The first Wednesday in February is always one of the biggest days in high school and college sports, as National Letter of Intent Day is the first day high school athletes are officially allowed to sign with a college program.
The University of Virginia football team welcomed 21 new members into the Wahoo family Wednesday.
Virginia has a total of 22 players in the Class of 2013, which rivals.com ranks as the 27th best class in the nation.
Head coach Mike London said, "It's truly a class that's filled with quality depth and a lot of players that can provide opportunities to play right away. I think it's a very talented class. It met specific needs that we had, particularly at the offensive line position."
UVA's prize recruit is 5-star Virginia Beach running back Taquan Mizzell.
The Cavaliers are sticking with him despite Mizzell being arrested a couple weeks ago for underage possession of alcohol on a recruiting trip to Charlottesville. Mizzell apologized for the arrest.
Virginia signed six players from the Richmond area, including 4-star safety Tim Harris from Varinia High School.
Harris also had offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, and many others.
The 6-foot-2 defensive back says, "I plan to come in and make a huge difference. They said I'm competing for playing time, so I'm going to go in there, work hard, and get it done."
The Cavaliers signed two players from the Fork Union Military Academy post-graduate team.
6-foot-3, 300 pound defensive lineman Tyrell Chavis, and 6-foot-5, 208 pound tight end Max Valles will play for Mike London at Virginia next year.
Valles says, "I talked with the coaches already on my official visit. I talked with Jake McGee and the coach, and we all talked about what we're going to do at tight end. I think it's going to be a great fit for me."
Chavis adds, "I have big expectations. I feel like we can really make something happen this year, and we're gonna make something happen this year."
Virginia Tech received letters of intent from FUMA post-graduate tailback Drew Harris, offensive tackle Jonathan McLaughlin, and running back Jerome Wright.
The Hokies signed 18 players Wednesday, including seven All-Americans.
The class is ranked as the 19th best by rivals.com.
The Blue Devils' post-graduate team placed 35 players in college programs.
FUMA is sending three player from its prep team to the college level.
Safety Malcolm Cook has signed with UVA and will play for the Cavaliers in the fall.
"If I put it on a scale of 1 to 10, this is about a 20," says Cook. "I'm pretty happy now. It's one of the greatest moments of my life."
Cook re-opened his recruitment after Virginia fired defensive coordinator Jim Reid, but Cook decided to stick with Virginia and new defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta.
"He said, 'I'm evaluating everyone out there, even the veterans,'" says Cook. "He said if I come in during summer practice, and go hard every play, and just do what I do, there's no doubt I'm going to play."
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg stayed true to the verbal commitment he made about a year ago, and officially signed with Penn State Wednesday despite the school's NCAA sanctions.
"At the end of the day, I was trying to tell people this is where I was going to be," says Hackenberg, "but I guess they weren't going to believe it until the ink was dry. After thinking about it, it's where I was gonna be."
Hackenberg is the top-rated pocket passer in the nation.
Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien was reported to be a candidate for a NFL head coaching position after just one year at Penn State, but will be back on the sidelines at Beaver Stadium in the fall.
Hackenberg says, "He was telling me, 'I'm staying here for you guys. You stuck with me, I'm going to stick with you.' He told me to be as ready as I can to come in and compete, so that's how I'm going into it. I'm a competitor, so I want to play."
FUMA wide receiver Austin Stone has signed to play at Eastern Michigan University.
Monticello High School quarterback Jhalil Mosley and center Sam Marshall both signed with William & Mary.
Mosley had originally given a verbal commitment to play at JMU.
"I'm not going to lie, the coaching staff and the changes at JMU had something to do with it," says Mosley. "The coaches at William & Mary, they were there on a day-to-day basis. I talked with them every day, whether it was on the phone, or facebook. I just grew a big relationship with them."
Marshall says, "We've been talking about it for a while now. It took a little while for him to change his mind, but I waited for him."
The longtime friends are exciting to be able to continue their playing careers together with the Tribe.
"I can't wait to get in there and work," says Marshall. "My goal is to be a starter my next year, so I'm going to get in there and work. I can't wait to play five more years with Jhalil. It's going to be exciting."
Mosley says, "They do basically what we do here. Pro-style, gun-style. They said they were going to incorporate much more diverse stuff like read-dive options, and different packages that I can do."
Charlottesville's Rashard Davis signed his name on the dotted line with James Madison University, and will play wide receiver for Mickey Matthews and the Dukes next season.
Davis says, "They got me playing slot receiver, and they want me to come down in the summer before camp starts to practice fielding punts. They want me to play punt return and kick return."
Davis says choosing to play for the Dukes was easy.
"I went on the official visit, and everybody was cool," says Davis. "The players, and the coaches were all cool. I liked the facilities and the campus, and I was like, 'Yeah, this is where I'm going.'"
Also headed to JMU is Saint Anne's-Belfield lineman Aaron Stinnie, who was one of 16 players to sign with the James Madison Wednesday.
Stinnie only played two years of prep football, but at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, the Dukes love his potential.
"There's a lot going through my mind right now, that this is really happening," says Stinnie. "It's just a mixture of those emotions. It's just a great feeling."
Louisa County's Javanique Burruss signed with the University of South Carolina for track.
"I always wanted to go to college, but I wasn't sure exactly for what sport," says Burruss, "but after my sixth grade year it was track and field."
Burruss holds several state records, and is ranked first in the nation in long jump at 20'1''.
She is the defending state champ in both the 55 meter hurdles and the long jump, and now heads to Columbia.
"I loved everything about it," says Burruss. "The weather, the coaches, the people. It's like a big family down there."
At Fluvanna County high school, Dale Ludwig signed with American University for soccer.
Ludwig said, "I'm just taking in the moment. It's great. Unbelievable. Just a great opportunity and I can't wait to go to college."
The Flucos' Justin Zimmerman signed with Ferrum college for wrestling.
Zimmerman said, "Ever since I started wrestling in 7th grade, that's always been my goal, to wrestle in college, because I never was very athletic, so I didn't think that was possible. But it's a pretty great thing."
Fluvanna volleyball standout Hannah Miller signed with Christopher Newport.
"It's just a relief to know it's over and that I'm actually going there," says Miller. "It is a big weight off my shoulders. Ever since I was little a little girl, I've always imagined myself playing something. I didn't know what I was going to play, but volleyball, I fell in love with it ever since I was in 7th grade."
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