- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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When coach Mike London arrived in Charlottesville in early December, there were 13 players who were already committed to play for former coach Al Groh. It was up to hold-over assistants Bob Price and Anthony Poindexter to keep the group intact, and they managed to do that, losing just one player. Price and Poindexter visited each of the previously committed recruits, every week.
London came in and added five more.
The timing of the coaching change made it impossible for the new staff to put its stamp on this recruiting class, but by keeping it together, they filled a major need at quarterback and officially began the rebuilding process with a respectable group.
“The message was you choose universities for reasons,” London told reporters at his news conference on Wednesday. “The reasons for these young men were the academic opportunities, the atmosphere here at the school, great college campus. You walk around on [the] grounds and you see it's historic. The facilities are very eye pleasing. Then you add that to the staff, the guys that I hired, 'cause they had a chance to go out and visit with them, go into the homes. I had a chance to talk to them on the telephone, visit with them out at their schools. It kind of reiterated and bolstered all those decisions why they chose it in the first place.
“It's very true that players choose personalities -- they choose coaches,” he said. “But I think in this situation, I'm grateful they chose the university. We just had to add up to it. They liked the fact it had a new staff here, new energy, new focus on things. I think it made it very appealing to them to stay with their commitment.”
The top prospect in this class was four-star offensive tackle Morgan Moses, who had to spend a year in prep school to qualify academically. He was still being recruited until the last hour, so it was a relief to London when the fax finally came through.
Where the staff filled its biggest need, though, was at quarterback, where four have been added to the roster. Michael Strauss came mid-semester, a move that was agreed upon by the previous staff. The other three -- Jake McGee, Mike Rocco and Miles Gooch -- are players London knows well.
“I think looking at the quarterback position where we stand now with a fifth-year senior, coming on his last year, two others that have yet to take a snap, if you're going to be a quarterback at this program, now is the time to be one.
“We'll look at these players as they transition into college,” London said. “Strauss will practice in spring practice. We'll have the other three there. Then the other three young men will come in and bide for time.”