Virginia Coach Mike London made it a point when he returned to Charlottesville to emphasize the Cavaliers would once again become a force recruiting within the state. On Tuesday, he received the best news yet in that regard.
Virginia Beach running back Taquan Mizzell orally committed to Virginia during a news conference at his high school, becoming the first five-star prospect of the London era, according to Rivals. Mizzell had nearly 20 scholarship offers and chose Virginia over West Virginia and North Carolina.
Rivals upgraded Mizzell to a five-star ranking on Monday following a string of impressive performances on the recruiting camp circuit this summer. He is considered one of the top 30 running backs in the country by every major recruiting service and rushed for 1,098 yards and 23 touchdowns while playing through an ankle injury as a junior at Bayside High last fall.
London has had plenty of success on the recruiting trail since returning to Virginia before the 2010 season, signing nine four-star recruits in his first two recruiting classes. But he had never gotten a five-star prospect, according to Rivals, and the 5-10, 190-pound Mizzell becomes the first to choose the Cavaliers since offensive lineman Eugene Monroe in 2005.
It helped that Bayside High has become something of a pipeline for Virginia. In addition to Mizzell, who goes by the nickname “Smoke” because of his elusiveness as a runner, Virginia already had former Bayside High players like linebacker Henry Coley, cornerback Demetrious Nicholson and freshman Anthony Cooper on the roster.
“They can truthfully say how they’re being treated and how they’re being coached, how they’re being mentored,” cornerbacks coach Chip West, Mizzell’s lead recruiter, said earlier this week. “I think it’s a great thing.”
With Mizzell and the rest of Virginia’s oral commitments from the 2013 recruiting class, London has now snagged more than 20 players from the Tidewater area in less than three years.
“We want to make this like the University of Florida, where all the good players in the state go to the same school,” Mizzell said, according to Andrew Ramspacher of the Daily Progress, who was at the news conference.
This latest decision also helped ease some of the fan angst from Friday, when four-star defensive line prospect Wyatt Teller of Bealeton, Va., chose Virginia Tech over Virginia.
The Cavaliers now have 18 commitments for their 2013 recruiting class.