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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Virginia
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  Virginia receiver Billy Kemp IV is readying himself for an altered role in his fifth and final go-around with the Hoos. "I'm getting more opportunities in the slot with this offense," Kemp said. "The past two years I've been playing a lot outside, but for a guy like me, I feel like I can really work and maneuver in the slot, so I'm thankful [offensive coordinator Des] Kitchings is giving me the chance to do that and I'm thankful for them coaching me up in that position." Kemp, who tallied 74 catches last season, 67 the year before and enters this fall with 1,658 receiving yards to go along with eight receiving touchdowns in his career, said he's absorbed some of the nuances particular to the inside receiver position from former college stars and NFL players that have excelled in the slot. - Charlottesville Daily Progress

rSr/2023 WR Billy Kemp IVVirginia
News Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress
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  The Virginia Hoos are searching for starters at all five positions on the front, and during training camp, they are trying to assess the five offensive linemen who will best fit together by the time their Sept. 3 season-opening bout with Richmond rolls around. UVa's first O-Line looked different Friday compared to Wednesday when the team opened camp. Most notably, the two tackle spots have been occupied by four different players, and one of those potential tackles - Dartmouth transfer John Paul Flores - is also providing the unit an additional option at center, according to Cavaliers coach Tony Elliott. Sophomore Ty Furnish has taken first-team reps at center while sophomore Noah Josey and senior Derek Devine have seen action at left guard and right guard, respectively. Flores played some right tackle on Friday, but senior Jonathan Leech was there Wednesday after coming off a strong spring. Sophomores Logan Taylor and Charlie Patterson each have gained chances at left tackle. - Charlottesville Daily Progress

rSr/2023 OT John Paul FloresVirginia
News Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress
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  "A guy I'm extremely proud of is Aaron Faumui," Virginia coach Tony Elliott said. "He's a guy I challenged right out of the gate, because I know he's an alpha dog. Right? And I needed to challenge him." On Wednesday following the Cavaliers' first practice of training camp, the senior defensive lineman said he's never felt a responsibility on the field and within the locker room like the one he holds now. "Oh man," Faumui said. "Me and Coach Elliott had a lot of one-on-one talks, but most of it was him telling me I could take the role of being a leader, do right and not just on the field, but do right in class, get the boys together and all of that. So, he challenged me this year and I feel like I've been doing good." The 6-foot-1, 282-pound native of Hawaii hasn't had to lead previously for the Cavaliers, but is now a trusted veteran on their defensive line. He's the only senior in the position group to have spent his entire career with the Hoos. - Charlottesville Daily Progress

rSr/2023 DT Aaron FaumuiVirginia
News Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress
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  Wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. already had one breakout campaign as a freshman in 2020, but is in need of another after missing all of last season with an ACL injury. The 6-foot-7, 224-pounder averaged 25.8 yards per catch two years ago and is a big-play threat. The next few weeks will be important for him as he tries to find his place in a position group featuring Wicks, Keytaon Thompson and Billy Kemp. "Lavel seems like he's in a better place mentally, and physically, he looks better," than the spring, Kitchings said, "… so he's about a year and a half removed [from the injury], so he's moving around better and has got little more confidence in it. We've got these 30 practices and hopefully he'll be better going into Richmond than he is right now." - Charlottesville Daily Progress

rSo/2025 WR Lavel Davis Jr.Virginia
News Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress
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  With Elliott at the helm and new offensive coordinator Des Kitchings in place, the Cavaliers are seeking to better their balance on offense, which means a likely increased commitment to the run game is coming. They have better depth than they did this past spring, so UVa could potentially deploy a rotation at the position. But there's also the thought that one rusher could emerge as a standout, and according to running backs coach Keith Gaither, junior Mike Hollins possesses the skill set.

"I think Mike could be an every-down back," Gaither said. "It just depends if he continues to take the next step in his game. He's a good back now, but we need him to take his game from good to great, but the only way to do it is great practice habits. He hasn't learned that yet. He will, but he has the ability to be the every-down back if he buys in and truly immerses himself in this offense and in every aspect of becoming the best player he can be." Hollins, a Baton Rouge, La. native, averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored two rushing touchdowns a season ago in a limited role. - Charlottesville Daily Progress


rJr/2024 RB Mike HollinsVirginia
News Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress
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  2022 PRESEASON CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD WATCH LIST: Nick Jackson, Virginia, Senior LB,...Jackson notched seven double-digit tackle efforts in 2021, with five of those games coming against ACC opponents...ACC's top tackler, with a league-best 117 stops, 54 being solo stops and 63 being assisted...Started all 12 games for the Cavaliers. - Virginia Football

rJr/2024 ILB Nick JacksonVirginia
News Source: Virginia Football
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  Virginia's group of running backs is deeper than it was during the spring, and the Cavaliers could get another boost sooner than they expected. "Ronnie Walker [Jr.] looks good," UVa coach Tony Elliott said of his fifth-year running back who was putting together an excellent set of practices in March before suffering a leg injury. "He's ahead of schedule," running backs coach Keith Gaither said.

According to Gaither, Walker Jr. was slated for an October return, but is on track now for late September. Last season, Walker Jr. carried the ball five times for 32 yards and two scores. It was his second year with the Cavaliers after transferring from Indiana, where he showed promise as a freshman in 2018 and rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. "He'll still be down for fall camp," Elliott said. "He's not quite where he needs to be yet from a change-of-direction standpoint, but looks good straight ahead." - Charlottesville Daily Progress


rSr/2023 RB Ronnie Walker Jr.Virginia
News Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress
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  Virginia wide receiver Malachi Fields (6-4, 218) has a broken bone in his foot and won't participate in fall camp. Said coach Tom Elliott: 'Malachi is not going to be with us in terms of practicing this fall camp. He broke a bone in his foot and had to have surgery." The tall wideout only caught 11 passes for 172 yards in 2021, but was primed to make a jump up the depth chart in his second season with a strong fall camp. Fields will work to get healthy by the time the season rolls around, but Wisconsin transfer Devin Chandler and senior Hayden Mitchell should get more reps in his absence. - JerryRatcliffe.com

rSo/2025 WR Malachi FieldsVirginia
News Source: JerryRatcliffe.com
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  A former quarterback who earned his undergrad degree from Mississippi State, Keytaon Thompson has gone all-in on becoming the best receiver he can be. New UVa coach Tony Elliott has made that easier. An ex-wideout himself, Elliott has been relentless in his critiques of the 6-foot-4, 217-pound New Orleans native. "The biggest area I've seen him grow is just accepting the challenge to become a technician at the position," Elliott said. "I already know you are a great football player. You have a great football mind. He started as a quarterback. He just has that sense. He has that knack. Now can we add the technical aspect of it to complete your game? "He has everything he needs to be dominant and successful at this level, but I desire for him to accomplish his goals beyond the University of Virginia, and I don't just want him to get to the NFL. I want him to stay in the NFL. He needs to just continue to improve the small technical aspects, because he has all the big things." Thompson admits he was a bit perplexed when every rep in practice was met with criticism.

He led UVa receivers with 78 catches in 2021 while finishing just 10 yards shy of becoming the sixth player in school history to post a 1,000-yard receiving season. But the finer points - route-running, sinking the hips just before the break, blocking - all get called out when he doesn't do them. "At first, I was kind of confused, like, 'What does this guy want from me? Is he serious?'" Thompson said of Elliott. "But I eventually was able to catch onto it, change my perspective and really benefit." Thompson's rare size and catch radius create mismatches against every team UVa will play this fall. But there's also his intelligence, forged through experience and a career filled with adaptation. - Roanoke Times


rSr/2023 WR Keytaon ThompsonVirginia
News Source: Roanoke Times
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  2022 PRESEASON BUTKUS AWARD WATCHLIST: Nick Jackson, Virginia,...Jackson was the ACC's top tackler in 2021, totaling 117 stops and was credited with 2.5 sacks in 12 games. He recorded six tackles for loss, broke up two passes and had six quarterback hurries. Jackson's 9.8 tackles per game also led the ACC and were the 14th most in the country. The Atlanta, Ga. native went on to earn Second Team All-ACC honors for the second year in-a-row. Jackson has started 23-straight games on the Cavalier defense, the most of any returning UVA player on offense or defense. - Virginia Football

rJr/2024 ILB Nick JacksonVirginia
News Source: Virginia Football
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  Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong talked about his former position coach Jason Beck like someone talks about their ex-lover once they're in a new relationship. He expressed appreciation for his time with Beck but was quick to transition the conversation into talk of his current QB coach, Taylor Lamb. Lamb was hired in January after Beck departed Virginia for Syracuse football. "I grew up with (Beck) four straight years of my college career. He taught me a lot, but I think with coach Lamb now it's more of a partnership," Armstrong said. "I think the relationship I have with coach Lamb is a lot better in a sense because I feel like it's a partnership." Armstrong explained that the age difference between him and each coach plays a big part in the different feels of the relationships.

Beck is in his late 30s while Lamb is 27. Armstrong will turn 23 in October. "I wouldn't be in the position I am without (Beck) there and the staff that was there, but I'm just fortunate that I get to have a different person now with coach Lamb and gain more knowledge from someone else," Armstrong said. "That's the only thing you can really do is just keep getting more knowledge at playing the position." Armstrong was the No. 4 QB in the country last season. He threw for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns, completing 65% of his passes. The senior has already been named to watch lists for the 2022 Maxwell Award and Davey O'Brien Award, both of which he was a semifinalist for in 2021. - The Post-Standard


rSr/2023 QB Brennan ArmstrongVirginia
News Source: The Post-Standard
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  Consecutive seasons with 100-plus tackles takes consistency and extreme effort above all else, Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson said Thursday. Jackson, the senior whose 117 takedowns topped the Atlantic Coast Conference last fall and whose 105 tackles were second most in the league the year before, can make it three straight campaigns with more than 100 tackles this coming season. "I just try to be mobile," he said. "I think I can make plays wherever the field is. I think I can make plays against the pass and I can run down running backs. I can make plays on the perimeter and then I can be fluid in the box. I just think being consistent and physical in the box has allowed me to make plays and maximize those opportunities."

This summer, Jackson said, he's prioritized running to increase his endurance in order to play at his best for the 70 to 80 snaps he expects to be on the field for each Saturday. "And you've got to play every snap like it's your last," Jackson said. "It's the matter of fact in this sport we're playing. Anything can happen at any moment and nothing is guaranteed, so playing every snap like it's your last is why. I want to play for my brothers and those guys over there are counting on me every single time to try and make the play, so if I'm not running as hard as I can, I'm doing something wrong." - Charlottesville Daily Progress


rJr/2024 ILB Nick JacksonVirginia
News Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress
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  2022 PRESEASON BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia,...Wicks set the Virginia single-season receiving yardage record with 1,203 yards in 2021, surpassing Herman Moore's record of 1,190 yards set in 1990. His 21.1 yards per catch last season led the ACC and was the fifth highest in the nation. He totaled six, 100-yard receiving efforts last year tied with Germane Crowell (1997) for the most in a season in UVA history. Against North Carolina he hauled in seven passes for 183 yards, the sixth-most yards in a single season in school history. - Virginia Football

rJr/2024 WR Dontayvion WicksVirginia
News Source: Virginia Football
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  2022 PRESEASON BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Keytaon Thompson, Virginia,...Thompson led the Cavaliers with 78 receptions last season and totaled 990 yards, the sixth most in a single season in UVA history. He finished the 2021 season with five-straight games of five or more receptions and finished with three, 100-yard receiving efforts. From his position as a "FBP – Football Player", he also rushed for 247 yards with four carries going for touchdowns. Thompson earned a spot on the ACC All-Academic team for his performance in the classroom and on the field. - Virginia Football

rSr/2023 WR Keytaon ThompsonVirginia
News Source: Virginia Football
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  2022 PRESEASON MAXWELL AWARD WATCH LIST: Brennan Armstrong, Virginia,... Named to 2022 preseason All-ACC Third-Team Offense by Athlon Sports and All-ACC Fourth Team by Phil Steele. 2021 - Maxwell Award semifinalist...Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist...Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Top 10 finalist...Manning Award Finalist...CFPA National Performer of the Year Trophy midseason watch list...Honorable Mention Phil Steele All-America team...Third Team All-ACC - Virginia Football

rSr/2023 QB Brennan ArmstrongVirginia
News Source: Virginia Football
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