Virginia announced Monday that sophomore Ross Burbank will be the team’s starting center after beating out former All-Met Jackson Matteo (Broad Run) for the job.
“I think just as a group, we’re more confident than we were last year, and that comes with playing against the defense that we did and that comes with maybe the leadership that Morgan and myself provide,” Bowanko added. “But there’s definitely been a confidence that’s floating around. Maybe it’s arrogance. I don’t know. But we’re all just excited to hit somebody and put our résumé out there.”
Virginia’s running game will also have another dimension this year, with junior Khalek Shepherd and freshman Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell listed below Parks on the depth chart. Each have big-play ability, and London hinted Monday that they could both be used as slot receivers at times.
Parks isn’t sure how the rotation will work, although he has already told coaches his two understudies can “get the catches more than me, as long as I get the carries.”
“The key is to try and get your talented players as many touches as possible, and that’s a talented group of three running backs,” London said. “We’ll do some things to make sure that everybody gets the kind of touches that they need to be successful.”
Parks noted Mizzell, London’s first five-star recruit, has impressed him with how well he performed in pass protection. Bowanko, meanwhile, emphasized that the Virginia Beach native earned his nickname with his play this August.
“He dazzles you,” Bowanko said of Mizzell. “I’m sure he’ll go out there on Saturday and make you guys, ‘Oooh’ and’ ahhh’ and call him Smoke throughout the season.”
Cavs notes: Junior Jake McGee was listed third on the team’s depth chart at tight end Monday, behind redshirt junior Zachary Swanson and redshirt sophomore Rob Burns (Stone Bridge), but London said he “wouldn’t put too much into that. . . . Jake will play and play a lot. He’s one of our best players.” McGee recently returned to practice after being hampered by a shoulder stinger during training camp. . . .
Virginia announced its captains this year will be Bowanko, senior defensive end Jake Snyder and senior defensive back Rijo Walker. A fourth captain will be chosen each game from the team’s leadership council.