Virginia coach Mike London says it wasn't always the plan to play wide receiver Doni Dowling as a true freshman.
"I would say he's played his way into the opportunity," London said Thursday afternoon before the team's walk-through at the McCue Center.
Overshadowed by fellow recruits like five-star safety Quin Blanding and defensive tackle Andrew Brown, Dowling wasn't among the bigger names in UVa's incoming class of freshmen. The Varina High School product was rated as either a two-star or three-star recruit, depending on which recruiting site you check.
But Dowling has been making a name for himself since arriving at UVa this summer -- including most recently, a three-touchdown performance in Wednesday evening's closed scrimmage at Lambeth Field.
"He's made the most of the opportunities he's gotten," London said. "He is definitely a very talented young man. Coming out of Varina High School, he was voted the all-utility player. And you can see why. He's very athletic. He catches the ball. He runs after the catch. He's physical. And he's made a presence with the way he's played thus far."
Dowling's emergence has added to the competition for playing time at the wide receiver spot. The Cavaliers already had six letter-winners listed on the post-spring depth chart at the position -- Kyle Dockins, Miles Gooch, Darius Jennings, Keeon Johnson, Canaan Severin, and Dominique Terrell -- plus the addition of redshirt freshman Andre Levrone and incoming four-star recruit Jamil Kamara.
"It's another spot that everyone around him understands that you've got to raise your level of play," London said. "(Dowling) is a young man that wants to play. And we're 99.9 percent committed to playing him. And his level of play is making the other guys realize that it's not a walk in the park. You have to play at your best at all times."
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