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Courtesy of UVa
Tight end Jake McGee was listed third on the depth chart for the Cavaliers’ opener against BYU.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Twenty minutes after the release of Virginia’s latest football depth chart, coach Mike London might have anticipated the first question at a Monday news conference.
Jake McGee, coming off a 2012 season that included game-winning touchdown passes against Penn State and Miami, is listed as the Cavaliers’ No. 3 tight end.
Zach Swanson and Rob Burns, neither of whom played tight end last year, are listed 1-2.
“I wouldn’t put too much into it,” London said. “Trust me, Jake will play and play a lot. He’s one of our best players.”
The Cavaliers open the season Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
against visiting Brigham Young.
McGee, a junior from the Collegiate School in Richmond, started only three games last year. That didn’t prevent him from catching 28 passes for 374 yards and five TDs.
The other starts went to Paul Freedman and Colter Phillips, a pair of fifth-year seniors who had a combined 14 receptions.
Freedman and Phillips frequently would be on the field together in short-yardage situations and both started against Wake Forest.
When UVa is in its “22 personnel,” Swanson and Burns could be on the field at the same time. Swanson played fullback last year and Burns was a defensive end.
McGee could be the lone tight end when the Cavaliers are in their “11 personnel.”
McGee (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) packed on 15 pounds in the offseason in hopes of becoming an every-down tight end who would not be a liability in short-yardage situations.
He was making strides until he sustained a shoulder “stinger” that limited his contact work.
“It was unfortunate that the shoulder issue occurred,” London said. “Obviously, you’re trying to get stronger and work on your blocking and that puts a damper on things.
“But, it’s been progressively getting better and better. Jake has participated in the last three or four practices with full pads, so his development continues. He has the skill set that we definitely need.
“We require our tight ends to block, and Jake will get better with that.”
The backups at both offensive tackle spots are true freshman. Sadiq Olanrewaju (6-6, 280) is listed No. 2 behind Morgan Moses on the left side and Eric Smith (6-5, 280) is behind Jay Whitmire on the right side.
London didn’t commit himself to using Olanrewaju and Smith against the Cougars.
“Will they have to play?” London said. “We’ll see. That’s why they’re listed there. There’s about seven [true] freshmen who’ve put themselves in position to play in terms of depth or in terms of skill level.”
February signees listed on the two-deep included running back Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell, fullback Connor Wingo-Reeves, defensive tackle Donte Wilkins, outside linebacker Zack Bradshaw and cornerback Tim Harris.
Mizzell, a Parade All-American and Virginia’s first five-star signee since offensive lineman Eugene Monroe in 2005, has been the talk of preseason practice.
“Kid’s amazing!” Kevin Parks, the Cavaliers’ 2012 rushing leader, said. “The thing that stands out to me is, he’s humble. For a true freshman, his pass protection is what stands out, too.
“The kid is ready, and you’re going to see [Mizzell’s No.] 4 on Saturday. It took me about a year to figure out what was going on.”
Scott Wachenheim, who coaches the UVa offensive line, on the addition of former Boston College and North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brien:
“It’s great we’ve got a guy like coach O’Brien in his wisdom to evaluate, to bounce ideas off and make sure we’re doing things the right away.
“It’s invaluable. It’s like when I was with the Redskins with Joe Bugel, only better.”
Wachenheim coached tight ends for the Washington Redskins in 2009, Bugel’s last season with the Redskins after two stints totaling 15 years as the Redskins’ offensive-line coach.
Odds ’n’ ends
London reported that there will be three permanent captains — defensive end Jake Snyder, offensive guard Luke Bowanko and safety Rio Walker — and a fourth rotating captain selected from the team’s 13-player leadership council. … As of Monday afternoon, UVa was 3,900 tickets shy of a sellout, which would be the Cavaliers’ first at home since the Cavaliers’ 2011 game against Virginia Tech. … Oddsmakers were showing the UVa-BYU game as a toss-up Monday after the Cougars originally were favored by three.
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