe had surgery and was cleared for preseason practice last August, but the knee didn't come around as quickly as he had hoped. Monroe's mobility was severely limited.
"I was hurt, and I played through it," he said.
With four new starters, Virginia's offensive line struggled early in the season. Stair replaced Monroe at left tackle after the third game. It took Monroe seven weeks to win back his job.
Monroe started the final two games and has been healthy through the spring and summer. Offensive line coach Dave Borberly said he's noticed a big difference in Monroe's play.
"I think what you saw from Eugene last year wasn't even close to what he is now," Borberly said. "He struggled through that whole season with that knee.
"Now, you see why he was ranked as the No. 1 high school lineman in the country. Sometimes those are just press clippings. But Eugene's got a lot of ability. He's strong, he can run, he's got excellent feet. I think you'll see a whole different guy this year."
It would be a welcome sight for the Cavs. After taking its lumps last year, the offensive line, with five starters back, is expected to be a team strength this season. Monroe anchors a left side that includes his training camp roommate, guard Branden Albert, a 6-7, 310-pound junior who was honorable mention All-ACC last year.
Albert arrived with Monroe in 2005, without the recruiting hype. He's developed into the team's best lineman, a player who is surprisingly mobile for his size. Albert, a team captain, said he's noticed a new swagger from his line mate.
"I've seen an air of confidence about him that I didn't see before," Albert said. "Confidence that he can block anybody."
Albert and Monroe stood by side by side in full pads last Sunday at Virginia's Meet the Team Day, the team's two largest players practically blotting out the sun. Looking over his shoulder at the pair, linebacker Clint Sintim was excited by the possibilities.
"Eugene and Branden are huge, huge individuals," Sintim said. "Big, athletic guys who can run and hit and have a mean streak to them."
"I'm glad I don't have to run into them too often. I'm glad they're on our team."
Olu Hall out of UVa. football
Friday, Aug 17, 2007 - 01:23 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Olu Hall's football career at the University of Virginia apparently is over.
The redshirt sophomore from Fairfax County has not satisfied the NCAA's eligibility requirements, U.Va. coach Al Groh said yesterday, even though Hall is "in positive academic standing with the university."
Hall, a 6-3, 232-pound outside linebacker who went through spring practice and the first part of training camp with the Cavaliers, recently left the team and isn't expected to return.
"I want to make sure we've looked into every possibility," Groh said, "but it would seem that it's going to be what it is."
When Hall was a senior at Robinson High, many recruiting analysts considered him to be the state's top college prospect. He signed with U.Va. in February 2004 but failed to meet NCAA eligibility standards.
After a postgraduate year at Hargrave Military Academy, Hall enrolled at Virginia in 2005. He played in eight games as a true freshman but had to sit out last season for academic reasons. He suffered personal tragedy when one of his brothers was killed after the 2006 season, but Hall fared well enough academically at U.Va. in the fall semester to be allowed to rejoin the team.
The loss of Hall, whose plans are uncertain, is probably a bigger blow to Groh than to the team.
"He's just been so easy to root for, he's put so much into this," Groh said. "You just wanted to see something positive happen for him. And so whatever plan that we're able to put in place for Olu will be with that in mind. We'll see what we can do to give him a chance to really have some fun and have some production and get that degree that's so important to his future."
-- Jeff White
Hall's career appears over
By Doug Doughty
Former top recruit Olu Hall likely will not play again for the Virginia football team because he is not eligible under NCAA standards, coach Al Groh said Friday.
Hall was rated the No. 1 prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times after the 2003 season but was plagued by academic difficulties even before his arrival at UVa.
Hall was not an NCAA qualifier coming out of Robinson High School in Fairfax and spent the 2004 season at Hargrave Military Academy.
An outside linebacker for the Cavaliers, Hall played in eight games for UVa in 2005 before sitting out last season in an effort to improve his academic status.
Reporters had asked about Hall's status several times this week, but Groh repeatedly said a final report had not reached his desk.
"You want to make sure to look into every possibility," Groh said of a possible appeal, "but it looks like it is what it is. We're going to see what we can do to put a plan in place for him to get his degree, which would be important to him.
"He's been so easy to root for because he's put so much into this."
If quarterback Jameel Sewell could start nine games last season with a wrist injury, how could the injury have been so severe that off-season surgery hasn't completely eased the Cavaliers' concerns?
Apparently, the injury was more serious than originally thought.
"In going through the repair, we also became aware of the significance of the damage and the tenuous situation for the future," Groh said. "As the saying goes, 'Ignorance is bliss.' "
It's almost a wonder that Sewell got through last season.
"That probably would be accurate," Groh said.
Groh was surprised when told Sewell had nearly as many rushing attempts per game last season as his predecessor, Marques Hagans, had in 2006.
Sewell ran 95 times in 10 games (9.5 per game), while Hagans, now a backup wide receiver and punt returner for the St. Louis Rams, had 115 in 12 games (9.58).
"In college ball, sacks count as a rushing attempt," Groh said, "so if we significantly stiffen the protection, that should cut down the number of carries off [Sewell's] ledger right there."
Sewell was sacked 30 times last season, but that's been a UVa trend in recent seasons. Hagans was sacked 33 times in 2005.
Summer school prevents most of UVa's signees from participating in the Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star game, but there's also the threat of injury, as the Cavaliers found out this summer.
A non-scholarship player who had caught UVa's eye was Matt Snyder, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound wide receiver who had 67 receptions last season for Group AAA Division 5 state semifinalist Deep Run in Richmond.
Snyder, a second-team All-Group AAA selection, broke his collarbone in the all-star game, which has postponed his arrival at Virginia as an invited walk-on.
Dwindling WR corps
Kris Burd, the Central Region offensive player of the year last season at Matoaca, has undergone surgery for a herniated disk and is expected to sit out as a redshirt this season.
That adds to a growing injury list at wide receiver that is headed by Kevin Ogletree, who tore an ACL shortly after the start of spring ball.
Ogletree, who had a team-high 52 receptions last year, has resumed running after reconstructive surgery in April and teammates say he hasn't given up on a return in 2007. Groh's sense is that Ogletree will take a redshirt year.
It's too early to know if Ogletree is ahead of schedule in his rehab, Groh said.
Groh said long snapper Danny Aiken from Roanoke "definitely" is going to play this season and that the other 2007 signee most likely to play this season is Dontrelle Inman, a 6-3, 185-pound wide receiver from Batesburg-Leesville, S.C.
"He feels he belongs at this level," Groh said of Inman. "A lot of kids, when they come in, they kind of size things up. They see that this league is a little fast for them right now. But he seems to have that confidence in himself. He's a natural catcher. He goes and gets it. He plays like the ball belongs to him."
Hall not alone among No. 1 flameouts
Tech recruit compared to Chancellor
By Doug Doughty
The temptation was to stay home from work this morning when “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” came on the American Movie Classics at 9:50 a.m.
However, there was an Al Groh teleconference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and it’s a good thing I didn’t blow that off.
Usually, a column idea materializes over the course of the day, but this one was ready-made.
At the end of the call, Groh confirmed that outside linebacker Olu Hall would not be with Virginia’s football team during the 2007 season or probably ever again.
Hall was eligible by Virginia standards but not by NCAA standards. At UVa, it’s usually the other way around.
Hall’s ineligibility, though not surprising, did raise at least one question at the SEC Roundtable, attended by an overflow crowd at Mike Flanary’s Cornerstone Grill on the Roanoke City Market.
Hall was rated the No. 1 prospect in Virginia by The Roanoke Times following the 2003 season. He spent the 2004 season at Hargrave, played at Virginia as a true freshman when he probably shouldn’t have in 2005, then sat out the 2006 season to concentrate on academics.
Where he goes next is anybody’s guess. Several of his ex-UVa teammates have surfaced at Division I-AA Liberty, but if Hall is ineligible at one NCAA program, you’d have to think that the same standards would apply at other NCAA classifications (but maybe they don’t).
Maybe Hall will resurface and, based on Groh’s comments about “rooting” for him, you’d have to believe he’s a good kid who deserves something good to happen to him. But the question is fairly obvious: Has there been a bigger bust among No. 1 recruits in recent years?
I tried to come up with a kinder word than “bust,” but that would only be a euphemism.
Up until five or six years ago, I had a folder containing all the old Roanoke Times Top 25 dating back to the mid-1970s; then, I took it to Annapolis when I accompanied my older son to a swim meet and I haven’t been able to find it since.
Since then, I’ve been able to retrieve Top 25s going back to 1997-98 and could back further than that if I needed to.
Here are the No. 1 players on The Roanoke Times’ final list for the past 10 years: 2006 – Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech); 2005 – Percy Harvin (Florida); 2004 – Macho Harris (Tech); 2003 – Olu Hall (UVa); 2002 – Xavier Adibi (Tech); 2001 – Ahmad Brooks (UVa); 2000 – Bryan Randall (Tech); 1999 – Brandon Royster (Stanford); 1998 – Daniel Davis (UNC); 1997 – Ronald Curry (UNC).
Of course, Taylor, a true freshman, hasn’t taken the field for Tech yet. Of his six predecessors, only Hall has not been an impact player.
But, if you go back to the players who made No. 1 in 1998 and 1999, Davis and Royster, you’ll find two other players who didn’t make much of a ripple at the college level.
Royster graduated from Stanford with a degree in mechanical engineering, but he was redshirted his first year, moved to wide receiver as a redshirt freshman but saw most of his playing time on special teams. According to the Stanford media guide, he received a letter in 2002 but accounted for only one tackle. There was no mention of any offensive statistics.
Davis actually was Carolina’s leading rusher as a true freshman, when he gained 303 yards, but he was dismissed from the team after the season. He enrolled at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, after which he signed with his second Division I-A team, Kansas State. After rushing for a total of 225 yards in 2002, he was arrested for fighting on the eve of the 2003.
Hall played in eight games as a true freshman at Virginia in 2005, assisting on one tackle in 94 plays. He had academic problems, Royster had injury problems and Davis had disciplinary reasons. Nobody really questioned whether the latter two should have been rated No. 1, but even Robinson coach Mark Bendorf urged restraint when talking about Hall.
"I think a lot of the recruiting interest in Olu is based on an upside," Bendorf said for a Christmas 2003 story. “He moves well. He's got good feet. He's a tall, lanky guy who has the potential to put on a lot of size. Do I think that he's going to be ready to play right off? I don't.”
Sometimes, it’s easy to look at the competition and see why a player was ranked No. 1. In 1999, the No. 2 prospect behind Royster was Raymond Mann, who was a journeyman defensive end at Virginia. They were followed by running back Chris Perry (Michigan), wide receiver Maurice Shanks (Maryland) and defensive back Chad Cooper (Tech).
Perry, who was from Winston-Salem, N.C., but played on the undergraduate team at Fork Union, clearly was the best of that bunch. Cooper was diagnosed with Gullain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disease that affects the body's nervous system, and never lived up to his buildup.
Hall was joined on the 2003 Top 5 by No. 2 Eddie Royal, No. 3 Chris Long and No. 4 Sean Glennon. Hall had a more impressive list of suitors, but, when it comes to college careers, it wasn’t even close. When you add No. 7 Branden Ore to Glennon and Royal, that’s three of Virginia Tech’s primary offensive threats. Long was joined in the top 10 by fellow UVa signees No. 8 Clint Sintim and No. 10 Cedric Peerman.
In that company, Hall looks like a bad choice, but academic issues are often tricky. UVa signed two players rated No. 1 by The Roanoke Times in the early 1990s, Aaron Sparrow and Lamonte Still, and neither one ended up playing for the Cavaliers, although Still did enroll in school.
That doesn’t mean they were bad players. Both ended up having good careers in the CIAA, Sparrow at Norfolk State and Still at Hampton.
MUCH HAS BEEN MADE of Virginia Tech’s connections in the state coaching ranks and there would not be a better example than Steve Canter, a walk-on fullback for the 2002 and 2003 Tech teams.
Canter, 26, is in his second season at the head coach at Landstown High School, whose Xavier Boyce made an oral commitment to the Hokies earlier this week.
Boyce, a 6-foot-5, 207-pound wide receiver and safety, is one of 12 Virginians among the 17 prospects who have committed to Tech for 2008.
“I’ve got strong ties to the program,” Canter said. “I’ve been pushing him in that direction. Obviously, they’ll [the players] make all their own decisions. All I can do is tell him all the positives of the program.”
Boyce, a cousin of Tech tailback Branden Ore, returned from a one-day camp at Tech with a positive impression and it’s a wonder he didn’t commit earlier than he did.
Canter compared Boyce to Kam Chancellor, who played quarterback at Maury High School in Norfolk before signing with the Hokies in 2006. Chancellor (6-4, 219) moved to defensive back and played in 13 games for Tech last year as a true freshman. He was listed No. 1 at rover for the Hokies coming into this season.
Boyce started at quarterback for Landstown last year but has moved to wide receiver this year and had a 45-yard touchdown reception in a recent scrimmage. He did not play defense last year but showed promise in the secondary as a sophomore.
“He’s [Boyce] very versatile,” Canter said. “He can come in and play numerous positions. Losing five senior receivers this year, coach [Curt] Newsome said it wasn’t out of the question that he would come in in the fall as a wide receiver.
“To be honest, he’s very natural at that position. He can run, he can stretch the field vertically. He can go up and get the ball. He’s a basketball player, so he’s got a great vertical leap.”
Boyce passed for approximately 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, and rushed for 50 yards.
Brunson to interview for vacant assistant post
From staff reports / Charlottesville Daily Progress
August 18, 2007
Former NBA point guard Rick Brunson will be in Charlottesville this weekend to interview for the vacant assistant’s position on Virginia coach Dave Leitao’s staff.
However, sources have told The Daily Progress that Drew Diener, UVa’s Director of Basketball Operations, is still considered the frontrunner for the job.
Brunson played for former Temple coach John Chaney. He teamed with Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie to lead the Owls to the Elite Eight in 1995 before playing for nine teams in a nine-year NBA career. Brunson, who was rumored to be a candidate to succeed Chaney before Temple hired Fran Dunphy, served as a player development coach for the Denver Nuggets last season.
The position on Leitao’s staff opened when Rob Lanier left for Florida in May.