Spurlock spurns Hoyas for Cavs
Tristan Spurlock, a 6-foot-8, 215-pounder, is rated one of the nation's top 50 high school prospects by Scouts, Inc.
By Doug Doughty
Now that Tristan Spurlock has decided where he's going to college in 2009, he can start zeroing in on a high school for 2008.
"I guess I'm doing things a little backwards," said Spurlock after making a commitment to Virginia men's basketball coach Dave Leitao. "It sounds kind of crazy, but I have no clue where I'm playing this year."
Spurlock has met NCAA academic requirements, "which is why I can wait a little bit," he said.
Spurlock, a 6-foot-8, 215-pounder, played at Woodbridge High School as a freshman in 2005-06 before spending the past two seasons at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md.
Spurlock said he averaged 13.5 points and nine rebounds last year for Montrose Christian, one of the nation's premier private-school programs.
"I'm still enrolled at Montrose," Spurlock said, "so, that's always an option."
Spurlock, rated one of the nation's top 50 prospects by Scouts, Inc., picked the Cavaliers over Georgetown. He also had offers from Clemson, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Florida State and Florida.
"I woke up Wednesday morning and it just felt right," Spurlock said. "My mother and I had been going back and forth between [Virginia] and Georgetown for about two or three weeks. I was supposed to take a visit to Georgetown, but that got canceled.
"When that got canceled, I was like, 'Georgetown is a very good school academically and, of course, basketball-wise.' But, UVa is where my heart is at."
Spurlock joined Jontel Evans, a point guard from Bethel High School in Hampton, who committed to Virginia in July. Evans and Spurlock have been teammates this summer on the Boo Williams AAU team that won the Peach Jam in Atlanta earlier this summer.
"We call him 'Bub,'" Spurlock said. "That's his nickname. Bub was the second person I called after Coach [Dave] Leitao. I've seen a lot of guards and he's [Evans] the best defensive guard I've seen. He's got that football mentality."
Injuries required Spurlock to play in the post at Montrose, but he envisions himself as a shooting guard in college, particularly if incoming UVa freshman Sylven Landesberg can play the point. More than likely, Spurlock and Landesberg could man the two wing spots.
"He can defend his position, he's a great athlete and a great competitor," Williams said of Spurlock. "That's a good get for Coach Leitao."
Hoops star Spurlock commits to Cavaliers
Thursday, Aug 14, 2008 - 12:07 AM Updated: 06:10 AM
By JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
CHARLOTTESVILLE - The patience of the University of Virginia
men's basketball coaches finally was rewarded last night. The long-awaited
commitment from Tristan Spurlock became reality.
Spurlock, a 6-8, 215-pound swingman from Woodbridge, is ranked No. 65 nationally in the Class of 2009 by Rivals.com.
He first visited U.Va. when he was a ninth-grader, Spurlock said last night, and the coaching staff has "been on me, it feels like, since I've been able to dribble a basketball."
Assistant coach Bill Courtney led the Cavaliers' pursuit of Spurlock, who also had scholarship offers from such schools as Georgetown, Wake Forest, Louisville, N.C. State and Florida State.
Whenever he and his family evaluated his options, however, "it all came back to U.Va.," Spurlock said.
Spurlock, 17, attended Woodbridge High as a freshman. He spent his sophomore and junior years at Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md., where he played for one of the nation's top prep teams. He isn't sure which school he'll attend in 2008-09.
Virginia's No. 1 small forward this season is senior Mamadi Diane, so Spurlock figures to contend for a starting job as a freshman.
Spurlock, an excellent student, is the second player to commit to U.Va. for 2009-10. The first was point guard Jontel Evans, a senior at Bethel High in Hampton. Evans and Spurlock have become close friends while playing together in the Boo Williams AAU program.
Spurlock commits to Cavs
By Whitey Reid
Published: August 14, 2008
The Virginia men’s basketball team has an absolute steal in Tristan Spurlock, who committed to the program late Wednesday night.
So says college basketball recruiting guru Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports.
The majority of recruiting services have the 6-foot-6 Spurlock rated just below the first tier of high school prospects. According to Rivals.com, Spurlock is a
4-out-of-5 star player and the 65th-best prospect in the Class of 2009.
However, Gibbons has Spurlock rated as the 22nd- best player in the country.
“I think he’s a potential McDonald’s All-American,” Gibbons said. “I think he’s underrated by most people.”
Virginia beat out Georgetown, N.C. State, Wake Forest and Louisville — among others — for Spurlock’s services. UVa had been recruiting Spurlock the longest.
“I sat down with my parents and talked over everything,” Spurlock said, “and UVa was the school we kept coming back to.
“I’m excited, relieved — I just feel blessed.”
When Spurlock canceled a recent visit to Georgetown, Virginia fans started to get excited. But when Spurlock didn’t commit to UVa right away, they became extremely anxious.
According to Spurlock, he was just weighing some last-minute options.
“Clemson offered and so did a lot of other schools, but I wasn’t trying to make [the fans] nervous,” said Spurlock, laughing.
Spurlock, who plays for Montrose Christian (Md.), joins Jontel “Bub” Evans — a fellow AAU teammate with Boo Williams — in what is shaping up to be a nice 2009 class.
With Will Harris planning on transferring, Virginia figures to have one remaining scholarship for the class — unless Dave Leitao were to award it to walk-on Calvin Baker.
Spurlock said the presence of Evans, whom he is close with, was a big factor in his decision. “It definitely did help,” he said, “having a
running mate — a point guard who can get you the ball a little bit.”
One of Spurlock’s greatest attributes is his defensive ability. At the recent Peach Jam Tournament in Augusta, Ga., Spurlock put the clamps on lightning-quick point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin, who will play at Oak Hill Academy this year.
“He had been tearing everyone up,” Gibbons recalled, “but then they assigned Spurlock to guard him and he held him scoreless.
“He can defend real quick, small players or any perimeter players. He’s the complete package of offensive and defensive skills. He’s a great pickup for coach Leitao and his staff. He could come right in and be an impact player as soon as he arrives.”
Spurlock’s versatility on the offensive end should fit Leitao’s system — whatever that winds up being — to a tee. By all accounts, he can do a little bit of everything.
“I consider myself a shooting guard who can play some small forward and some point guard,” Spurlock said. “I think that kind of hurts me sometimes because some people don’t know what my position is, but I think they’re going to have me as a shooting guard.”
That’s the position of Spurlock’s basketball idols.
“Growing up I always liked Michael Jordan — even though I was pretty young to remember a lot of his things,” Spurlock said. “Kobe [Bryant] is probably my favorite player and offensively I love Tracy McGrady’s jumpshot — the way he pulls up.”
Spurlock says he’s taken pieces of all their styles.
“I can shoot the 3-ball, drive, attack, one-dribble pull-ups,” he said. “My versatility I think is the best part of my game.”
By JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- For two seasons, when Eugene Monroe looked at
the man directly to his right, he'd see Branden Albert.
The view has changed for Monroe, the starting left offensive tackle on the University of Virginia football team. Albert is now a Kansas City Chief, and his successor at left guard is Zak Stair, a fifth-year senior from Manassas.
A reserve tackle for most of his college career, the 6-6, 303-pound Stair is not likely to make U.Va. fans forget Albert, the 15th overall pick in this year's NFL draft. Nor should he try to, said Dave Borbely, who coaches Virginia's offensive line.
"Zak and I, we've had this conversation," Borbely said. "He doesn't have to be Branden Albert. He can't be Branden Albert. There are not many guys like that.
"What he has to do really --and this will sound a little cliched -- is be the best player Zak Stair can be. He's got to be a great technician. He's got to be a smart player. He's got to continue to strike people the way he's striking them right now. As I told him, 'Guys come and go. That's college football. Good players leave. Well, it's your time to step up and make this thing happen. You got a great opportunity here.' "
His propensity for committing false-start penalties earned Stair notoriety early in his U.Va. career. But he's improved in that area, and he has his assets.
"He's an excellent technician, and he's very conscientious about that, and he's an extremely smart player," Borbely said.
A graduate of Osbourn Park High, Stair never had played guard before spring practice this year, but he considers him a good fit.
"There's obviously not as much speed that you have to deal with," Stair said. "You're going against bigger guys. I feel as if there's more hitting and less kicking out and trying to catch somebody that's moving real fast. You take out some of the harder parts of tackle."
Borbely said: "I think it's easier to move from outside in rather than inside out, no question."
In April 2006, Monroe dislocated his left kneecap, an injury that required surgery. He returned in time for the '06 season but struggled to regain his form, and Stair started seven games at left tackle that year. The Cavaliers finished 5-7, however, so Stair doesn't reflect as fondly on that season as some might think.
"It all means nothing unless you win," he said. "I had more fun not playing last year than when I started my second year. It took me a while to figure that out. It's good that I can finish my career on this note, but we've still got to go out there and get W's on Saturdays."
Even so, Virginia coach Al Groh expects Stair to be better for the experience he gained as a starter in 2006. Several Cavaliers have told Groh not to underestimate the difference it makes to have played in games.
"It's a tremendous boost of confidence," Groh said.
Stair, 21, is six credits from a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He settled on that major, Stair said, because he found the classes interesting and a good match for someone with his thoughtful nature.
So, what exactly does one do with a philosophy degree?
"I have no idea," Stair said with a laugh. "That's what my mom has been asking me."
Collins ready for newest challenge
By Jerry Ratcliffe
Published: August 14, 2008
Maybe the only person in the stands who notices what Virginia’s No. 98 is doing on Saturday’s is his momma.
Nose tackles don’t get a lot of notoriety. Doesn’t matter how well they play, nobody seems to notice except the coaches from both teams ... and momma. It is a position that must be played without ego. A nose tackle can play a perfect game and almost no one would know —there’s not a lot of glory tossed their way.
The key to the defense
With that in mind, it should be pointed out that Nate Collins — No. 98 on your scorecard —might just be the most important person on Virginia’s defense. Don’t expect him to be flying around and making bone-crushing tackles or chasing quarterbacks all over the place like Chris Long used to do.
However, if Collins doesn’t do his job, then nothing else works correctly in the Cavaliers’ 3-4 scheme. It all begins with the nose.
His job, essentially, is to clog the middle. If he allows the center to get past him and block a linebacker, the entire system can break down.
With two years and 25 games behind him as a reserve nose tackle, this is Collins’ time to shine. He’s the most experienced player returning to UVa’s defensive line, a guy that the rest of the d-line can rally around.
“I’m starting, so I have a lot of pressure on me,” Collins said with a wide smile. “I’m trying to do the right thing every snap and not have the mistakes I’ve had the past two years.”
Learning from the best
With that charge, he is watching a whole lot of tape of Long and predecessor Allen Billyk, who started at the nose spot, looking for technique and anything else that can help him become a more effective player.
The most important stuff, though, doesn’t come from a video machine. It came from Long’s heart, which from what we could detect, was one of the biggest we’ve ever seen.
“One of the biggest things that Chris taught me is that you if you do something wrong, make sure you do it wrong 200 percent,” Collins said. “That’s what I do. I run to the ball. You can always correct the error, but you can’t correct being lazy. Keep the motor running at all times.”
Behind Collins are three veteran linebackers and a fairly experienced secondary, so the pressure is on like never before that he shields his fellow defenders from blockers. Surely he and the Cavs’ line will be tested when the mighty USC Trojans come to town to open the curtain at the end of the month.
It won’t be a place for the weak at heart.
Down in the trenches is like a weekly street fight and if you can’t cut it, then the coaches will find someone who can. Collins gets it, so that won’t be a problem. He’s willing to dish out a little punishment as well.
At 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, the Port Chester, N.Y., junior knows what’s required and that’s why he dedicated himself over the offseason to become the best he can be.
“Nate had a tremendous summer program for us and is one of the strongest players on the team and one of the hardest workers,” said Al Groh, who knows a little something something about defense. “He didn’t have too much experience as a down lineman (coming out of high school), so most of the plays that he’s been able to make for us have been in athletic ability and effort.
“Now he’s continuing to learn to play the point of attack more physically whereas his early game was more based on athletic skill and running to the ball,” the head coach explained.
Don’t think of Collins as a heavy, plodding lineman that can’t move. Oh contraire.
As a senior at King & Low-Heywood Thomas High School, he was so athletic that he played the following positions: defensive end, fullback, tailback, tight end, wide receiver, defensive tackle, linebacker .... And, for the coup de grace ... quarterback.
Oh, and he also sold popcorn at halftime. Just kidding.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a lot of quarterbacks who could eventually transition to nose tackle.
He has used that athletic ability to his advantage at the nose, where mobility is sometimes a rare asset. Over the past two seasons, he has recorded 48 tackles, nine for loss, and two sacks.
Those numbers may seem insignificant compared to the Cavaliers’ leading tackler over the same time period, 190 tackles by inside linebacker Jon Copper, but don’t let the statistics blind you to the fact that the nose man isn’t really supposed to make many tackles.
“My job is being able to take on blockers, be able to take on more than one block,” Collins said. “Seldom is a nose tackle going to get a one-on-one block. A lot of times the guard is going to come down on me, so I have to see that and the center. I’ve got to make sure I’m staying in there and not getting pushed out ... keep those linemen on our second level so that our linebackers can run free and make tackles.”
That wasn’t an easy thing for the big man to comprehend his freshman season when he felt like he needed to make tackles.
“If the center blocks the linebackers on runs up the middle, then there’s really no one else there to make those tackles,” Collins said.
We told you he was important, maybe the most important guy on the whole defense.
“You said that, not me,” Collins said with a grin, not wanting to attract too much attention his way. That’s just not a cool thing for nose tackles to do.
He realizes there’s enough eyes on the defensive line, one of the question marks by Wahoo fans heading into the season after the departure of star bookend pass rushers Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald.
Otherwise, it’s a pretty experienced defense that enjoyed great success last season: No. 13 nationally in rushing defense; No. 5 in rushing touchdowns surrendered; No. 16 in points allowed.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back except here on the D-line,” Collins said. “We feel like we’re the underdogs of the defense right now, but we love the challenge. We want to shock the world because a lot of people are probably counting us out because of Chris and Jeffrey leaving. There’s nothing better than a challenge.”
Plenty of that is on the way from the West Coast, but Collins is undaunted.
“Southern Cal is the best thing that can happen to us,” Collins said. “What’s better than having one of the best teams in the nation in recent years coming to your home turf for the first game of the season?”
Beating them would be the natural response, but if that’s going to happen then No. 98 must play the game of his life and hope that his fellow Cavaliers can do likewise.
Heck, if that happens, he might actually get noticed by someone besides his momma.
UVa freshman Ruff making transition
By Bart Isley
Published: August 14, 2008
Buddy Ruff may not make an impact against Southern California in Virginia’s season opener, but it’s pretty clear that the true freshman nose tackle has the potential to get on the field sometime this season for the Cavaliers.
Or at least he will if he can get over that oh-so-common freshman hurdle — mastering the mental side of the game.
“It’s not the physical part, it’s the mental part that’s getting to me right now,” Ruff said. “Learning the playbook and all is kind of difficult, but I can do it.”
Rated a three-star recruit by both Scout and Rivals.com, the Norview High product is a good fit as a nose tackle in the Cavaliers’ 3-4 defense because of his space-eating size (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) and overall athletic ability (he also played high school basketball).
Ruff is also fairly well seasoned, having played in Virginia’s AAA Eastern district, which includes Lake Taylor and Maury High. The Eastern district is also in AAA’s Eastern Region, which boasts the ultra-competitive Peninsula District, home to Hampton and Phoebus among other traditional powers.
“It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as difficult as college is now,” Ruff said of the competition level in high school. “Only time will tell [how well it prepared me for the college game].”
With 2007 starter Allen Billyk’s graduation, it appears that junior Nate Collins, who had a pair of sacks and 31 total tackles as Billyk’s primary backup last season, will move into that starting spot at nose. That, and the presence of redshirt freshman Nick Jenkins makes a redshirt year a possibility for Ruff, but, like most anyone else, the freshman wants to play as soon as possible. An injury at the top of the depth chart could speed that process.
While it’s pretty likely Ruff won’t be pressed into immediate duty, he’s certainly already made an impression on one of the guys in front of him with his approach to the game.
“He’s doing well, I like his attitude about football,” Collins said. “He’s not cocky, he’s not one of the guys that’s coming in saying ‘I’m gonna take your position.’ He’s just trying to work hard. He asks me questions all the time and that’s what you want to see, somebody taking the initiative.”
Ruff isn’t just learning from Collins and the other defensive lineman either. The Cavaliers’ experienced linebacking corps led by Clint Sintim, Antonio Appleby and Jon Copper gives the freshman another valuable resource as he learns how to properly execute in the Cavaliers’ 3-4.
“They’re real smart, they know what they’re doing and I appreciate the things that they tell me,” Ruff said.
If he keeps learning and listening, Ruff’s presence may be felt sooner rather than later.
“He has things to learn just like any other freshman,” Collins said. “If he works hard he could see some time whenever he wants to, but he’s going to be a good player here in the years to come.”
Cavs pick Phillips as captain
Bath County grad enters final season
By Chris Lassiter • Sports Writer • August 13, 2008
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Sure-handed. Good blocker. Great kid.
All of these terms are phrases that the University of Virginia coaching staff lavish on senior tight end John Phillips. And now they can add another word.
Phillips has developed into a complete offensive player — tight end coach Bob Price can’t think of a fault — and now the Bath County product has taken on an additional leadership role.
The awards have already started pouring in for Phillips this season as he was named the 2008 Rock Weir Award winner. The award is gven to the most improved player during spring drills.
“It’s usually given to a guy that is vocal and leads by example,” said Phillips, quick to downplay his own athletic achievements. “I’ve bought into the program.”
The improvement award came on the heels of an extremely successful 2007 season. As part of the Cavaliers terrific tight end trio, Phillips finished fifth on the 2007 squad with 17 receptions, 193 yards and two touchdown catches.
“John’s very competitive,” Price said. “He works hard every day just to be great.”
Although the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback hasn’t been formally announced, the player behind center will certainly benefit from having Phillips on the field.
“He keeps improving,” said Price, who believes Phillips has potential to play football at the next level. “He has all the pieces right now.”
Appreciative of his coach’s comment, Phillip knows there’s still plenty of room to get better.
“Everybody can improve every day,” said Phillips, thankful for the wisdom of the coaching staff. “I’m just trying to work hard.”
It’s that work ethic that earned Phillips the captain title.
“He’s always been a great leader by example,” Price said. “This year he’s been a little bit more vocal. It’s been great to see.”
Although Phillips is closing out a successful career at U.Va., it’s obvious he’s more than ready for the Aug. 30 kickoff against the University of Southern California.
“I’m excited about this year,” Phillips said. “I’m ready to finish camp and play in some games.”
MITCH MUSTAIN MOVES UP AT USC
By Harry King/SPORTS COMMENTARY
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 10:04 AM CDT
LITTLE ROCK — Come Sept. 13, fans of Arkansas football in general and Mitch Mustain in particular could be in a bind.
That afternoon, the Razorbacks are at Texas. Thirty minutes after the kickoff at Austin, Ohio State is in Los Angeles and Mustain could be the USC quarterback. Both games are regional productions on ABC and the Arkansas affiliates are certain to show the Razorbacks.
Mustain, who left Arkansas after a year of hassling with former coach Houston Nutt, is in line to start USC’s Aug. 30 opener at Virginia because Mark Sanchez suffered a dislocated kneecap last week. Coach Pete Carroll always short-circuits any summer-long quarterback debate by naming a starter in the spring and he anointed Sanchez, who started three games last year for John David Booty.
“The advantage that Mark has had by being around ... just gives him a decisive advantage...,” Carroll said in mid-April.
Sanchez’s status is described as day to day and he says he hopes to return to practice prior to the opener. Meanwhile, Mustain is in front of the redshirt freshman Aaron Corp. Prior to Sanchez’s injury, Mustain said he did not think it was possible to replace Sanchez as the starter for Virginia.
However, suppose Mustain gets the start in Charlottesville and does well, completing 18-of-26 for 278 yards and three touchdowns in a romp. Then, the situation is ripe for controversy.
An open date after Virginia means more time for speculation and the fact that Ohio State follows the Cavaliers on USC’s schedule adds a delicious urgency to the question. The Trojans and the Buckeyes are 2-3 in the coaches’ preseason poll and most people believe the Buckeyes will play for the national championship for a third straight year if they beat USC.
Even Texas fans with an eye on the national picture might prefer Ohio State-USC over Horns-Hogs. By the way, two tickets on row 90 of the L.A. Coliseum can be had for $800.
We all know about the popularity of the No. 2 quarterback, so does Carroll stick with a quarterback who did well in the opener or go back to the quarterback who was No. 1 coming out of spring practice? What if Mustain throws an interception or two and Corp improvises for a couple of scores?
The last time Mustain threw an interception in a regular-season game was on his first attempt at South Carolina, and he was benched immediately. At Arkansas, he completed 69-of-132 with 10 TD passes and nine interceptions.
Carroll called the injury to Sanchez an “opportunity” and said the important thing is how the players deal with the situation.
The Los Angeles Times knocked out a quick profile of each of the young quarterbacks with shortcomings and personal assessments.
Mustain, the article said, needs to work on mastering USC’s system and terminology so that he does not hesitate on the field.
Corp’s passes don’t always spiral and sometimes he gets greedy, the paper said.
“USC puts a premium on a quarterback’s ability to manage the offense and hasn’t recently encouraged scrambles or called designed running plays. Corp might break the mold.”
Mustain told the newspaper that he’s just trying to learn everything.
“It’s not going to be much of a competition if I don’t know what I’m doing...,” he said.
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said Mustain is probably about where he should be. “It’s a little bit frustrating for him right now because some of the stuff is (making) the same mistakes more than once and we’ve got to get over that hurdle,” he said.
Corp said he must be consistent.
Return to the gridiron
By Jason Mackey
Source: Fairfax County Times
THURSDAY, AUGUST 14 2008
If Oakton graduate Jared Green's nationally televised speech, which was used to introduce his father, longtime Washington Redskin Darrell Green, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame was any indication, this upcoming football season promises special things for the University of Virginia wide receiver.
After finishing his planned material, Green freestyled an anecdotal ending -- "I gave more than I had," he later said -- that described a text message his dad had received the night before the ceremony, which Jared, holding his dad's phone, subsequently deleted.
"I thought [the speech] was great," said Green's coach at Oakton, Joe Thompson, who led the Cougars to a Virginia AAA state title during Green's junior year in 2005. "I'm biased, but I thought it was the best one there."
As isolated as that podium was, Green has found himself in the complete opposite situation at Virginia. With the return of junior wideout Kevin Ogletree, who missed all of last season with a knee injury but had 52 catches for 582 yards and four touchdowns in 2006, Green is one of several receivers vying for that No. 2 spot behind Ogletree.
Green will battle players like Maurice Covington and Stanton Jobe for the job, but, as one of the things learned from the man he inducted, Green knows that it's all possible with hard work.
"It's just the will to win," said Green, when asked what it will take to win a starting job. "You know how training camp is. You just have to keep grinding."
And if anything, there's comfort in numbers. Green is one of five local players on the Cavaliers' roster, joining quarterback Peter Lalich (West Springfield), running backs Keith Payne (Oakton) and Max Milien (Yorktown) and wide receiver Johnny Pickett (Westfield).
After completing 35 of 61 passes as a true freshman last season, Lalich is one of three signal-callers looking to take over for 2007 starter Jameel Sewell, who's currently not enrolled at the school.
Payne was fourth on the team last season with 219 rushing yards but has switched to fullback due to the presence of Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson ahead of him. Milien and Pickett will most likely play reserve-type roles.
On Nov. 29, the Cavaliers will visit rival Virginia Tech, which could -- as is typical this time of year -- be led by Westfield graduate Sean Glennon. Unable to enjoy the comforts of an uncontested starting job, Glennon must either platoon with sophomore Tyrod Taylor or force coach Frank Beamer into giving his senior quarterback unabashed control of the offense.
"I hope I'm the guy taking all the snaps, but Tyrod's a good quarterback too," said Glennon, who completed 143-of-235 passes last season for 1,796 yards and 12 touchdowns. "[The coaches] really haven't given us any insight."
Outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Penn State will turn to Westfield's Evan Royster, who'll hope to shine in the Nittany Lions' new "Spread HD" offense. Royster gained 513 yards on 82 carries with five touchdowns a season ago while splitting time with departed tailback Rodney Kinlaw.
With a bevy of Northern Virginia football stars looking to make an impact at the Division I-A level, does this mean that the balance of power has shifted north?
"I guess that says that we're finally becoming a name," Green said. "Everybody talks about Southern Virginia, Hampton [Roads] and all that, but we're producing just as many recruits as them so we're on the map now."
Slebonick prepares for chance to start at UVa.
By DAVID DRIVER
For the Stafford County Sun
Published: August 13, 2008
The time appears to be now for Patrick Slebonick, a former football standout at North Stafford High School.
Slebonick is about to enter his fourth year with the University of Virginia football program. The offensive lineman was a redshirt in his first year in 2005, did not play in any games in 2006 and played in just two games last year.
But the Cavaliers have to replace three starters on the offensive line. One of those players, Branden Albert, left school early and was drafted by Kansas City of
the NFL in the first round.
“I look at it as a great opportunity,” Slebonick said. “I have been in the system for a long time.”
Does the Stafford resident feel he has a chance to start for Virginia?
“I would definitely say that is a fair statement,” he said in a phone interview from Charlottesville. “Any position can be taken by any player that plays the best in camp. With the attrition there is extra spots. There are more spots open” on the offensive line.
Slebonick is coming off shoulder surgery in January. He said the injury was the result of some type of play last August during summer camp and the wear and tear of the 2007 season.
He said his rehab included two one-hour sessions a day during the winter.
Slebonick said the shoulder felt 100 percent by June. He has been taking two classes this summer at Virginia and plans to graduate in December with a degree in government.
“I have been in Charlottesville since late May,” said Slebonick, who played at North Stafford under Eric Cooke. “We have had a workout program going on all summer. It has been real good.”
Slebonick, who hopes to be a lawyer, has two more years of eligibility left with the Cavaliers.
His younger brother Andrew, who also graduated from North Stafford, will be a freshman this fall at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. He is a member of the new ODU football program, which will play its first games in 2009.
Virginia opens the season at home Aug. 30 against national power Southern California in a game that will nationally televised. The next week the Cavaliers will host Richmond and new coach Mike London, a former Virginia assistant coach.
“It is going to be just another game,” the Stafford resident said of Richmond. Virginia was slated to begin practice Aug. 4 for the 2008 season.
Slebonick started playing on the offensive line in seventh grade. He was a four-year starter at North Stafford High. Slebonick was rated as the 97th best prep lineman in the country by Scout.com and as the 28th best high school player in the state by the Roanoke Times.
Virginia was 9-4 last season and appeared in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.
This season the Cavaliers are picked to finish fifth out of six teams by the media in the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Do the Cavs read pre-season polls?
“Honestly, we try not to. It is hard not to when so much of that is in your face,” Slebonick said.
Virginia Tech is picked first in the division.
The Cavaliers have had some offensive linemen encounter off-the-field problems in recent weeks.
The Daily Progress of Charlottesville reported junior offensive lineman Will Barker (an expected starter) and freshman lineman Dave Roberts were arrested July
26 at a bar in Charlottesville after a security guard, according to police, saw them take two beers each.
In a statement, head coach Al Groh said: “We do not have a comment other than to say the matter will be handled within the department and the team in accordance with the appropriate policy.”
“Last year does not have much to do with this year,” Slebonick said. “We have had a lot of adversity (in the off-season). We have been able to close ranks over that.”
Slebonick was recruited by several other ACC schools, including Maryland, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, as well as West Virginia.
“I really felt like I fit in with the guys here. The education is second to none here,” he said. “Also head coach Al Groh and the coaching staff is great.”
Virginia Football's Ten Biggest Victories In The Modern Era
Ben Gibson takes a look at the best of the best. These are the games that Virginia fans love to reminisce about and helped take the Cavaliers from the cellar in 1982 to two-time ACC Champions!
by Ben Gibson (Columnist)
August 14, 2008
Note: Considering the sad state of the Virginia program prior to George Welsh's arrival in 1982, I consider that to be the beginning of the modern era. Therefore, even though Virginia had a few moments prior to this time period these are the victories that I think defined our program.
10. 1989—Virginia 49 Duke 28
Usually a victory against Duke is not all that impressive, but it certainly is when Steve Spurrier is roaming the sideline.
Virginia coach George Welsh and Spurrier had been talking smack to each other before the game but quarterback Shawn Moore let his arm do the talking instead.
After two impressive victories on the road against Penn State and Georgia Tech, Virginia came home to humble Duke and make Spurrier eat his words with a 49-28 thrashing.
The convincing win propelled Virginia to its first ever ten-win season and Virginia’s first-ever ACC Championship in football.
9. 2005—Virginia 26 FSU 21
Everyone partied like it was 1995. The ten-year anniversary for the Cavaliers was just as memorable (though not as significant) as the first time around.
There would be no controversy as to who won this game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the fourth-ranked, undefeated Seminoles. The only real question was had quarterback Marques Hagans.
Hagans simply could not be stopped, his ability to scramble left coach Bobby Bowden in shock as the Cavaliers posted 21 points in the first half.
Three interceptions by Drew Weatherford proved to be the difference, including one in the final minute which sealed an improbable victory for Virginia and sent the fans onto the field.
It also sent FSU into a tailspin it has not seemed to recover from.
8. 2002—Virginia 48 West Virginia 22
The best bowl game of the Al Groh era would have to be the Continental Tire Bowl where the Cavaliers put on a great show against the 15th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. Wali Lundy had a tremendous game for Virginia as a freshman scoring four touchdowns and capping off a magical November.
The Cavaliers were picked to finish next to last in the ACC that season and instead finished in a tie for second just behind the Seminoles of Florida State. This win helped propel Virginia into the off-season with some great momentum behind the arm of ACC Offensive Player of the Year Matt Schaub and Lundy.
The Virginia fans are often maligned but Cavalier faithful showed up en masse for this game, dwarfing the Mountaineer contingent and providing a huge spark. Although Orange Fever has severely cooled in recent years, let us all remember we all used to trust Groh.
7. 1995—Virginia 34 Georgia 27
Arguably the 1995 Peach Bowl is Virginia’s biggest bowl victory in school history. However, most Cavalier fans remember the fact that Virginia almost blew it rather than the victory itself.
Virginia came out all guns blazing in the first half to take a 24-6 lead before the Bulldogs and their star wide receiver Hines Ward came blazing back. The Bulldogs appeared on the verge of tying the game in the final two minutes when a costly interception by Georgia appeared to put the game away.
Virginia responded though with an interception of their own and the Bulldogs walked in the end zone.
However, despite the collapse, the Cavaliers answered back on the very next play, taking the kickoff all the way back to the end zone for the win with less than a minute to win.
6. 1996—Virginia 37 Texas 13
Heartbreak was a constant theme in 1995 for Virginia. Three times the Cavaliers had chances to win and lost in the final minute. When Virginia traveled to Texas University, the Longhorns threw a deep ball in the waning seconds and conveniently were given enough time on the clock to nail the game-winning field goal and win 17-16.
The return game in 1996 was a far different story. With Ricky Williams and Priest Holmes in the backfield, the Cavaliers humbled the Longhorns with a 37-13 contest that was not even as close as it sounds.
Tiki Barber rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns in the first-quarter in the rain-soaked Scott Stadium. Texas had four turnovers in their first four possessions due to the tough defense of Tiki’s brother, Ronde Barber, and Anthony Poindexter.
The win was magnificent but so was the moment of watching a top-15 team and national championship contender arrive to Charlottesville. George Welsh mentioned that ten years ago Texas would not go anywhere near Virginia. With a performance like that, don’t expect them to come back any time soon.
5. 1996—Virginia 20 UNC 17
Younger fans may not understand but before the rise of Virginia Tech, Cavalier players knew they had to beat the Tar Heels or face the wrath from fans the next day. UNC were the rivals of significance for many decades and so an amazing comeback in 1996 changed the trajectory of both teams for quite some time.
The Cavaliers had started the season strong but were stumbling from a loss to Clemson when the 8-1, nationally-ranked Tar Heels came into Scott Stadium.
UNC seemed on the verge of a big road victory up 17-3 and driving late in the game. The Tar Heels marched inside the five of Virginia before Antwan Harris picked off the ball and ran it all the way back for a 100-yard return.
Quarterback Tim Sherman seized the momentum to score a late touchdown and Rafael Garcia put the final nail in the coffin with a field goal to give Virginia a stunning victory.
The loss cost UNC its change to get the bowl bid it desired and it also ran current Texas coach Mack Brown out of the ACC.
4. 1984—Virginia 27 Purdue 24
George Welsh came into Virginia knowing that many thought his task impossible. The Cavaliers came from a school that stressed academics so strongly that there was no real dedication to winning in football.
In fact, some believed the UVA job to be a graveyard for coaches which led Welsh to say that if it is, it sure is a nice graveyard.
The Cavaliers had only two winning seasons the past 30 years before Welsh took over but in just his third year Virginia did something they had never done in school history: go to a bowl game.
Virginia finished the 1984 season at 8-2-2 and received a bid to play in the Peach Bowl. It was the best Cavalier record in nearly two decades and fans were out in full force to see the Cavaliers in the post-season.
The Cavaliers did better than just show up; however, they made their first appearance count with a big victory. This moment took Virginia from out of the cellar in the ACC and made them competitive.
It marked a significant change in the attitude and the expectations of the program.
3. 1998—Virginia 36 Virginia Tech 32
This game in Charlottesville is simply known as “The Comeback”. Trailing 29-7 at half against their arch rivals the Cavaliers put forth an amazing 29-3 charge on the road to shock the denizens of Lane Stadium.
Quarterback Aaron Brooks found a streaking Ahmad Hawkins down the field and connected with a beautiful lob that let him waltz his way into the end zone with only 2:01 to play.
Hawkins had a signature celebration pose and the look from Hokie coach Frank Beamer only helped cement this as one of the greatest moments to be a Virginia Cavalier fan.
The win left the Cavaliers at 9-2 before they received another bid to the Peach Bowl and allowed Aaron Brooks to help cement his legacy as one of the top quarterbacks in school history.
2. 1995—Virginia 33 FSU 28
The hostile takeover ended in dramatic fashion before a sell-out crowd. Before the game the Florida State Seminoles, ranked second in the country, had never lost in the ACC when it joined a few years earlier. With Danny Kannell behind center and Warrick Dunn in the backfield who would be so shocked?
In Virginia’s first-ever Thursday night game, and in front of a national audience, the quick feet of Tiki Barber and the efficient arm of quarterback Mike Groh gave Virginia fans hope as they torched the Seminoles early.
However, the game is remembered for its controversial finish, something that Seminole fans will never forget. On the last play, Dunn is stopped near the goal line and even though his helmet clearly makes it, as for the ball…well you can decide for yourself.
FSU would not lose again in the ACC for the next five years and Virginia went on to the Peach Bowl and their second ACC Championship.
It is also the highest-ranked team Virginia has ever beaten.
1. 1990—Virginia 20 Clemson 7
Twenty-nine-0 became 29-1 in one amazing moment. George Welsh came to Virginia and had done just about everything imaginable. He had captured the 1989 ACC Championship, he had brought Virginia to the post-season for the first-time ever in just his third season and he got them a legitimate Heisman candidate in quarterback Shawn Moore.
In 1990 he filled the last requirement on his list, beating a team that had once referred to the Cavaliers as “white meat”.
Before FSU and the influx of the Big East, Clemson completely dominated the ACC. They represented all that Virginia was not: namely a champion.
Well that all changed in early September before a raucous crowd. The Cavaliers took down the Tigers in Scott Stadium behind the Moore-Moore connection between Shawn and wide receiver Herman. With a tremendous defensive performance by Chris Slade, the Tigers were tamed.
This win made Virginia relevant on a national scale as they marched their way towards a 7-0 record and the number one ranking in the country (the only team in the state that can claim that).
The Cavaliers finished the season with a heart-breaking 23-22 loss to Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl but that season will always be remembered as the time one of the more embarrassing losing streaks in the country was snapped and Virginia transformed from an afterthought to one of the consistent powers in the ACC for the following decade.
Oh yeah and since then the series has gone 7-6-1 in favor of Virginia.
Trustee sought to manage Vick’s finances
Request says imprisoned QB's dwindling estate in disarray
By D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Michael Vick’s finances are in such disarray that a bankruptcy judge has been asked to appoint a trustee to oversee the fallen quarterback’s dwindling estate.
W. Clarkson McDow Jr., the U.S. trustee for region four (which includes Newport News, Va.), noted in court documents filed in Virginia that by Vick’s own admission, he “has limited ability to arrange his finances and limited ability to participate in the bankruptcy case on an in-person basis.”
Vick, the suspended and imprisoned Falcons quarterback, originally sought to have David Talbot serve as his trustee in the case. He was called a “trusted adviser” in the original Chapter 11 filing on July 7. However Talbot was charged with securities fraud by the state of New Jersey last Friday. He is accused of swindling $500,000 from church members. Vick has since sought to have him dismissed as an adviser.
Vick is serving a 23-month sentence on felony charges related in dogfighting at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas.
Vick’s attorney, Peter R. Ginsberg, said that the trustee’s motion was premature.
“We are going to vigorously oppose it,” said Ginsberg, who visited Vick on Thursday. “The creditors committee has taken no position on it so far. … Our position is that the appointment of a U.S. trustee would cost the estate significantly more by being in place.”
Vick’s list of creditors include the Falcons. He stated that he had assets and debts in the range of $10-50 million.
“It has become clear since the filing of this case that Mr. Vick has very limited knowledge of the state of his finances. … It appears that Mr. Vick has routinely relied upon others to make financial decisions for him, giving them discretionary control over large sums of money,” McDow wrote in his motion “to appoint a Chapter 11 trustee.”
Ginsberg admits that he was unaware of the allegations against Talbot, but said that Vick now had financial advisors in place. He refused to identify them, but said they’d be revealed in subsequent court filings.
“I think the U.S. Trustee jumped the gun,” Ginsberg said. “I think that now Michael has professionals who are efficiently and honestly doing the work that’s necessary.”
The bankruptcy court can step in when it determines that a debtor has grossly mismanaged his assets or if it’s in the best interest of the creditors and debtors.
McDow contends that Vick meets those federal requirements.
“Mr. Vick has selected personal advisors, including agents and financial advisors, an unknown number of whom have taken advantage of Mr. Vick’s trust,” McDow wrote in his motion. “Notably, both Ms. (Mary) Wong and Mr. Talbot obtained broad written authority from Mr. Vick to act as his attorney-in-fact over all of his financial affairs.”
In court documents, Vick’s attorneys noted that Wong had been barred by the New York Stock Exchange’s hearing board for misappropriation of customer funds and other questionable activity.
“We are well on the way to having a clearer picture of what happened to Michael’s assets,” Ginsberg said. “We have put together a strategy for recovering those assets.”
According to court documents, Vick retained Wong, of Omaha, Neb., in 2007 to serve as his business manager. He gave her a broad power of attorney over his financial affairs and $550,000. Vick’s attorneys have sought to have Wong account for the funds and have accused her, in court documents, of having “removed additional substantial funds … without his authorization.”
“We’re very concerned about Wong,” Ginsberg said. “There are other people that we are concerned about as well.”
According to court documents, Talbot received $35,000 and a 2008 Mercedes-Benz S550 (valued at between $80,000 and $85,000) from Vick to serve as his financial advisor. He was also to receive a salary and expenses.
McDow’s motion noted that in 2005 Forbes Magazine listed Vick, who has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL, as the 19th most highly paid celebrity in the world. The magazine estimated his total income for the prior year at $37.5 million.
A court-appointed trustee would attempt to unravel the finances of Vick. The trustee would conduct an investigation to find and recover funds from third parties for the benefit of Vick’s creditors and possibly Vick.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Santoro has ordered a hearing for Sept. 5. Vick’s attorneys and Talbot have been ordered to appear in person.
“I’m sure the judge has questions on whether if we knew, or when we knew, about the allegations against Talbot,” Ginsberg said. “The fact of the matter is that we were one of the last to know, unfortunately.”
The Federal Bureau of Prisons lists Vick’s projected release date as July 20, 2009.
Just like old days: McEnroe tossed from RI tourney
NEWPORT, R.I. — Just like old times for John McEnroe.
Volatile as ever, McEnroe got tossed from his opening-round match at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup on Thursday for a new kind of triple fault: cursing, arguing with the chair umpire and making an obscene gesture at fans.
Hardly the guy who played up his mellow side in those TV commercials last year before the U.S. Open.
"Historically there have been more issues with John's matches than the other guys, but this was over the top," supervisor Jon Venison said.
The 49-year-old McEnroe did not meet with reporters after defaulting against MaliVai Washington.
"I guess 1992 in New Haven was the last time I played John. Has anything changed? I guess he has one of those explosive personalities, you could say," Washington said.
"There are a lot of things I can deal with — disputed line calls, stoppage in play. I have an issue when my opponent starts berating people, fans and umpires. I said something to the official. As players, we are in control of the match. Officials are in charge of the integrity of the game."
McEnroe won 6-3 to open the best of three match. The seven-time Grand Slam champion was trailing 4-2 in the second set when the problems started.
While arguing a line call, McEnroe was given a code violation warning for uttering an obscenity. When he kept up his tirade against chair umpire Ray Brodeur, he drew two abuse of official penalties.
As the argument progressed, fans at the International Hall of Fame court started yelling at McEnroe, telling him to resume play. McEnroe responded with his obscene gesture and was thrown out.
It marked the first time McEnroe was defaulted from a match on the Outback Champions Series, an international circuit for stars over 30.
McEnroe is scheduled to continue playing in the round-robin format, with his next match Friday against Karel Novacek.
"Umpires tend to be intimated by John which generally means they are more lenient with him. He crossed the line today," Venison said.