CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia football team will be on the field for its first practice of the Spring on Tuesday.
It’ll be the first spring practice in two years for the Cavaliers, as last spring was wiped out, due to the pandemic.
“Spring football is my favorite time of year, because it’s just the purest form of football,” says UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “With guys developing, learning, straining, becoming, and competing. And that’s where so many jobs are earned.”
Mendenhall says the lack of a spring effected the team all year, in what he called ‘Will Development’ and ‘Grit.’
“If I were to trace the thread back, to watching our team play, and it just never felt like, and it was my fault, it never felt like they were developed like a normal team that I’d coached,” says Mendenhall. “Quite frankly, without Spring Practice, I underestimated that value, and I underestimated the summer value of training together.”
UVA will have six players back this season, who opted out last year, due to COVID-19 concerns.
Mendenhall says, “Just having six quality players, great people, who are on scholarship, who are great athletes, that we recruited, and we love...six is a big number. That makes a difference.”
The Cavaliers also have eight players who are taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.
Mandy Alonso, Adeeb Atariwa, Joey Blount, Elliott Brown, De’Vante Cross, Chris Glaser, Nick Grant, and Ra’Shaun Henry will all be back, but their return was not a guarantee.
“It was a blunt conversation,” says Mendenhall, “but they weren’t to come back unless they were passionate about becoming more than they already were, and helping the team become more than it already was. Otherwise, it wasn’t ok for them to come back. But every player that has chosen to come back under those circumstances, they are driving this team.”
Bronco Mendenhall is entering his sixth season in Charlottesville, where the New Standard, has become the standard.
“We expect to win,” says Mendenhall. “We expect to be in the postseason. We expect to compete for the Coastal championship. We’re not wondering, we expect that. There’s consistency and repetition of results, where it’s no longer the way up’s and the way down’s, but just, ‘Oh yeah, UVA. They’re always gonna be good.’ We’re building towards that.”
The Cavaliers are scheduled to conclude their fifteen spring practices with a Spring Game on May 1st.