Mike London likes the weapons he has at his disposal at the defensive end position entering the 2012 season.
"I think there's a number of candidates there," Virginia's head coach said Friday. "Billy Schautz is back running around. Ausar Walcott looks like a man on a mission coming off the edge. Michael Moore; Eli Harold; Jake Snyder."
London talked before the start of camp about trying to generate more pass rush defensively this season. Despite finishing third in the ACC in total defense in 2011, the Cavaliers had just 20 sacks as a team, good for ninth in the league.
Schautz (two sacks) and Snyder (one sack) both return after seeing the most extensive playing time of their careers last year. Walcott started seven games at linebacker last season, but has moved to defensive end for his senior year. And the Cavaliers added Moore and Harold, both highly recruited high school seniors last year.
"We're pushing each other every day," Walcott said after practice on Friday. "We come to practice every day just to work harder. We all know that we're all competing to play, so it's just competitive out there. We all want to play, so we all push each other to play."
"It gives us a chance to be creative," London said of the Cavaliers' depth at defensive end. "Being creative with one of those guys also being a down guy, an inside guy. Run twists, run stunts. Do something with them, because they can run."
Harold and Moore, who both practiced with the second team defense on Friday, were the two most highly-regarded prospects in Virginia's recruiting class of 2012. Harold was rated as the best prospect in the state of Virginia by Rivals, and a five-star recruit by Scout; Moore received four stars by Rivals, Scout, and ESPN.
"The young guys are great," said Walcott. "They're just natural pass rushers. They're coming off the edge. Coach Reid is always telling them just to play fast. So I think they're doing a really good job at it."
"We're excited about, as we move forward here, how much they can grasp," London said. "And then, how their skill level will be as we start getting into game-like situations as we start moving forward."