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February 27, 2013

Five-star Blanding picks Virginia



The last drought between five-star commitments for UVa lasted some 2,991 days. This time around, it was just 190.

On Wednesday, five-star safety Quin Blanding, the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2014 Rivals100, announced his decision to commit to the University of Virginia.

Blanding, a 6-foot-2, 196-pound playmaker from Bayside in Virginia Beach, had offers from a number of schools including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech.

In addition to his top-five overall rating, Rivals.com ranks the Wahoo commit as the top safety in the country.

Blanding had trimmed his list to 10 schools in December and said at the time that he was planning to commit around the end of his junior year.

"I'm standing back and enjoying this recruiting process as long as I can until that day I need to commit," Blanding said then.

On Wednesday, he held a ceremony at Bayside, which have been good to Virginia since Mike London took over in Charlottesville. He explained that his decision came down to UVa, FSU, and OSU.

A trip weekend before last to Virginia to meet with London, his lead recruiter Chip West, his future defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, and his future position coach Anthony Poindexter sealed the deal.

Virginia's previous five-star commit came last August from fellow Bayside standout Taquan Mizzell in the class of 2013. Prior to his decision, the Cavaliers hadn't gotten a commitment from that caliber player since Eugene Monroe, in the class of 2005, on June 13, 2004.

In the modern era, Blanding is UVa's top-ranked commitment ever. Mizzell was No. 20 overall at the time of commitment while top-rated linebacker Kai Parham in 2002 was ranked No. 11 overall. At the time he chose UVa, Monroe was also No. 11 nationally before rising to No. 3 overall.

Either way, Blanding's decision to pick the Cavaliers, especially given how early in the process the commitment came, gives UVa a huge boost. And Blanding was clear that he wants to be the one to make this class something special and historic.

"It's a special day for me," he explained. "I'm greatly humbled and honored."

Getting Blanding in a stout 2014 class means UVa has now gotten the highest-rated prospect in the vaunted 757 for the past four classes. Last year, it was Mizzell. In 2012, it was four-star defensive end Eli Harold. And in 2011, it was former Bayside standout and four-star cornerback Tra Nicholson.

"It took a great amount of thought.," Virginia's newest commit said. "I just know this is the right decision for me."

So why UVa?

"It's the start of a new program there," Blanding said confidently. "It's family and that's what I like."

That he chose a school where so many of his friends and former teammates have gone wasn't a surprise.

"This is where I really fit in. This is family to me. They were my first offer...It feels great now to be one of them," he said.

Blanding's decision also means UVa will have gotten a commitment from one of the Commonwealth's top-five players for four classes in a row. But the good news may not end there.

Another 757 product and top-10 player nationally, five-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown, is a close friend of Blanding's and UVa is considered the odds-on favorite.

They are both close friends with a host of talented players, including four-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi of Ocean Lakes (No. 37 overall in the Rivals100) and four-star wide receiver Jamil Kamara of Bishop Sullivan Catholic (No. 106 in the Rivals250).

Both Holmes and Kamara, as well as Mizzell and fellow signee Corwin Cutler, were in attendance.

Blanding wasn't shy about how much he believes in UVa and how he plans to recruit for the Cavaliers.

"I'm going to stay on them," he said matter of factly. "I felt like I needed this for me first but then I also wanted to be the lead dog to set it off. I feel like with them, they look up to me too as well as I look up to them. If they look up to me, now I can help them and guide them through what I also went through. It plays a big part.

"Just know, I'm going to recruit them hard. We can change a lot of things at Virginia."





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