As Virginia coach Mike London prepares to head into his third season, he estimated there are now about 50 players on the roster who were recruited by he and his staff -- a measurement of how much closer London is to completely transforming the program from the Al Groh era.
“The team is about halfway turned over from being the 3-4 scheme, guys who want to be here,” London said. “Some guys have left because they didn’t want to do the things I thought that were needed to get it done in the classroom and the community. So I think these guys coming in are guys who want to play. That’s how we recruited them.”
Virginia remains willing to offer immediate playing time to recruits in the 2013 class and looking for athletes who could contribute as true freshmen -- much like Darius Jennings and Demetrious Nicholson did for the Cavaliers in 2011. London is still building the foundation for the program, but he is ahead of schedule. London was named the ACC’s coach of the year last season after leading the Hoos to their best record and first bowl appearance since 2007. That success has spilled over into the offseason.
This spring was one of the smoothest the Cavaliers have had because there is finally some continuity in Charlottesville. The entire staff remained intact, the players have now been in the same system for two seasons, and London has delivered a consistent message about expectations. That has translated onto the field.
“It was probably one of the most productive springs as far as guys knowing what to do,” London said. “They’re still young, but they’re not going through their first time with a new coordinator. They’ve been in the scheme, this system, coming out of a bowl game, going into spring practice, I just thought we kind of moved ahead and advanced as far as our knowledge and capabilities.”
Topping last year’s success will be difficult, considering UVa has to replace 12 starters, including seven on defense. London set the bar high in 2011, but the good news for Virginia fans is that he’s aiming even higher.