After being ranked among the top 10 athletic programs in Division I for three consecutive yearws, could Virginia be headed for a fall?
The Cavaliers were ranked 22nd in the Learfield Directors’ Cup after the winter season, but that’s not all that unusual.
Last year, when Virginia finished seventh overall, it was 20th after the winter season.
In 2010, when UVa had its best finish ever, third, the Cavaliers were eighth after the winter.
Virginia got a big boost that year when the men’s soccer team won the NCAA championship.
Last year, the Cavaliers won an NCAA championship in men’s lacrosse, which is hardly a given this year despite UVa’s current No. 1 ranking.
However, the difference between first and second is only 10 points – 100 for an NCAA title and 90 for a runner-up finish.
Virginia has three teams this spring that can be viewed as NCAA title contenders – men’s lacrosse; rowing, in which UVa currently is rated No. 1, and men’s tennis, in which UVa is No. 2.
Indications are that Virginia is unlikely to make a return trip to the College World Series in baseball, but don’t count the Cavaliers out of an NCAA Tournament berth. UVa also boasts teams that have been ranked in the top 10 in men’s golf; women’s golf, which got to No. 2 at one point, and women’s lacrosse.
Virginia also should pick up some points in men’s and women’s track and field.
UVa actually scored higher in the winter season this year (242.5) than it did last year (225.5). Some of that was the 25 points the UVa men’s basketball team got for making the NCAA field and technically finishing in a tie for 33rd.
I’M HOPING TO GET my first look at UVa’s football team at open workouts in the morning, though past visits to the McCue practice fields haven’t always been revealing.
Head coach Mike London had his second teleconference of the spring and I found myself wondering if this will be the year that the Cavaliers get something out of Ausar Walcott.
Walcott (6 foot 4, 240 pounds) began his career at safety, moved to outside linebacker in the spring of his redshirt freshman year, got a look at defensive end last spring, moved back to outside linebacker in the fall and is now back at defensive end.
Along the way, Walcott also was arrested for his part in a January 2011 brawl in Harrisonburg that resulted in the departure of teammates Mike Price and Devin Wallace.
Despite missing spring practice last year, Walcott started seven games in the fall and enters his fifth year with 18 career starts. Another fifth-year senior, Billy Schautz, was listed No. 1 at defensive end on the pre-spring depth chart but continuing to rehabilitate a broken leg.
“Ausar Walcott has bought into the fact that he can help himself and help the team by being a defensive end,” UVa coach Mike London said this week. “[He has a] very explosive first step, coming off the edge. I think he might be one of those guys who surprise a lot of people [at] how athletic and skillful he can be.”
London said that junior Jake Snyder has looked good on the other side but that the only other able-bodied defensive end, Brett Urban, “may be more geared to being an inside guy. Because of a lack of depth at the end position, he’s playing end.”