Those wondering if new University of Virginia head coach Mike London would make in-state recruiting a priority had their question answered quickly. Last Monday, at his introductory press conference, London reached out to high school coaches all over the Commonwealth.
“I think that we have to recapture the state of Virginia, make ourselves accessible to the coaches of Virginia, the high school coaches, particularly,” London said. “Go into those schools and then go into the communities also. I think that’s critical, because a lot of young kids grow up seeing somebody that the boys clubs or the local organizations, they grow up and they want to be just like so and so.
“Well, so and so is at that other school. And unless you get into those communities and do things, there are a number of things you can do with the coaches in those communities, the Pee Wee League coaches, those individuals that have an influence in those young men.
“And unless people let you show you have an interest in going into their community, then why would they have an interest in coming to yours? So I think that’s important.”
Virginia’s 2008 class drew heavy attention, but in a bad way, when the Cavaliers signed only three in-state prospects. Al Groh did have some successes in recruiting the state, though. Most recently, he and his staff scored a rock solid 2009 class in which 14 in-state prospects enrolled at Virginia this past summer. Former Lafayette (Williamsburg, VA) defensive end William Hill, who made official visits to Maryland, Penn State and Virginia, actually enrolled in January of 2009. While there were successes on the in-state trail, the perception – at least with some in-state coaches – was not a positive one.
Stone Bridge (Ashburn) head coach Mickey Thompson, a former UVa player, is disappointed with the way Virginia recruited his school this decade.
“It didn’t seem like much focus was on the state,” Thompson said. “We rarely had the same recruiter year to year. I’m a former player and they did not to try to form a relationship. It’s not like they didn’t have great guys. Their coaches were all good guys, but it would be one guy this time and another guy the next time and another guy the next time. They would change up recruiters several times in one year. With Virginia Tech, we had Bud Foster for about 10 years...
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