UVa Freshmen Managing Expectations in Fall Camp

By: Lindsay Joy Email
By: Lindsay Joy Email

There are plenty of expectations surrounding Virginia safety Quin Blanding and defensive tackle Andrew Brown as fall camp gets underway. The two freshmen are the latest five-star recruits to join the UVa football team.

Brown, who enrolled early at UVa, and Blanding come to Charlottesville as highly touted players, who could make an early impact. Brown is still limited after dealing with a turf toe injury earlier this year, but on the first day of camp on Monday, Blanding was already working with the first team defense.

"I don't feel no pressure," Blanding said after practice. "I've got a good secondary, a good linebacking core, and good defensive lineman right there to back me up and to help me out, and just to lead me the way they were led and just put that on me. I could be a leader one day when they step out."

In high school, the two freshmen were considered some of the best players at their positions in the country. Brown was the top-ranked defensive tackle, and Blanding was the top safety according to numerous recruiting websites. But Brown says the recognition and rankings are in the past.

"Pretty much you try to ignore all the high school accolades that you received coming out of high school, because this is college," he said. "It's a whole new level. Everything is moving 100 times faster, and you're just trying to get adjusted to this level."

"We're coming out here to play our game," added Blanding. "That's what they want to say, but we've got a job to do. We're in August camp right now, training camp right now. We're just going to work hard for here and then we've got to get ready for August 30th."

Brown and Blanding have a chance to follow a similar path of another member of the UVa defense, junior defensive end Eli Harold. As a freshman in 2012, Harold played in all 12 games, making his first collegiate start in the Cavaliers' win over NC State.

"I let them know right off the bat, don't set any goals for yourself," Harold says of molding the new class of young UVa defense players. "Just let things roll into play and just take coaching. Listen to the veterans on the team, because they're going to be the ones that can help you get to where you want to be."

Where Brown and Blanding want to be is on the field as starters for UVa early in their careers. After day one of fall camp, Brown was asked how cool it would be if the two players were starting when the 'Hoos take the field for their opener against UCLA on Aug. 30.

Brown said he's expecting it.

"Oh yeah, we will," he said confidently. "We will."

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