Virginia Tech Working On 2024 UVA Legacy Zahir Rainer

Zahir Rainer
Safety, Class of 2024
Trinity Episcopal, Richmond, VA
5-10, 185

In looking through his recruiting options, Trinity Episcopal (Va.) three-star safety Zahir Rainer has grown up seeing what the right fit can produce. His father, Wali Rainer, played linebacker at Virginia from 1995-99 and had an eight-year career in the NFL with the Browns, Jaguars, Lions and Texans.

The younger Rainer said he wants to chart his own course, but he’s also using the experience of his father as a guide. In looking through his now 26 scholarship offers (most recently from Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Boston College and Missouri), he’s looking for some specific factors that will help weed out those he’s not interested in.

“I’m looking for a school that can develop me as a person and a player,” Zahir Rainer said. “I want one that can produce DBs, that has a winning culture, good coaches and a family atmosphere from the fans. And also, a good education, something in astronomy.”

Zahir Rainer, Rivals.com’s No. 11 player in Virginia for 2024, has taken in a few gameday visits this fall, including Sept. 10 to Virginia Tech for its game against Boston College. The visit was his first gameday experience with the Hokies.

“Man, being in Blacksburg is always a blast,” Zahir said. “Lane Stadium on a Saturday evening is always a blast, just a crazy atmosphere. I jumped around with the Sandman (Enter Sandman introduction), and it was awesome. It’s a family atmosphere, the way Coach (Pierson) Prioleau and Coach (Derek) Jones are really developing guys. I just feel like a No. 1 priority every time I go down there.”

Prioleau and assistant coach Fontel Mines have been the primary recruiters with Rainer for Virginia Tech, and they’ve established a good bond.

“I love all the coaches, but those are the guys,” Zahir Rainer said. “Coach Mines, it’s like he’s an uncle. He’s always in the city (Richmond), talking to me about life, taking me under his wing as a man. I appreciate that. Coach Prioleau, he has NFL experience, from where he played with the Jags (Jacksonville), and he knows my dad. I understand his knowledge for the game is large, and he can help me expand myself, become an NFL prospect. It’s all about playing fast, playing confident, and he likes that about my play.”

Most recently, last Saturday the Rainers visited Pittsburgh for their game against Georgia Tech.

“It’s a nice school, a nice atmosphere,” Zahir said. “It’s a beautiful city. That’s always been a school of hard-nosed, grind it out, gritty, tough football. They simplify the defense, play a lot of zero man, and I like that about them. Coach (Andre) Powell coached my dad at UVA. His connection with my dad and me is deep. Coach (Cory) Sanders, the safeties coach, I’m getting to know him and the other coaches, and I really like them.”

The other visit they made this fall was Sept. 2, for Duke’s season-opener against Temple. And the Blue Devils still resonate.

“I think highly of Duke,” Zahir said. “Coach (Mike) Elko is working and it’s a new vibe, a new culture and energy. I love everything they’re doing. Coach Zohn (Burden) is bringing those guys together, so they have a great 2023 class. They’re kicking butt and winning games. They treated me like a No. 1 priority, and I appreciate them for that.”

Though he doesn’t have a date set, Zahir said he wants to see Virginia next. And while he said it won’t decide his recruitment, he admits that being a legacy with the Cavaliers is something he’s considered.

“I would like to say yes, it does make a difference,” he said. “I grew up in Charlottesville and I like the ins and outs of UVA. That’s a special place for me and my family. But it’s about where I’m going to be happy, who treats me like a No. 1 priority. So, UVA does have a special place in my heart.”

Zahir Rainer said he’s also working on setting visits to Arkansas and Minnesota this fall. He believes his recruitment still needs time, though internally, he is processing a few options more than others.

“Those schools I like show me more love and appreciation,” Zahir said. “It’s not official, but I hope to make my decision in the spring or maybe before. I’m taking in the process as it comes and winning games. When the time is ready, I’m ready. I feel like internally, I do have a place, maybe two, I want to go. But as of right now, my top schools is what I want to present next.”

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